This past weekend my (yiola’s) family was involved in a Muay Thai Expo. Muay Thai (or Thai boxing) is a martial art that originates from Thailand http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muay_Thai and is now taught all over the world.
My partner is a Master of Muay Thai and has schools here in Ontario: http://www.ajahnsuchart.com and http://www.siamno1.com. This past weekend we held a Muay Thai expo in Toronto. People from across Ontario, Quebec and Mexico attended. Here are some images from the weekend:
As I observed the teaching and learning that took place this weekend I was reminded how valuable this type of education is to a society. From all walks of life, students come to learn a tradition, a martial art, and a way of life. The outcomes are far reaching and extend to many areas of life including: heightened self-confidence, increased physical fitness and technical skills, and improved health. Through these developments individuals are able to participate in their communities in more creative and productive ways.
I watched on in amazement as each instructor brought to the Expo their expertise and passion for learning. The instructors’ ability to demonstrate martial art while also teaching elements of the martial art was inspiring to me as an educator. The tone, language, sequence of instruction, and balance between physical practice and presentation were effective and kept students/participants engaged for 5 hours of learning each day. Students learned a great deal about Muay Thai and I suspect that they walked away from the experience more confident, stronger, and educated in the art of Muay Thai. Moreso, I know that many students of martial art are able to take their learning and apply it to their lives in general. Teaching and learning martial arts (and most sport for that matter) extends beyond the art/sport itself into the realm of human experience: morality, ethics, and everyday life.
In teaching sport as a particular kind of human practice, however, it is the physical educationist’s responsibility to see that the ethical principles upon which it is based are properly understood and that the manner in which a sport is conducted is in accord with its rules and in keeping with the best traditions of its practice. The physical educationist can guarantee nothing, but as an influential guardian of an ethically based practice he can do a good deal to uphold its highest ideals, its most cherished traditions. As in all forms of learning much depends on the attitudes and judgments that are brought to bear upon what is done and whether what is taught and encouraged, is regarded as worthwhile in the context of life. Like morality, sport is a species of evaluation, a kind of appraisal of human conduct.
Taken from: Arnold, P.J. (1984). Sport, Moral Education and the Development of Character. Journal of Philosophy of Education 18(2). 275-281.
Children, teens, adults have much to gain from learning a martial art. Well beyond how to punch, elbow, knee and kick Muay Thai teaching and learning has the capacity to influence and foster character development in many ways.