Why do students quit at brown belt? Part 2

brown belt clip art with post title

“Brownbeltitis”

Our post “Why do students quit at brown belt” received quite a few clicks. It’s a topic that deserves some more insight and discussion. So here is our Part 2 which offers a cool scientific explanation.

Fear of the known

So many people don’t like the word fear. It somehow denotes inadequacy. Quite the contrary, fear can be very helpful in some instances. Fear of driving too fast – because you might lose control. Fear of crossing a busy intersection – because you have a greater chance of being hit. I’m not referring to phobias; just ordinary, daily fears. And those are the ones we can readily admit to. It’s universal – those are healthy fears.

Fear of failure

Then there is fear of failure. That’s the one that will make a brown belt quit, and many times, won’t admit to this fear. Black belt tests can be long and physically and mentally demanding. When a student is afraid of sparring, for example, sometimes that becomes projected onto the instructor for “not partnering me up fairly”. If a student is not proficient in required techniques this can quickly turn into  “sudden symptoms of injury” that would prompt a medical note to cease training. This is the fear that can almost be referred to as ironic. Aren’t the martial arts supposed to instill self-confidence and courage?  This is the one that needs involvement with the parents, the instructors, teachers and the student. It’s important to keep asking and probing. Be realistic and don’t promise outcomes. The focus should be on the insignifigance of failing if a true effort has been made. The best thing about failing is knowing what you need to work on!

When a student has passed test after test, has learned and grown, even prospered in their martial arts training, why would fear of failure suddenly take such a strong hold? It’s true that black belt tests are meant to test technique, but more important is the spirit and drive the student demonstrates to earn a coveted rank. If you can discover the underlying fear of failure ( sometimes evident as anger at everyone and everything ) you have the opportunity to change a person’s perspective for life.

Fear of success

As a martial arts student and teacher for over 28 years I can tell you I have heard many, many excuses from brown belts for quitting. While I was training as a colored belt there were three other females my own age and belt rank. We all made it to brown belt and all trained hard together. But one by one our group of four became a group of one; me!

The first friend to quit blamed everybody and everything. From inconvenient class times to injuries, she began to let us know that she didn’t need a test to be as good as a “black belt.” And she was gone.

Friend number two was at the top of her training for the years leading up to brown belt. She was devoted and interested. Things changed when she earned brown belt. She didn’t feel our teacher was giving her good training. ( So – it was great for three years, but now it’s not?) She said she was going to another dojo to train. She didn’t. Quit at brown belt.

The last friend in the group not only had Brownbeltitis, she was a classic example of Imposter Syndrome.

Individuals with “Impostor Syndrome” tend to suffer from a very specific self-esteem issue: The belief that they are unworthy of success. -PsychTests

Imposter Syndrome

This is a real thing and one of the most relevant statements I read is this:

…the more success “impostors” experience, the more pressure they feel because of the increased responsibility and visibility.     – inc.com

Martial arts are known for their heirarchys and expectations of advanced students. What once seemed like an unachievable goal – earning black belt – is now closer than ever for brown belts. Brown belts are looked up to by younger students because of the role they play in the heirarchy. But brown belts are still a part of the “under belts” community. This community is comfortable and known to the brown belt.

And then comes the once elusive rank of black belt. Achieving a black belt is a huge accomplishment and seen as a big success, especially from your peers. Success can mean stepping into a new role with more responsibility, and more eyes watching.

That last friend I mentioned was living in the wreckage of her future. She had forgotten all the long training sessions, the thank-you’s she received for helping students and the hard-work we all put into reaching our goals. In her mind, becoming a black belt was not achieving a life-long dream anymore. It had become a success she was afraid to achieve.

If I knew then what I know now, I’m confident she would have been testing right beside me!

Get it done.

Links for your consideration

Inspiration: Courage 

Inspired by the “F” word

Why do students quit at brown belt?

Student Spotlight No. 39

adult karate student with face hidden

Who is in the spotlight this week?

The Bushido School of Karate is so appreciative of the students and families that are a part of our Bushido Karate family. We’ve had the pleasure of teaching for over 2 decades and in that time have been privileged to teach thousands of students. Everyone started at the beginning with no shortcuts, and we are so proud of their accomplishments.  Our weekly Student Spotlight features randomly chosen students on their own journey at The Bushido School of Karate.

This week’s spotlight is on Scott!

Scott is 39 years old, is a commercial real estate broker and is currently a blue belt at The Bushido School of Karate. He began his training with us in July 2018.

The attention to detail and intensity brought to every class pushes me to focus more and try harder. Also, this martial arts style is very practical. It is unusual for the master of the school to teach every class (like Shihan does), and that sets the tone for a great training experience.

