Hey, parents. This is Shihan from Skillz Dynamic Martial Arts. I want to shoot a video today. Had a really good conversation with one of our ninja parents last night, and a question came up about some of the changes and things that I’ve implemented in the program. In the conversation, it came up that I haven’t necessarily communicated what my vision, what my mindset is, and that’s led to some general confusion by our members. I want to take a couple of minutes to explain exactly the vision and the direction that we’re going.
First and foremost, we understand people are resistant to change, that it’s uncomfortable, that you get comfortable with the normal status quo of what you’re doing, and whenever there’s a change, that things can suddenly throw you out of whack a little bit. Unfortunately, what that means though, for me though, I’m always looking for a better way for our ninjas to be successful. If I learn something new, if I put something together, I’m going to naturally bring it into the program.
At the same time, changes aren’t just made randomly or willy nilly that I throw something in and let’s see if this works. I do a lot of research. I’m part of that mastermind group that I go to to Rhode Island’s regularly, so there’s about 30 other school owners that, whenever we get something new, we process with them, we talk about it, and then we put it into the system.
We also naturally understand that not everything is going to work exactly as planned. Therefore, we might have to make some adjustments or some tweaks to something that we put in the system, try it for a week or two, maybe a month, and then we have to make a little adjustment.
An example would be our advanced ninjas, the elite skills have been bringing in their bo staffs. We talked about having the bags along the floor, and then just putting your bow with your bag. Unfortunately, they’re getting stepped on. They’re getting kicked. The kids just aren’t paying enough attention to something on the floor while they’re in class. We made an adjustment. We moved them up against the wall, and that seems to be working a little bit better.
As we find things, we’re going to implement them in this system, and we’re going to monitor them, and then if we need to make any adjustments along the way, then we’re going to do that. The ultimate goal of everything that we’re trying to do here is to be able to reduce or eliminate general stress with you being part of the program.
An example of that would be the colored stripes. When we had eight colored stripes, there was a lot of stress that families felt, because you had to come to a specific day and a specific time for your class, and if you missed for any reason, well then you’re behind or you’re not going to be able to test, because you don’t have that color.
With the newer system, we’ve got black stripes, which are physical, and blue stripes, which are emotional, so there’s a lot more flexibility that you can choose any day of the week, make sure when you come to class you’re going to get the same great class and have the same opportunity to earn the stripe that you need. That would just be one of many examples of what we’re trying to do.
Another example would be the class format. We’ve had several of our ninjas try to enter black belt camp this summer, and they didn’t make it. They just were not ready. At that point, I had to look at, well, what got them here, and let’s backup and put some things in place so that other ninjas don’t run into the same obstacle. Therefore, you’ve seen some changes to the class format and the class structure.
Our focus right now is we’re getting a 60 minute class done in 45 minutes. One of the things that that means is, well, we don’t necessarily play games. We might play a game here or there, or maybe the games have adjusted a little bit, but at the same time, we’re getting a lot more done in getting your ninja ready for their next belt test.
There are six general categories now that we make sure that we cover every single class. Again, that’s another positive change. In the past, say it was a sparring day. Well, we would spar the whole class. If your ninja didn’t have sparring gear, or if they don’t like sparring, suddenly they would find a reason to not want to come to class, because they knew, well, alls we’re going to do is spar.
With the new format, we cover all six segments of class, so you’re going to see basics, you’re going to see board breaking, you’re going to see exercises, you’re going to see weapons training, you’re going to see self defense, and you’re going to see sparring drills.
Then that’s our other aspect is sparring has taken on a different definition. In the old days, sparring, you put on your gear, and we do free sparring is the technical term for it where the clock runs for a minute and you spar somebody, you try to score points, and you try not to get scored on.
What we’ve implemented is a step prior to that, which are drills. Your students need all of the safety gear in order to do free sparring, but they also need it to do the drills. A lot of times, we’re going to be doing drills for sparring, but we’re not necessarily going to get to the free sparring every single time. Again, that’s going to help our ninjas, because they’re going to get more comfortable in the gear, they’re going to learn a lot more, and they don’t have to worry so much about getting hit or getting hurt during sparring all of the time.
Ultimately, the last step that I want to cover today is that everything we’re doing is looking to create structure. I understand that by having these new changes, it doesn’t seem like there’s very good structure. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. We’ve been able to implement things into class that have sped up class, sped up the knowledge, added a lot more emotion into the program, so that your kids are in a high state, they’re learning more, they’re learning faster, and they’re retaining the information for longer.
We’re look at everything from when you walk in the door, you bow, you check in, you put your shoes and socks in the cubbies. Then you put your bags along the floor, then you line up, right? Everything has got a complete structure to the program, so the ninjas know exactly what to expect.
Again, I understand in the old system we used to play a lot of games, so the kids were excited to come in, because it was a new game or there’s something different. At the same time, structure is what’s going to make them successful. There isn’t always going to be something brand new for them to learn, but we’re going to be working on getting more repetitions in.
With that in mind, we’re looking a lot more for quality as opposed to quantity. Some of the ninjas have talked about, “Well, I’ve already learned this form, so I want to learn something else.” They’re missing the point at that stage. What we’re doing now with the forms, for example, is not just memorization but it’s application of the life skill.
You heard me talk for the last couple months about belief. Are your moves believable? Do they work this way? It’s not strictly memorization, it’s about applying the technique and the life skill with emotion, so that it makes for an amazing kata. Right now, we’re implementing that, and just introducing it, so it’s going to take the ninjas a little bit to really understand that process.
Again, I’m sure I haven’t answered all of your questions or all of your concerns. Some people are very relaxed and just go with the flow and enjoy class, whatever it is we’re doing. Then the other side of the scale is people want to know exactly step one, step two, step three, all of the time. I get that. Wherever you’re at on the scale, if you have any questions, feel free to ask. I can explain exactly why are we doing this.
Another example would be the water bottles. Instead of having one specific drink break, and you’re not allowed to leave the class other than that, put the drink bottles on the floor, put them next to your bag. Now whenever you’re thirsty, go get a drink, jump back into class.
Classes aren’t run by the kids anymore, which again, what used to happen where, “Okay, everybody go get a drink break,” four minutes later, they come back into class, and we’ve lost all that class time. What we’ve built now with the structure is class is running, you jump in, and the more you participate, the more you’re going to learn. Everything that we’re looking at, down to the minute, is structured in the class itself.
Again, if you have any questions about it, or a specific thing that’s going on, feel free to ask. Sometimes I’m going to have an answer that you like. Sometimes I might have an answer that you don’t like, but either way you’re going to know exactly what the vision and the plan is, because I want to see all of our ninjas not only become black belts, but eventually, if they choose, become instructors one day. It would be great to see your ninja out here on the floor leading class.
We’re going to go get ready for classes now. Have an awesome Thursday. We’ll see you guys soon.