Nothing grates on a dad’s ears like the words “I’m bored.” My parents are quick to remind me I said those same words to them when I was a kid, but something tells me I did not use them as frequently as kids today. Accurate or not, I choose to believe it.
So, when my son proactively told me he wanted to take up Jiu-Jitsu when he returns from visitation with his mom this summer, I could not have been happier. Now, if he ever says, “I’m bored,” I can encourage him to practice for an activity he chose to do rather than just tell him to “read a book” or that “only boring people are bored” (which was quite an unhelpful thing to have been told when I was a child).
For years, I have encouraged him to pursue one of the martial arts, but he never showed interest. I always believed he would benefit from the discipline and methodical process associated with any of them. Patience has never been one of his strong suits, and perfecting the basics of a art form before moving on to more advanced maneuvers seems like a valuable lesson as he hits his pre-teen years. Further, those lessons coming from someone other than dad might be helpful at this stage.
Even better, we have a Jiu-Jitsu dojo within biking distance from our house, so he can begin to spread his wings and learn responsibility along with his new activity.
Now comes the point in the story where I have not successfully gotten my son to dig deeper before beginning.
My son expressed a desire to someday be an MMA fighter as his rationale for studying Jiu-Jitsu. He’s 11, so I get it. And, if by chance he wants to be a competitive martial artist and has the aptitude, something like MMA could become a reality.
So, instead of lecturing him on the dangers of The Octagon, I decided to have him dig deeper into the philosophy of Jiu-Jitsu. Where did it originate? Are there different styles and how are they different? Who practices Jiu-Jitsu best in the world? What is the underlying philosophy of this martial art?
I had a few other questions in my text message to him explaining what I wanted him to do…how to move from interest to gaining some basic understanding before starting something new.
So far, I have received a short text in response to this line of questioning: “A guy named Henry Okasaki”. Presumably, he’s the greatest of all time.
I will encourage him to continue his research and tell me about it, but in the meantime, I need to do my own research so I can better guide him in this new interest.
What activities have your kids engaged in where you did not know much about it? Have you found learning background before starting a new activity makes the experience better?