Goals. They are the difference between a purpose-driven life and a life filled with frustration. We set goals in school, in business, in our finances, and in our personal experience. Every coach, every teacher, every mentor has lectured us about goals for as long as any of us can remember. Goals drive us to do more, do better, and do it more consistently. We tell our children to set goals, we put charts on the fridge, we put prizes on the line, and we build schedules months and years in advance around our goals.
In the martial arts, students are continually pursuing the next goal. That ability to set a goal, go after it, and succeed is the difference between success and regret in life. From the very first lesson, SDSS students are encouraged to reach the next belt level. Of course, everyone begins the Martial journey hoping one day to earn a black belt, but there are several ranks along the way to remind us that we’re growing and becoming stronger and more focused.
Many goals along the way to black belt
For younger students, even the few weeks or months between belts can feel like forever. Younger students need lots of encouragement along the way, and we provide lots of moments to encourage steps forward in both the martial curriculum and the Life Skills program. They’re often called “power stripes,” but each one celebrates a specific achievement.
Goals often give students the confidence to continue moving forward when the going gets tough. Some martial skills are more challenging to learn than others. Moreover, Life Skills such as Self Discipline, Self Control, Respect, Patience, and Honesty take a lifetime to master (which is why they’re called Life Skills). Those individual moments along the way, whether they are power stripes or belt advancements, help the child realize, “I CAN do this.”
Goals help at school
This becomes an absolute game changer at school. Every child, regardless of ability, runs into a situation that looks bigger than a mountain and feels harder than a brick wall. It may be a class, or a social situation, or the local bully. It may look small to us as adults, but be assured, it is ALL “big stuff” from where the child sits. And as your child grows in the martial arts, they learn that they CAN do anything they set their mind to.
Martial artists learn to dig deep, inside their character and beyond their natural ability. They learn that the journey “inside” is really what our life is all about.
The ability to understand goals will also make a huge difference as your child begins high school. These are the years when our kids start to stretch their wings and get ready for college and beyond. There are constant life-changing decisions in school and in their personal life. Martial Arts training can help your child make decisions with wisdom well beyond their years. Every teenager will do impulsive things – that’s the developmental reality of adolescence. But the future black belts are more likely to find their way back to the narrow path before they stray too far.
Finally, and perhaps best of all, the Martial Arts are fun, and the goals we reach are sweeter because of it. Listen to student reactions on the dojo floor sometimes. “That’s so coooool.” “Wait – we can really do that???” “Sweeeeet.” Every Martial Artist has the same experience with each new technique and every new form. Even after earning that first black belt, the journey never loses its luster. There is always something even more spectacular right over that next hill.
Goals in the martial arts build what author Carol Dweck calls, “A Growth Mindset.” Students learn to replace “I don’t know” with “I’m learning that next.” They learn to replace “I failed” with “What did I learn for next time?” Everything, regardless of the outcome, is a learning experience that takes us one step forward to our next big goal.