Balance is important for everyone, and students struggle as much as anyone. Samurai culture focused on the twin paths of academia and martial arts, which they termed bunburyodo:
文 literature or learning
武 martial arts
道 path, way
This concept remains valid today. Experts recommend balancing studies with regular physical exercise. Physical fitness improves general health, concentration, stamina, self-esteem and builds a culture of self-discipline. A great martial arts dojo can be very effective at addressing each of these qualities by challenging each area of a student’s physical fitness, as well as developing problems solving skills, resilience and confidence.
Cultivating both the body and the mind is important. Physical strength without education can lead to loutish behaviour. Intelligence without health can be a waste of a great asset.
When selecting a dojo, particularly for beginners, I recommend researching further than your local church or school gym. Not all dojo are equal, and not all suit the same purpose.
Ask yourself what outcomes you wish to achieve, and check that the dojo syllabus matches your needs. For example, if your main motivation is to bully-proof a child, a school that focuses on inappropriate responses such as head-kicks or eye-pokes won’t be your best choice.
Your child would benefit more from a school that teaches a range of tactics that include avoidance, escape, verbal de-escalation techniques, defence and control techniques. The curriculum would also include safe contact sparring and wrestling.
Finally, in order to fit within your lifestyle, consider the lesson schedule. Is one two-hour lesson easier to fit within your week, or would a few short sharp hour sessions be a better fit? Sobukan tries to accommodate both.