_First of all, I want to congratulate Dr. Dan on achieving his Black Belt last week. Black Belt is one of the biggest goals in the martial arts, and I am very proud to say that the standard for achieving Black Belt at our school is extremely high, which he demonstrated at his test. Dr. Dan is one of our first adult students to reach Black Belt (as our dojo has been opened for almost 4 years), proving that it is never too late to master new skills. We were all very impressed by his performance, and we are all extremely proud of his achievement.
Speaking of achievement, this week we talked about goal setting in class. We discussed how sharing our goals with a friend or mentor can help us to see those goals through, rather than letting them become like many people's New Years Resolutions. Our students have been writing their goals down and placing them in the goal box for the instructors to read. This will allow us help our students achieve those goals this year. So far, the goals that I have read have been inspirational. Many students have set a goal of earning their next belts, and one day their Black Belts. We also have many students determined to earn one of the oh-so-hard to earn patches, such as the sparring, kicking, kata, or full split patch, among others.
We also discussed how a big goal like Black Belt can seem daunting at first, so it helps to remember that Black Belts such as Dr. Dan did not earn their Black Belt overnight. All he did was get a little bit better every class. Each step forward is so small that it cannot be discerned. This makes it hard to stay motivated at times but it also means anyone can do it! This is also why we award stripes for each technique that the student has learned- it gives us a tangible sign of our progress.
If you have ever had a relative who lives out of town remark, "My, how you've grown!" after not seeing you for a while, you know what I'm talking about. You didn't notice your growth, because it was very gradual, but the inches do add up.
The Japanese word which roughly translates as constant and never-ending improvement is Kaizen. This year, I challenge all of our students to be fully committed to Kaizen. All we ask is that you try to improve a little bit each week. Obviously putting forth your best effort each class is a must. A few minutes of practice at home each day can make a big difference. If you currently do not practice at home, imagine if you started with 10 minutes a day...That's over 60 hours per year! Would that make a difference? You bet it would!
Let me now also compliment/brag about something I've seen our students do lately that is becoming more and more the norm. When it is the last class of the evening, many of our students stick around for extra sparring, bagwork, kata practice etc. I've literally seen and heard parents telling their children that they really have to go, 15 minutes after the class has ended.
I'm thrilled with this for 2 reasons.
1) It has always been my personal challenge to try to make the dojo a fun place to be, where the kids will run up the steps to get to, rather than having to be dragged to by their parents.
2) It is taking our students to even higher levels of excellence in their training. In a day and age when many kids are addicted to the TV or video games, our students are "addicted" to the martial arts!
Finally, I would like to leave you with a commitment on the end of the instructors. Just as we have challenged you to fully commit to Kaizen in your training and everyday lives, we too will commit to constantly improving our school and classes.
You have probably noticed many of the new improvements around the school, but you can rest assured that this year's classes will really blow last year's away!