What Does Martial Arts Teach Us?

August 2017

In the book “Infidel” by Ayaan Hirsi Ali she points out some major cultural differences between the Somali culture she was raised in, and the Dutch culture she adopted as an adult. In Somalia children are taught to strike out when they feel threatened, rather than only to strike in defense when they are attacked first. In Dutch culture however, Somali children living as refugees had to learn to “talk things through” rather than hit. Working as a translator for the Dutch authorities, Ali was involved with many situations where Somali parents had to have these rules explained to them. They were told that if their child persisted with their aggressive behavior they would not be able to attend normal schools, but would be placed in a psychiatric facility to address their mental disorder. Ali points out that Dutch civilization is peaceful and productive, as a consequence of this national policy of “talking things through, rather than hitting.” Somalia, on the other hand, has been torn by civil war and a succession of brutal dictatorships. Like Ali I would advocate for adopting a philosophy of peaceful persuasion, rather than
violent confrontation.

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Sometimes parents do not put their children into our program because they have never trained themselves at a Dojo.
Sometimes they have had a previously negative experience with another school. Since I began teaching in Plantation in 1980 I have always made personal growth the major focus of our program. At my Dojo students acquire their martial skills as part of healthy physical, emotional and psychological development. In the last few years in particular, martial arts studios around the country have adopted similar ideas to the University Karate Center, but as far as I know, I remain the long term pioneer in this method of teaching martial arts to students of all ages.
It is often a good idea for concerned parents to come and watch a class first to see how we train. I appreciate the efforts that all the students make to refer clients to the school, and would encourage you to tell your friends and acquaintances about our program. We anticipate that "the proof of the pudding is in the eating" and that by seeing what we are doing, and by experiencing our program first hand, they will be convinced of its merit.

All students, but kids in particular, can use their martial arts knowledge to resolve conflicts peacefully, by talking rather than resorting to violence. The training gives them the confidence to be able to speak with someone who may be threatening them physically, rather than cave in to a bully’s demands, or lash out in panic as an untrained individual might. Since they have developed their practiced skills, they can remain cool calm and confident, while opting for the civilized solution. Essentially, Mudokai Martial Arts teaches practical peace.

Shihan Robert H Mason © 2017