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Richard Wilkinson

Prt. 2 - Black Belt Character...

This is part two of a three part series on the Character Traits students learn at Impact America Martial Arts. 

Confidence – IAMA Value # 7
“Confidence makes the world go ‘round’’ - Mr. Wilkinson
Confidence training is really important at Impact America Martial Arts.  Confidence affects every aspect of a student’s performance in everything they do (not just martial arts).  If a student has confidence they will try new things, speak up against things that aren’t right, stand up for themselves, ask questions and excel at whatever they do because they don’t fear the outcome.

We start this process by teaching students how to earn stripes…then belts….then overcome obstacles that we set for them and finally by finding what scares them and encourage them to face those fears OR put the student in a position where they MUST face their fears (board breaking).

The obstacles normally have to do with dealing with fear.  Fear stifles progress and improvement.  If a student won’t try something new, they can never really grow.  As a fellow human, the times that I have grown the most are times when I wasn’t sure of the outcome.

As a matter of fact, the color black (as in ‘black belt) means “no fear of the dark’.  An easier way to say it is ‘I don’t know what will happen next, but I KNOW I can handle it’.

Every person that earns a black belt at Impact America Martial Arts MUST demonstrate, during the course of their training, their willingness to TRY.  They have to demonstrate this throughout their training.  There has to be a history of this.  So, once is not enough.
Discipline – IAMA Value #8
Discipline is a method of doing something.  We teach discipline in a number of ways.  The most important is making sure that the students know what is expected out of them especially in terms of behavior.

We have school protocols like: Bowing at the door to show thankfulness for having a place to work out and train, we wear full uniforms; we respond to leaders with an audible ‘yes sir/mam’ or ‘no sir/mam’, we have protocols for where to put your shoes and rules for picking up your own trash (if you made the mess, you clean the mess) and for behaving in class.
We have rules for sparring like: No kicking below the belt, no punching to the head (green belt), make light contact, no punching or kicking to the back and no catching your partner’s legs.

We have rules for doing patterns like: don’t hesitate, perform stances, kicks and punches correctly, always practice your pattern with all your power and perform the pattern slow and strong not fast and wrong.

Discipline at IAMA is communicating what is expected to the students.  We are very patient and communication with the students takes time and constant reinforcement.
Competition – IAMA Value #9
There are SO many benefits to competition.  For the sake of time and space, I will only talk about a few as it applies to instilling character in students.   Martial Arts competition teaches students about:

1.       Strategy
2.       Focus and pay attention to what’s going on in the present moment
3.       To adapt to your opponent and situation

Brief Explanation –
Competition improves strategy in all students.  We believe the formula for success of any kind has 3 components:  TRY, Evaluate, and Adjust.  Students are taught that ‘correct’ is whatever works.  To find out what works, students have to try something.  After they try, they have to evaluate the action and decide if it gave them the result they wanted.  If it did give them the desired result, they learn what works (is correct).  If it didn’t give them the desired result, we teach them to adjust their strategy (approach) and repeat the process.

Now, we teach them basic strategy but no strategy is 100%. No self-defense move works 100% of the time.  Competition lets them learn this fact and sets the student up to create their own strategies that will work.  Impact America Martial Arts believes that if we can make a student ‘feel’ like they invented their own strategy; it will stick with them for the rest of their life and encourages them to ‘try’.

Pattern competition is a great example of learning to pay attention and focus.  Without focus students can’t invent a strategy that will work.  So here is the process.  The students watch the other competitors perform patterns.  Then they watch the scores that were given by the judges.  Then the student tries to figure out what the judges are looking for and adapts their pattern to try to increase their score.

If I had to put the three main parts of our competition philosophy in a particular order, I would put them in the following order: 1. Focus and pay attention 2. Adapt to what you see 3. Form a strategy based on the information you got from paying attention. 
“Anyone who is anybody in Martial Arts has competed extensively’ – Mr. Wilkinson
The Desire to Help Others – IAMA Value #10
The desire to help other is one of our favorite concepts that we deem incredibly important to character development at Impact America Martial Arts.   Helping others has 3 basic parts in taekwondo:  Learn it, perfect it and give it back (help others to learn it, perfect it and give it back).

We encourage kids to help kids learn patterns.  We encourage kids to help kids learn to spar better.  We encourage kids to be helpful and help keep our facility clean. 

We really encourage this in the upper levels of rank (from Red – Brown…the ranks just before black belt).   We give the students opportunities to help.  We place them in leadership positions and then reward them for doing a good job (if they do a good job).  We help them to understand what a ‘good job’ is.

Our position is that the entire world will be a better place if you have a desire to help others (and act on it).   It will certainly improve character AND it inspires people to do better.

We also encourage students to help others without expecting anything in return. 
Listening Skills – IAMA Value # 11
“If you say ‘yes sir’ to me and then don’t do what you agreed to, I get to give you extra work!’  -
Mr. Wilkinson
So, how does Impact America Martial Arts get students to listen better?  First of all, we don’t listen to excuses.  We have heard them all…’I didn’t hear you’, ‘I didn’t understand you’…etc.

It is required that students respond to us by saying ‘yes sir/mam or no sir/mam’.  They are trained to say it and they know what it means.  They know that answering or responding to the leaders of the school makes a ‘contract’ with the leader.  Saying ‘Yes Sir/Mam” means that ‘I heard you and I will follow your instructions’.  If the student doesn’t do what we told them to do, we get to respond with appropriate consequences.

This method goes hand in hand with discipline that was written about earlier.  When the student understands the rules and what is expected, they tend to follow the rules. 

The second part to getting our students to ‘listen’ is to follow up with extreme consistency.  We NEVER falter.  Every single time they make an agreement with us (by saying ‘yes sir/mam), we expect them to honor it.  If they don’t, we ALWAYS provide extra work in the form of pushups or other consequences.  Again, we are consistent almost to a fault.  Because the students know this, they tend to listen and follow directions.
Adapting – IAMA Value #12
‘Randomness has to be your habit’ – Mr. Wilkinson (talking about sparring)
“Your ability to adapt has to be at the forefront of everything you do’ – Mr. Wilkinson
Although ‘adapting’ was discussed earlier (in the competition value), it holds its own ranking in our value set.
Students have to be able to adapt to the circumstances of any situation.  Life isn’t always fair and circumstances are sometimes difficult.  One’s ability to adapt can make life seem more fair and improve circumstances IF one has the ability to change AS NEEDED.

In class, we sometimes set up the rules to be ‘unfair’.  We do this to check the students’ attitude.  If they whine and throw a fit, they are stuck in their current method of thought.  Then we give them ways to adapt and look at things differently.  Then invariably, they adapt.  So, we change the rules again and repeat the process.

Students are NEVER really prepared for what happens in class and they certainly won’t be prepared for the moment someone attacks them or a loved one.  So, we train them in the mindset needed to adapt to situations and circumstances and overcome them by being more fluid of thought.

Impact America believes that being flexible in thought improves character and encourages students to want to learn and to not be afraid of change.

NOTE:  This is the second of a three part series on the character building traits of Impact America Martial Arts.

If you would like to get off the fence and get started on your journey or would like for your child to try us out and get a FREE UNIFORM, check out the link below.  Fill in the information and get started today!

April 20, 2014