Everyone gets good with martial arts – no question. There are successful students missing limbs, that are blind, deaf, and other disabilities – everyone reaps the benefits of it. The biggest issue is keeping your kids motivated to stay the course. THAT is the battle.
This might not be your child’s first extracurricular activity… they may have tried soccer, baseball, piano, violin, dance, etc. and “didn’t like it anymore”, etc. and you are doing the right thing trying to find something for them to get passionate about. However, a big chunk of the time (not always) – the issue isn’t really the actual activity, but that they did not get motivated. The GOOD news is that as their parents, you have a BIG influence on them getting motivated.
I have a confession to make… I have owned my academy since 2001 and have been training for since I was a kid… and all three of my kids QUIT my own martial arts school! I am not kidding… It was very tough for me. Let me share my story – and the formula I used to fix it!
As a lifelong martial artist, I had assumed, incorrectly, that my kids would take to martial arts and continue the family tradition. My brother and I are champion grapplers – and my wife is a champion grappler… the thought of my kids quitting never crossed my mind. My daughter started at 2 years old and was enjoying it for a bit… but then she, and my two boys, decided they “hated” martial arts. Those were their exact words, “I HATE martial arts!” It killed me 🙂 It’s funny now, but back then I felt like a failure.
Why? Because everyday I had told parents they got to stay on top their kids to keep them in training – and now I can’t manage to keep my own kids in! I felt like a hypocrite. The problem is that I never had kids of my own to feel the pressure myself. When I would tuck my son Lloyd into bed, he would ask me, “Dad, please I don’t want to go to martial arts tomorrow!” – all freaked out… and when he would wake up, he would cry about not wanting to go to martial arts later in the day! We haven’t even had breakfast! And once I picked them up from school, all of them would cry, whine, fight, etc. about not wanting to go… and let’s not talk about the fit they would throw in the car ride, you’d think we were driving them to their execution – and the few times we broke and said they didn’t have to go that day, they would celebrate like if they won the lottery.
As parents, we eventually broke. They quit and we pulled them out. For a year or two, parents would ask me when my kids were going to start training (not realizing they had trained before and quit). I now lost the moral authority to tell parents to fight to keep their kids in my program.
I could not accept this. I knew there was a way to make it work – a formula – and the old school “You have to force them to go” was trash. Whoever said that never had kids themselves try martial arts 🙂 Sure, that might be one part of the equation – but there is more.
So I called up all my black belt gym owners friends – guys that were retired champions that had their own children training. I asked them for their advice. Each one had one or two extra pieces of the puzzle to provide. I then put it all together and implemented it with my kids…
AND IT WORKED LIKE MAGIC! All three of my kids got super into it! To the point that the few times I find myself running late to pick them up from home, they’ll be freaking out about not missing martial arts class. One time I told Marcos Jr. that we wouldn’t be able to go to martial arts because I had a business meeting and he started to cry – so I postponed the meeting and took him. Things had flipped 180!
I have 10 steps in my formula to keep your kids motivated. This is a proven, battle hardened, formula. I will send them to you over 10 emails, below is the first one:
1 – Train With Your Kids
I learned this one from our very own Master Che Moreno. He would come to the gym every weekend during open mat hours and roll with his boys. It was a major bonding moment for them and the boys loved it.
However, there is “technique” to this… because when I tried training my kids – they hated it! They would run from me, just like when I was taking them to class… so what was I doing wrong?
I then heard Rener Gracie talking about how when you train with your kids, you don’t want to be their coach – you want to be their training partner. Kids will get turned off by a “Coach Parent” – but all kids LOVE wrestling with their parents. Don’t get me wrong, there will be a time to actually break down technique with your kids – but not until they’re fully motivated and into it.
I’ll give you more details on this next email, about how to specifically train with them. But for now, I would invest in a small mat for your home, it can be a mat that rolls up or folds up (I personally use the Dollamur home mat with the velcro, it is super light and rolls up easily, here’s a link: Dollamur Flexi-Connect Mats ). Having a mat will be a game changer for you.
Think of it like school… how often do you find yourself helping your kids with their homework or school projects? This is no different. You should put in a minimum of one 20 minute wrestling session with your kids every week. It is a LOT of fun and you’ll feel the bonding… it is a lot funner than helping them with their homework 🙂