AIK Kenpo Kids: Compassion

Kenpo Kids Blog - Compassion #1

Your training at American Institutes of Kenpo makes you strong. It makes you resourceful. It makes you powerful. Your work on the Bushido Code gives you a strong mind, and can turn you into a natural leader. You might have already noticed this at school, at church, and in other places in your life.

But being a powerful, strong leader comes with responsibility. You have to use that strength to help people. Which is why Compassion is an important part of the Bushido Code.

Compassion isn’t just being nice. It is another way of saying The Golden Rule: treat people like you want to be treated. Even when it’s hard. Even when those people act like jerks. Even when you’re tired, or cranky, or hungry, or just in a bad mood. Even when you just don’t feel like it.

Think about compassion like any other warrior skill you’ve learned from your teachers. If you had to use a front kick to protect yourself, would you use it even if it was hard to do? Of course you would. Would you use it even if you were tired, or cranky, or didn’t want to? Of course you would. You would because when defending yourself and the people you care about, you do what you have to no matter what.

It’s like that with compassion. Compassion is just as much a warrior skill as a front kick or an elbow strike. When you need to use this warrior skill, you do what you have to no matter what. Sometimes doing what you have to do means ignoring when someone says something rude. Sometimes it means letting someone else win an argument. Sometimes it means letting your little brother have an extra turn on your XBox because he’s having a hard day.

But doing whatever it takes is also part of being a warrior. Your training has made you strong enough to use your fighting skills.

Has it made you strong enough to not use them?

Parents’ Corner

Compassion can be an especially helpful tool as a parent when talking with your child about disasters or tragedies they hear about. Whether it’s a natural disaster in Asia, or a school shooting on the east coast, or a death in the family, these events can hit children hard. Kids lack the perspective, context and agency to feel like they can do anything, which makes the events even more frightening and saddening for them.

When talking about something like that, we recommend a slight spin on the wise words of Fred Rogers. You might remember a special message from Mr. Rogers after a national tragedy in the 1970s. He told his viewers to “look for the helpers.” His advice was to, when watching news about a terrible event, to look for the people who were helping: the firemen, police, civilian volunteers, aid groups. He said the helpers are always there, and to look for them.

When your child is frightened by events out of their control, you can help by pointing out the compassionate people surrounding those events. Talk about that compassion, and your child’s own compassion, too. It will remind everybody how good most people are, and help to ease the fear and confusion that’s naturally part of that event.





Kenpo Kids Blog - Compassion #2

One interesting thing about compassion is that every culture in the world values it. You could go anywhere in America, or to Peru, or to China or Iran or France and find that caring about people, especially those less fortunate, it an important part of the culture. In fact, every culture in the world has stories about people showing compassion and the good that comes from it.

One example is the Bible story of the Good Samaritan, who shows compassion even when people expected to be more compassionate show none. Another is the recent movie Pay it Forward, about how to repay compassion given you by showing compassion to the next person who needs it. One of our favorites here is the story of the Mouse and the Lion from the Greek storyteller Aesop.

Once upon a time, a mighty lion captured a mouse. The mouse begged for his life, promising to help the lion some day in the future if only the lion would let him go. The lion laughed so hard at this. How could a tiny mouse help something as mighty as he? But in his laughter, his paws slipped and the mouse was able to escape. 

Some weeks later, hunters laid a trap for the lion. When the lion took the bait, a net fell upon him and captured him. He struggled to free himself, but not even his great strength and sharp claws could help. He was trapped, and soon the hunters would arrive and make a trophy of him!

But then the mouse, who had been watching from his home nearby, scampered up and gnawed on the ropes. The cords that even the mighty lion couldn’t break, parted easily under the mouse’s sharp teeth. In a minute, the lion was free. He thanked the mouse and apologized for ever thinking somebody could be too small to help.

Although the compassion in this story comes after helping out another, it tells the importance of helping others. Most of the communities you are part of -- your family, your dojo, your school -- all are built around people doing things for one another. Nobody is too small to participate, or to help. 

This month, your assignment is to find another story about compassion. It can be from any culture and in any form -- books, poems, even movies or music. Take time to share it with your parents, and then tell your sensei about it.

