Help him be respectful
Respect is central to Grandmaster DeMasco's Life Skills Program, and probably the thing for which we are best known. Every child is different, but Martial Arts help shape character in deep and profound ways.
Sometimes the child struggles with skills like cooperation and authority. We don’t get into a “power game” with children. But, what we do is highly engaging. The secrets of kung fu are ancient and compelling, even for young students. Kids learn to do the right thing because they get to do the “cool things” the instructor shows them. We motivate students to engage in the right behavior because the learning rewards are worth it.
Help him learn confidence
Sometimes the opposite is true, and a child lacks the self-confidence to stand up for himself. We give students the tools to stand up for what is right. Our Life Skills program is based on the five tenets of Self-Discipline, Self-Control, Honesty, Patience, and of course, Respect. Grandmaster DeMasco is also a clinical psychologist and has dedicated his life to helping victims of bullying all over the world.
Teach him that hard work pays off
When a child fails in a video game, he hits “reset” and the level starts over. No real consequence - it’s just a push of a button.
It’s not the same in real life, whether that’s on the playground or in the classroom. The journey toward a black belt is a long one, but there are many moments of accomplishment along the way. He will learn new skills, new moves, or new Life Skills every week. There will be challenges - both real and imagined. There are belt tests and competitions too.
As he accomplishes each of these goals, he’ll come to realize that life is about working hard to reach your goals. In other words, he’ll come to realize what the most successful people in life already know. It takes years of dedication to become an overnight success. He will test for his black belt in one afternoon, but he’ll know the years of dedication he put into earning a spot on the dojo floor that day.
Grandmaster DeMasco was a child of incredible poverty. Born to a mom who was disabled and unable to find work, he learned early on the importance of hard work and commitment to family. It was from these early experiences, and those he learned over a lifetime in the martial arts, that led him to create the life skills program that defines Steve DeMasco's Martial Arts.
Adolescents are often very high-energy people. Things like executive function and impulse control are emerging skills. Self-Control is, of course, a tenet of our Life Skills Program. But it’s also something students gain because they want that next move and that next belt. They’re engaged, they’re committed, and they're determined.
Students learn to focus as well. The martial arts class is a loud, high-energy instructional setting. Yet students have to harness their energy and focus their power.
This pays real dividends in every area of life, but especially in school. Because Martial Arts builds fitness and focus, students develop the stamina to stay with study tasks throughout the school day. They often report being able to focus in class better, read for longer, and stay with their homework until it is done. Academic success still takes caring parents and great teachers, but a journey in the martial arts can help.
Develop a Growth Mindset
Much has been written and said about the Growth Mindset. This is something the Shaolin Monks realized 1600 years before Dweck’s excellent work on the subject. Confucius said, "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." In Kung Fu, students hear, see, and do ALL THE TIME. From the very first, students realize they are on a journey that never ends.
In fact, one of the things black belts always tell us is, “It feels like I’m just beginning.”
Obviously, a postscript
By now, you’ve probably realized two things. First, this list is not exhaustive, and your son will gain far more than this from a journey in the Martial Arts. Second, this list applies to daughters EQUALLY. We’re being a little provocative with our title, but as a good parent, you know that these attributes are something we try to build in all children.
If you want to read what we’re saying about daughters, check it out here.