Ep. 53: Why I Hate Teaching Martial Arts To Children

Why I hate teaching martial arts to children banner

Do you hate teaching martial arts to children? You’re not alone! In this episode of The Martial Arts Business Podcast, Mike Massie explains how he went from loving to hating teaching children’s martial arts classes.

Mr. Massie then goes into the many reasons why children are so much more difficult to teach today than they were when he started his career as a professional martial arts instructor. And in The Tip of the Week, Mike offers suggestions for instructors regarding how we can help change these trends, starting with our own students.

Mentioned in This Podcast Episode:

A list of Dr. Jean Twenge’s articles

iGen by Jean Twenge, PhD (explains the negative impact of technology on today’s children)

Generations by Jean Twenge, PhD (her latest book)

The MAbizU Mobile App

Podcast Transcript:

Why I Hate Teaching Children Martial Arts



You’re listening to the Martial Arts Business Podcast with your host, Small Dojo Big Profits author, Mike Massie. Remember to go to martialartsbusinessdaily.com for show notes, transcripts, links to martial arts business resources, and more. Now here’s your host, Mike Massie.



Hey everyone, it’s Mike Massie. I’m back with another edition of the Martial Arts Business Podcast. This is the first episode for 2024. I want to welcome everyone back. I hope you had a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and that your New Year started off right.

So I’m going to jump right in and talk about the last thing I left you guys with, which was in the last podcast episode. I told you I was going to take a few weeks off and I’m going to do some personal inventory and evaluation, so forth. I felt like I needed it because I had just completed when I did that last podcast episode. I just got to MD Anderson and had my six-month checkup, six months post-surgery.

And for those of you that don’t know, I have just gone through a two-year battle with lung cancer. I had a lung sarcoma back in 2021. It was early 2021, I think in February when I was diagnosed with an epithelioid angiosarcoma of the right upper lobe of my lung, which is pretty much a death sentence. It’s not a highly survivable cancer at all. And it ended up I did have a lung sarcoma. They took it out in May 2024. They took out my right upper lobe of my lung. Everything went fine. They got clean margins, got everything out.

Turns out I have something called epithelioid hemangioendothelioma. And so it’s similar to epithelioid angiosarcoma except it’s not as initially aggressive, although it does tend to, when people have these tumors for a long time, they can remain dormant. And then they just go haywire and really aggressively grow and metastasize throughout the body. And it’s pretty hard to combat. So not necessarily the best alternative diagnosis, but it’s better than the first one I had.

So I went through this two-year battle of going through the whole cancer treatment process, which is deserving of a whole other podcast episode, not necessarily the subject of this podcast or topically on point, but yeah, I could spend a whole podcast talking about that because it’s wild. But we eventually ended up finding a surgeon at MD Anderson, Dr. Rice, who was able to remove it. And it was kind of dicey because they didn’t know if they could remove it because the tumor was so big. And it was kind of on the borderline of the size where tumors get to a certain point and the survivability rates really aren’t that high, so they don’t really want to operate on it.

But they did on me and they did a good job. So here I am six months later, I did my checkup at MD Anderson and got a clean bill of health, which I was surprised because I think I was having some psychosomatic issues with breathing and so forth. You know, that’s one of the big challenges you have when you survive cancer, apparently, is believing that it’s gone. And I was told that by one of my readers when this first started, you know, when I first started the cancer journey.

So, um, I realized, you know, that I needed to do some, uh, personal inventory and assessment. So I took several weeks off in December. Um, all I did was upload some old podcast episodes and, uh, kind of coach the people in my private coaching group, you know, scheduled some content and so forth, and I posted a couple of lessons in the app and then that was it. I took time off. And what I came up with during that time was that, um, I am going to do several things in my business in order to, uh, hopefully increase my personal happiness and my enjoyment of my time, time with family and so forth, and also my professional time.

So one of the first things I’m going to do is I’m going to cut back on the frequency of the podcast. I jumped back in to doing the podcast because I was excited about releasing my app. And you know, wanted to promote that and so forth.

But what I’m finding is that even though I have better tools now to do podcasting than I had, you know, six, eight years ago, ten years ago when I first started the podcast. Um. I still find it to be a huge time suck. It takes hours and hours of planning to be able to plan out, write the scripts and so forth, write my show notes, you know, do research, and also then later afterwards, it takes hours to edit, um, level the podcast, do all the audio editing and, you know, trim clips and so forth, and then post them online and then get the show notes transcribed, um, post to my blog, you know, post, embed the, you know, the code for the particular episode and then, you know, edit show notes and do all those other things.

