KJN’s Corner: Instant Gratification vs Commitment

KJN’s Corner: Instant Gratification vs Commitment

Kwan Jan Nim Veronica DeSantos, Master Instructor and Owner of DeSantos Premier Martial Arts in TorontoYoung children’s life management skills boil down to a pretty simple concept…Instant Gratification. This is because children are caught up in the moment. They are so into doing what they are doing, that nothing else seems to matter or even exist.

If left to their own reasoning, they will choose to do only those things that are fun or that interest them. On the other hand, we as adults know that other things exist and matter. We have learned that we can’t use the instant gratification gauge of “fun” or “boring” to determine the path of our lives, although some have.

I want to share a story about two adults I know personally, who trained with me as children. The first one had a parent that helped him plan his life. Helped mold the direction he was taking, in terms of the importance of school work, being involved in youth groups and other activities that promoted character development. He also lived in a very harsh neighbourhood where it would have been easy to follow in the footsteps of his peers.

Did he always want to do his homework or stop playing with friends to go to more structured activities? No! This man’s name is Fixton and he earned his second degree Black Belt and was an instructor with us for a while. Today, Fixton has fulfilled his life goal of becoming a police officer and now works in his old neighbourhood.

The second one I will call Bob. Bob always wanted to do things that were fun and would put up a fuss if he didn’t get his own way. Eventually he “wore down” his parents until they were tired of fighting with him. Bob preferred to hang out with his friends and always had extra time on his hands. He and his buddies liked to clown around and found that school was not as much fun as hanging around the streets.

These two men are about the same age. Fixton is living his dream, although it took him 7 years of constant determination to get there. He is excited about life and his role as someone who helps protect the people in his community. Bob, unfortunately has found himself on the wrong side of the law a few times and is struggling to maintain a minimum wage job.

As concerned parents, we must view things differently to put the child’s desires into perspective and to see the long-term consequences. It is part of our job to not only teach our children to think and plan ahead, but to do everything in our power to keep them focused, active and productive.

Parents can do everything right and it doesn’t mean they will have the “perfect child”. However, the “perfect child” seldom comes from parents who don’t nurture, guide and lead them, even force them to do what is in the child’s best long-term interest.

During every Black Belt testing cycle we perform there is at least one or two children who, after receiving their Black Belt, will talk about a time when they wanted to quit. These same children will always thank their parents for their constant encouragement and not allowing them to give up on their goal.

There will be a time when your child won’t want to stop what he/she is doing to go to karate, but has a good time once in class. You may catch yourself wondering if you are doing the right thing. When that happens, ask yourself, “Which activity will be in the long term best interest of my child?” “Which will help develop character and improve success skills?” Once you answer these questions, rest assured that you will make the right decision.

The family that kicks together…

The family that kicks together…

DeSantos Premier Martial Arts is a second home to many families who train together. More and more, parents are no longer just bringing their child(ren) and watching from the sidelines. They’ve caught on to how fun it is to train in the martial arts and this year has seen a lot of parents stepping up to earn their white belt and then go beyond.

We have every kind of family you can imagine at DeSantos and they all know that everyone is welcome. Big brothers and sisters know that we love to hold their baby sibling and help keep little ones entertained. Moms or dads struggling to bring a stroller in are met with friendly help at the door. Partners switch off parenting duties so that the other can join a class. Kids cheer on their parents as they watch from the sidelines.

Generally most families can find a set of two classes back to back for their kids, then get them home to dinner and bed before coming back for their own class. The adult classes have a lot of options so that parents can trade off who is watching the kids while the other one trains. Our Saturday morning family class is very popular, as the kids just love being able to train IN THE SAME CLASS as their parents.

Many of the staff have family training at DeSantos — most famously Ma’am Toni with her daughters Ma’am Attiphah and Ma’am Alyah; Sir Sean and Sir Seamus, Ciaran and Mia; the Schroh family and of course KJN’s family. Families earn black belts together — the Black Belt Principles make great glue to hold the family together in tough times. Families get fit together. Families have fun together. And that’s what it’s all about.

Happy Family Day to our whole DeSantos Premier Martial Arts family!

