“It’s real, and it’s spectacular” is, of course, a slight riff on a famous line in the 1990s comedy series “Seinfeld.”
In this post, I discuss a recent remark by a martial artist about me teaching a children’s Modern Arnis class involving questionable logic. Essentially, he implied “you don’t teach a real martial art because you teach kids” and secondly “therefore, the art you practice is also not a real martial art.”
Ahem. I assure you what I teach is real and it’s spectacular. 🙂
Let’s tackle the first statement: “You don’t teach a real martial art because you teach kids.”
Talk about a logical fallacy. A martial art is not real because I teach kids? If you buy into this argument, every martial art is likely not to “be real.” Beyond that, this statement denigrates martial artists who teach children. It also questions whether they have any real skill. I have seen a good number of martial artists who are incredible teachers of children.
Perhaps this person’s opinion was further informed by some action shots or videos of my children’s class which currently has more girls than boys.
Full video here.
I do not know for certain, but I cannot rule out that his opinion was influenced by this. The ratio will inevitably change as some lose interest and new students join. In any case, this poster commented that this looked “real dangerous training kids with 2 oz sticks.”
In any case, I did not set out to teach children when I first started teaching at Legends Centre in Oshawa in 2008. Around 2009, a woman contacted me and asked me if I could teach her 4-year-old daughter. Starting with this young girl and a couple of others, I started my children’s class. Straight up, I did not know what the hell I was doing most of the time. As I did not do any marketing or advertising for this, growth was essentially non-existent for the first year or so, which was fine by me as I was trying to figure this out!
Soon parents of 5 to 7-year-olds started contacting me about my kids’ classes. To reiterate, I had no plans to teach children in this age range. Often when parents contact me, I am upfront and tell them that I teach sticks through Modern Arnis and that the sticks translate to empty hands. The vast majority are okay with the idea of kids training with sticks. Surprisingly, only a couple of parents declined to enroll their children due to safety concerns.
Over time, through research, advice, and trial and error, I have gotten better at teaching children and found myself immensely enjoying the experience of teaching children. I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing half the time. 🙂
I teach the kids sticks from day one. Included are the angles of attack and sinawali drills. Basic block, check, counter and the slap off/pull off drills are also taught. I focus on physical literacy and teaching basic self-defense and most importantly giving them confidence when they “get it.” Their faces light up when they “get it,” a most enjoyable moment!
Regarding this statement: “this looks real dangerous training kids with 2 oz sticks”:
I prefer to train each child briefly in class one on one to ensure that they understand the technique before they pair off with their friends. It’s all about proper technique and safety!
Going back to the first statement, “You don’t teach a real martial art because you teach kids.” Am I teaching the same basics of Modern Arnis? Yes! I do not teach the six and seven-year-olds adult material. Not by any stretch of the imagination! But it’s the same martial art, executed by different age groups, nothing more. I’m focusing on core competencies and physical literacy with this particular age group. As they get older and their physical literacy increases, they will learn more Modern Arnis. Ladies and gentlemen, this stuff is real and spectacular. 🙂
I conclude that the aforementioned statement comes from a warped perspective.
On to the second statement: “And therefore, the art you practice is also not a real martial art.”
Huh? Really? Try telling that to the Gracie family who has had a long tradition of introducing their children to the family version of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu through games and an emphasis on fun. Oh yes, the founder of Modern Arnis, the late Professor Remy A. Presas, started at age 5. Many all-time greats started at a young age. Most assuredly, their martial art styles were real. Again, this is a warped perspective, that because I teach 6 and 7-year-old kids, Modern Arnis is not a real martial art? Maybe the sight of them playing with “2 oz sticks” (as this guy put it) looks funny. Maybe someday they’ll look this:
Full video here.
Full video here.