It’s just hours of work. It takes about a day’s worth of work to do one podcast episode, and I could probably hire somebody else to do it. But I’ve looked into hiring, you know, audio engineers and so forth to be able to do this, and it’s just incredibly expensive. So, you know, I want to streamline that. And one of the ways that I figured I could streamline it best without cutting back on quality is just by cutting back on frequency.

So I’m going to do one podcast episode a month, one new podcast episode a month, and throughout the year, I’m going to continue to upload um, old podcast episodes that are no longer available because, um, Anchor and, you know, which is now Spotify, lost them, unfortunately. But I still have an archive, so I’m uploading them. So I’m going to do that.

Um, you know, honestly, I’ve been working way too much for way too long. Um, I have been running three businesses, um, all the way through the pandemic, really, you know, and I’ve been doing that for years on and off, you know, um, kind of addicted to running martial arts schools have been for a long time.

I realized that when I was driving back from seeing my physician, and I was driving back from getting some lab work, actually, after seeing the physician. And I’m driving down the highway and I see the building where I was teaching Krav Maga classes before the pandemic started and then after the pandemic and, uh, you know, I’m looking at this building and it’s become a ballet studio now.

I was actually subletting space from a local fitness center in that building. But I knew that the building in the back, the room in the back that I had that I was teaching Krav Maga classes in, you know, might be available. And it took every bit of willpower I had not to pull over, pull off the highway, pull into the parking lot, and go check out that space once because, you know, it’s a habit.

It’s a habit that I’ve had once for decades, you know that uh, you know, I start a martial arts school, start it up, get it running, you know, run it for a period of years and, uh, you know, get the itch out of my system and then decide, okay, I want to do something else. And, you know, uh, then I would sell it and then move on and take a couple of years off and then get the itch again and have to open up a martial arts studio again.

And, you know, it’s just something that’s just, I don’t know, it’s almost pathological in me that I want to be running businesses, starting businesses and so forth. I have one of those types of personalities that loves the startup phase of running businesses. I love the growth phase of running businesses. When it comes to the point where it’s the, you know, the day-to-day stuff, I don’t really care for running businesses on a day-to-day basis, which is why I like, you know, starting businesses, growing them and then selling them.

But, um, you know, anyway, 1s because of that, you know, because of doing consulting work, teaching martial arts, and then also, uh, my writing career taking off, you know, which I started writing full-time roughly ten years ago. Um, you know, I’ve just been working too hard, and I realize it’s had an impact on my health, and that needs to change.

My body’s changed dramatically, too, since the surgery and since, you know, having cancer for two years and, you know, being on certain medications during that time, you know, and other medications that I was taking, it seems to have taken a toll on my body. Um, they noticed an upward trend in my blood, urea nitrogen, which means that there’s some stress on my kidneys. You know, we’ve seen some elevated, uh, you know, liver enzyme levels and so forth.

So I need to deal with those aspects of my health, too. And I really need to focus on regaining my health for good. And it’s hard to do that when you’re busy all the time. And, you know, the third thing is I realized, um, over the last few weeks that I just haven’t been happy. Even though I’m a very goal-oriented person, I’m also a very performance-oriented person, and I feel as though, um, I get guilty when I’m not performing at a very high level.

And I think that in some ways that can be healthy when you’re working on building a career, building businesses, uh, building a reputation and business, etc. but unfortunately, you know, it doesn’t work very well for you when you can’t balance those needs, those desires, that drive with your family life and personal life and so forth. And I don’t really think I was doing a very good job of that.

And I just, you know, came to the conclusion over the last few weeks that I have not been happy, um, cancer really caused me to reassess my values. And, uh, my values have really shifted from being performance-based and performance-focused now to being more focused on my quality of life on a daily basis and having quality experiences.

So that’s where, you know, that’s that’s kind of where my focus is moving toward. And, uh, you know, I’m kind of more about, you know, when you spend a couple of years thinking that your life has been shortened substantially, dramatically. You know, I’m in my early 50s, you know, so I have a good, you know, 25, 30 years left, you know, barring any other major health issues or whatnot or, you know, a sudden cardiac infarction, which can happen.

