A karate parent is a parent with a minor child or children in a karate program. Karate parents are integral to any good dojo. Their children need their support to reap the benefits of kids karate. These loyal adult sponsors can be shining stars, lending their brilliance to any traditional dojo. And they can sometimes make karate parent mistakes. Here are the top five most common ones I have seen over the years. Hopefully, becoming more aware of these missteps will help us to avoid them.
1st in Karate Parent Mistakes: Taking Away Karate for Punishment
This may be the most common of karate parent mistakes. As a teacher, it certainly disappoints me the most. Parents have pulled their kids out of the program because of poor grades, or sometimes because of poor behavior. They think that their child who got in the habit of slacking off will miss karate so much that it will give them the incentive to work harder. The parents don’t calculate into their equation that karate is hard work. Why would anyone in an apathy mode want to put in extra effort? Especially when the reward for that effort would be more hard work and more accountability to more people? Instead of taking away karate, it’s far better to have a Sensei meeting with the child. A good teacher can help kids apply their karate skills to the areas that need improvement.
2nd Karate Parent Mistakes: Thinking Black Belt is the End Goal
This misunderstanding is more commonly in the avenue of karate parent mistakes than in student mistakes. Black belt is a great goal to strive for. But attaining black belt doesn’t mean that you have reached the end of your training. It means that you have mastered the basics and now can apply them to become proficient in the arts. You can also spread the knowledge to other lower ranks. Brown belts kids and their parents typically recognize the benefits that the child reaps from active dojo involvement. Those rewards not only continue, but they expand when you continue consistent training as a black belt.
3rd in Karate Parent Mistakes: Pushing too Hard for Rank
At our dojo, all students must earn their rank promotion. Thinking that training is all about getting belts is a common blunder in karate parent mistakes. Martial arts training is for improving self-defense skills, building confidence and fitness, building values and character, and learning things about yourself that you might not otherwise learn. Belt rank is just a byproduct of the hard work put in and the skill demonstrated. When parents push their child, or the child’s teacher, to try to obtain a higher belt color for the child, it creates the wrong image for their karate kid. If you feel a tendency to push for rank, instead channel that into positive support for your child to practice their curriculum requirements.
4th in Karate Parent Mistakes: Letting the Child Call the Shots
A traditional Okinawan karate program teaches children to excel in shaping their own lives. That is, if it has supportive, professional instructors. And, if the children grow up participating in the program. Karate teaches physical, mental and emotional fitness to the whole child. This results in their ability to become contributing members of society.
Kids don’t care about all that. They just want to have fun. Enjoyment is important for learning. But one of the karate parent mistakes is pulling your child out of training because they want to quit – usually because it isn’t fun anymore. Instead, point out to them how karate helps them be faster, smarter, fitter and better able to protect themselves. Give all of the reasons to stick with it. If they persevere, they will later be so glad they did.
5th in Karate Parent Mistakes: Not Getting Involved
Another one of the karate parent mistakes is not getting involved at the dojo. You don’t have to train as a formal student (though that would be awesome!). You can do many other things, as your schedule allows, which will result in supporting your child’s training. At the very least, you can read up on the dojo rules and reinforce them with your kids. Additionally, you can listen to the Sensei’s messages in classes and discuss and apply them at home. You can help clean the dojo (traditional dojo without a janitor). It’s always a great idea to read the dojo newsletter, e-mails, and other letters and flyers, and discuss content with your children. We do our best to communicate openly so you can stay abreast of important happenings. You can be present as a positive influence for new parents who want to get involved.
Here is a longer article with a dozen more things karate parents can do to help their young martial artists. It contains excellent advice and ideas. Knowledge is power and we karate parents can always improve our ability to help our kids in karate. Dojo involvement is a great tool for us to help our children grow into their best selves.