Suddenly, the subject starts to get murky and the opinions of instructors start to become varied. So why am I discussing this subject and why does it matter in the greater scheme of things? Let me begin by explaining the reason this subject weighs heavily on my heart and why I make the choices I do.
Over the years, Rochester Family Martial Arts has had a number of students that are brought in, needing discipline. This is common in every martial arts school across the country. The difference is how every instructor handles these troubled kids. Where this seems to impact us, is this; we spend a lot of money on advertising, and often run specials. It is not uncommon for us to have 5-6 new students arrive for their first class, on the same day. I am always filled with excitement, ready to make a good impression, grow our school, and share in the art that I love. That is when the disruptions occur. There is always at least one student who decides to step into class with an attitude. They fight and argue and refuse to participate. They also end up being bad partners and cause problems during warm-ups, and bag drills. They even interrupt myself and the other instructors, while we are talking, and just demonstrate a serious lack of respect, overall.
The problem then occurs when the new students, or their parents, ask why they would come to a school to learn discipline, only to see a serious lack, thereof. As a school owner, I often ask myself, how much money do I lose due to this? These situations have led me to sit down with my Master and discuss what the next step should be. He always makes the same statement – “We DON'T have to teach everyone”.
So, then, why is this still a subject of discussion? It's because even though he says it, he doesn't really believe it. At what point does business and heart clash? Those who know me, know I am a Christian and have very strong beliefs. What I like about martial arts, is there is no clash between religion and the warrior arts. But why do I even mention this? It is because I feel the Dojang is no different than a church. Many people choose not to go to church because the members may act differently outside the walls, than what they do inside. I often hear a quote, “church is for 'sinners,' not the devoted”. So how does this apply to a Dojang? It is because the Dojang is a place for the undisciplined, to come, learn, and be changed.
If we turn them away, and refuse to help them, are we fulfilling the Black Belt Code? Are we living our lives following the Tennets? Are we really making a difference in the community, if we don't reach out to those who need us most? As a business owner I have a need to pay the bills, but as a Black Belt, I choose to live my life with honor. So due to this, our beginner class will sometimes be a little disorderly. The students might occasionally be disrespectful. And myself and the other instructors might come to disagreements as to how to best handle those troubled students. But throughout all the chaos, what I look forward to most, is the day I stand in front of that student, tying on their black belt for the first time, and knowing the transformation that occurred due to my perseverance. This belief is why I step on the mat every day and tie on my black belt. I choose to follow my heart, rather than the money, and will continue to do so. I don't need to be the biggest school or the most talented students. What I need is the knowledge that I am changing the lives of every student that steps on my mat, and that I am leaving behind a legacy that will continue to change the world, for the better.