Barring the good Lord taking me home early. You know, I have a few decades left of, uh, quality time that I can spend with family and friends and so forth. And I want to make sure that it is quality time. And I don’t want to spend all that time, you know, chasing dreams and goals that, you know, I’ve really already accomplished in my professional life. So so there’s that.

So you can expect to see in the next year, over the next year, one new quality podcast episode every month. Um, some of those will be interviews, some of them will be me, um, discussing different issues that I think instructors are facing these days and, uh, providing suggestions about how you can deal with those. And that’s what you can expect from me in 2024.

So if you have any questions or anything or you want to contact me, you know, you can always reach out to me over Facebook. And if you just want to contact me and say, hey, I think you’re doing a good job on the podcast, of course, you can always do that by leaving a positive review on iTunes and so forth wherever you listen to the podcast. And that’s fine, but you can always, always contact me directly. Just, uh, follow the Martial Arts Business Daily group on Facebook. It’s facebook.com slash martialartsbusinessdaily, I believe is the address. And if you go to that, um, you follow me. Um, you can message me through the page. That’s the easiest way to get Ahold of me.

Okay, so another thing that I’m going to do is I’m going to focus a lot less on providing what is essentially free coaching online. I’ve been running the Small Digit Big Profits group for several years. Um, I had brought on another instructor who was one of my clients to be a consultant a few years back, and, and, uh, that situation didn’t work out. But he did suggest, you know, expanding my online presence at the time. And so we started that free Small Group, Big Profits group. And he ran it at first. And then, you know, after, you know, we split ways, we parted ways. I took the group over.

And, you know, I’ve been doing, you know, more or less having a weekly presence in that group. And it’s another time suck. Essentially what happens is, you know, you run these free groups, these free discussion groups, people expect to come into those groups and get your time for free. And I’ve really had to train people to not expect to get my time for free.

Well, the problem is when I’m not giving my time for free, I’m not really sparking conversations within the group. So the group just kind of sits there, it’s just kind of dead, and, you know, I was just posting content all the time and so forth in a group that, you know, the discussion wasn’t thriving in it because most people were just in there to listen and not to discuss, which is fine. You know, I get that. But, um, it’s not really good usage of my time.

And I had some other groups that I was running, you know, I had some author groups I was running and so forth. I’ve shut those down too. So I’m going to focus more on posting content in the MAbizU app, which you can get on the iTunes store, in the Android Store, and also in the Martial Arts Business Daily, uh, Personal Coaching group, which is the group where I’m actually in there coaching on a daily basis. Those people pay me a few hundred dollars a month to be in that group, and they can ask me questions directly and so forth and have direct access to me. So that’s what I’m going to focus on.

Okay. Now from there, I’d like to introduce the main topic. Our main topic for the day is how I went from loving to hating teaching martial arts to children, and I know, just saying that line is going to make this a controversial topic. But I think it’s a topic that needs to be addressed because one of the things I realized when I was, you know, doing my personal inventory and personal assessment of, you know, where I’m at over the last few weeks is what has changed in how much I enjoy teaching martial arts, and I still enjoy teaching martial arts.

I would love to return to it at some time if my health allows for it. I don’t think my health is stable enough right now to do it. Um, you know, and I would hate to start a class and start teaching all my students again and then, you know, have to take a couple of weeks off because I have some sort of health crisis or something. And the thing is, those health crises really aren’t unexpected at this point. They’re more expected. It’s just something that I’m going to have to deal with for the next couple of years until my health stabilizes. But, um, one of the things I also realize is that I just don’t enjoy teaching children anymore. And I’ve known this for a couple of years, but really coming to grips with it? Really coming to grips with the fact that, you know, if I were to open up a commercial martial arts studio again, I would not want to teach children’s classes. I have no interest in teaching children anymore, which is a huge shift from over 30 years ago when I started my professional teaching career, and so that would make it much more difficult for me from a financial perspective, from a cash flow perspective, to run a full-time martial arts studio.

So that’s something that, you know, I had to come to grips with. And that makes it, uh, you know, kind of the truth of the matter, you know, the facts of the matter, that now is not a good time for me to be running full-time martial arts studios, not from a health perspective, a personal perspective, or from a personal goals perspective and what I enjoy doing anymore. It’s just not a good time for me to be doing that. And that brought that, um, very much into stark perspective as I was, um, you know, evaluating how I feel about teaching these days.

So here’s the deal. I’m doing this particular topic. I’m talking about this particular topic in this podcast. And I think later I’m going to turn this podcast episode into kind of an open letter for parents because I think parents really need to understand that, um, the way children are being raised today is much different from the way they were being raised a couple of decades ago. And I’m going to talk about that in a few minutes.

