A new white belt walks on the floor of the dojo. She feels very odd in her new, crisp uniform. The instructor calls the class to order. The new student is both excited and intimidated at the same time. She wonders “what is expected of me?”, ” Can I do this?”
These are all the normal emotions and thoughts of the beginner. However fear may get in the way of his or her training and progression. “What happens if I can’t do this?”
Over the years I have seen so many people quit martial arts, not because they did not like it, but because the fear of failure is so overwhelming. Some will say this is a lack of self esteem, which is true but it is also not true at the same time. Thus a paradox.
When we think of someone with low self esteem we tend to see a shy person, alone in a corner not talking to anyone. However self esteem cannot really be judged by such simple characteristics. A personal with low self esteem may often be very outgoing. Also self esteem can come in different forms and areas of life. The person in this example may have excellent self esteem in every other area, but martial arts.
Here the teacher is key to getting the new student to understand that a great martial art system is constructed in such a way as to assure success, if the student just comes to class. How is this possible? The school must have teachers on the floor, not just instructors. Will the student work hard? Certainly, but fear of failure will be lessened each time they walk on the mat.
Black Belt is considered to be one of the ultimate symbols of success. As teachers it is our job to show the student the way, and help them overcome fear. Fear of failure is a real fear, it is real because if it remains, failure is assured.
Remind your students and piers in the arts that we were all White Belts once. We all felt the same, and that with a little work it can be overcome. When someone leaves martial arts training for the wrong reason, we all suffer.