Soke's Corner

November 26, 2011

Karate-do - a must to restore core values

We all would agree that if an athlete practices everyday all year long, the results would be far better than those that practice only a few hours a week while also taking the summer months off. In comparison, those students in public schools who attend classes each day and also during “summer months” will be better prepared for many challenges later in life including those in the competitive work environment.

Our education system is reducing hours due to budget cuts and the students have over three months of time off during each school year. Many loose their momentum for study so that by the time they return to school it is very difficult for them to catch up to speed. Meanwhile good educators are underpaid and expected to perform miracles, while others lean on tenure rather than results.

I recently heard a report that students in Finland, Shanghai, Singapore, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan rate tops in the world when it comes to education. That might be so but why are we as a country not excelling in education as we should? Certainly it is not because we are not smart enough, nor because we do not have qualified teachers. Could it be that our youngsters are becoming too complacent and spoiled? Could it be that parents are not teaching core values at home to restore family and country pride? Could it be that many teachers are not fully committed to educational excellence? Could it be that our faith in God is not on our priority list and the lack of morality erodes the basic foundation for healthy learning? And could it be that some of our politicians wish to keep pockets of ignorance and dependence in order to secure votes?

At a recent class reunion, a classmate’s spouse shared his remarkable achievement in a Utah prison as an educator. The education he and the other teachers provided to the inmates built confidence and a leg up for the inmates once they were released into society. The method of teaching was also unique and subjects were tied together to make learning more interesting, enjoyable and practical. Educators, including Karate teachers, need to explore and utilize these teaching techniques to achieve a higher level of success. Arming our students with quality education is one of the best self defense we can provide. Sports have taken a priority in many schools. Parents attend more sporting events than taking the time to become more involved in the education process. I recently was informed by a high school teacher that out of his 180 students, only 7 of their parents attended his teacher/parent conference. I don’t quite understand how the sports program in universities operates as far as how money is dispersed. I do know that they can’t pay their athletes. Although scholarships are provided, colleges and universities rake in millions of dollars from their sports programs. Don’t you think that if some of that money could be used to subsidize a mentorship program or a tutoring program for the local schools in their area, the students would certainly benefit by elevating themselves to a higher level of thinking and learning?

Now that the world is getting even smaller with Facebook, Google and the likes, it is even more imperative that education becomes one of the main priorities in one’s life. Employers in this country would be very happy to employ American citizens. Yet if they can hire someone who is better educated, quick to understand, has great work ethics, respectful and works hard without complaining, why should they minimize their employment choices? No wonder many companies decide to move to other countries where the workers understand quality of work and not spend needless time on their cell phones, gossip, or watch the clock to punch out exactly on time. Don’t get me wrong, there are still many great workers in this country, but the younger generation’s work ethics are certainly eroding quite rapidly. Many young adults feel that working in the fields is below their dignity so that rather than work, they rather do nothing until they find a job they feel worth their while. Then when they do land a job, more and more young workers often tell (not ask) their employers that they would not be able to come to work for a variety of lame excuses.

Remember, we are not only competing amongst ourselves anymore. We are competing with the world. Having said all this, Karate-do becomes so important in restoring the core values into our society. First of all it is important to note that our service is not seasonal. We provide training that not only lasts throughout the entire year but for many years to come. It is through our consistency in behavioral expectations, reinforcement of the importance of mind, body and spirit through training, and holding accountability in everyone. These principles will definitely help turn this country around. Instructors not only demonstrate a technique to the students, but also how to master the technique. Students learn that it requires discipline, focus, desire to achieve perfection, and inner strength to reach mastery. They are also taught that it is not found in winning trophies or bragging rights of being a champion, for all that is short-lived. It is about keeping the character of our country sound and safe. It is about keeping our faith in God at the top of our existence. It is about contributing to our country and not expecting anything in return except the warmth it provides for our soul. It is about teaching our younger students how to be great citizens, to have strong values and to embrace education so that when they become parents, they will have a jump start on how to raise their children properly. It is about providing a solid understanding and acceptance for parents to be a solid team in raising their children. The success in our contribution to our communities is the educational process of our TKFI educators: that is all the Shihan, Sensei and Shidoin. It is imperative that those who teach learn how to conduct classes, teach the fundamentals properly, identify student’s needs and provide the proper materials that would manifest into positive results. It is also very important that teachers recognize their weaknesses and continue to seek higher levels of understanding in order to effectively transmit each lesson that can be rooted in the students. High ranking instructors should empower their senior students to work with the beginning students while evaluating them from their performance on the side. In TKFI, we do not wish all of our dojos to be clones. However, the highest standards of teaching and learning are expected. Examinations should include terminology, written papers and oral reports, reading the articles on our web site, and other creative methods in keeping students proactive. We have the tools and mechanism to educate and solidify the core values, discipline and work ethics that can restore our national pride to be envied by all citizens of the world.

Let us all work together towards achieving this very important goal.

Del Saito Soke

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