1/1/18 Happy New Years everyone!
Often for the new year, we make “resolutions”. I describe resolutions to my kids classes as “promises you make to yourself for things you want to try to do better.
Why does this have to be “once a year”?
Once upon a time, in a land called “Long Island”, a young, shy, non-athletic, young man with little self esteem wanted to make himself better somehow. He joined a Jack LaLane gym nearby. The saleswoman was beautiful and flirtatious, showed me around and how the different machines worked, told me how great it’d be for me, etc, etc. I signed on the line, committing to 3 years of monthly payments.
For 2 weeks, I went every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, looking forward to seeing the results I was promised and was expecting. (And also maybe, just maybe, seeing the pretty saleswoman and have her be so proud of my efforts that she wanted to ask me out, perhaps? ) I wore sleeveless shirts to better see my progress.
“STRIKE 1” I saw her, smiled and waved at her, I got nothing in return. She’d moved on to the next prospective commission.
“STRIKE 2” I didn’t see “immediate results” like I’d hoped. I wasn’t going up in weight I could lift, or going longer on the treadmill. For goodness sakes, it’s been 2 weeks!
Week 3 I missed Monday, but still went Tues-Friday.
Week 4 I didn’t go Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. I went Thursday, but Friday I decided to start fresh next week.
Week 5 I thought about going on Monday, but didn’t. Woke up on Tuesday morning ready to go and something side tracked me, though I don’t remember what. Wednesday I woke up and said to myself “Start fresh on Monday, get back on schedule. Take the rest of the week off and come back in full force on Monday.
“STRIKE 3” I got bored. I wasn’t motivated anymore.
I didn’t go back. Never set foot in the gym again. I wasn’t motivated. There was no person to impress. No “coach” to walk me through the workout and push me to go bigger, heavier, push through what I thought I could do and really find out what I was capable of.
(Side note, 2 years later, I got a “pay off the rest of your contract for 10% off and receive this duffel bag” offer, and I sent in my check. The “duffel bag” was, no joke, about big enough to fit a single can of soda in…lol…)
That was during the summer. Come September, I was in a Pizza shop. (Renzo’s Pizza, STILL the best Pizza around. East Islip, NY, look it up, it’s worth the trip!) I wanted 2 slices of pizza, but they had only one ready, and they said a pie would be out soon. I wandered the store, picked out a can of orange soda, and saw a “lead box” advertising “free year of Karate lessons”. Well, thanks to “The Karate Kid, Blood Sport, The Last Dragon, Karate Kid II (Ralph Macchio lived in an apartment complex near where I worked in a video store….) and my friends being into some of these movies enough to know every line (“You are NOT A TANAKA!” Thanks guys, I can’t watch that movie without the flashbacks to watching it in a room with you all quoting every line!), I decided to indulge in a brief daydream of me, the math-science-bowling nerd who could also be a Karate Master! I filled out a slip of paper with my name and phone number on it, then collected my 2 slices of pizza, and paid and sat and ate, leaving and going to work. I likely put on Karate Kid in the video store when I got there.
2 weeks later, I got a phone call that I’d won 2 free weeks of Karate lessons. I was excited. we scheduled my first class, and I eagerly and nervously looked forward to it. I showed up, went through the lesson, and despite me having had no athletic background, my instructor made me feel like I actually accomplished something.
I once again, signed on the line to commit to this for myself.
30 years later, I’m a 7th Degree Black Belt, and love every day I get to practice my martial arts and impart knowledge to my students.
Why did I stick with Martial Arts but not a gym? I have several reasons:
- Someone to guide me through the class/workout every time I was there.
- Other students who I enjoyed working with.
- Being motivated by both #1 and #2 to keep going a little longer, push a little harder. Maybe I couldn’t have done 50 jumping jacks when I was at home, but being in a class with others who were doing it, I pushed for those last few that I perhaps wouldn’t have pushed for if I were at home. What I THOUGHT were actual limitations turned out to be self imposed limitations.
