Why Should I Care?

In Excellence, Kids Martial Arts Classes by Don Alley

Why do I care what kind of grades you get? I mean, you’re in my martial arts class learning self defense and striking, what difference does it make to me if it you get an A or an F?

Why should I care if you do your homework?

What difference does it make to me if you are disrespectful to your teacher? I don’t see her. I don’t know her. Why should it matter to me?

The answer?

It all matters to me. I care about it all.

Because first, I care about you. I’m your martial arts instructor. And I’m also your mentor. Your life coach. When you get older, you will hear other adults talk about life coaches. Guess what? I’m yours. You’re a kid, and you have one. Congrats 🙂  I care about you, and the choices you make. Because those choices become who you are. I care about how you act in public. I care about how you act in private. It matters to me that you learn to be a thoughtful, caring, hard-working human being that is good and honest and respectful to other human beings.

Let’s talk about your grades.

gradesWhy do I care about what kind of grades you get? Because school matters. And more importantly to me, as your life coach and martial arts instructor, you figuring out HOW YOU LEARN best, matters. Because if you’re going to be successful in life, you are going to have to be a learner. You can’t sit back and be idle in your thinking. You must strive. Learn. Be inquisitive. Discover. I care that you are successful. And to be successful, you must be able and willing to learn. So, learn now. Learn what they are teaching you, now, while you are young. There will come a time when you get to be more in charge of what you learn, and it will be extremely helpful for you to know what is the best way for YOU to learn. So for now, school is your learning. And school matters. And learning matters.

Let’s talk about your homework.

It may not be the highlight of your day, but your homework matters to me. I care that you do it, and do it well. Want to know why? Because as your martial arts instructor, I want you to take pride in the little things. And homework often times reinforces the little things. It makes you take that new skill that you are working on, that new math problem, that story you read earlier, and it makes you review it one more time. Look at it one more time. Think about it one more time. And then…guess what? You’ve made a little more progress. Those little details are helping you master what the teacher is asking you to learn. Homework matters. Because in life, the little things matter. And little things often times make a big difference.

And let’s talk about your teacher.

Why should I care about how you treat him or her? I care because martial artists are first and foremost, respectful. I may never meet your teachers. But I expect you to treat them like you treat me. When you train in martial arts with me, you bow. You say “Hello, Sir.” You give me a great attitude, and always do your best. That’s one of the ways that you demonstrate respect, and I greatly appreciate it. And your teachers will appreciate it as well. They work hard. They have a tough job. It brings them a tremendous amount of joy and pleasure when you give your best in class and show up with a “black belt attitude.” They don’t need you to be perfect. They don’t need you to make all A’s. But they do deserve your best effort. Because teachers are giving you THEIR best. As you get older, you may see other kids and students bad mouth their teachers. But that’s not you. You are a martial artist. You are respectful to all human beings. Especially your teachers.

These are just three small examples of things I care about. Want to know something they have in common with each other?

Citizenship Awards Excellence


Excellence is choosing to do your very best.  And that’s what we do as martial artists. When we are practicing, we strive to hit harder. Be faster. Constantly improve. That’s excellence. Black belt excellence. Doing what it takes in order to be good enough to earn your black belt.

And as your martial arts instructor, your mentor, your life coach, my job is to help you appreciate that the same way you are striving towards your black belt is the same way you should approach every decision you make. How can I be my best (demonstrate excellence) in _____________. Fill in the blank.

How can I be my best in school. How can I be my best when I have test coming up? How can I be my best with my attitude.

It all matters.

And it all matters to me. Because it all matters in life. The choices you are making now about how hard you are willing to try, and what attitudes you are willing to demonstrate, are molding you into the man or woman you will become in the future.

Take pride in your work. The little things make a big difference. Be respectful, always. And keep training hard towards your next martial arts goal.

See you in class soon 🙂

Don Alley
Don Alley is the owner and chief instructor at Super Kicks Karate in Ashburn and Leesburg, and has been training in the martial arts for 28 years. He is currently a 6th degree black belt, and has dedicated the entirety of his adult life to teaching children and families martial arts. He is also the owner of Center Stage Preschool, a Montessori-based, performing arts preschool; and co-founder of Testudo Addiction Recovery, a non-profit organization serving families in the Northern Virginia area.