Why Life Skills (Philosophy) Need to be Taught

Why Life Skills (Philosophy) Need to be Taught

By Ray Hughes


One area where many schools miss the point is not adequately explaining the benefits of life skills learned from traditional karate to their students and parents. For those who primarily teach karate techniques and self defense tactics only will find they have a higher attrition rate than those who support their training with life skill instruction; in other words, philosophy.

Life skills learned by our youth include confidence, perseverance, discipline, fortitude, to name a few while life skills for adults tend to be more life survival philosophies. These skills are learned and developed through long term training.

To keep students training for many years, instructors need to give reasons to the student as well as the parents of the young why they need to continue to come long term. Expecting students to train year after years to randomly learn a new technique or to simply improve their kata is not enough. There has to be more; something that continually gives reasons for students to train long term and compels the parent to accept the grind of bringing their children to classes for years on end.

For those who have trained long term understand the great values that come from traditional karate training. The striving for perfection in a battle where perfection can never be attained and the internal struggle that develops while on this path all lead to skills that are applied to other areas of life. The strength and resolve to stick to a project, the fortitude to overcome difficult challenges, the understanding of self and learning that one can do more than originally thought, are just a few of the many areas that are developed by traditional training and applied to life outside the dojo.

These are powerful enlightenments. They must be pointed out to the student base and their families on a continuous basis. If passionately conveyed, this will motivate the student and parent to stay long term. They will come to understand the great values that develop from our style of training.

So how are these values explained to the students and the parent s of the young?

First, the instructor must continually bring up the overall benefits of long term training as mentioned above. Students as well as parents of the young may not know or understand the benefits that come from long term training. It must be explained and repeated. Students and parent tend to forget these benefits when boredom sets in or the grind of taking their child to classes year after year.

Second, clearly giving examples of where mental and philosophical skills learned can be applied outside the dojo. Simply saying to the students and parents that great benefits such as discipline, resolve, and perseverance along with other skill sets will come from training is not enough. Instructors have to point out to the student in real time why they should embrace the struggle. It must be explained why it is in the student’s interest to get up in front of the class and do a kata. That the nervousness they feel will be exactly the same feeling when interviewing for that new job someday. The more they practice learning how to control stress now will pay great dividends in the future.

There are thousands of such situations that surface on a regular basis in a dojo. Every situation where an emotion comes up is a teaching moment that can be related to a future event. Every time a student experiences anger, sadness, envy, or fear should move the instructor to explain how this is training for future situations that encompass these exact same emotions. This gives purpose to the student when experiencing these difficult situations in the dojo and reinforces the necessity of constant training.

Third, and probably the most powerful strategy to reinforce the importance of long term training is teaching by self disclosure. Nothing is more powerful to the student and parent as when the instructor explains how long term training has helped them. When the instructor reveals things they have learned and the mistakes made greatly impacts the students on a reality basis. The students can see firsthand the importance of long term training. When instructors sincerely explains how karate training has helped them personally outside the dojo, it gives reasons and motivation to students and parents to embrace the grind of long term training and why they need to stick to the plan.

The fact is we are all humans. Time and effort grinds us all. We must be reminded consistently of the benefits that will come if we stick to the path. It must be real, it must be specific, and it must be emotional. If not, people will move on.

This is what teaching philosophy is all about. Without it we are simply teaching karate moves. We are offering more than that to our students.