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Thread: Do people view karate as "Kids Stuff"?

  1. #1
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    Default Do people view karate as "Kids Stuff"?

    Here is my take on it:

    http://www.examiner.com/x-24575-Pitt...Childrenss-Art

    Any comments?
    Rick Sbuscio

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    I think it makes some parents feel good about their children getting something out of after school care. I agree that there needs to be a distinction. These programs due offer benefits for kids that are severely lacking in today's society.

    Here is an example of the Little Ninja program and how it can boost profits. http://www.napma.com/littleninjas/index.html

    Obviously, you need to stay in business for the serious adult students; and, I am glad people can make a living off of martial arts. I would love to too.

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    How about a 'Kiddie Katori' class.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCexFaVLyeA
    Bill Reddock
    Los Angeles IaidoKai

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    I've seen and talked to people who do. From strangers, to former co-workers, to students in my Sunday school class, people have asked "Aren't you a little old to be doing that?"

    Having seen many of the martial arts schools in my area that bring the children in by the bus load doesn't help that image either. One school, near my work, does not even offer an adult class.
    Pat Massey

    Student of Shorin Ryu
    Student of Aikikai Aikido

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    We have to ask ourselves the question: Who's fault is this? I think it's ours (the martial arts community) for allowing mediocrity to leave our schools. We, as a whole, have lowered standards year after year. We have focused training on the idiotic and unimportant just because that's what paying students want to learn (hey, I saw so-and-so doing this in a movie..).

    Which brings me to "them" (the American public), part of this perception is their fault too. "I have expendable income, but I only want to learn what I perceive as "cool", or I'll go somewhere else!" and the attitude of; "I want it now, immediately! Or I'll get bored and go somewhere else!" pervails in our culture. We have to think of them as children, they THINK that they know what is right for them, but we ARE supposed to know!

    The combination of attitudes on both sides has been detrimental to all martial arts. Us catering to the "all mighty dollar" to keep the dojo open, and them, demanding "shortcut" training for short attention spans or they'll take that dollar elswhere.

    How do we fix this? I think it is too late. Everyone would have to stop worshipping money, stop compromising Art for the sake of cash and teach things as they are supposed to be taught - No matter how long it takes! We'd have to stop awarding black belts to 6 year olds (for Christ's sake!, are you kidding!) or to others who ARE NOT WORTHY of receiving one! Yeah - good luck getting everyone to agree to this!

    I, personally, teach in the "old" way. I make nothing money-wise, but I think I have some damn fine students as a result. The bottom line is, when I am dead and gone, I will rest in peace knowing that I did not pass on a pile of garbage and lies to my students. Hopefully, they will continue with this tradition themselves!
    Edward Koschmider

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    Quote Originally Posted by EddieK View Post
    We have focused training on the idiotic and unimportant just because that's what paying students want to learn (hey, I saw so-and-so doing this in a movie..).

    Which brings me to "them" (the American public), part of this perception is their fault too. "I have expendable income, but I only want to learn what I perceive as "cool", or I'll go somewhere else!" and the attitude of; "I want it now, immediately! Or I'll get bored and go somewhere else!" pervails in our culture.

    The combination of attitudes on both sides has been detrimental to all martial arts. Us catering to the "all mighty dollar" to keep the dojo open, and them, demanding "shortcut" training for short attention spans or they'll take that dollar elswhere.

    How do we fix this? I think it is too late. Everyone would have to stop worshipping money, stop compromising Art for the sake of cash and teach things as they are supposed to be taught - No matter how long it takes! We'd have to stop awarding black belts to 6 year olds (for Christ's sake!, are you kidding!) or to others who ARE NOT WORTHY of receiving one! Yeah - good luck getting everyone to agree to this!
    Hear, hear! Money is the cause of it all! The root of all evil! Down with money, I say! All the problems associated with the transmission of traditional arts would be solved if just did away with money. Why, without money, the survival of a martial arts system would be determined largely by its popularity rather than how much money the teacher makes. And that popularity would be determined by things like whether or not the headmaster writes an influential book or becomes the teacher of a powerful daimyo or Hollywood celebrity--the things that really matter in the martial arts and don't have anything at all to do with making money. Clearly, if we had never thought of introducing money into the mix, 6 year old black belts would never have come into being! Yes, it would all be so much better without money!

