First off, I will admit that sometimes accepting advice or constructive criticism can be difficult. However, I have recently begun to understand how valuable this input can be, and now, I am asking, nay, BEGGING for more of this amazing resource.
For example, one parent voiced the opinion that in a Karate Camp virtually all of the activities should be geared toward...<gasp>...Karate! After considering this insight, we, the instructors, agree. While our previous Summer Camps have featured intense martial arts training, we have created a schedule for events that will have our campers learning and performing martial arts related activities for virtually the entire day. During lunch breaks, we are even requiring that all students cut their sandwiches with samurai swords (just kidding!).
But seriously folks, this is going to be our best Summer Camp yet because of the carefully laid out lesson plan and curriculum which was developed as a result of one parent's input.
We are available to take your calls any day of the week (410-561-5245), and/or you can speak with Ms. Candice at the front desk during classes.
What would enhance the martial arts experience for you and your child? Would classes on Sunday's help? Do I sometimes have bad breath while teaching class? Whatever it is, we would love to hear about it.
It is true that we cannot accommodate every single "request to a t," but we love hearing from our parents, and we will always take their thoughts into deep consideration.
Our students and parents do us a huge honor each week by making our martial arts classes a part of their busy schedules. We are very grateful to get to work with such an amazing group of people. You clearly believe that the martial arts can have a profound impact on one’s life and growth. We agree, and we take this responsibility very seriously.
Here is a list of tenets that will guide our school and instructors through 2014 and beyond:
1. Our instructors must always be learning
We will constantly strive to learn new material, and to learn improved ways of teaching old material. We must consistently train with OUR instructors to ensure that we are bringing the best martial arts that we can to Timonium, Towson, Cockeysville, etc. Each class will be better than the last, because each day our instructors know more than they did the day before.
2. New equipment
You may have already noticed some of the new equipment around the dojo (padded training tools, grappling buddies, new bags, etc.), but that is merely the tip of the iceberg, my friends. We will always provide our students with the most effective, innovative, and safest equipment available. This will further revolutionize our training and help our students to have fun, while staying safe.
3. Keep class sizes manageable
Class quality will always be more important to us than size. A nice sized class is a lot of fun due to the energy and excitement levels, but we do not want our students packed in like sardines. Some of the earlier classes were getting to be quite crammed, and adding a new youth class on Fridays seems to have helped spread things out a great deal. We've also added a new Teen class on Tuesdays. Additionally, several of our talented teen students are approaching the rank of Black Belt, and look to be making fine instructors. We plan on bringing more instructors onto our staff in the near future, which will further help to maintain a low student-teacher ratio. Each student deserves the individual attention that will take him or her to the next level!
In summary, you can always expect each class to be better than the last, because our class is fully committed to Kaizen (a term I first heard when attending Towson University), or “constant and never-ending improvement!”
_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!
The first thing I'd like to do is thank all of the students and their families who have helped to make Maryland Martial Arts the dojo that it is today. Thank You! We've received tons of compliments about the updates we've made in the latter half of 2011 to prepare for 2012, and we won't stop in 2012. We'd also like to welcome Sempai Greg and Sempai Nan to the Maryland Martial Arts team. They have been amazing in helping our students get the most out of their karate training. You can read their bio's here.
Some of the great changes we've made include: