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We’ve all know someone who struggles with commitments. They don’t finish projects. They quit the team. They dropped out of college six months before graduation. The interesting thing about these types of people is that with every new thing they begin, they are genuinely eager and excited. They work frantically and learn quickly, but just when things begin to normalize and become more work-like, their interest fades away as quickly as it began. Unfortunately, this cycle is often learned behavior leftover from childhood.

Keeping that in mind, there’s a question we ask our students from time to time, “How long does it take the average person to become a black belt?” Eager hands shoot up in response and there will be a half-dozen or so answers ranging from “one-hundred years” to “forever” all of which are equally entertaining. But always and without fail, one student will correctly say, “The average person never makes it, they’ll quit.”

It’s true, only 3-5% of all martial-arts students make it to black belt so it’s beyond reasonable and fair to wonder why the “success rate” is so incredibly low. The simplest answer, in almost every case, those who drop out never made or understood the level of commitment required to reach the rank of black belt.

As for the disconnect, it makes perfect sense, because parents and students have very different expectations as to the benefits of martial arts training. For mom and dad, the top reasons are no surprise, they want their child to be more focused and confident with the ability to self-discipline. From the child’s perspective, martial arts are about fun and socialization. On separate paths, the child begins taking class, while the parents go into an observation-like mode. Now fast forward six months into the future…

At this stage, both the parent and child have experienced some of what was they desired out of the training but one often shared misunderstanding is very clear, the journey to black belt won’t be easy. To reach it that goal, both sides are going to have to make an unwavering commitment spanning over four years. During that time, normal parents will become “Black Belt Parents” promising to push and pull when training “isn’t as fun as it used to be”. Also, Black Belt Parents are active participants, they share feedback with their child’s instructors with both positive and negative feedback. On the other end, students must adopt the black-belt mindset that “Black Belts Don’t Quit”, they decide, commit, and achieve.

So what about that gloomy 3-5% statistic above? We understand that not every child will become a black belt, but it is important to ensure that as parent’s we hold our young ones accountable to their promises. In short, we should never let our children walk away from a commitment because it becomes uncomfortable or no longer fun. By allowing this walk-away mindset, we enable a pattern of behavior giving our children a lifelong permission slip to leave projects or parts of their life unfinished.

Making the promise, at K-South, all students who’ve been promoted to the rank of Green-Belt are asked to make a commitment to themselves, their family, and their instructors to reach the rank of black belt. Likewise, parents must also commit to standing firm on their promise to uphold their child’s commitment to reach their shared goal.

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