Advice from Naga’s Teen Black Belts and Their Parents for Slump Times in Training

Unlike seasonal sports, training Poekoelan is a year-round pursuit. As such, everyone has slumps from time to time; we have all walked this path. The truth is, we have all lost motivation and gone through low moments in our training. The simplest advice we can give you is to amp it up, recommit, refocus and get going! Generally speaking, training funks just get worse if you do nothing. Get yourself to class! Make a commitment to yourself and your training. Reset your goals. Roll off the couch and bow onto the mat. Training ruts come and go over the years, but the benefits you get from committing to yourself through training last a lifetime!

If it’s time to tighten up your belt and turn things around, here’s some sage advice from Teen Black Belts and their parents. These are people who have lived through training lows, both as students and as parents. They speak from experience, and in our estimation, their wisdom is invaluable. 

From the Teen Black Belts:

What advice would you give to your teammates when they hit a slump in their training?

Keep going! Come back and train with gusto at least twice a week for one month and see how you feel. Talk to your teammates and to the Mas Goeroes. Most likely you’ll find your motivation coming back. Enjoy it! 

Ask your parents to help. I loved class once I got there, but sometimes it was a chore getting there. My mom helped by giving me the kick in the pants and I stuck with it.

Focus on all the people who are willing to help you. Some of the biggest obstacles that I faced were taking the initiative to accept that training is in my hands. It was hard to ask for help and to put in time to practice outside of class. I stayed on course because I wanted to continue training, though. I also knew that many people were willing to help me.

Just keep training. I kept training during hard times because I realized how far I had come and how close I was to black belt. I knew I was absolutely capable of doing it if I just continued to show up at classes and work hard.

Focus on the FUN! I kept training because I really wanted to keep moving forward with all my teammates and because training was really fun.

There are many benefits when you stick to it and keep training. You learn a lot of things that will be helpful in life. Remember all the different things you are skilled at and that you’ve learned already. There’s more ahead! Keep going!

Find a balance between school, family, friends and training. It was hard for me, especially as I got further into high school and my class load increased. It became more difficult to find time for everything I wanted to do. I had to prioritize and maximize my time. I didn’t have a lot of down time, but picking a few classes at Naga that I made sure to go to every week, and then planning my social things around those seemed to help.

On taking a break: It can be really difficult to lose motivation with your training or feel like the next step is too difficult, and it’s okay to take a break as long as you realize that the longer your break is the harder it is to remember everything you learned. Really look at your life and the ways that your training has benefited you, even if it seems tough right now. It’s worth continuing on because there are countless benefits to you, even if you may not see them right now.

Just because you feel this way now does not mean that you will feel this way tomorrow or next week or next month. I try to finish the activities I start and this is not something that just ends. The lessons and knowledge follow you forever. Bettering yourself by continuing is the best option, hands down.

Specifically, how did your parents help you in your training? What are some ways they encouraged you to keep going even when it got tough? What are you most grateful to them for?

~ My parents support and encourage me. They have pushed me to go to class when it would be easier to stay home and not motivate. But this is what I needed to keep my training going.

~ I remember when I used to not want to come to class after a rough day. My parents would always make me go to class. I eventually learned that they did it because they wanted me to get the best out of my training and I am very grateful for that now!

~ My parents kept me going when I hit a slump by telling me to go to class and reminding me it would be worthwhile. I always liked going to class, even when I didn’t want to because I knew I would have fun and learn something. And I always felt much better afterwards!

~ My parents were amazing and incredibly supportive, as they allowed me to spend crazy amounts of time at Naga and left it up to me to be responsible for getting my homework and other responsibilities taken care of.

Advice for Parents from of Black Belt Teens

~ You can help by emphasizing how important consistency is in your child’s training. Help them set goals for different ranks or for learning new things. Have them figure out how to reach those goals and how many classes a week they need to attend in order to meet those goals. Have them talk to the Mas Goeroes and the Goldens!

~ They might resist you when you take them to class, but I know from experience that they will thank you later!

