This weekend, with Saturday being St. Patrick’s day, our discussions with our younger students centered around making responsible, healthy decisions, and taking care of one’s body and mind.
We all know that the martial arts teach wonderful, potentially life-saving self-defense skills. For most of our students, these skills are (thankfully) rarely (if ever) required in our day-to-day lives. However, that knowledge is still invaluable, as it can have a profound impact on the way we feel about ourselves and approach life. I believe it is much more common, and probable, for the martial arts to help keep students safe by empowering them to make the right choices and helping them to avoid drugs, alcohol, unhealthy eating habits, or becoming a “couch potato.”
How can the martial arts help cultivate a healthy lifestyle? Well, for starters, our students work so hard to build up their bodies and minds in class, that I believe that constant reminders that eating healthy at the table can aid their efforts to become their absolute best (and unhealthy eating habits can hinder those efforts) can go a long way. “Eat this because I said so,” or “Eat this and then you can have some junk food,” become “If you eat this you will grow stronger and continue to become even better at kicking/sparring/kata etc.” Why would they throw away all their hard work in the dojo by eating tons of junk food at home?
For our younger students, now is the time to lay the foundations of the healthy, “Black Belt,” lifestyle.
For our teen and adult students, I feel this lesson is just as important, since their decisions regarding what to eat or drink can have an even larger impact on their health and ability to perform in the dojo. For our Little Ninjas, we hope to teach them to drink juice rather than soda. For one of our teen students, we hope to teach them that they do not need drugs or alcohol.
Furthermore, the martial arts provide us with exciting challenges. We don’t need drugs or excessive electronics to make life exciting. Our goal as martial artists is to cultivate a life that we do not want to escape or make ourselves numb to, we want to enjoy every moment.
By training alongside a group of hard-working, like-minded individuals, our students learn that they don’t need drugs or alcohol to be cool, or have a good time, and are better able to handle peer-pressure.
Black Belt instructors such as Sensei Ines (who, as you may recall from a recent blog, has recently earned her Blue Belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, is working toward her second degree Black Belt in San Shou, and is finishing up her final year of law school) provide male and female students with positive role models that demonstrate what is possible with hard work (and what would be impossible with an unhealthy lifestyle).
I wish that I could tell you that by enrolling in martial arts, I can 100% guarantee that you or your child will never do drugs. However, that would not be very true, or responsible of me to claim. What I can say with absolute confidence, is that the martial arts, as we practice them here, are an excellent form of self-defense, be it from a physical attack or the dangers of drugs and alcohol.