A few days ago, I had a conversation with Mr. Ian Jereos, KFM's resident chief instructor. If you're part of the Parent's Group or Adult Training Group, you probably know me as the guy who helps out in social media for Karate Fitness Manila.
I also happen to be friends with Sempai Ian and Sempai Mario for a very long time. We talk about Karate all the time. Since we started Karate Fitness Manila, we have also been talking about how we wanted to develop the students in KFM, specially the children. Just like them, I have always put more emphasis on character building first, practical self protection and life saving skills second, and sporting practice last.
Sempai Mario and Sempai Ian demonstrating a throw
Since I loved talking to people I shared some ideas about inculcating positive values we in KFM believed in. These were positive self image, confidence, courage, rectitude, and a few more. He explained how it is built into the curriculum. How Sempai Ian and Sempai Mario integrate it into classes and training, that can be witnessed in actual training. We won't go into that here. What struck me was what he said next. He told me that in Karate, instructors, Sempais, Senseis, and Shihans put premium in the character of students, as well as the openness of students to allow Karate to mold their character.
Sempai Ian checking basic movements in drills
He said, "Do you know why there are so few Karatekas?"
1) We screen students for attitude and coachability. We don't just accept anyone;
2) We don't treat it as sport, which has a casual mindset. We treat is as martial art - which has a serious mindset, knowing full well you can injure or kill;
3) The skill is very hard to learn and demanding. This kills ego. A lot of people have trouble letting go of their ego;
4) From day one we discourage students from equating rank with 'entitlement' or 'privilege' or 'wanton license' - I personally make everyone who wants to get promoted, memorize this: "Wear the belt, bear the burden, assume the responsibility" ;
5) A lot more is expected and demanded of the higher-ranked. Your responsibilities expand just as the standards used to evaluate your skill become more stringent. It's either you shine, or you quit.
And that, my friends, made a lot of sense to me.
About Jiggs Baarde
KFM Website Editor and Social Media Pointman
Ecom entrepreneur and survivalist. Former Karateka. Loves mountaineering and anything out of the ordinary. My Job at Karate Fitness Manila is to ensure valuable content and updates are delivered to you on a timely manner in all relevant digital touchpoints.