But I think most parents, they’re kind of tangentially aware of the impact that societal changes, um, changes in technology and our technology usage and so forth are having on children. But I don’t think parents really know how deep the problem is. And I really blame that societal shift and those changes in parenting and the children’s behavior and so forth on my change in how much I enjoy, you know, teaching children.

And when I explain this to you, you’re going to understand what I’m talking about right now. Some of you may be confused. You might think, “But Mike, you wrote the book on teaching martial arts to kids. You know, you wrote that martial arts character lesson book for children, for teaching character education lessons in martial arts schools. And you have thousands of martial arts instructors worldwide who follow that curriculum in their studios. And you’ve always encouraged martial artists to teach children. So why are you saying this now?”

Well, the thing is, I’m not telling you not to teach children. I also want to make it clear that I don’t want anyone to think that Mike is saying you shouldn’t teach kids because teaching kids sucks. Okay? All I’m saying is that I don’t enjoy it anymore, and I’m going to explain why. I’ll also discuss what I think instructors and society can do about it. Okay.

I also want to clarify that this isn’t an attack on parents. I am one. But this is a commentary on societal shifts negatively impacting children, and there’s research supporting this. So, for you martial artists and martial arts school learners listening to this podcast, I’ll have suggestions for you sprinkled throughout. Many of these suggestions can be communicated to parents and even applied to your classroom. So pay attention. I’ll cover specific suggestions in the tip of the week at the end of this podcast episode. So stay tuned for that.

Okay, let’s talk about reason number one that caused me to no longer enjoy teaching children. It boils down to changing behaviors in children and parenting by iPad. These behaviors are influenced by parents who rely on screen time for parenting. We know that children today engage in excessive screen time. I can tell you that my own child, when we allowed him to have an iPad, he would spend all his time on it. It got to the point where he would stare at the screen for about eight hours a day.

I spoke to my wife about this, as she spends more time with him during the day. I told her that she needs to be mindful of how much time she spends on the iPad at night, and that we should start limiting our son’s screen time. When we did start limiting it, we noticed that his interactions with us improved and his attitude improved as well. I believe he is happier not spending as much time on the screen.

Now, excessive screen time has been shown to have a negative effect on children. From what I’ve observed, many children today lack basic interpersonal skills like making eye contact and engaging in small talk. They lack the ability to interact face-to-face with others and lack the soft skills needed to excel in society and the business environment. I believe we are doing children a disservice by sending them out into the world without these skills.

A good starting point for understanding this issue is to look at the research of Dr. Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University. She has written several books, including “iGen,” which focuses on Gen Z and how social media, internet usage, and smartphones have negatively impacted them. The information she presents is quite alarming.

But I’m going to go over a little bit with you, okay, for one thing. And this is all from, um, from Jean Twenge and an interview, and also, um, from the Child Mind Institute, where I pulled some of her research. Okay.

So first, um, the clinical level of depression doubled between 2011 and 2019 in the US among 12 to 17-year-olds. Now, if you’re not seeing the correlation there, and I know correlation does not equal causation, but the correlation there is that that is during the time when cell phone use, when mobile phone use, actually smartphone use, um, skyrocketed throughout the US when cell phones became and mobile phones — smartphones, I should say — became ubiquitous.

You know, everybody had them and everybody’s using them. And practically, you know, lots of kids have them now for social media use. She also links that to an increase in mental health problems among children and teens, including anxiety, depression, and suicidality. Nearly 90% of 16 to 24-year-olds use the internet for social networking. And, um, Doctor Twenge is seeing a correlation between those behaviors, especially excessive usage and, um, increased depression, increased rates of depression, increased rates of reported anxiety, personal anxiety and social anxiety issues, and also, um, suicidal thoughts, suicidal behaviors, um, in children.

She also says social media affects the reward centers that are active in teen brains. And an imaging study was done that has shown that these regions are activated when participants, meaning children, viewed images with a lot of likes. The response is strongest when the likes on the images are posted by the participant, and when viewing photographs of risky behaviors ostensibly taken and posted by their peers, activation in the cognitive control network decreased. And what that indicates is that means that when kids are looking at content that they think that their peers approve of, that their ability to apply logic and reason and discernment to, um, whether or not that kind of behavior is objectively good or bad decreases substantially.

