A Softer Side of the Martial Arts

Although highly beneficial and very evident in our curriculum, I’m not talking about soft martial technique.  I’m talking about the “softer” benefits that would you ascribe to the practice of martial arts that can enrich your life outside of the dojo.  We’ve all heard many, and I’m quite sure many of us have experienced quite a few of those many.  So what would your list look like?

  • Better self-confidence
  • Increased self-discipline?
  • Increased ability to focus or concentrate?
  • Ability to better deal with stress

The list goes on.  At Cedar Park Martial Arts, we have a “belt-discipline”, or character development topic for each belt where the student is required to read and write about, and sometimes act on before being considered for promotion.  We are a Christian dojo, so quite a few of our topics are spiritual or doctrinal in nature.  However, there are some topics that are broader and apply to the walk of life for all martial artists, Christian, secular or both.

Two examples of the broader disciplines are:

  • 2nd kyu:  Life Long Service and Giving
  • 3rd kyu:  Life Long Discipline (the transitive verb, not the noun)

The 2nd kyu discipline is the primary focus of this article.  As a dojo (and as Christians), we are committed to the giving of ourselves to help those who are in need.  Each student is required to embark on 10 hours of unpaid service to a charitable or needy cause.  senior home service  The student is then required to reflect on their experience.  What did they learn about themselves during their service time?  How did their service impact the recipients of their efforts, and how did it impact their perspective of the importance of life long giving?  After their reflection time, they are required to put their thoughts on paper.  More specifically, they are to submit a 3-page paper and read their paper to their karate family at or around test time.  I have been humbled by the efforts, projects, depth of character and thoughtful reflections of students; children to adults, but especially the young members of my karate family.

Two youth students served at an organization called Special Delivery, where young mothers who weren’t planning on having babies were cared for after being estranged from family and/or friends.  Helping Pregnent GirlsThese students watched the babies of young mothers and staff members so they could attend classes preparing themselves for early parenthood and adulthood.  One was so touched by this service that she went to another fraternal organization she belonged to so she could organize a diaper and supply drive for the young mothers she met.  The other serving student stated that no one would leave this effort unchanged.  She was deeply impacted by her time there.

Other service projects to date include serving at senior homes, teaching English to those who struggle with it as a second language, community clean up projects, and serving at homeless shelters.

There were many lessons learned, and almost all projects reflected that:

  • We are indeed capable of helping, and should help people in some form or fashion
  • Everyone is worthy of help
  • We are not better than anyone else, or more deserving
  • We receive by giving
  • Help quite often equals hope

After reading through the papers submitted over the years, I find myself evaluating how I have or haven’t self-less given of myself.  How can I do more and/or better?  How can I be more observant of those in need, and how can I give to their needs (not necessarily to their wants)?  How about you?

Shifting gears, let me close this article out by giving a big shout out to those who recently were promoted.  Congratulations to the following!

  • Joshua Roberts: promoted to 3rd kyuWar faces
  • Elise Herman: promoted to 3rd kyu
  • Jenn Herman: promoted to 3rd kyu
  • Jonathan Roberts: promoted to 3rd kyu
  • Jacob Schumacher: promoted to 6th kyu
  • Justin Jacobson: promoted to 8th kyu
  • Rachel Jacobson: promoted to 8th kyu
  • Nathan Jacobson: promoted to 8th kyu
  • EJ Olsen: promoted to 5th kyu
  • Eric Olsen: promoted to 5th kyu
  • Sebrena Geier: promoted to 8th kyu

You guys did an AWESOME job and well deserved your promotions!!!  Oh, and these are several of the newly promoted 3rd kyus and I with our war faces on.  :)

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