Saturday, December 03, 2005

Encouragement from the Master

"I don't want to do sword anymore. I think that martial arts are just not interesting. I want to quit."

I've heard this complaint from Robbie before, and I'm not sure exactly what it means. Usually once he gets to his Kumdo class, he's into it, swinging that sword with enthusiasm. But I've been hearing this complaint from him more and more, and now he says he wants to quit.

I've already decided, though, that I've had enough of him quitting things.

"Sweetie, I'd really like you to continue for a while. You've just started getting good and I'm sure you don't really want to quit now."

"I do! It's just not interesting anymore."

"I think what's happened is that it's getting a bit harder, and you're thinking too much about all the repetition. I think you need to start thinking about a goal you have with Kumdo, like getting to a certain belt level, or learning certain things. That will help you get through the times when practice seems dull. That's what I do. In the past you have had a tendency to lose interest in activities once the initial newness has worn off. Like soccer, and keyboard, and Tae Kwon Do. You need to learn how to get past that and keep working at something."

I don't really get the kind of reply I like, but I know from momming experience that lots of times when children act like they don't agree what they've said, they're really just saving face, and that they've really heard you.

Still, I decide to talk with Master Hughes about this.

When we get to the dojang, he's in the storage room, so we have a chance to chat.

"I wanted to let you know that Robbie's getting a bit discouraged. He doesn't really have a goal or a sense of why he's doing these exercises. Do you think you'll have a test or promotion sometime, or if there's anything else you can do to encourage him?"

Master Hughes says he's thought of taking a short break and then starting up in January with a real push to enroll new students. "I want to get an ad in the paper," he says. "I really want to continue these classes."

During class, I see that he's really thought about encouraging the boys (Jacob and Robbie are the only two there).

When Robbie talks about slicing a dummy with his jukdo, his bamboo sword, Master Hughes stops them and says "Well, you know that if you keep with this, eventually, you'll be working with a live blade. You know what that is, don't you?" The boys' eyes widen.

Later, he proposes a Kumdo party.

"On Sunday, instead of class, let's watch "The Last Samurai."

"Yeah!" Both boys have wanted to see this film for a long time.

Master Hughes says he'll set up his projection TV here and we'll all watch and eat popcorn.

Later, we chat.

"Maybe seeing this film will get them thinking about what you can really do with martial arts--and especially with the sword."

I think it's great prescription.

Later, when we're at home Robbie confides in me: "I'm going to keep studying sword," he says. "It's because Master Hughes said two words to me. Do you know what they were? Live blade.

He swings an imaginary sword over his head.

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