    Oh well, I guess I should get back to my commune now as it is getting quite cold and this interferes greatly with my feelings of smug superiority. Luckily, a few torn chapters from Atlas Shrugged make for a wonderful campfire.
    Richard Garrelts

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    I think you've taken me wrong - I am neither smug, nor superior to anyone. All I am saying is that sacrificing the Traditional part of the arts that are "too difficult or boring" because our CUSTOMERS (they are not really students anymore) demand it, has watered down what we started with to the point that now - Karate (or martial Arts in general) are now considered child's play. I might have been a little "preachy" in my last post, and I apologize for that - but it's because it pisses me off that we have done this to ourselves!
    Edward Koschmider

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    Quote Originally Posted by EddieK View Post
    All I am saying is that sacrificing the Traditional part of the arts that are "too difficult or boring" because our CUSTOMERS (they are not really students anymore) demand it, has watered down what we started with to the point that now - Karate (or martial Arts in general) are now considered child's play.
    Sorry, my sarcasm often gets the better of me. I don't really see the issue, though. You say that teachers are sacrificing the arts by catering to students who want "watered down" practice. But, clearly, some "customers" (such as your students) don't demand any watering down at all and would, in fact, prefer the opposite. How is fulfilling your students' need for traditional instruction fundamentally different from the instructor at Joe Blow's Family Martial Arts Academy catering to his customers' need for a babysitter? For some people, the difference might be a sense of indebtedness to the teacher who taught them, but no matter how you slice it, feeling compelled to teach in a traditional manner is still just a response to market and cultural forces. I don't see any reason to villainize non-traditional practitioners for providing a useful service. It's not really my cup of tea, but others find some value in it. Good for them!
    Richard Garrelts

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    Quote Originally Posted by R_Garrelts View Post
    Sorry, my sarcasm often gets the better of me. I don't really see the issue, though. You say that teachers are sacrificing the arts by catering to students who want "watered down" practice. But, clearly, some "customers" (such as your students) don't demand any watering down at all and would, in fact, prefer the opposite. How is fulfilling your students' need for traditional instruction fundamentally different from the instructor at Joe Blow's Family Martial Arts Academy catering to his customers' need for a babysitter? For some people, the difference might be a sense of indebtedness to the teacher who taught them, but no matter how you slice it, feeling compelled to teach in a traditional manner is still just a response to market and cultural forces. I don't see any reason to villainize non-traditional practitioners for providing a useful service. It's not really my cup of tea, but others find some value in it. Good for them!
    Excellent point! The difference is that I wouldn't change the curriculum to either keep, or attract more students and Joe Blow's will! EXAMPLE: Think of the 80's when many Joe Blow's TKD became Joe Blow's Ninja over night! (Today it would be: Joe Blow's TKD/MMA/BJJ!)

    I don't villianize anyone - and I certainly didn't mean to if I came off that way - Personally - I really, really don't care what anyone else teaches, professes, claims, or PASSES ON - etc... But I do care about what I do!

    I was simply trying to answer the original post/s and maybe got too high up on the soap box for some (very sorry). But, you can't fault me for being passionate and you have to admit that what has happended to martial arts is more than just a little sad.
    Edward Koschmider

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    Quote Originally Posted by EddieK View Post
    Excellent point! The difference is that I wouldn't change the curriculum to either keep, or attract more students and Joe Blow's will! (Today it would be: Joe Blow's TKD/MMA/BJJ!)
    Yes, but in refusing to bow to certain market demands, you are providing a training environment that appeals to a particular cadre of students, just as changing the sign on the door to "The Latest and Greatest Super-deadly Internal Aiki Koryu" would appeal to some other group of people. As long as everyone is honest, I don't see that attempting to maintain a tradition is somehow fundamentally superior to inventing a new technique every day of the week. Why is it so awful when someone changes something in an attempt to keep more students? A lot of the traditional martial arts started that way.

