How Martial Arts Develops Leaders in the Dojo
Within our Martial Arts Programme, we aim to cultivate excellent Leadership skills within our community. As we have mentioned previously, these skills do far more than teach our children to lead others, it encourages independence in our young students, teaching them about responsibility, how to be reliable, why attention to detail is important and to have pride in their work. Teaching students to lead solidifies their learning and teaches them important social, public speaking and presentation skills, all of which have a practical application in their adult lives.
Our aim is to develop leadership qualities in our young students to provide them with a huge head start to their adult lives. So here’s how we provide structure to developing leadership qualities:
Surround our students with leaders
One of the best ways to encourage students to develop leadership skills is to give everyone a chance to lead. In a typical class of 20 students, we ensure students are split into smaller groups where we take it in turns to build up each students confidence in teaching a technique, this can start as small as counting 1 to 10 for the students in their mini-group to eventually teaching a whole class. We take away the pressure of “leading” by making it a typical class learning tool and by making the process very routine.
Inspire through positive role models
A huge aspect of our programme is to inspire our students. We must lead by example and prove to our students that we are able to perform at a high level and encourage our students to seek to challenge themselves and solve bigger problems.
Line work and Belt Structure
The structure of our lines, or how we line up in class is essentially in rows of students. In a class of 20 this maybe 4 rows of 5 students for example. The lines are in belt order, with the highest grades at the front. This means that students look in front of them and see higher grades, as students go up a belt they move into the next line. In this sense, they become the leaders, ready to assist the line behind them consisting of more inexperienced students.
By splitting the classes by groups of belts (Juniors first 4 belts, Seniors 4 belts, Advanced 4 belts) the students progress from novice to advanced in their smaller groups quickly. This boosts their confidence and gives them a feeling of leadership and pride that improves their leadership skills.
In the early stages, with particularly nervous students we develop leadership qualities by asking them to imitate us to build their confidence in leading. An example of this would be asking them to shout out a number or a series of numbers from 1 to 5, which gets them used to being vocal in a group of peers and slowly builds their confidence. From this, once they are comfortable we can start giving them more responsibility in class as a leader, including standing at the front of the class to show a technique or taking a class through a combination. This has a rapid effect on both the development of their confidence and leadership skills.
Perseverance as a high value
We ensure students understand and value perseverance highly as a character trait. We tell personal stories in class about students who have had a tough time and persevered to achieve great things. We tell stories of leaders who transformed their student’s lives and we talk highly of our own experiences where we faced adversity and overcame problems with perseverance and a Black Belt mindset. These stories go a long way to reinforcing the value of never giving up and developing the core mindset of a Leader.
Integrity and Accountability as a high value
Integrity and Accountability are an important part of being a leader. We ensure students understand the value of integrity and how to show this in their day to day lives. We hold regular talks with our students where we discuss being true to ourselves and holding ourselves accountable. Each student is responsible for their own progress as we focus on self-development and so these values are reinforced regularly.
In our next blog, we are going to discuss how you can develop leadership skills at home!