How to be a Martial Arts Parent
Fortunately for my children, I'm much better at being a martial arts parent than I ever was at being an actual martial artist. Sure, I had my moments karate kicking my way to glory (Hi-Yah!!) and knee barring the **** out of new BJJ students in their first week of training before they could exact revenge in week two. As it turns out though, parenting little ass kickers seems to be where I shine.
I originally had the idea for a parenting thread because I wanted a place for us to chronicle the craziness you see from parents in the course of your training. Most martial arts schools still need kids in order to pay the bills so I know you have stories. Don't worry, we're still going to use this thread to tell stories of asshole parents but I thought I'd kick it off with some actual information that might help prevent a parent or two from being such an asshole. So this thread will be the mullet of martial arts parenting - business in the front and party in the back.
My kids are learning to grapple at the moment, so many of my examples will be from that point of view but they'll apply to other martial arts as well. Without further delay, here are some rules to help you avoid being a shitty martial arts parent:
1. Shut your stupid mouth. When you go to watch your kids train, sit there and be quiet. You're paying good money for your child to learn from professionals. Let them do their job. This is probably the biggest screw-up parents make. They can't stand to cut the umbilical cord for an hour and let their kids train on their own. I'll give some more specifics below, but many of the rules that follow revolve around this theme. Shut your pie hole.
2. Don't yell at your kid across the training floor in the middle of class. I know you can't fucking stand it that Little Johnny zigged when he was supposed to zag but get over it. If you think you have something of value to add to his training, take notes and discuss it with him after class.
3. Come to class and pay attention. Use your eyes and ears, not your mouth. This is not a daycare center. You need to know if your kid is a dick. I know your precious little flower is perfect in your eyes but sometimes these little sweet peas don't listen, are too rough with their training partners, wipe boogers on the mat and whatnot. You need to know if this is happening so you can correct your child - after class if it's not an emergency.
4. Take the time to learn a little bit about the martial art your kid is training in. Many times, since the Gods of War have awesome senses of humor, it will be the least knowledgeable parents who loudly and repeatedly violate Rule #1. I heard a parent in a recent seminar talking loudly on his cell phone. He was telling somebody that Royce Gracie was doing a seminar at his kid's school. Of course, he pronounced Royce with the R sound. The person on the other end obviously corrected him because he said "Well IT SAYS Royce (again with the R sound) right here!" Royce was standing about ten feet away at the time. lol. I've also heard a parent refer to BJJ as Karate and Muay Thai as Mai Tai. Learn a little so you don't sound like a buffoon all the time.
5. Every training session is not the Super Bowl. Chill the **** out. A couple weeks ago my son stuck around after class to get some rolling in. I've been encouraging him to roll with kids that are bigger than him because he's been trouncing most of the kids his own size. He was rolling with a kid that probably outweighed him by 25 lbs. The kid's father, who is a blue belt, felt the need to go stand 3 feet from them while they rolled and excitedly coach his fat son as if he were fighting for a UFC title. I would've told him to **** off, but I was wisely observing Rule #1, unlike this ass clown. Oh yeah, my son still caught him with an armbar. Usually that would mean nothing to me but this time I laughed a little on the inside.
6. Don't hold a grudge against a kid because he has a shitty parent. This one can be tough, but the poor little bastards didn't get to choose their parents.
7. Sandbagging at tournaments - don't do it. I know that cheesy painted gold medal Little Johnny wins after six years of wrestling by smashing a little girl who's been training for eight weeks will bring pride and respect to your family for many generations, but put your kid in the right damn division.
8. Everybody who can beat your kid is not a sandbagger. Yes, I'm sure your kid is a cross between Jacare and Luke Skywalker but sometimes the dark side wins. Accept it. Losing is part of improving.
9. Know when to push and when to go easy. There's nothing wrong with wanting your kid to be their best. Kids will sit on their asses, eat cheese balls and play Grand Theft Auto all day long if you let them. Sometimes a kick in the pants is a good thing. On the other hand, kids feel under the weather sometimes. Maybe they didn't sleep well. Maybe they just need a break. Let them take a day off occasionally.
10. If you want them to be good at martial arts, focus on their attitude more than their technique. I see so many parents get bent all out of shape because their kid screws up a submission attempt but they don't pay attention to the **** that matters the most - heart and hard work. My kids' instructors have some exercises they do as a competition with the kids. Without going into detail, they're exercises that most kids are capable of winning. It's all about heart. That's where I want to see my kids putting out. I want to see them working hard. I want to see them listening. I want to see them trying and paying attention. I don't give a **** if they screw up an Omoplata.
11. Your loud ass whiny toddler you let run around like a rabid wolverine while Little Johnny is in class is not cute. At all. Do something with that damn kid. He's fucking up the program.
12. Seriously, shut your stupid mouth. You don't need to call him over to fix his belt when it falls off. You don't need to yell at him to use his left foot instead of his right foot. You don't need to be on the phone running your trap. You don't need to be chatting up the hot mom sitting next to you. Shut the hell up.
I'm sure there are more crucial rules that I'm missing, but that's all that comes to mind at the moment. Feel free to add your own. Other than that, let me hear your stories about douchebag parents. I know you've got some.