Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Out of the Mouths of Babes :How a Seven Year Old Broke it Down

Recently, our family was eating lunch at one of our favorite establishments. My fiancee and I were openly talking about the events that had taken place earlier in the day in front of our children (our children are very perceptive and would, quite honestly, know if something was wrong).
We had been discussing a bizarre phone call I received from a martial arts instructor that made zero sense to me. (see, Being Blindsided:How We Succumb to the Misguidance of Others).
As I tried to explain the overall tone of the conversation, and began even confusing myself, I looked over at my 7 year old stepdaughter, innocently eating her meal, tearing lettuce with her hands, piece by piece.
Typically, when I am really confused by the actions of people, I can ask any child around me at any given time and say " what do you think this means if someone does this". Their answers will amaze you.
The conversation went something like this:
 "So, this man calls me, a man I do not know, and starts to talk over me, begins telling me the path I should take in my professional martial arts training career, starts gossiping, tells me I am making a huge mistake by going to Russia, is trying to HELP me...and , I didn't even ask him.What do you think that means? I mean, I see you taking your huge chunks of lettuce and you want them to be small pieces of lettuce, what do you do?"

I glanced over at her father and said ..."Watch her break down what I need to do..."

She is quite fond of these games. We play them regularly. She very blankly looked at us and tore the chunk of lettuce into small pieces and took a bite of her meal. And said " you just tear it". I rolled over into a ball of laughter.

Yes.That's right..just tear it.

Often time as adults, we get so wrapped up in the complication of getting from point A to point B, that we forget how incredibly easy it can be to go on a the journey. We struggle, emotionally, mentally, physically. We run into all sorts of obstacles and sometimes, even stray from our path. We forget that we can just go around the obstacles and get to where we need to be. We can easily get sucked into over thinking anything and everything, and can be very easily slowed down by the pettiest of things.

While my stepdaughter didn't wholly understand the great value her visual demonstration of what she did, she got the idea.
Why listen to anyone over explain what I need to do, when I KNOW what I want to do?

This is why children are so supremely valuable to learn from , they are raw, real , honest and to the point. If you allow them to be. If you give them an outlet, you may learn more from them, then they will learn from you.

As I sit and painfully watch the migration of Systema in the United States go from something that could have been deeply formulated to embrace children in a more direct and positive starting point, I do understand, for most, this is a combative art. However, I do not understand why alot of instructors refuse, hate or even gasp at the thought of having a kids class or two.
Even better, why not have a parent/child class?
Now , I may be divulging some ancient secrets here, but there is NO better workout than playing with some squirrly 6 year olds. Let me repeat...playing with a group of 6 -8 year olds, will make any crossfitter bust a knee cap, pull a tendon..or worse...laugh.

As I longingly watch Andrey Karimov's You Tube Channel, I immediately seek out the ones where the men are training with children. The children are climbing, rolling, spinning, twirling, jumping , and really, really getting into it. They make their body movements look so easy, it is almost hard not to want to be a kid again. In fact, I repeatedly ask him if I can just take the kids class....
And the men in the videos? This is their warm-up. This is their psyche breaking. This is their bonding.This is their way to let go, have fun and loosen up. Before they work on themselves.

And if you think for two seconds it isn't a workout, I beg you to watch the looks on some of these men's faces at the end of the videos. It is priceless.

Even better?? Mr.Karimov has a line formation of adults and they respectfully shake the hands of their pint sized training partners. I don't know about you, but that almost makes me tear up every time I look at it.
As a society , we have completely lost touch with our children. I am guilty of it myself. I mentally check out if my son is droning on a bit too long about Minecraft, or if my stepdaughter repeats her idea for a complex saddle design that , clearly , only she can visualize. There are days when I, personally am so tired, I sit and stare at them playing and think "I should play with them" , but have no energy to do it.

Unless , they make me.Which usually involves one or both of them , sneak attacking me, scaring me, or some other ploy to get me involved.And for this, I feel extremely horrible. I should, SHOULD be going to them. Our time with them is so precious, I should be engaging them. I should.

As martial artists, we should too. These children, are our futures. They are the future leaders, teachers, doctors , lawyers, warriors that we will need to make it. We need to fully invest what time we can with them. And that, that is how Mr. Karimov teaches.
When I asked Mr. Karimov what or how  he needed to teach a class here in Texas, his number one request he had was "children".

I sat shocked, stared at the screen for a minute, thinking Google Translate failed me again. I assumed he was going to say " a padded gym , some whips, 20 participants, $9000000, a translator, a limo, green M & M's facing the same way in a bowl". But it was just "children".
If you have children, and you're reading this..I beg you to spend one or two hours a week, just trying some simple exersizes with them.My son and I began training together over the summer and it not only bonded us immensely, he was able to finally take me down after two years of trying. He said it was his proudest moment of the year. My stepdaughter , during our training, has become one of the best massage therapists ever.She delicately shoves her tiny feet into my back all while laughing and making jokes. She has become a near expert on not falling off her father during their "hang on tight" sessions, and she is 100 times more confident than I have ever seen her.
And I, I personally have seen their new found strength as a sign of what I had been missing for a while...connection.

I probably won't ever be able to eat lettuce the same again, without thinking of her analogy, but I will remember that if I am going to do something, I'm just going to do it.

If you need ideas on what to do with your children ( at any age level by the way)...
you can check out this video. And guess what? Alot, if not all of it, is a precursor into training Systema(traditional).

To visit Mr. Karimov's You Tube page, for more exciting videos, never before seen footage and detailed demonstrations check out his You Tube Page here.

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