MMA Helps Change Attitude
By: Thad Campbell – TSMMA Feasterville
When Ethan first came to Stevie’s Birthday Party he was just the kid I wanted to teach. Unlimited energy and enthusiasm, with maybe a hint of a need for something to focus on! While I spent a few minutes before class outlining the concepts of focus, positive attitude, and “non-quitting spirit” that I expected if each child wanted to have fun at the party, Ethan was copying one of his buddies who was clowning around trying to distract the twenty other kids at the party.
While Ethan’s behavior earned him quite a few quick laughs from his friends, it was my goal to help him understand why focusing on the task at hand would ultimately make him feel better about himself!
I was so excited a few months later when his mom brought him in to take class. I had talked to dad about signing him up after class ended, but hadn’t heard anything for a few weeks. When he finally did come to class I found that it was actually Ethan who had been bugging his parents to come to class!
This was apparent in the effort he put in to his first class back in the school. He looked like a totally different kid, copying everything I did instead of everything someone getting into trouble did. The discipline of a regular class (where there are no kids messing around to copy) allowed Ethan to excel.
Discipline Leads To Self-Discipline
Even better than that he began to use self-discipline. The first example was the same pushups I used to have to give to him, which he began to give to himself when he knew he messed up. This acknowledgement of his mistakes was a far cry from the nine year old who had come into my school a year earlier for a Birthday Party!
Ethan made even bigger strides outside of school, where his behavior at home for mom and dad improved markedly and he became an even better student at school! Any parent knows how trying it can be to get a nine or ten year old to follow directions at home when they have little incentive. What began happening as Ethan came to class more was he understood why following those directions was in his own best interest.
Seeing his achievement in MMA he began to understand that if he applied that Self-Discipline he was showing me in class to his work outside of class it would lead to the same achievement. Now Ethan is exhibiting those skills throughout his life. If the constant smile on his face is any indication it is making him very happy to do so!
Setting The Tone
Recently an even cooler thing has happened. One day a few weeks ago I noticed how Ethan was one of the two or three students who was actually setting the standard of discipline for all the other 20 plus students in class.
The same process that had helped him understand how to work hard and pay attention had now led him to be an example to other students. A child can’t learn to be Self-Disciplined without first having an example to learn from. Now Ethan has become that example. Standing attentive even when class is at a standstill, jumping to a defensive stance immediately when prompted, raising his hand and waiting patiently until called upon, being the first person to race up to the heavy bag to perform combinations, throwing every punch and kick with 100% effort, staying focused so his partner can work even when he is not the main focus of a grappling drill.
These are just a few examples of the behaviors Ethan has shown within the school that have helped make him one of my go to students when I need to show a new student how I expect them to act!
This remarkable transformation in class, as well as his continued improvement outside of class have combined to earn him a Tiger Schulmann’s Low-Blue Belt!