A note from Sensei Didi:
Today was the first day of the new Fall Session at Redwood Dojo – and I wasn’t in class! I feel a little badly about it. But every year at this time – on Labor Day weekend – I go on a trip with my elderly dad (he’s 84). I’ve been doing this since 2006, when my mother passed away, and I’ll continue for as long as my father is able.
It means missing class at a time of year when students are returning after summer break, and newcomers are considering joining class. As a committed instructor, I want to be in the dojo to welcome students back, and to make sure newcomers have a good experience. But in this case, family comes first.
This got me thinking. What else comes first?
School does. When students tell me they have to miss class because of schoolwork, or because they need to bring their grades up, I always tell them school has to come first. To be honest, I hate it when students miss class – for ANY reason – and if their schoolwork is suffering because they’re goofing off, or playing video games, they don’t need to be missing MY class! Still, we have to keep things in perspective. A child’s future depends on how they do in school. As important and beneficial as martial arts training may be, it is extracurricular.
That doesn’t mean a student should take it lightly when they miss class, any more than I should take it lightly when I can’t be there to teach. We make a commitment when we decide to train in martial arts, and we do so because the long-term benefits are worth it. If priorities make us miss class on a given day, commitment guarantees we’ll be back as soon as we can – even if it’s difficult, even if there are other things competing for our time.
The great thing about keeping the commitment is that doing so helps us manage our priorities. The discipline of regular training at the dojo makes it easier to handle other stresses and demands, including the demands of school and (sometimes) family. Committed training in martial arts will increase a student’s focus and self-control, teach perseverance, energize mind and body. All these benefits translate to other areas of life – work, home, and school.
School comes first, but martial arts training helps kids conquer their schoolwork.
Family comes first, but training is a part of who we are – as our families know well.
Thankfully, I have very capable assistant instructors who can teach while I’m away. I look forward to seeing everyone on Thursday.