Don’t just tell the story, though. Also say a few words about how you think the story teaches compassion, and what you might do in your life to lead that lesson by example. Somebody might lead the lesson of the Mouse and the Lion by being kind to younger children at school, or by helping an elderly person living on his block. Whatever ideas you have, remember them for the rest of this cycle. We’ll be asking you about them soon.

Parents’ Corner

This assignment is pretty straightforward, but some of our students get stuck on where to begin looking for stories about compassion. The Internet is an easy answer, but you can get bonus points by taking your child to the library. Have her talk to the reference librarian about her assignment, and see where the librarian leads her to look for answers.

As always, the staff here at AIK are here to help you come up with ideas, too. Just ask and we’ll be happy to answer.





Kenpo Kids Blog - Compassion #3

Enrichment Topic - 3 Phases of learning

You are a kenpo student. That means you learn kenpo. But when you learn kenpo, you learn a lot of other things. You learn how to work hard. You learn how to listen carefully. You learn about how to have both great power and great responsibility. You learn about the Bushido Code, and being good to your family, and how to behave in school.

Another thing you learn is about how learning works. You learn this by practicing kenpo and getting better at kenpo. You learn this by watching your teachers improve their skills. You learn this by helping newer students who have questions you can answer. 

You’ll also learn this when you read this lesson here. What you’ll learn today is the three phases of learning. With every new skill, you go through each of these phases. Older students know them by more complicated names, but for you the three phases are:


What

How

Why


Each phase is part of completely learning a skill, like a front kick or a punch, or a technique or a kata. Here’s how it works:

In the what phase, you learn what to do. In the technique Delayed Sword, you learn what to do if somebody punches at you from the front with his right hand:


Step back with your left foot

Inward block with your right hand

Kick with your right foot

Outward chop with your right hand


You learn the technique in class, then practice it just like that, until you have it memorized. On test day, you show that you know it just so. That’s the What phase of learning the technique.

In the how phase, you learn how the technique works. What is it about stepping back with your left foot that makes the inward block work? How does the kick make the outward chop work? You learn the answers to those questions by experimenting with your kenpo and by watching more advanced people practice. Knowing how means you can change little pieces of the technique, for example:


Using an inward chop instead of an inward block

Stepping toward the opponent if he has long reach

Pivoting to defend against a punch from the side

Reversing the whole technique to defend against a left punch


Sometimes you’ll practice this in class, doing some of these changes to learn more about the technique. Sometimes you’ll do it because your training partner makes a mistake, or because you imagine things at home. You can make these changes because you know how the pieces work. That’s why it’s called the How phase.

In the Why phase, you don’t just know what to do and how it works, you know why you do it. Knowing why means you can make up your own techniques as you go by using what you learned from one or more of your kenpo techniques.

Knowing why you step back and inward block in Delayed Sword means you know how to use other blocks and strikes against a punch from the front.

Knowing why a groin kick and chop are a good combination means you know how to use them in any situation

The why phase is where most of your teachers are, and where you will be too some day. It’s the real reason to learn your techniques: not so you can memorize a flashy move, but so you can understand the movements inside of them.

Parent’s Corner

The three phases of learning apply to every skill, inside and outside of martial arts. Many of our parents and adult students have found it useful to see how this way of thinking about learning applies to other aspects of life.

For your child, it can be especially useful if she is struggling with a different skill. Ask your child about the phases of learning in kenpo, and then map the concept onto the new skill. Often this gives confidence and direction where before there was just frustration.





Kenpo Kids Blog - Compassion #4 (Assignment)

With your next belt test coming, you have a lot of preparation on to do. You’ll start your test wearing the belt you have now, and if you show up completely ready you will leave your test with your next rank around your waist. As a reminder, follow this checklist in the weeks just before your test. Write it down (by hand) and put it someplace you look at every day.


Confirm with your teachers you are ready to test

Invite your parents and other important people to come watch

Finish your Compassion project (see below)

Practice all of your material three times by yourself

Practice all of your material in front of somebody else one time

Make sure your uniform is clean and ironed

Arrive on test day fifteen minutes early

Have a great test


Your Compassion project is how you will demonstrate to your teachers that you haven’t only learned what they taught in class. It shows you’ve done your reading and thinking about the Bushido Value for this phase of your training. Here’s how it works.

