MuDoKai. Truly, The Unlimited Way

A few years ago, I wrote about how martial arts, specifically the MuDoKai system (our style), was a valuable contribution to your life at any age. The content needed sharing with the world, so we made sure you could see it here on this blog. The points ring true today just as they did back then. And if you find yourself in our dojo, you can still find the original next to the newsletter (it’s been there the whole time!).

Continuous Improvement

Of course, we aren’t satisfied with “good enough”. Our goal is continuous improvement. So I listened to students, fellow instructors, and parents. I spoke with our dedicated staff. It turns out I missed something in that article. The MuDoKai system of martial arts we do here at University Karate Center isn’t just the techniques we do. It’s so much more!

A Student’s Experience

Let’s journey through a typical student’s experience at the dojo, leaving out the part where they do all that karate stuff. Instead, we’re focusing on what happens upon arrival and after they are dismissed from class by the Sensei. What does happen? I mean, isn’t it just a free-for-all that somehow works itself out in the end?

Not quite.

Arrival – Attendance Box, Shoes, and More

Most junior students get dropped off by a parent or guardian (some do pitch a chair and observe from outside, which is always welcomed). The student enters the office on their own, immediately moving to the attendance boxes. There, they determine which box (“1″ if they haven’t been in that week, “2″ if they have), find their card (they are alphabetized), and circle the date (current date is always shown between boxes).

With card in hand, the student walks to the appropriate dojo and places the card into the “In” box. Then, they take off their shoes, place them on the rack (neatly!), and sit until Sensei instructs them to enter. They may talk with other students as long as it remains at conversation volume. (Some of the most insightful things I’ve heard in my life have come from these free time chats.)

When Sensei opens the door, they bow upon entering, and begin warm ups.

Dismissal – Water, Waiting, and More

Buddhist Boy Water Ritual
This is what students are doing, at least in my mind.

Fast-forward to the end of class. What a fantastic training session! And now, the Sensei dismisses the student with a bow. Martial artists of all ages often congregate around the water cooler (which is uniquely designed for our Junior students’ shorter stature), rehydrating after a strenuous workout.

They know water which roams away from the cooler often ends up on the floor, so, they drink it there.

Remember those shoes placed neatly on the rack? Now’s the time to grab them and get equipped for the outdoors. Shoes get donned on the bench next to the shoe rack, so there’s no one sitting on the floor in the path of foot traffic. Once ready, they wait for their parents to arrive at the door. Our older students may check outside for them in the parking lot.

Nike Shoe and Shoes Lined Up
Ah, organized shoe placement.

No younger students may depart without a Sensei or staff member confirming their parent or guardian is visible.

Personal Growth Through Proven Process

Why offer a rundown of the experience? Because it is a proven process, in place and unchanged for over 20 years. It’s an under-appreciated, but important, aspect of the MuDoKai system. What can a few simple and repeatable steps do for a child?

Building Confidence and Leadership

I’ve watched it build independence and confidence in numerous students. One, who struggled early on to find their card and circle the date, is now able to do it all, then help new students do the same. They are leaders. With no coaxing from us.

Overcoming Carelessness Through Gentle Peer Pressure

If you have a child, I’m sure you’ve never had to ask them to pick up their clothes or put their shoes away. Never, right? You’ll love this little story.

Messy Room
Look familiar? Not at our dojo.

One young student definitely drove his parents nuts. When arriving at the dojo, he liked to toss his shoes in the precise spot he stopped walking. Which was anywhere. And usually in the way of everyone else. I watched as his mom told (not asked) him to put their shoes away neatly, to no avail. (I’d bet if she had a nickle for every time that was said…well, you know the rest)

After observing this failed exchange, I asked the student where others put their shoes. “They are all on the rack.” Bingo. I followed-up, “so where do you think your shoes should go?” “On the rack.” Those shoes aren’t a tripping hazard anymore. (And mom was pretty thrilled. Hopefully it helped out at home, too!)

Kids Love Predictability

No matter your thought process, having a predictable and consistent series of steps is comforting. It gives students of any age the chance to “be their own boss” and relish in the knowledge that they “got it all right”. When the rules change without warning, it’s discomforting. Imagine being told to sit at a random desk every day at work. Frustrating, right?

Addressing the Unique Needs of OCD and ADHD Sufferers

We get kids (and adults) of all kinds at our dojo. Some are quiet, others overly assertive, and every type in-between. I’ve also worked with individuals challenged by OCD. It is easy for them to get caught in a loop, never finishing any one task, and becoming frustrated in themselves.

Running up Steps
One step after another.

Watching them settle into our predictable process, you can see their satisfaction as step 1, 2, 3, and 4 are all completed. What took them 5 minutes to complete when they first started training is now done in less than one. And their parents have commented how that confidence carried into other areas of their life.

Training For Life. And Martial Arts.

When you hear someone talk about “personal growth” and “learning responsibility”, this is that principle in action. Inside the dojo, students learn physical discipline (getting their body to move in efficient and powerful ways) and emotional focus (emptying their mind of distractions to pay attention to the task at hand). Outside the dojo, these ideas are reinforced through actions you can easily replicate in school, work, or anywhere. You may not do Pinan Nidan (Gold belt kata) when at work or school, but might you need to locate a sheet of paper and place it in a specific box, or organize an item of clothing where someone else wants it?

Life-Changing Skills

The skills you gain at the University Karate Center are life-changing, and I’m not exaggerating. After more than two decades of training, I can speak to its effectiveness. If the idea of a calmer mind with greater focus appeals to you (or to your kids), I’d strongly recommend coming by and signing up for a trial period. You will be shocked at the results.