Mugshots and Karate

As I’m reading through the local newspaper’s web site each morning, I usually glance through the mugshots. Most days they are unknown faces and unknown names doing things I can’t even comprehend. But at least once per month I see a name I recognize. I then search through my notes in our database to discover, it is indeed, an ex-student or parent. I keep pretty good notes when someone leaves, I make a point of writing down my last encounter with the student as well as the last conversation with the parents. I often will attempt to do a little parenting on their way out the door since they are quitting anyway. It hopefully plants a seed that they are making a mistake that could have far reaching consequences.

Almost always the reason they listed as no longer wanting to train was “It’s too expensive, and (insert sport dad used to do here) is cheaper.” Times are tough, I get that. We work to make ends meet as well. But when someone says “It’s too expensive” to a martial arts instructor, what they are really saying is, “We don’t see the value of what you are doing, and see other things in our life as more worthwhile.”

I ask myself, would this person have ended up in jail if they had they stayed with their training as a kid and achieved a Black Belt. The answer is always, without a doubt, “No.”

It’s too bad the effects of martial arts training takes time, but it does. It’s too bad the changes they know they had seen in their child didn’t come more rapidly, but this is the nature of martial arts training. Now if I were a sarcastic man, which I try not to be, I’d consider calling those parents now, and asking them how expensive those legal fees are, and how negatively impacting they think their child’s incarceration is going to be.

Now I’m not saying that everyone who quits is going to end up in trouble, and even good people make mistakes, but when I see those mugshots, and I recognize the student, it is NEVER someone who achieved a high rank with us. It is NEVER a Black Belt.

Give it time, let the training do what it does, keep them coming, minimize the distractions. No one ever comes back and says, “Darn you mom and dad for making sure I earned my Black Belt.”

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