Inspired by the “F” word

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This 4-letter word makes most people cringe. People try to avoid using it in a sentence and will seek any synonym that isn’t as harsh. It can invoke an emotional response and trigger action.

Why is the “f” word so bad?

Did you figure it out? This is a “G” rated blog, so I wouldn’t even go there . That cringe-worthy word I’m speaking of is “fail”. There – I said it.  That wasn’t so bad. And the fact is that it isn’t bad! It doesn’t feel good, but neither does having a cavity filled!

It’s an outcome, not a life sentence

At The Bushido School of Karate we make an announcement before every belt promotion test. It’s important to educate and re-enforce that our test’s are not ceremonies. We do not award belts; rather, our students earn their belts. There may be students who do not go home with a new belt. The opposite of pass is fail. Plain and simple.  Failing is just an outcome; it does not make someone a failure.

Of course those who failed will be disappointed. That’s where a parent can make all the difference. After 20 years of owning and operating our karate school we have seen the gambit of emotional responses and the actions that follow.  The following suggestions are based on real-life scenarios. Our findings have not been psychologically analyzed or studied, formally conducted, or funded with grants. They are observations based on only one thing: experience.

What to do when your kid fails

Of course they need comfort, but not coddling. When a parent is upset, the child will have the same response. An acknowledgement of their failure is important, but stroking their ego is not. Martial arts are inherently tough, both physically and mentally. If earning a black belt were that easy you would see as many kids wearing karate gis around town after class as you do young soccer players wearing their uniforms after practice.

Sometimes the reason for failing is obvious, even to the untrained eye. Sloppy techniques, inconsistent focus and just not knowing are among the more blatant mistakes. Don’t overthink this, but do try to find out what can be done to improve. Has your child missed classes or not adhered to their schedule of classes? Is there any time at your school or dojo when students can make plans for informal training with higher ranks (sometimes called Open Mat). Are there any resources available outside of class for practicing at home? 

One of the best things you can do is not treat the word fail as a bad word. The greatest innovations of our time have been the result of success after multiple failures. It’s a part of life, and without it we would never know joy. ( I think I paraphrased Eleanor Roosevelt there. )

Osu, keep on keeping on


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