Future Students

It’s funny when you take an ordinary job and it ends up being more impactful than you could have ever allowed yourself to dream. Imagine you’re working at a dull job while you train, and you receive an offer to teach the kids’ kung fu classes. It’s better than your current job and it could be a fun to work with kids while teaching your passion, so you take it. You stay with it for longer than you ever expected, and you teach thousands of kids throughout the years. Maybe kung fu becomes a kid’s favorite activity and it ends up being their lifelong hobby. What if it’s so much more?

I don’t have enough training or knowledge, but I’m already thinking about passing the arts to the next generation. Ideally, you want students who’ve built a good foundation in traditional martial arts from a young age. The ones who come early, stay after, and practice outside of class. The ones who apply all the physical, mental, and emotional lessons to other areas of their lives, and vice versa. The ones who don’t just train, but live martial arts as a lifestyle. I want to start planting the seeds and cultivating these students before I am ready to pass on the arts. By then, it could be too late.

(not drawn to scale)

“A” Students
My goal is to have at least five “A” students in my future school. These students are rare and I’d be lucky if I can have two. They would help teach classes, carry the Demo Team, motivate others to train, 
and have the “right” personalities that build camaraderie and help your school and the arts flourish. These are the students you devote most of your time to. You hope that they end up dedicating their lives to studying, training, and passing on the arts.

“B” Students
The next best student is one that is not necessarily naturally talented, but extremely dedicated. I believe that success in any field is usually driven by hard work and dedication to understanding everything about a subject. All too often, people who can easily pick up the material don’t appreciate the time and effort it takes to become proficient in it. They end up quitting before going beyond a shallow level of understanding.

I’ve already had the honor and joy of working with self motivated and dedicated students. They help other students (which makes my job easier), train on their own, possess the spirit and feistiness required of a martial artist (yet they are nice people), and bring other skills and talent to the table. They’re good people to be around. As a teacher, I could not ask for more from them. I just wish there were more like them.

He dedicated himself eventually

“C” Students
If a student can’t dedicate themselves to training, that’s fine. Maybe they have school, work, other priorities, or they’re unable to commute. Those who are talented but less dedicated can still help you and your student body when they are present.

“D” Students
Students who are neither dedicated nor talented shouldn’t be ignored, especially if they are very young. With the right environment, they could potentially become very dedicated and skilled, but it takes a lot of work on the teacher’s behalf.

I don’t expect all students to have a passion for martial arts, but if they commit, they should follow through. My biggest gripe is dealing with those who don’t do anything but sit or talk and waste your time and space. I can’t and don’t want to use the traditional methods of discipline on these students. I also don’t want to blame the stereotypical American culture of laziness and undeserving and entitled youth. The success of the US Women’s Gymnastics Team at the 2012 Olympics proves that teenagers can be dedicated enough to become world class athletes. You need to be a good enough teacher (and have a lot of luck) to attract these types of students. One can hope.

Sometimes I wonder what kind of impact I’ve made as a teacher and student. Is it positive or negative? Large or insignificant? Maybe one small misunderstanding causes a student to quit or makes a parent upset. There are students who don’t like me or my teaching style. You can’t win them all, but it would be nice to have the luxury of choosing who you want to be in your class. Then I look at the few who have grown, matured, developed a passion for martial arts, and blossomed as students and teachers. They are reassurance that we must be doing something right. That it’s worth it.

Who will they become? At the very least, I hope they continue training on some level since martial arts is a lifelong activity. Maybe I will dare to hope that some will become the future of martial arts and pass down the arts to the next generation.

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