Recently, I came across this video on Facebook, and it stood out to me. Take 10 minutes of your time and watch the whole thing.  Some saw it as a metaphor for death regarding confronting the fear of the unknown. Some saw it in more prosaic terms. “It’s nothing more than facing your fears and taking the leap.” I think that it’s an excellent portrayal of humans in doubt when faced with a difficult situation.

I don’t see anything wrong with someone getting to that platform and deciding not to follow through. Different folks will assess their risks differently. One who chooses not to leap in this situation may do well do so in other cases.

Different folks may have different reasons for not taking the leap. For some, the fear of being injured is a factor. “Looking like a fool” is a powerful fear as well. A generalized “fear of the unknown” plays a role in preventing some from “taking the leap.”

In short, many psychological factors prevent folks from taking a gamble and changing their lives.

However, I saw this video from a different vantage point.

As a martial arts instructor, I have encountered many over the past few years who have inquired into my classes. A few came in, watched. Still, others tried one free class.

Many professed excitement about joining up. “This looks so cool! I’m going to join!”

Then they never come back or are kidnapped by aliens. 😉

To be sure, several factors might come into play. Life in a traffic-congested area like Toronto can make attending classes challenging. For others, the daily commutes to downtown Toronto or other parts of the Greater Toronto Area are often long and exhausting. Even driving within the Durham Region (where my wife and I live) sometimes can be a pain in the ass. As a result, many don’t have the energy to attend class.

For all that, I sometimes wonder if there is a fear of the unknown for some prospective students. I would not doubt that some may have concerns about working with sticks and knives. A general fear of playing with weapons could be an issue.

It could be that the fear of “looking like a fool” in front of others prevents some from taking the leap.

What does it take to convince folks to “leap into my class?”

Talking with a prospective student can uncover their concerns. The following are the most common concerns I have encountered over the years.

  • Fear of practicing with weapons? Point out to them that, in Filipino Martial Arts, there are empty hand translations for weapons movements.
  • Fear of injury: As an instructor, I always emphasize safety and consideration of others. Due to this emphasis, none of my students have suffered any serious injuries other than the normal bruises.
  • Cost: I offer various packages to address their concern about the cost of martial arts. Occasionally, I will ask “what is your life worth?” 😉
  • Not knowing anybody: Often, this issue is addressed after they have tried a free class. My students are friendly, open, and helpful. Encouraging them to bring a friend to join can help as well.
  • Lack of martial arts experience:  I emphasize that Modern Arnis is easy to learn. Showing them is key. Trying single sinawali is an excellent hook. There is nothing simpler than single sinawali. Depending on the prospective student, I will introduce them to either the empty hand version or go straight to sticks.
  • Judging themselves: often this does not rear its ugly head until after one has joined the class. I’ve had two students who quit over this issue. They berated themselves so mercilessly that they left. Fortunately, I have addressed this issue with others by reminding them to focus on “progression instead of perfection.” I’ve learned to spot this issue early on. Better to nip it in the bud early. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to spot this when a prospective student is considering joining.

Alas, like some in the New York Times video, some just can’t bring themselves to “take the leap.” I’ve learned to accept this. On the other hand, some have joined the class and are enjoying them!

Over to you. What issues have you seen preventing some from taking the leap? Let’s hear from you!

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