The Edge Center Blog
Concepts, Ideas & Meditations of Master Vince Damiano
How discipline in the Martial Arts today is being taught wrong, and how we fix it.
Historically Martial Arts has been known for instilling discipline in its students. You will see a majority of schools using this as a sales tactic, but how is it that they are teaching discipline? Well they make it part of their mantra- they say it out loud as a part of arbitrary words they use to open training for the day. They use traditional drills to try and instill discipline in students by making them adhere to ridged stances and patterns and when they don't they are physically punished. This is known as the "break down theory"- You break a body down to build it back up. Now this is used successfully in military training due to the fact that soldiers need to conform to the same standard and there is no room for individualism. Somewhere long ago someone got Martial Arts and Martial Science confused. Science, has a strict set of rules to follow where Art is left to an individual's interpretation.
So why are schools still demanding a strict adherence to traditional techniques and forms that do not allow a student's individuality to shine through?
Besides a fear from straying from tradition or a lack of knowledge and experience I can't say. What I can say is that we teach Discipline in a new form. We start by being the living example for others to look at. I once worked with an instructor that constantly asked his students if their room was clean- however when I went to his house, it was a total mess. Very hypocritical. We don't demand from our students what we don't live and practice ourselves.
We develop responsibilities in our students. Are they in uniform? Do they have their belt and equipment? Did they do their homework before class or do they have plans to complete it afterwards? These habits build discipline because they can be put to use immediately without having to repeat them until instinct.
We give our students ownership. Make the technique theirs, not ours. Everyone have a different build, ability, mindset and values- so why should students conform to the way an instructor or tradition dictates. Ownership promotes pride, and with that one has a greater appreciation for what they are doing.
Finally is responsibility. You are accountable for your actions and if your actions are not that which are expected you are not "punished", you are "disciplined" (many schools confuse the two), and this is by understanding what has been done and learning how not to do it again. Students aren't put down or degraded in front of the class, but we make it a lesson for everyone by providing feedback and positive direction.
By creating a learning environment where discipline is shown by the example and not demanded by force, we are able to provide the best possible learning experience for our students and cultivate real, long lasting discipline.