Okay, so that’s pretty interesting. What it means is when your kids get online and their friends are liking stuff that isn’t good for them, that they’re less likely to discern that that behavior is positive or negative behavior. If it is negative behavior, then they are if they’re seeing that behavior or something similar in real life, okay. Because it’s just not as shocking.

Now, eighth graders who spend ten or more hours a week on social media are 56% more likely to report being unhappy than those who spend less time on social media. And I don’t think this is, you know, uh, I don’t think it’s any surprise to parents who are, you know, seeing kids and how their, uh, how they’re dealing with depression and anxiety.

Today, also, heavy users of social media increase their risk of depression by 27%. That’s very interesting. And interestingly enough, teens report that Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram increase their feelings of anxiety, which is crazy to me. You know that kids are on these, um, social media apps and they’re increasing the levels of anxiety, but yet they’re still on them, and many of them are addicted to them.

And the reason for the addiction, as we know, if you’ve looked at any of this research, and there’s a very, very good kind of, uh, dramatic documentary on, uh, let’s see, I think it’s on Netflix, on social media use and how it programs our brain and so forth (Note: the title is The Social Dilemma, and here’s the link).

And I mean, it’s crazy when you see this documentary. I also put a link to that in the show notes. But, um, basically, programmers at these large social media companies like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, etc., they have written their programs specifically to trigger the dopamine, uh, dopamine drops in the brain, you know, so when you’re triggering dopamine drops, you know, these little small dopamine dumps, every time your body dumps dopamine into your system, it hits these dopamine receptors in the brain.

You get this kind of, you know, momentary kind of, uh, you know, small high, if you will. And, uh, you know, you get this kind of, sort of positive feedback loop that tells you the more you do that behavior, the better you’re going to feel. And it really screws up, uh, people’s attention spans and so forth. And it screws up, um, their ability to focus and concentrate, and people — it’s how people get addicted to, um, social media and digital media.

So now, another interesting fact is that girls are disproportionately affected by the negative aspects of social media. I think some researchers, like Doctor Twenge, have speculated that this is due to the fact that a lot of social media content that young women look at is very focused on physical beauty and appearance. The pressures for young girls to look perfect online and present a perfect appearance are intense. I don’t think that children growing up in my generation, Gen Xers, had that pressure. We didn’t have the internet or the pressure to look good online 24/7, unlike today where FaceTiming and posting content online is constant. Kids, especially young women, have a tremendous amount of pressure to present a perfect physical appearance all the time.

More than twice as many girls as boys report being cyberbullied, with 22% of girls and 10% of boys experiencing cyberbullying in the last year. Boys’ depression increased by 21% between 2012 and 2015, while girls’ increased by 50%. This shows that young girls are more affected by social media than boys. The increase in overall rates of depression and suicidal ideation is very concerning. I suggest reading Dr. Twenge’s articles and books to become educated on this as a martial arts instructor or a parent.

So, what do we do about this? Here are my suggestions based on what we did with our child. First, limit screen time and access to social media. Our child doesn’t have any social media accounts and limited screen time during the week, with more time on weekends. It was initially difficult for him, but he has learned to balance and budget his screen time. Additionally, I don’t believe in giving young kids smartphones due to the dangers, such as predators and access to inappropriate content. Giving them smartphones leaves them vulnerable.

It’s important to be aware of the negative impact of exposure to pornography at a young age, especially for boys. This negatively impacts their understanding of healthy sexual relations and causes problems later in life. While it’s a sensitive topic, it’s worth considering and acknowledging the research and reports on this issue.

Overall, it’s crucial to be informed about the negative effects of social media, especially for young girls, and take steps to protect children from these harmful influences.

So, don’t give young kids smartphones and make sure that you, you know, some parents, you know, I think that they give their kids unmitigated use of smartphones, and, you know, I should say unsupervised use. Um, and they’re not monitoring what their kids are doing on those devices. And I think that’s wrong. I think before you give your kid a device, I think you need to install, you know, an app that allows you to monitor their usage and limit their usage. Um, we use Custodio. There are other apps that you can use. There are plenty of resources out there for parents to use to be able to limit their children’s time and monitor their time on social media and online and on their digital devices. I think you need to install those. You need to have those in place before you give your kids any digital device.

Okay, so that’s the first reason why I went or how I went from loving teaching children to hating teaching children. Um, you know, martial arts, because I used to love it. And now I live for teaching children’s classes. I just love teaching children. I loved impacting children’s lives through, um, teaching them character values through my martial arts classes. And then it just became a drag. Now, when did it become a drag? Well, it became a drag about the time that children started being exposed to social media and digital devices.

