Lately in class we have been discussing Student Creed #1, which reads:
I intend to develop myself in a positive manner and avoid anything that would reduce my mental growth or my physical health.
This is a very broad concept encompassing all aspects of a healthy “Black Belt,” lifestyle, and taking care of one’s body and mind. My main goals in discussing this student creed with the students are to help them to develop healthy eating and exercise habits, and for our teen students to avoid drugs and alcohol. How can we accomplish this? Well, it is easier said than done, but one thing I try to do is break this stigma that living a healthy lifestyle is dull, painful, or unpleasant.
I used to think that eating and living in a healthful manner generally meant doing something that I didn’t feel like doing (eating an apple), as opposed to what I actually wanted to do (eating a candy bar). Fortunately, I have been able to improve my habits by finding healthy foods that I actually do enjoy. In the beginning, it might have been a little bit more challenging, but as I have learned the taste for healthy foods can be nurtured and acquired. It can feel quite natural, rather than forced.
So how does this help our kids? One strategy could be to expose them to as many different healthy foods as possible, so they can learn which ones they like. You see, I have this theory that the reason why eating healthy foods is so unappealing to many youngsters is that it often feels like they are being forced to do so. By exposing them to a wide variety of healthy foods they can feel like they still have many choices; we just try to ensure that all of those choices are healthy.
Finally, I would like to leave you with a little tale that I thought was relevant. I first read this story in the 6 Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden, and I have attempted to summarize it here:
A boy had a very sweet tooth. His parents were concerned by his overindulgence in junk food so they took him to see a wise man who lived on the outskirts of the village. The man told them to bring their son back in two weeks. When they brought him back he said, “I am now ready to help your son.” When they asked him why they had to wait two weeks he replied, “I was also suffering from an addiction to junk food, and now that I have overcome the habit I can help your son to do the same.”
Thanks for reading, OSSS!
For the next several classes, our focus will be on the concept of teamwork. Teamwork is always important in the martial arts, as one cannot become proficient in most techniques without a partner to practice with, but for the time being we are going to challenge our students to think deeply about this concept. I would like to use the word teamwork in a general sense, relating to any situation in which we interact with others. My goal for this topic is to help our students to learn to get along with others.
Working with and getting along with others can be very challenging, and I struggle with it myself. However, two people, if they can put the pieces together the right way, can generally accomplish more than either could alone.
Additionally, many times in life, we won’t have much of a choice; we will have to find a way to get along with others, even when that seems very difficult.
Yesterday one of our younger students pointed out that two people could lift a heavier object than either of them could individually. I thought this was a good image of what teamwork is all about. I am very excited to hear more ideas about teamwork from our students over the next several classes. I only have one point that I want to throw out there to get the ball rolling, although, as you will see, it will lead to a couple of sub-points.
Getting along with others is tough.
This might sound negative or cynical, but I think that accepting this reality is the first step to getting along with others. I believe that if two people interact for any significant amount of time, there will eventually be disagreements and maybe conflict. Oh sure, if the two people are good friends or really seem to “click” right away that might take a very long time, but eventually some discord will surface.
I believe that the Black Belt views such “friction” as a natural part of life, which occurs whenever two or more people interact, rather than as a personal attack. Rather than saying, “Jon is difficult,” the Black Belt might say, “Working with others is always challenging, but it is also worth the effort.” The Black Belt does not become flustered or get defensive when such challenges occur. They expected the challenges, and were therefore better prepared to overcome them.
Let’s say that Andrew and I are partners, and this wasn’t my week to shower. Andrew might complain about my lack of respect for others, and ask for a new partner. But eventually that new partner would also do something that he isn’t crazy about. Then he would ask for a new partner. In all seriousness, it's important to shower daily, but if Andrew is looking for a partner who is perfect, he is going to be looking for a long time.
Teamwork is much easier said than done, but I feel that with the right approach, a little bit of patience, and a whole lot of compassion, we can accomplish great things together.