I’m chuffed!

Wow…

Let me say that the last few days have been an emotional roller coaster. I had planned getting some good karate info out to you, but there was a *slight* interruption!

Last Friday night at 5:58pm, Christina gave birth to our daughter, Olivia. At birth she weighed 6 lbs 3 oz and was 18.5 inches long…

All looked great until about 5 hours after she was born when the doc decided that she should be admitted to the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Her blood showed a higher than usual white cell count indicating a possible infection.

Bummer.

After 2.5 days in the NICU and a shot of antibiotics I’m pleased to say that all is now good. We’re all home and doing well… minus the lack of sleep of course.

But still, I can’t help but feel for those new born babies still in the NICU. There were 66 in total last weekend! Some have been in there for weeks and weeks.When you see helpless little babies hooked up to monitoring equipment with tubes sticking out of them, it makes you appreciate how fragile life is… and how lucky we are.

Anyhow, enough rambling…

Keep your eyes on your inbox as I’ll be sending out a GREAT drill this week. (Well that’s the plan anyway!)

All the best,

Jason

The health of your karate school…

I run an intro program at my school before anyone may join as a full member.

The reasons are many, and one of the most important ones is for the health of the club. I like to see if the potential student is a good match for our program.

This way I make sure that parents don’t just “put ’em in karate” because they need discipline. They’re not the kind of students I want. I don’t want to have to spend loads of time disciplining children instead of teaching karate.

Sure, discipline is part of the program, but it’s not THE program. As instructors we can’t give a troubled child all the consistency and discipline they need in 2-3 hours per week. That starts at home with the parents.

For adults I also like the idea of an intro program where they can train for 4 classes before being admitted to join the full program. At the end of that time if they’re not a good “fit” for the school, we go our separate ways.

Now most people who try the intro program are fine to join, but occasionally there’ll be someone who does something (or doesn’t do something that is required), that’ll violate the rules we set for the school.

Things like – lack of basic respect, failure to be courteous to instructors and other students, and trying to “beat up on” existing students to prove a point and satisfy their ego.

If they breach any of these basic rules, or after 4 lessons can’t get it together, then we simply refuse their business. Simple as that. Yes it is our job as instructors to “help them learn the way” but if they aren’t receptive to learning then we’re fighting a long losing battle.

If you think this sounds harsh, consider letting a weed grow in a beautiful garden that you’ve spent so much time and energy growing. The consequences can be devastating. I’ve made this mistake several times over the years, and let me warn you that when your school is in its infancy and class numbers are small, the effect of the one bad apple is multiplied ten fold.

Keep your gardens weeded well and your fruit will grow and flourish.

– Jason

The bank, karate and black belts…

Ok, ok… so I promised to tell you about my experience at the bank.

No I wasn’t held up by any crazed maniacs with shotguns. That doesn’t happen so much at my new bank – it seems the B of A in our area wins 1st prize in that contest. It was held up 3 times in 18 months…

Anyhow, I walked into WaMu and the young male teller who was serving me commented about karate. I hadn’t spoken to him much before and he seemed excited to chat, but at the same time looked a little nervous. He was very slightly built, and very effeminate.

I could tell he wanted to tell me something, so I asked him “Have you got some karate experience?”

“Yes”, he replied. “I just got my black belt.”

“Congratulations.” I said.

“Thanks… but it’s only 1st degree.”

I couldn’t help but wonder why he would be proud enough of his achievement to tell me about it, but then downplay it with the big “BUT it’s only 1st degree.”

Hmmm. I pondered.

“So what style of karate do you practice?”

“Tae Kwon Do”

(Hmmm. Last time I checked karate and TKD were 2 different things, but anyhow…)

“Well good for you. That’s a great achievement.”

“Well, yeah… it’s ok. I’ve only been training for just over one year. It’s not like a 5th degree or anything.”

Wow! At last, there it was… I’d finally seen one in the wild! The 12 month black belt!

Awesome!

Now if you detect a *hint* of sarcasm, forgive me. I’m just not all that thrilled that people with 12 months of experience who train 2 hours per week should be awarded their black belt. That’s approximately a total of 100 lessons.

Now I understood why he felt uneasy about admitting he was “only a 1st degree”. But then I guess I could be wrong – perhaps he was a child genius and is a true master of his art. Highly unlikely, but possible?

As teachers in charge of issuing black belts, I believe it’s important for us to hold black belt for a high standard and not to “sell out”, just to have another black belt at our schools.

In the short term it might seem like a good idea to give the appearance to the public that “we are a black belt academy”, but in the long run the low standard will compromise the reputation of your school and the reputation of you as a serious instructor.

I tested for my black belt on Sept 11, 1993. Thirteen other students tested that day. 6 failed their test. 8 passed.

Achieving black belt should be revered as an outstanding achievement, not the norm. Not all who attempt the test will achieve it the first time. And that’s not to say that there should be a percentage that fails every time either. My point is that high standards should be set and should never be compromised.

Your thoughts? Post ’em below! (Click on the link where it says # comments)

– Jason