    It also occurs to me that karate was introduced into the Okinawan public schools system around the turn of the 20th century. But many of the practices that we, today, consider "traditional" (uniforms, kneeling in the dojo, Japanese terminology, drilling in kihon-waza) date back only to (at the earliest) the 1920s or '30s and were introduced in response to (gasp!) cultural and market forces. So, in some sense, "karate for kids" is more traditional than much of what we do in the dojo!
    Richard Garrelts

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    You may be correct - this type of training does appeal to a certain smaller margin of students - the difference is the motivation behind your actions. I don't teach any particular way in order to attract students, I do it because I think it's the right thing to do.
    Edward Koschmider

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    Quote Originally Posted by EddieK View Post
    You may be correct - this type of training does appeal to a certain smaller margin of students - the difference is the motivation behind your actions. I don't teach any particular way in order to attract students, I do it because I think it's the right thing to do.
    Yes, motivations do, indeed, differ. For example, when I teach physics, I am fully aware that I am providing a service to the students taking the course, and I do my best to make sure that they are able to benefit maximally from that service. This often necessitates that I not bow to the fickle whims of a few students and, for example, make the tests easier because they would like to go partying the night before. It also means that if I discover a better method of teaching some particular concept then I am under a personal obligation to change my teaching practice accordingly. I would not be carrying out this service to the best of my ability if I always insisted on doing things the same way, simply because that is what I am most familiar with or because that is what tradition dictates.

    Is changing in order to better suit the needs of my students a compromise of my integrity? I don't think so. I would say, rather, that my integrity would be compromised were I to teach, for example, the old phlogiston theory of matter as anything other than a historical curiosity. Is it a compromise of my integrity if I institute changes with the specific goal of attracting more students? I don't see why it has to be. In my experience, attracting more students is best accomplished by finding out how to best meet their needs.

    Not everyone in the martial arts has the same needs. Hopefully, in meeting the needs of your students, you are also doing something you enjoy.
    Richard Garrelts

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    Default My two cents...

    Quote Originally Posted by R_Garrelts View Post
    Sorry, my sarcasm often gets the better of me. I don't really see the issue, though. You say that teachers are sacrificing the arts by catering to students who want "watered down" practice. But, clearly, some "customers" (such as your students) don't demand any watering down at all and would, in fact, prefer the opposite. How is fulfilling your students' need for traditional instruction fundamentally different from the instructor at Joe Blow's Family Martial Arts Academy catering to his customers' need for a babysitter? For some people, the difference might be a sense of indebtedness to the teacher who taught them, but no matter how you slice it, feeling compelled to teach in a traditional manner is still just a response to market and cultural forces. I don't see any reason to villainize non-traditional practitioners for providing a useful service. It's not really my cup of tea, but others find some value in it. Good for them!
    I think what is at issue here is that the instructor should know better and still bows to the whims of a student who really does not know enough to make an informed choice. Giving in to a beginner who just wants to learn how to do acrobatics is the same as allowing a 4 year old to learn that 2+2=5, because it makes the child happy. We as instructors of traditional martial arts know better and should try to educate a student, not placate them.
    Rick Sbuscio

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    I teach an adults-only program and I struggle with this issue all the time. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I recently addressed this issue in a brief blog post on our site (http://seisui.weebly.com) or more specifically I should say I made some comments about Rob Redmond's more eloquent essay on the subject in our blog. You can link to his article through my blog if you like or find it 24fightingchickens.com .

    Personally, I think it's time to "take back" karate - leave the kids TKD and Freestyle Karate However, it's easy for me to say that since I don't have to make a living teaching martial arts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff View Post
    Personally, I think it's time to "take back" karate - leave the kids TKD and Freestyle Karate However, it's easy for me to say that since I don't have to make a living teaching martial arts.
    I agree. I have gone out of my way to point out to people that Karate is not the same as TKD, though to the new student it may seem the same. Okinawan weapons is not the same as some guy who adds a Bo kata to his karate. We need to aggressively point this out.

    I have an upcoming article "Is TKD Karate?" I hope to ruffle some feathers. hehe
    Rick Sbuscio

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