I was reminded twice this week, not just about the benefits of martial arts, but specifically the benefits of a well structured leadership program within a martial arts school. Uniquely, I have been able to see these benefits from three distinct points of view. First, as a child growing up in Always Take Action Martial Arts’ (ATA) leadership program, second, as an instructor and school owner instilling those skills in others, and now as a father who’s children are in the leadership program.

Earlier today I was sitting down and editing some video for our business’ YouTube page. During that process I had to watch myself speaking and instructing the material. My thoughts at viewing myself where, “man what happened to my hairline,” and what a long way I had come for the kid that was shy with a substantial speech impediment. As a child, I slurred many of my words and would often use the wrong words, due to my extreme shyness and nervousness at talking to others. An example would be saying the stove was cold instead of hot. I was embarrassed and made fun of for being in the speech and writing needs class. I believe my instructor saw this taking an toll on me and after speaking with me about it, he asked me to come into the Leadership training program. Martial arts class was the only place I felt liked and special, and so I was ecstatic. I took right to the leader development exercises and bought into the public speaking aspect whole heartedly. I even practiced at home by running martial arts classes with my G.I. Joe toys. After just three short weeks I was moved out of my speech class and the teachers were in awe of my development and new found confidence. The reality is, I was still scared of public speaking and I had only learned at that point to manage it and use trained techniques while speaking. Now, I teach on a weekly basis to small groups of 30 to 50 people and have giving large group presentations to groups as large as 7,000 people. While, I am not a professional public speaker and it is just one of components of being a business owner and martial arts instructor, it is a growth area I am very proud of.

The other time this week that I was proud was when my daughter, a member of our Flourtown location’s Leadership program, was giving a school presentation. As I watched her I could not help but smile. She spoke with such skill at eleven years old, using pace and peak, eye contact, facial expressions to match her tone, proper volume to her speech and engaging with her audience. She threw in some rapport building for good measure as well. When we left that day I told her how proud I was of her and how well she incorporated her leadership skills into her presentation, which she had to perform twelve times during an hour period. Each time the presentation was done exactly the same with thought-out precision. In the car she told me how what we talked about in leadership class was “totally true dad”. When I asked her what she meant she told me that leaders really aren’t born they are made. She commented on how many of the parents she was presenting to did not have good eye contact or understand how to engage with the audience or show respect while listening. I told her that they likely had never been taught by their parents the proper and respectful way to converse with others and they definitely had never undergone the level of leadership training she had already been through at eleven. Now, I know that my daughter on many levels can’t yet match up with an adult and she should not be able to yet. I also am aware that she, in some areas, is already ahead of some adults and that makes me so very proud of her.

Leadership training (in a good program, not one that says they work on leadership development and instead just has and untrained person lead classes for them) is the best thing that young person or adult can get involved in. I have had M.B.A’s tell me that they did not learn these skills until the were in an M.B.A program and that even then, it was not all practical application. They would tell the younger students what a leg up they were getting on the rest of their peers. That was definitely true. As a father, I am not sure where else my daughter would learn public speaking, rapport building, positive correction, coaching and life skills development at the level she does through her leadership training. As a graduate of the Leadership and Legacy instruction programs I know I did not get those skills anywhere else. I encourage you, whether your child is in martial arts or not, to find programs and opportunities to develop themselves as leaders.

Published: June 22, 2021

Categories: Benefits of Martial Arts