17 November 2010

Tiger cub's classes

I recently celebrated my 15th anniversary of training in Muay Thai. When I began I was a high school teenager ready to take on the world. I am now 28 years old man and I very much so, still feel like a beginner. And, come to think of it, I really am. After all, since I plan on training and teaching Muay Thai my entire life, I truly am, just beginner.

I have had the privilege and honor of training with and meeting several Muay Thai masters over these past 15 years. I have zero regrets in choosing Muay Thai as my career. Muay Thai has taught me so much about myself, what I value, what I believe, and what amazing possibilities await us if we have patience, disicpline, an open mind and an honest heart.

I have traveled every corner of Malaysia, as well as to Thailand. I have trained cops, athletes, and MMA fighters. I have been on national TV, magazines, newspapers and DVD’s. Some might even consider me a celebrity. Wow, me a celebrity, It’s enough to make a boy’s head get pretty big. But, you know what, I’m still just me, Cikgu Kacak, working my way through the ups and downs of life like everyone else. Though I have lofty goals and tons of ambition, I try to make a positive contribution to someone’s life, large or small.

Reflecting back, I realize just how blessed I’ve been. I have been given an opportunity to reach for the stars and yet keep my feet planted solidly on the ground. I believe we can achieve our dreams, fulfill our destiny and leave more than we take when given an opportunity.

Some of my most favorite hours in the week come when I teach kids’s classes at our camp. Yes, that’s what I said – teaching our tiger’s classes for me is an absolute joy. The youngest age we accept as students is five. These kids come to camp with eyes wides open, beaming with genuine innocence and freshness.

“Hello Master,” I followed by hugs and tugs of spontaneous enthusiasm, fill the atmosphere. It is important to connect with each child. Listening to their words and answering questions build a bond of trust and comfort.

Investing positive energy in children’s lives is surely one of the most important activities in which one can engage. Yes, teaching young children can also be extremely challenging and sometimes even exhausting, yet for me, the rewards are priceless.

I stress the basics when working with these very young children. Eye-hand cordination, simple calisthenics, such as jumping jacks, push-ups, and sit-ups, are daily staples when introducing these young fighters to the physical culture. I also stress courtesy, focus, and politeness. Learning to say, “yes, please” and “thank you” are as valuable in my camp as physical training. At the end of every class we all line up and each little tigers shakes my hand and thanks me. I monitor each child during this important task, making sure he makes eye contact with me and pleasantly smiles. After all, what’s the point in teaching these beautiful little children if we don’t offer them valuable and essential social skills?

One important aspect in teaching children and/or adults is to understand that we have a short amount of time to positively influence students. It broke my heart when a child would quit our camp and leave our program forever. However, over the years I have come to realize that if I do my job well, truly connect and belive in the kids and myself, I will have an indelible impact on these young lives.

In some small way, I have perhaps ignited a spark that will help guide them through their life’s challenges. Well, maybe it does still break my heart a little bit when they leave me, yet I am grateful for the moments we shared. Having looked into these young children’s eyes is certainly worth the joy.

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