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KJN’s Corner: Setting and Achieving Goals

KJN’s Corner: Setting and Achieving Goals

Kwan Jan Nim Veronica DeSantos, Master Instructor and Owner of DeSantos Premier Martial Arts in TorontoI was shocked when I heard that most people spend more time planning their vacations than their lives. I learned this at a success management seminar I went to several years ago.

I also learned that a twenty year study on planning and goal setting was conducted. Of the entire graduating class of 1953, only 3% had written their goals down, 14% had unwritten goals, and 83% had no specific plans (just some general ideas). Twenty years later, in 1973, the net worth of the 3% exceeded the combined net worth of the entire 97%!

So I did an impromptu survey and asked several people where they wanted to be in five years. Did they have a specific plan?

Guess what? With a few exceptions, most people I questioned only had a vague idea of what they wanted. Almost no one had a written five-year plan!

Allow me to quickly summarize the three-day seminar in a few sentences. We were taught that it is best to have a big goal that is four to five years out. Then take that goal and divide it into annual segments, then into quarterly portions, and finally into monthly, weekly, daily and even mini goals. Then set up a quarterly “review, rejoice and renew period”.

This is where one reviews ones progress towards that goal. Focus on the little successes one has made toward achieving the big goal and then renew the vow to reach the big goal.

I got so excited! Our main goal is to improve our student’s lives by teaching successful life skills, since there are so many things in martial arts that make a perfect metaphor for success in real life and goal setting perfectly!

I got even more excited when I realized that this is what we’ve been teaching for years!

You see the big goal (one that is four to five years out) is earning the Black Belt. The annual segments are Purple Belt, Brown Belt, Red Belt and finally Black Belt. The quarterly goals are the coloured belts in between. The monthly break down is equivalent to earning the stripes on the belts. The mini goals could be perfecting on technique.

The review is the belt testing. The rejoicing is in the sense of accomplishment and joy that comes in earning a new belt. And at the conclusion of every belt test we ask our students to renew their goals in the Martial Arts.

You have heard that success isn’t a destination, but a journey. Well, living a successful life doesn’t just happen…It is a result of consistently applying the formula for success. Which includes: having worthy and admirable goals, living with commitment, modesty, courtesy, integrity, self-control, perseverance and indomitable spirit.

It only makes sense to help our students develop the habit of goal setting and planning their lives…For some of our students, the first time they have written down a long-term goal is when they joined the “Black Belt Training”.

This is one reason we take the “Black Belt Training” so seriously. We are helping our students practice the act of living successful life…one step at a time – one belt at a time.

For many, earning their Black Belt us the first big, long-term goal that they have realized. I and the rest of the staff feel so privileged to have helped along the way!
Yours for successful kids,
Veronica De Santos

Martial Arts for Confidence and Self-Esteem

Martial Arts for Confidence and Self-Esteem

Many people look to martial arts to help build confidence in their children or themselves.  Why exactly does it work?  There are many reasons, but it all boils down to accomplishment.

Our students, whether 3-4 years, 5-7 years, 8-12 years or teens and adults, all must learn a specific curriculum to progress to the next belt level.  Having a tangible goal builds excitement and allows a student to track their accomplishments.  We break down our curriculum into manageable chunks and teach, review and reinforce the lessons over the three month grading cycle.  Students are regularly tested to see that they have learned what is being asked of them.  As instructors we want to help our students succeed, so this testing step is crucial to keep the class on track.

Sometimes parents think we are asking too much of their child when we are asking them to remember a sequence of moves in a form or a specific self-defense.  However, we have seen that challenging a student to remember these things on their own can help increase their confidence significantly.  When they are not relying on their parents and are held accountable to learn the material, that’s when they begin to shine as martial artists.PMA-Motivation-13-01

But it’s not always in the big accomplishment of earning a belt that self-esteem and self-confidence grow.  It’s also in the little things.  Getting that “Good job!” from your favourite instructor.  Having someone listen to you talk about how your day went.  Wearing the new uniform in the first class is a huge accomplishment for some.  Saying the Black Belt principles at the end of the class.  Tying your belt properly for the first time.  The list is endless and unique to each student.  Each accomplishment, big or small, is a signal to the student that maybe they “can” do this and that Black Belt really is an achievable goal.

Check out this story of a young boy with autism who has become a martial arts champion.