And so here’s what happened. I taught martial arts for about ten years straight. And my first studio, my first successful studio, I sold that studio, took a couple of years off, started another studio a couple of years later, and I ran that studio from about the mid to the very late aughts. Okay. And, uh, so I ran that studio for about 5 or 6 years.

Then I sold that studio, um, shortly after we had our first child or before we actually, it was when we were planning to have our first child. And so I had started another studio about the time that my wife got pregnant. And I think I started that studio because I knew I would need some extra income because I was about to become a father. And that studio that I ran was an all-adult studio. I decided that I didn’t want to teach kids while I was raising a young child because I wanted to be able to focus all my time and attention on my own child and not other people’s children. And I think that was a pretty wise decision.

So what happened is, when my kid became old enough to take martial arts classes, I enrolled him in a friends martial arts school first. So he took kung fu classes at a friend’s martial arts school here in Austin. And then he got a little older, and we enrolled him in jiu-jitsu classes, and he did jiu-jitsu classes for a couple of years. Then I hired a private jiu-jitsu instructor to train myself and my son at home, and we did that for a couple of years.

And then when I started teaching Krav Maga again, um, or I started teaching, you know full-time, I guess. Um, and when I, I thought my child was old enough to do Krav Maga classes, and I opened up a studio in 2019. I started teaching children’s classes in order to give my son a place where he could train Krav Maga with other children because it was very difficult for me to teach him Krav Maga because I’m so much bigger than him. Right?

So in 2019, for the whole year of 2019, I taught children’s martial arts classes. Consider that I hadn’t taught kids for about a decade. I’d stopped teaching children sometime around 2009 and didn’t start again until 2019. And obviously right before the pandemic. And the difference that I noticed in children’s behaviors and their ability to focus and their social interaction skills between 2009, at the end of the late aughts, and 2019, at the end of the teens, is a marked difference. Insane difference. Just unbelievable.

Prior to the advent of smartphones, digital media, social media, etc., children having access to all those technologies, you know, um, you know, on a regular basis, I would work with children, and, uh, for the most part, I would have maybe like 1 to 2% of the children I worked with who had behavioral issues, who couldn’t focus, who couldn’t concentrate, who would have, you know, sudden outbursts in the middle of, you know, teaching or classroom, you know, like inappropriate outbursts and so forth.

And I would say that in that time, the numbers didn’t necessarily flip-flop. It didn’t go from being like 2% of my class. That was, you know, classroom children in my classroom that were problem children, um, to being like 98% that were. But it was a good portion. I’d say at least 50% of the children in the classroom have behavioral issues today.

Uh, when I start teaching again in 2019, I had some type of behavioral issues where students would make inappropriate outbursts in class, such as not raising their hand or exhibiting poor impulse control. This lack of impulse control was really the main issue. Additionally, students seemed to have difficulty making eye contact. When I asked them to address me as Mr. Massie or sir, they would look at me as if I were crazy. It seemed that many parents and teachers were not enforcing respectful behavior in their children anymore.

Another concerning trend I noticed was the difference in behavior between the students in my 2019 classroom and those I had when I first started teaching in the early 90s. Children in my current classroom had noticeably lower self-esteem and did not handle constructive criticism well. It was much easier to damage their self-confidence, and they were not as mentally and emotionally resilient as previous generations. I believe this may be due to children either feeling or actually being under attack all the time, experiencing personal attacks and bullying at school and online.

In the past, children could find respite from these negative experiences at home; however, now they are constantly exposed to them through social media and online bullying. This constant exposure has severely impacted their ability to function without negative repercussions on their self-esteem. It is also concerning how drastically children’s ability to focus has declined over the past decade, coinciding with the widespread use of digital devices and social media. I observed this change in my own child, who used to love reading but lost interest as he spent more time on the iPad.

Well, it became a problem when he had to start reading at school. That problem was very marked and it had a great impact on his ability to perform in school, in the classroom. So we had to do some things about it to help him learn how to refocus again.

The first thing we did was, at the same time, we limited his screen time. Then I started working with him to show him how to break down sections of text and actually focus on what he was reading and analyze it as he was reading. He would then go back and analyze it again and really break it down for the meaning, concepts, and themes within whatever he was reading. It took some work on his part. He really had to work hard to get to the point where he could do it.

