By Shawn Edmonds
Master Edmonds Academy of Martial Arts
When my son, Joe, was 6, I was going crazy. He had so much energy. He pushed everything to the limit. He would come home almost every night having to write sentences, “I will sit in my seat,” “I will be quiet in class,” and so on. I tried getting up at 6 am and doing exercise tapes with him to wear him out a little before school. Nothing worked.
Then I took advantage of his fascination with Teenage Mutant Turtles and signed him up for Tae Kwon Do.
Our life has never been the same.
Joe will always be who he is, but what a life change! And it didn’t just affect him — martial arts is now my life’s work as well.
I learned something very valuable. Martial Arts is just a vehicle to teach kids the real lessons: Commitment, Self-Control, Discipline, and Respect for Authority, I could go on and on. The exercise was important, as is learning self-defense. But the real benefits I saw in several of my children, and in the hundreds of children that I have been teaching over the last 13 years, is the life skills they take with them outside of the studio.
More Than Exercise: Life Skills
I eventually married the master of the studio. We have a school in Los Gatos, California. I am now a 4th degree black belt, and my husband is a 6th degree. We teach at our studio and at several of the local public and private schools as well. One thing that is reaffirmed to me each day: People really, really need the skills martial arts provides.
We build lessons around positively channeling kids’ growing energy and curiosity, while building a lifetime commitment to health, safety, and respect. Martial arts is far more than kicking and punching. As teachers we emphasize good behavior and citizenship, teamwork, fairness, and trying your best. Other skills emphasized are long-term memory, balance, coordination — motor skills that came naturally through the kinds of outdoor play that we used to do, but that seem to be lost more and more.
While working on children’s motor skills, we are focusing on the child’s positive mental skills. These skills, as I have witnessed in my son and in countless others, help them enter society with a confident and enthusiastic outlook, become better listeners, and feel more ambitious in their goals. We teach respect for others as well as themselves, self control, following directions, good manners and leadership.
I’m not a leading expert, I can only testify what I see working with kids six days a week, as well as with my own family. Many life skills that were instilled in my generation are lacking in today’s kids. I don’t see that same healthy fear of…anything. Modern conveniences, electronics, the breakdown of the family home, both parents at work…many factors play a part.
While we are teaching Tae Kwon Do, they are learning essential life lessons that are quickly being lost: rank, submission, good manners in the way we address and greet each other. “Sir” and “Ma’am” are not just for adults…We do this for each other, regardless of age, to show our respect. Where else do our kids today have to submit so openly to rank and authority? I see kids today behave like they are adult’s equals.
The Edmonds Family
Commitment and Hard Work
Another big lesson learned is commitment. The road to black belt does not come easy, or quickly. It takes great personal sacrifice. Not giving up when things get hard or boring. There is so much noise in all our brains these days. It is so easy to flit from thing to thing. Commitment, and hard work does not come naturally. Quite often, my husband and I are just exhausted from pulling people along, motivating them. But we are so rewarded when the lights come on, and students are doing it for themselves. And taking great pride in pulling others along as well.
When watching the remake of The Karate Kid, the moment that made me want to stand up and cheer is when Jackie Chan says, “Kung Fu is life.” It doesn’t matter what style of martial arts you choose. As martial artists, the discipline, respect, and commitment to excellence we learn– is the way we run our lives.
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Master Shawn Edmonds, with her husband Master Charles Edmonds, co-own the Master Edmonds Academy. [http://edmondsacademy.com/index.htm They have decades of experience in successfully running and managing martial arts studios, providing individual instruction, and pursuing their own studies of marital arts. Master Charles Edmonds, a 6th degree black belt, brings over 25 years experience in Tae Kwon Do, and over 10 years in Kung Fu. He was in the military for 6 years, has been a police officer in Louisiana, and even an assistant coach to the San Francisco 49rs.
Master Shawn Edmonds, 4th degree black belt, brings over 13 years experience of training and teaching. She is the senior instructor business manager, specializes in training young children in martial arts, as well as has her graphic design business.
Together, as parents of 5 children, they blend their unique experience and insightful skills making their studio the ultimate family training center.
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