The following is a reprint, but a wonderful article about the plight of the martial arts instructor. I published it years ago and then again in our July 2007 newsletter at Moo Duk Kwan Martial Arts:
To the casual observer, martial arts classes resemble a common activity like baseball practice or ballet lessons. The student does the prescribed drills and then goes on to the next activity or event. Indeed many modern schools of thought appeal to instant gratification and are quick to keep the student from getting bored, but is this martial arts?
Martial arts is a mind, body, and spirit “character developing up-lifter” when taught correctly. This is written so that you the student, parent, or guardian will be able to share some insight from the master instructor’s files. It is my hope that this will deepen your appreciation and understanding of the martial arts.
Imagine three bags full of seeds. One for the body. One for the mind. One for the spirit, character, and self-esteem. The student is the ground. Seeds come in many forms. Some grow up over night and some take months, while others bloom but once a year. The seeds of classical martial arts are time tested, true, and of a knowledge that produces success.
Every day the master instructor surveys the field (training hall). He waters the field with a smile or a kind word, prunes a plant (student) with a technical correction, pulls a weed (distraction or interruption) with a glare, etc. Then he waits and hopes in eager anticipation, repeating the process patiently again and again. An old Chinese proverb says, “You cannot make a plant grow by pulling at the roots!” Many observers see a karate class like only a sports team. The master instructor looks at the individual pots and the progress of the seeds. First comes the sprout, then the blade, then the pod, followed by the flower and then the fruit. Given time the student can eat the fruit, save the seeds, and plant the next crop – a process that repeats over and over in every area of life. The student has learned success, built upon a firm foundation that has been carefully cultivated through the balanced working of the interaction of the mind, the body, and the spirit.