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Monday, July 27, 2009

"That was easy".....

At my martial arts studio, I have an "Easy Button". Its a red button that came from the office supply store "Staples" press it, and a voice says "That was easy". Strangely, the Tiny Tigers (3 to 4 years old), Mighty Mites(5 to 7), and juniors (8 an older)classes are the only ones that press the button during breaktime or at the end of class!

When I first got the button, I didn't tell anyone about it. I just put it on the window ledge that looks into the training floor from my office. Normally, hand sanitizer and hackey sacks are the only things that sit on that window ledge. After class, one of my Mighty Mites asked "Sifu, what's that?"

"Its an Easy Button!" I said with a chuckle.

"What's it do? What's an Easy button?"

"Push it and see!"

The little girl pushed the button...she squealed in delight as the button speaker belted out "That was easy". Soon, all the kids were pushing the button and laughing.

"Now now....we can only push the button when we feel we've done our very best in class, even when something seems hard to do. If you think "I can't do that" or if you whine about something being to hard, you won't get to push the "Easy" button at the end of class! What d'ya think?"

"Yeah! Yeah! Only if we try our best in class, right Sifu?"

"That's right!"

A little boy piped up: "But Sifu, do we hafta do perfect in class to be able to push the easy button?"

I thought for a second. Wow. Apparently he thinks the phrase "try your best" means "be perfect"....

I knelt down in front of him, smiled, and snipped his nose with my fingers playfully. " don't hafta be perfect. Ya just hafta try your best. Remember the roundhouse kick?"

"Yah! My favoritist kick!"

"Well, Remember that you once thought it was too hard, and you thought you'd never get it? Remember how frustrated you were that Johnny got it down before you did, even though he was a white belt and you're a higher yellow belt?"

"Yeaaah...." he said as his voice trailed off.

"Well, do you remember what I said to you?"

"Yah, kinda. You said that giving up won't make learn the kick....And ya said that practice makes positive...."

"Positive WHAT?" I asked.

"Positive results!" he laughed. "Positive means good, and results is something that happens after ya do or say something, right?"

"That's right. you feel you tried your best to get some positive results today?"

"Yeah Sifu!"

"Well that button!"


So I'm wondering....why is it that the "Easy button" isn't pushed by adult students? I've pressed it a few times just to let them know it was there. "Wow cool, where did you get that?" is what I was asked. I told them that I got it to see who would push it, and the kids push it if they feel they've tried their best in class. The majority of the Kung Fu and Wushu adults thought it was a great idea for the kids, not one has pushed it yet. Its sitting right there by the hand sanitizer!

Is it because its childish to push the button? Is it because they would prefer to think that they would know if they tried their best or not? Would the other adults laugh at them for pushing a button on a kid's toy? Oh come on, its not a toy...the thing came from an office supply store, not a Toys R Us!!

Personally, I think its a great idea for the adults too. Many times, we tend to talk to ourselves with self depracating thoughts or worry about "looking our rank" and being frustrated when we don't live up to what we percieve are acceptable skill to rank ratios. We might wonder "I've been doing this self defense course for 3 months now, why can't I fight"? We might take it personally if a teacher or coach corrects our form. Some people are so busy talking to themselves in class, they can't hear me giving instructions...then they get frustrated when they don't know what's going on when its time to practice what was just taught and demostrated. Why,I've been to seminars where a participant or two would sigh or roll their eyes when the seminar instructor would correct them. Disrespectful behavior to the instructor?....yes, in a way it is, however such behavior many times hints at the disrespect they have for their own abilities.

All my teachers have always said "If martial arts were easy, everybody would be a black belt". Of course its hard....its a discipline! However, with time, effort, acceptance of one's own abilities, and realizing that their own teachers had to go through the same toil and frustrations....they'll eventually master what they once thought was impossible to achieve.

I think, that's why those kids are so eager to press the "Easy Button". nothing seems impossible to children. Given the motivation, they will try and try....even though we as martial arts instructors may chuckle when kids are punching with their wrist cocked the wrong way, or trying to use the top of their foot to do a side kick, they honestly believe they're doing their best and doing it right. Watch a young child at play, and you'll see the physical awareness and genuine interest in whatever they're playing with...even though they might quarrel with other kids for that special toy.

Okay, about start pushing your own Easy Buttons, instead of whining about how everyone else or work or school is pushing yours? You might find, that the very act of trying, even when it doesn't get you the desired result right away, is easier that trying to get it perfect the first time around.

That was easy.....

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