Another problem he was having in school was his ability to focus during lectures, as he’s in a private school where they focus on more of a classical education. One of his teachers this year lectures to them almost like a college professor, as they’re trying to prepare these kids for high school and college and beyond. He was having a very hard time in the classroom focusing on the professor and the teacher, and what she was saying.

I had some discussions with her about it. Then we came back and talked about it and developed strategies for my son to be able to focus in the classroom. The most recent report we’ve gotten from his teacher is that he’s improved dramatically in his ability to focus and his reading comprehension. However, I don’t think he always had these issues. I think it goes back to his excessive use of the iPad all day long. I think that’s what ruined his ability to focus on a single task.

So that’s the second reason I think kids today struggle to focus. That’s my second reason for not liking teaching kids martial arts anymore. I think it all goes back to digital devices. Reason number three, my third reason for how or why I moved from loving teaching children martial arts to hating teaching children martial arts is because of parents who shift the blame for their kids’ behavior. I know I said in this podcast that this is not an attack on parents. It’s that whole “not my kid” thing. I understand that.

I think every parent is naturally inclined to think the best of their children and to not believe that their children are capable of poor behaviors. But after working with kids for 20 years, I can tell you that every child, no matter how good, is capable of wrongdoing at some point. I think the societal shift towards this entitlement mentality versus a personal accountability mentality is at the core of it.

A lot of parents from the generations after mine were taught a lot of personal entitlement. These are the generations of children who were constantly told that they were winners, that everyone is a winner, and that they were special. I believe that because of the type of language we used with children raising those generations, they grew up with a lot of entitlement and unreasonable expectations of how they would be treated by society and their own personal fulfillment.

It’s interesting because I’ve talked with my wife about the people who come into her particular area of work. She works in the legal field for the federal government. The federal government doesn’t pay as well as the private sector, but the benefits are better, and the jobs are much more stable. So it attracts people who are looking for a long-term, stable career.

The problems they’re having where she works are that they can’t get young people to stick around. The young people come in and they find out they’re working with federal judges and high-performance attorneys, who have high expectations for performance. Federal judges are known for being direct and explicit about what they expect from subordinates. Many young people can’t handle this pressure and choose to quit and work somewhere else. They go to tech companies where they receive catered meals, laundry services, and even dog walkers.

These perks are offered by tech companies to retain young employees. This has led to a movement towards “nanny schools,” “nanny colleges,” and “nanny employers.” The adults who exhibit this mentality are also the ones raising children who are now of age to join martial arts schools and other similar institutions. These parents haven’t set realistic expectations of personal responsibility for their children, which contributes to the unrealistic expectations they have of workplace performance. This mindset has a significantly negative effect on children as they enter the workforce.

This is evident in the generations that followed mine. I am not implying a blanket statement about the work ethic of millennials and subsequent generations because the millennials I know are all adults with careers, children, and families. I attribute this issue to our failure in raising children with realistic expectations of what is expected of them as adults in the workplace and society. I believe it was difficult for them and had a negative impact.

Moreover, I think we are making the same mistakes with the next generation but with even worse consequences due to the influence of social media and digital devices on children’s brains, development, and cognitive function. So, what can we do about this? That is the topic of this week’s tip. Let’s discuss it now.



The Tip of the Week! It’s time for our featured martial arts business tip of the week. For more great tips, be sure to visit Martial Arts Business Daily. Com to subscribe to our newsletter. And while you’re there, click on the Business Resources tab for links to all Mike’s martial arts business books and courses. Now here’s your martial arts business tip of the week.



Okay, so I’m running long in this podcast because I’ve talked a lot about this topic because it’s something that I’m kind of passionate about. And I also want to be thorough about the topic. But, you know, I can be more thorough in the show notes. So I’m going to wrap this up and I’m going to try to wrap this up pretty quickly.

What can we do about this as instructors? Well, it boils down to three things: we need to inform, educate, and encourage our clientele on these topics.

So the first step is we want to inform parents about the dangers of excessive screen time and social media use among kids and teens, but we need to do it in a manner that’s respectful. We need to do it respectfully. You can’t just go to a parent and say, “Hey, you’re parenting wrong, okay?”

Especially if, as I was early in my martial arts instruction or career as a martial arts instructor and school owner, if you don’t have kids, you know, if you’re not raising kids yet and you try to tell parents how to parent, they’re going to look at you like you’re nuts. They’re going to tell you the first thing they’ll ask you is, “Do you have kids?” “No.” “Well, then you don’t know what I’m going through.”

