(Pictured above: Shihan Smith presenting a member of U.K.G.A. Kids their white belt!)
Everything is Earned!
An essential life lesson that children must learn and develop to succeed in life is the concept that everything in life is earned. As adults we know that the world doesn't just give things away. We have to put out effort and sometimes a lot of it to achieve our goals in life. We all must put forth effort to become more than we are. Doctors become doctors through years of hard work and study. Olympic athletes put in years of hard work and study as well to achieve. In order to not just earn a black belt, but to become a black belt, takes years of hard work and having the courage to face our own weaknesses so that we can overcome them. Most people that find the way to success in life have also figured out the effort and commitment it takes to achieve success. Everyone has a different definition of success, so the level of effort needed for success varies person to person.
Every child in our school learns rather quickly that all the good things they can achieve in Karate has to be earned through effort, and most importantly the courage to begin the journey. Fear of failure is the first obstacle when it comes learning how to be successful. When a child first gets their uniform, we keep the white belt temporarily. Toward the end of a session we like to honor the child by presenting them their first belt in front of the whole class. We then teach the child that they earned their white belts on the first day by showing us courage on the first day they came to class. It can be very scary to try new things, and trying martial arts out for the first time is no different. Courage doesn't mean that you are not afraid, but rather that you do not allow fear to control you. Despite how nervous they may have been, they displayed great courage to everyone. They showed a courage that they may not have even known they possessed. Courage like that should be celebrated no matter how young or old a person may be.
Honoring and encouraging a child's courage is a huge step to igniting the self-esteem and confidence that Karate training develops. After the child is presented with their white belt, the whole class cheers and congratulates them. Our students are all part of a team that encourages each other and rejoices when others succeed. U.K.G.A. Kids teaches courage, teamwork, and a sense of community. All of us learn and grow together. We build a foundation of the habits that create successful adults and it all starts with a little courage and learning how to achieve. Success is not just measured in achieving our goals, but also in how we pull each other up along the way!