– Scott
Spotlight on Scott
July 19, 2019

Teach martial arts to your kids with videos! SERIOUSLY?

boy in karate uniform and smiling

While searching online for inspiration on a topic for this week’s blog I got sidetracked by a particular article with advice how to teach martial arts to your kids. It caught my attention because our own karate school has produced online videos as a part of our curriculum. The article turned out to be an advertisement for videos to assist parents in teaching martial arts to their kids. SERIOUSLY?

First things first

The first question to ask yourself before taking on this endeavor is why do you want your child to learn martial arts in the first place? For some people it is simply a means of physical activity at home. Keeping kids moving is important, especially if they have been sitting most of the day.

In most cases, though, it is because either your child has expressed an interest or because the parent has an interest! It could be due to bullying or poor self-esteem. You might think a little self-defense training could help. Or your reasoning might have to do with poor attention skills. After all, martial arts is great for building focus, right? Yes, it can be, and here’s a great article to explain why that is true. But the most important reason for success in any of these areas is having a great martial arts teacher. You are probably a great parent, but are you a great martial arts teacher?

Your kids deserve the best teacher

An experienced martial artist is the person who should be teaching martial arts to your child. From a technical point of view, there is no one better. Years of experience are behind each kick and punch, and there has likely been thousands of kicks and punches thrown. Professional martial artists sometimes get a bad rap. After all, it is extremely physical and can appear to be aggressive. ( Not!) Understanding the comprehension necessary to execute particular techniques, or the cognitive skills required for quick decision-making, will make a parent appreciate the need for a professional to teach your child.

Where you live will determine the availability of a martial arts professional. Read this to help you ask the right questions when considering martial arts classes for your child.

It’s the journey, not the destination

That is so cliche I never thought I would actually use it. Guess what? It’s a cliche for a reason; it’s so true! In my 20+ years in the martial arts I have had some of the best experiences of my life. I can remember my very first class – the trepidation and excitement of it all. Eventually making friends and lifelong relationships, we were all training with a common purpose. We received direction from a teacher, our Sensei, who knew each of our strengths and weaknesses. Karate classes became my “happy place”.

Learning self-defense, gaining self-confidence, improving focus and attention span and having a physical outlet are great reasons for your child to learn martial arts. However, likely the best reason a parent should let a professional martial artists teach their child is to give their child the opportunity for a most memorable journey!

Links to our student’s journeys

Below are a few links to our Student Spotlight feature of our blog. Kids, teens and adults share their thoughts on their training!

Student Spotlight 36 Student Spotlight 31 Student Spotlight 6/27/2018

Student Spotlight No. 38

adult martial artist behind question mark

Who is in the spotlight this week?

The Bushido School of Karate is so appreciative of the students and families that are a part of our Bushido Karate family. We’ve had the pleasure of teaching for over 2 decades and in that time have been privileged to teach thousands of students. Everyone started at the beginning with no shortcuts, and we are so proud of their accomplishments.  Our weekly Student Spotlight features randomly chosen students on their own journey at The Bushido School of Karate.

This week’s spotlight is on Nereo!

Nereo is 28 years old, is a chef and recently achieved blue belt at The Bushido School of Karate. He began his training with us in January 2019.

Nereo got started because he was watching his step-daughter take classes. He tried it for one month – like all new students do – and has been training in our adult classes for 6-months. Our $99 monthly tuition for parents of students was also a great deciding factor. Nereo is getting a great work-out and sharing in a family activity with his step-daughter.

Training at Bushido Karate makes me stronger, and feel more confident.

– Nereo
Spotlight on Nereo!
June 26, 2019

Student Spotlight No. 37

student spotlight picture covered with question mark

Who is in the spotlight this week?

The Bushido School of Karate is so appreciative of the students and families that are a part of our Bushido Karate family. We’ve had the pleasure of teaching for over 2 decades and in that time have been privileged to teach thousands of students. Everyone started at the beginning with no shortcuts, and we are so proud of their accomplishments.  Our weekly Student Spotlight features randomly chosen students on their own journey at The Bushido School of Karate.

This week’s spotlight is on Matthew!

Matthew is 8 years old, is in 2nd grade and is a blue belt at The Bushido School of Karate. He began his training with us in July 2018.

Bushido Karate makes me feel: happy.

My favorite part of class is: (learning) blue belt form.

What is the best thing you like about training at Bushido Karate?: I like wood breaking!

– Matthew

I enrolled my son in Bushido Karate for the discipline.

-Matthew’s mom
young boy in karate gi posing with smile
Spotlight on Matthew!
June 20th, 2019
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