~ Try to encourage them to go and train hard for at least one month. Give them an incentive! Help them realize and remember how much fun it is when they get to class. Things will turn around as they get closer to their next promotion or next rank!

~ Remind them that their friends can’t wait to see them! Some of my best friends are my teammates!

~ Get a Private with one of the Mas Goeroes or a Black Belt. The one-on-one attention can make a huge difference!

Parent-to-Parent: Advice From the Parents of Teen Black Belts:

Get your child to class. The Mas Goeroes and instructors do the rest by encouraging the students and being part of our extended family. With their support, they will give your child confidence to believe in him- or herself.

I feel that being part of Naga is being part of a team, and with that commitment means that sometimes you show up even when you don’t feel like it. I have overcome this by allowing my child to take breaks when I see that he needs it, and by choosing our relationship over an argument about going to class. I have to remind myself that this is his journey, not mine.

Trust the wisdom of the teachers. ALL of my experience with Tulen has been incredibly good, positive and life affirming.

Slumps are real. I had to assess each situation as it came up. My husband and I would frequently check in with our son and ask if training was something he wanted to continue. He always said yes, he never wanted to completely quit, although there were times he didn’t want to go as much. Sometimes if I felt he was just being lazy, I would remind him of the community concept, teamwork, etc. and that he needed to show up, to give back.

Exercise is important. Training Poekoelan has also been part of my child’s exercise regimen. We emphasize fitness in our family, so if he didn’t go to class, he had to find something else to do. Other times he didn’t want to go, I brought up the fact that we are paying a pretty big monthly fee and so he needed to go. Other times, if he’s had lots of homework and tests or if he was just plain exhausted from cross country or something, I wouldn’t make a big deal out of showing up. I used my intuition mostly.

Remind your child that they feel better by the end of class. When my son was really resistant I didn’t push. I honored his knowing of his own body and trusted that, for the most part, he’d overcome this inertia and go. I also felt that I wanted him to be training because HE wanted to be there rather than I wanted him to be there. And of course, he always felt great after class!

Keep going! When he was on the verge of getting his white sash, he told me that he might quit after that. I told him to try “just one” third phase class.

Question: What are some of the benefits your child has gained from sticking to their training, even when the going got rough?

Grit and Determination: Anytime something is challenging to obtain, it builds on our kids’ self-confidence when they reach a goal. Most people can do more than they think they can, and by sticking with training and reaching those goals, it just shows that hard work and perseverance go a long way. In fact, in many areas of life, that grit and determination can be more of an asset than a natural ability or talent.

Strong Connection and Relationships: Trust the teachers. They are able to gauge how much to push and students rise to the challenge. My child realized that her teachers would push her in a way that made the goal attainable. She realized that they believed in her!

Maturity and Resilience: My child has received the gifts of perseverance, patience, confidence and maturity beyond his years. He has built bonds with teachers and teammates that will probably last longer than any of his other relationships, outside his family.

Confidence! My kid has become so secure within, that he chose not to engage with a school bully and has found a new level of respect for that.

Selflessness and Empathy: My child has received the gift of teaching other students and giving of herself.

What advice would you give to parents who are new to this process?

See it through. The transformation in your child is amazing to witness. I was a bit envious I did not have that kind of support as a child myself.

Keep it fun! There is no timeline. Think about why your child is training at Naga. Focus? Confidence? New friends? Set fair and realistic expectations (like showing up), but don’t make it about what you want. Take advantage of bonding experiences like summer camps, participating in advanced testing, engaging in community events like movie nights at Naga. See the bigger picture.
Communicate! Talk and share with a parent of a higher-ranking student. Talk with a higher-ranking student to see if they have anything in common with your child. Talk with the instructors, with a Golden and with the Mas Goeroes.

Trust Jeff & Silvia. They LOVE your kids and want the best for them. Ask questions if you don’t understand something. Stay and watch the training and be sure to watch the testing (it’s unlike any kind of testing you can imagine).