By Guest Blogger Dwight Trower
At St. Louis Family Martial Arts Academy, we recently held a special class in our year-long series: “Dads and Sons - Doing Good Work.”
Why “good work?”
You might be curious why we chose the phrase for this particular program. It actually goes back to my old boxing days from the late 1980's and early 1990's. In the martial arts, it’s traditional to show respect to your training partners or instructor by bowing or saluting at the end of the workout. The local boxing gym I trained at had a similar customary ending. A typical workout lasted about an hour and a half and was broken down into multiple sessions depending on what each individual boxer was working on that day.
We always began with a simple calisthenic warmup followed by fifteen to twenty minutes of continuous shadow boxing. Next would be up to ten three-minute rounds of work. This might include any combination of heavy bag work, focus mitt work with a trainer, or live sparring. As an example, there might be three rounds of heavy bag work followed by three rounds of sparring, followed by focus mitt work or more bag work. Next would be fifteen minutes of continuous jump rope, followed by push-ups and sit-ups. Finally, there would be another five to ten minutes of a shadow boxing cool down.
At the end of each session of the workout we’d touch gloves, shake hands, or even hug each other and use the simple phrase “Good work!”
There is a unique and special camaraderie that occurs during the course of hard physical training. “Good work” means more than just that you did good work. It also means “Well done,” or “Nice job,” or “I’m proud of you.” The simple act of touching gloves, shaking hands, or even hugging each other can strengthen the connection and create a bond between two people. In a tough and challenging environment like a boxing gym that bond can be important. It helps create trust and support within the gym and its members.
Now, not everyone gets that. Some guys are just there to fight, and they don’t care about the rest. That’s okay. Others, though, learn that you can be strong and still be gentle. You can be tough and still care about each other. You can also be kind and still hold your ground. You can be nice and still stand up for yourself.
The bond between a father and son or a role model and student is an important thing. Cory Nardoni, the instructor who helped design and teach this class, and I imagined a program where that relationship could be enhanced just by working together and having fun. Yes, we of course designed it to teach and learn effective and practical sparring techniques, combinations, and strategies. That’s the primary teaching goal. But, we thought, how cool would it be to see fathers and sons working and learning together, touching gloves, shaking hands, hugging each other, and saying things like “Good work,” “Well done,” and “I’m proud of you?”
That‘s precisely what happens in this kind of event! We got the young boys, ages five to twelve, and their dads, out on the mat for an hour and a half. We taught them some boxing and kickboxing basics.
We began by teaching proper stance, footwork, range, and distance. After a couple two-minute rounds of just learning to move we added in basic jab, cross, hook sequences. The more advanced students got to do some slipping and bob and weaves while the newer or younger students just stuck with learning to move and using their hands. We taught the dads how to hold the pads properly, how to encourage their sons, and most importantly to just be proud of them for giving their best effort!
We’re a traditional martial arts school so all of our students know how to kick. After they got the hang of some basic boxing combinations we did a few rounds of kickboxing pad work too. Again, the more advanced students did more advanced combinations and the less experienced students worked on techniques more appropriate for their level of training.
We ended the night by taking pictures and just all hanging out together for a while. Our instructors provided water, sports drinks, and cookies for all the participants. Not a bad way to spend a Friday night!
Most of the boys, and a few of the dads, were already students at our school. However, most of the dads had no formal martial arts or boxing training before this event. Prior to this they’d just been on the sidelines watching class. We provided a great opportunity for them to learn some simple techniques but we were really focused on teaching them how they could be positive coaches and supportive parents in their child’s training. Who knows, maybe some of them will even join our program long term. It was Good Work and a worthwhile event!
Dwight Trower began his martial arts training in 1981. He has trained primarily in the arts of Tae Kwon Do, Filipino Kali, Lee Jun Fan, Muay Thai, and Silat. Since 1991, he has been the owner and Director of Instruction at St. Louis Family Martial Arts Academy. In 2010 he began developing a standalone martial arts curriculum for teenagers and adults with Down syndrome and similar disabilities. In 2018 he was recognized as The Pujols Family Foundation Partner of The Year for his work in the martial arts and Down Syndrome community.
Dwight Trower can be reached by calling St. Louis Family Martial Arts Academy at 636-227-3098 or via email at [email protected]
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