Developing Discipline In Young Students

(Through Goal Setting And The Resultant Acquisition Of Values)

A recent report on the state of education in the U.S.A defined three major problems among contemporary high school students:

1) An absence of goals.

2) A lack of discipline

3) An overall impression of misplaced values among the young people who were represented in the study.

At the University Karate Center, we have the opportunity to address these issues in a direct manner that can lead to the internalization of new insights habits, and perspectives, which, in turn, can generalize into all aspects of a student’s life at any age.

For karate students at UKC goals are made very concrete through the use of the belt system. The attainment of Black Belt can be set as a long-term goal with the achievement of each colored belt set as an intermediate goal. The attainment of stripes between ranks offers concrete reinforcement on the way to achieving the proficiency required by the next belt test.

In order to succeed at meeting our goals, we must discipline ourselves. When we are enjoying what we do and are having fun, our activities reward us by the natural pleasure, joy, or comfort that they bring us. At these times, our endeavors do not require an external reward as the intrinsic reinforcement is quite sufficient. However, when we are struggling to learn a new skill, or trying very hard to cope with a disappointment or loss, our efforts are not being immediately rewarded. At these times, maintaining our perspective by reflecting on our goals, and the reward we will feel when we attain them, can provide the reinforcement that we need to keep our motivation up.

This process leads to the attainment of a disciplined attitude and the development of qualities like patience, endurance, perseverance and integrity. In many ways it is in making the effort to learn lessons that are difficult for us that we can experience the greatest growth. Through this process we can attain an understanding of the true value of achievement that comes as a consequence of hard work and improved competence. Over time we develop self-discipline because we have the power to suspend our need for an immediate reward now. We know that as we attain competence, as the result of correct practice for a period of time, we will achieve an even greater reward when our next goal is reached.

© 2001 Robert H. Mason

Training your Mind for Success

When the best Martial Arts students are training their hardest, they need flexibility, strength, and endurance, not only in the use of their bodies, but also their minds. They need mind fitness.

What does the mind have to do with it? Webster’s dictionary defines the mind as “the part of a person that feels, perceives, thinks, wills and reasons.” In other words, the mind has a lot of important work to do. Some people describe it as the “steering wheel” of the body. Because it has such a vital job, you must prepare your mind as energetically as you prepare your body.

What is mind fitness? The words flexibility, strength, and endurance can also describe the way we use our minds. These qualities can mean the difference between feeling tense and nervous and feeling confident and relaxed. Martial Artists need to be calm and sure of them-selves to be successful in their sport.

How do you gain mind fitness? Once again, the steps are similar to those that help with physical Martial Arts training: you need lots of practice. Here is a guide to some of the basics:

Visualize. Understanding yourself and the way you think is a big part of mind fitness. Every few days, find a quiet time to be alone with your thoughts. Meditation coach Jon Kabat-Zinn suggests that you try “seeing your own a journey and an adventure. Where are you going? What are you seeking? Where are you now?” He emphasizes that the “journey” belongs to you alone; you are in charge of the direction it takes, so think about what makes you happy. Visualize your successes. Exercising or practicing your kata are excellent ways to get ready to meditate.

Challenge yourself with new experiences.

Make a point of finding someone or something new to learn about or experience. It can be as simple as an unfamiliar food or as exciting as a new language. Pay attention to the feelings you have as you do new things. How do you feel? How do you behave? What do you learn about yourself?

Read! The great Martial Artist Bruce Lee had an extensive library and a deep desire to know things, and he used what he learned in his readings to help him grow into a better man and a better Martial Artist. Find out more about the things your Sensei shares in Martial Arts classes; use the library, the bookstore, the Internet; ask questions.


The Philosophy Lesson

A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front

of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, rocks about 2" in diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full? They agreed that it was.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was. The students laughed.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

"Now," said the professor, "I want you to recognize that this is your life. The rocks are the important things - your family, your partner, your health, and your children - things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else. The small stuff."

"If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party and fix the disposal."

"Take care of the rocks first - the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."