Growing up in Chester, Pennsylvania during the forties and fifties was really opportunistic. By that I mean gaining insight into a different aspect of life than youngsters experience today. In this era children have most anything they want, not to mention the freedom to try ideas not dreamed of in those days. Also, these same youngsters have several disadvantages such as extreme violence and constant turmoil.
The nice advantages: martial arts training, many more sports than existed then, and I’m not sure if this is a positive or negative, medicines. I’m not sure because there have been claims that we would be stronger with more bacterial resistance when exposed to more germs, rather than taking hundreds of antibiotics. In other words, maybe we could develop a stronger more natural resistance.
The likelihood that we may study martial arts from a very young age is extraordinary. Even when I was a teen these arts were not readily available. Of course, much of this has been abused in the last several years, just as this society has abused cell phones. So, what do I mean by abuse? With cell phones, many do not realize the danger they put others in when talking while driving, nor do they consider cell phone rudeness while out in public. In the case of martial arts, it is the 7 or 8 year old black belt. Never mind the understanding of black belt being the beginning of serious study. Of course this problem rests with instructors, not parents. But the almighty dollar speaks very loud.
I made many mistakes as a young instructor. Of the two dozen or so black belt students I produced in Quiet Storm, two were teenagers. One was fourteen and one was fifteen. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m very proud of how those young men turned out. Both are now fine upstanding family men and the younger of the two is a renown professional jazz drummer. I still think they were too young even though they turned out okay. Too much rank can put too much pressure on youngsters.
What happens when children are given too much responsibility at an early age? First of all they lose their childhood. Second, they can suffer burnout, which is what happened with a current Delaware female basketball star when she went to college this year. Or they can become difficult to deal with as tyrants later on. Parents, as well as teachers must give the child proper dosages of responsibility at correct intervals if we want him or her to grow up tall and strong. Too many activities, too many video games, too much television and yes, sometimes too much (school) homework can be detrimental to their health and growth. What goes around, comes around. Good life-lessons can be difficult to comprehend sometimes. Did you ask how difficult? How and when and where did you get your life skills?
If you think I’m off-base, take a close look at the present condition of our society. Multiple mass shootings in schools, workplaces and sometimes in the home. Rebellion and lack of parental respect runs rampart throughout the land. And these examples are slowly spreading around the world. Disciplined martial arts training may be the answer. Correct parenting skills need to be taught and practiced while dropping this crazy idea of being a pal to your child. Being a friend to your child is one thing, being a pal is not the same thing. Our children are screaming out for limits and discipline.
The same thing is true of a good teacher, whether martial or academic; he or she may not get too familiar with the student. You gain a strong insight and learn what turns them on and off and use it, but a little distance is essential to learning. Do you have another idea?