You know, that’s what you hear. And it’s funny because I always said I wasn’t gonna be one of those types of parents, and now I am, so whatever. But, um, you need to be respectful. Okay?

So instead of preaching to parents, you should just share authoritative articles and information on social media and in your newsletter. Or, you know, however you communicate with your clientele. I think Dr. Jean Twenge’s books are a good start. Again, if you go to the show notes for this episode, I’ll list some links on the show notes.

Um, but just share that information, look up some articles that she’s written and so forth, and maybe some interviews or whatnot. You know, if you want to share, um, video instead of, you know, uh, a bunch of, you know, um, long articles people aren’t necessarily going to read because maybe they lack the ability to focus and pay attention to. Okay.

Second, you need to educate kids on what is and isn’t a healthy use of digital media and digital devices. But you’ve got to keep it simple with kids, you know, you can’t… Yeah, you know, you can’t start spouting off statistics and so forth because that’s just not going to reach kids. You need to tell kids stories if you want kids to understand. And and to relate to what you’re telling them, you need to relate it through stories.

So I would say that you want to mention the topic in mat chats every so often and just share stories about children and how children who spend the most time on social media and digital devices tend to experience more sadness, more anxiety, and more isolation than kids who spend less time there.

And if you’ve read any articles and so forth, you might use an example of a specific child that was mentioned within an article. You know, and you can make up a name for them or something like that to personalize it more. But if you use specific examples and tell specific stories about specific people, kids are going to be more likely to relate to that.

Also, you want to talk about cyberbullying. You need to discuss what it is, why kids should refrain from it, and how to combat it. That is a topic for another podcast, though. I don’t have time to go into it, but there are numerous positive resources and books available that you can look up to help you develop a curriculum or create lesson plans for it.

Next, you should suggest alternatives to spending excessive time online. Ask your students what healthy alternatives they can think of to spending hours a day on screens. Let the kids provide answers and listen to them, no matter how goofy they may sound. Round out the list with suggestions such as reading a book, going for a walk, practicing martial arts, spending time with family and friends face-to-face (which is crucial), and engaging in physical activities, etc.

In addition, we need to encourage these behaviors by sponsoring social media and digital device fasts in our studios. Challenge kids, including adult students, to refrain from using social media and digital devices one day a week. Just challenge them to try it out. When they come back, ask them how it felt and what they did instead of spending all that time on social media.

During these discussions, be honest and transparent because kids can easily spot fakeness. Ask them if they were bored at first, listen to their answers, and then ask what happened afterward to keep the conversation going. Also, ask them what changed and how their behavior, interactions with their environment, and emotions were affected.

After introducing these concepts, set a week for a social media and digital device fast challenge. Encourage students to only use social media and digital devices for school assignments and necessary communication with family members. Provide them with alternative activities for the time they would typically spend online. Create a daily suggested reading and activity list. For example, on day one, suggest they read the first chapter of a book, on day two, have them work on a puzzle or play a board game with a family member or friend, on day three, encourage them to do something outside with family and friends, and so on.

Ask parents to verify their children’s behavior and compliance, and reward those who complete the challenge in a meaningful way. The rewards don’t have to be expensive, a certificate or a prize from a bucket filled with inexpensive items can suffice.

Um, so that’s what I suggest that you do in order to use your position as a martial arts instructor to help affect positive change in these areas for your clientele and for society. We’re going to have to change society overall at some point because we can’t go on the way we’ve been going on; it’s obvious that the behaviors that we are allowing children to engage in and the way that they’re interacting with digital, media, and social media is having an extremely negative effect on their mental health. We have to change that.

And we as instructors, you can’t strong-arm parents into doing this. You know, you can’t tell parents, “Gosh, you know, your kid can’t focus. So you need to keep them off social media and, you know, off their digital devices.” That’s not going to fly. We have to gradually inform people, educate them, and then encourage them to participate in those behaviors so they can have the opportunity to see the positive effect that it has on their families and on their children. And once we do that, hopefully, you’re going to have a school full of parents who maybe are a little bit more actively involved in raising their children.

That’s it for this episode of the Martial Arts Business Podcast. I want to thank you for joining me and also encourage you to be sure to visit MAbizU.com for information on the MAbizU app, and all my books and courses, and I will see you in the next podcast episode.



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