- Positive reinforcement. My instructor(s) and fellow students would talk to me about what we did in class, and even ask me questions (I had a good memory for certain things) and it made me realize that despite my lack of self confidence, I could actually maybe kinda-sorta do this “Karate thing” halfway decently…..
- Assisting with kids classes. I had been a bowling coach with kids since I was 13 years old and had a great “way with kids” which my instructor found out about and demanded that I come in and assist with the Juniors classes. I still remember my 1st time assisting. My instructor told me “take those orange belts and teach them combination #5”. (I was an orange belt at the time and had just learned it recently myself) I went over, started teaching, then came back to my instructor and asked him a question about the stance and block. He answered it and I went back, came up with another question, back to my instructor, and back to the students again. I NOW realize that those questions were the beginning of my gaining DEPTH of understanding of my martial arts material. I learned my own movements all over again.
- In a sort of strange, abstract way, the stereotype of MARTIAL ARTS kept me coming back. I always pictured the GYM people as big strong guys, lifting weights, drinking supplements, posing for themselves in the mirrors. I always pictured the MARTIAL ARTIST as a quiet, respectful, polite person who could be a super hero if the situation called for it. I guess that second stereotype resonated with me more strongly.
- VARIETY. Each and every class had something different. Whether it was a new stretch, warm up, drill, a new student that I’d never practiced with, a new combination, a new sparring tactic, a new part of a form, whatever! It was something new every time! On the days I didn’t learn a new move, I found myself being more focused on improving my kick or my punch or my block, etc. EVERY class was different, unlike the gym and my “Legs/Arms on Monday and Weds, Back and Chest and shoulders on Tuesday and Friday, Cardio on Wednesday” routine that was so drilled into me at that time that I still remember it to this day.
- Social atmosphere. Our classes weren’t at ALL like the yelling and screaming “military boot camp” style that I’d seen on TV and in movies. They were fun! We learned, practiced, learned, practiced, got a different perspective, practiced some more. Even the things I messed up or failed to do well were met with more laughing “with” and not laughing “at” me. That was huge for myself esteem.
For a self described nerd with little-to-no real social skills and little-to-no athletic ability, the Martial Arts were a surprisingly perfect fit for me.
Thanks to my Martial Arts experiences, I have
- Come out of my shell a little bit (cue sarcastic groans from the crowd here.)
- Done things physically I NEVER would have imagined.
- Had enough students tell me I’ve been a positive influence in their life to actually believe it. The letters from kids and parents, I’ve received over the years, tell me I’m doing something right as a mentor or role model. I’m very proud of this.
- Had the honor of being asked to be the officiant for one of my student’s to get married. See #3 above why this is such a big deal to me.
- Been recognized by the U.S. CONGRESS and the Villari’s Organization for my efforts in raising money for charity. (To date, over $80,000 raised!)
- Perhaps most importantly for this particular story, I have had the privilege of watching my students grow up and grow as human beings in many ways. Watching little kids grow confident. Watching young ladies stand up for themselves. Watching young gentlemen be polite and respectful. Watching teenagers get through those awkward years socially and at school with the confidence to be themselves and not feel the need to “fit in” or see their own self worth be based on others opinions. Watching young adults find and stick with an activity that isn’t done on a phone or on the couch. Watching older adults get out and try something that perhaps they never thought they’d be able to do, but found that it was fun, social, interesting, confidence building, and EMPOWERING.
So, back to my original thought on this post. RESOLUTIONS. Why do we have to make these only once a year? Let’s make a promise to ourselves to try to be better today than we were yesterday. If we all did that each and every day, think of what we all could accomplish!
Spread the word. Bring your friends in for a free class at any of our studios. Let’s get everyone to have a resolution they can not only try at any time, but also stick with long term. Happy New Years 2018 everyone!
Master Pfister, Chalfont, PA Villari’s Studios
& All of the PA Villari’s Studios: Mechanicsburg, PA, Chester Springs, PA, Ambler, PA, Harleysville, PA.