Your job is to make a list of twenty acts of compassion. That’s twenty times somebody did something compassionate in a way that made you think, and maybe smile. Some might be things you saw somebody do. Some might be things somebody did particularly for you. Others you might have seen on the news, or read about in school, or watched on YouTube.

It doesn’t matter where you heard about the act of compassion. Put it on the list. If you think of more than twenty, choose your twenty favorite.

Now, make a collage that somehow shows all twenty. You can use printouts from the web, newspaper articles, drawings that you made, or anything else that for you shows what that person did and why you find it important. Try to use different things for different acts. A collage with twenty website headlines is boring compared to one with five headlines, six pictures, four drawings, two poems and three photographs.

Once you’ve made your collage, practice telling about it with your parents. You don’t have to write down a speech, but use the collage to remind you how you like to talk about each item. After you’ve practiced, find time with your teachers at American Institutes of Kenpo to share your collage with them. On test day, bring your collage with you. Your teachers will put it someplace people can see it, and some other people might ask you some questions about what you chose and what it means to you.

Parent’s Corner

One nice thing about art projects is you think deeply about the thing you’re doing your art about. That’s the purpose of this assignment. While making the collage, which should take your child several hours, she will be thinking hard about each of the acts of compassion she chose to include. This helps internalize the lesson and example of compassion, and makes it more a part of how she views the world.

As with all of our projects, resist the parental impulse to do for your child instead of do with. If you help with some of the trickier parts, it gives you a chance to talk with your child about the project and what he’s learning. But if you do things for him, he gets put on the sidelines instead. Remember: a clunky job done by your kid beats a beautiful thing done by you every single time.

As always, our staff here at AIK Tucson is here to help you in any way you need.




Kenpo Juniors Blog - Compassion#4 (Assignment)

With your next belt test coming, you have a lot of preparation on to do. You’ll start your test wearing the belt you have now, and if you show up completely ready you will leave your test with your next rank around your waist. As a reminder, follow this checklist in the weeks just before your test. Write it down (by hand) and put it someplace you look at every day.


Confirm with your teachers you are ready to test

Invite your parents and other important people to come watch

Finish your Compassion project (see below)

Practice all of your material three times by yourself

Practice all of your material in front of somebody else one time

Make sure your uniform is clean and ironed

Arrive on test day fifteen minutes early

Have a great test


Your Compassion project is how you will demonstrate to your teachers that you haven’t only learned what they taught in class. It shows you’ve done your reading and thinking about the Bushido Value for this phase of your training. Here’s how it works.

Your job is to make a list of ten acts of compassion. That’s ten times somebody did something compassionate in a way that made you think, and maybe smile. Some might be things you saw somebody do. Some might be things somebody did particularly for you. Others you might have seen on the news, or read about in school, or watched on YouTube.

It doesn’t matter where you heard about the act of compassion. Put it on the list. If you think of more than ten, choose your ten favorite.

Now, make a collage that somehow shows all ten. You can use printouts from the web, newspaper articles, drawings that you made, or anything else that for you shows what that person did and why you find it important.

Once you’ve made your collage, practice telling about it with your parents. You don’t have to write down a speech, but use the collage to remind you how you like to talk about each item. After you’ve practiced, find time with your teachers at American Institutes of Kenpo to share your collage with them.

Parent’s Corner

One nice thing about art projects is you think deeply about the thing you’re doing your art about. That’s the purpose of this assignment. While making the collage, which should take your child several hours, she will be thinking hard about each of the acts of compassion she chose to include. This helps internalize the lesson and example of compassion, and makes it more a part of how she views the world.

As with all of our projects, resist the parental impulse to do for your child instead of do with. If you help with some of the trickier parts, it gives you a chance to talk with your child about the project and what he’s learning. But if you do things for him, he gets put on the sidelines instead. Remember: a clunky job done by your kid beats a beautiful thing done by you every single time.

As always, our staff here at AIK Tucson is here to help you in any way you need

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