L.A.W.S. of the Scholar & Warrior
Kenpo Juniors Blog - July to October 2020: Bravery #1
Here’s the thing about bravery. You’re already familiar with the sorts of bravery they show in movies: feats of physical courage where the Good Guy risks harm and death to save the day from the Bad Guys. That’s what most people think of when they think of bravery, and it’s definitely the kind of bravery warriors stand out for. This kind of bravery is the reasons Bravery is one of our Bushido Values that we teach at American Institutes of Kenpo.
But life in middle school and high school doesn’t have a lot of opportunities to show that kind of bravery (at least it shouldn’t). In fact, if you’re showing that kind of bravery often that’s a good sign that you’re making some mistakes that could impact your life for decades into the future.
Instead, a Bushido Warrior in middle and high school shows a different kind of courage. To understand this kind of courage, we need to know what Bravery means in the Code of Bushido.
Bravery is doing the right thing, even when it’s hard and especially when it’s scary.
Let’s look at each part of that definition:
Doing the right thing means choosing the right action, then actually doing that action. For example, if your grades are in the tank you need to ask your parents for help with your grades even though they might ground you.
Even when it’s hard means doing that right thing no matter what obstacles or difficulties stand in your way. When something requires Bravery, it’s easy to let small excuses let you off the hook. If you need to talk with your parents about your grades, you can’t let a busy schedule mean you never sit down with them.
Especially when it’s scary means doing that right thing even if you’re absolutely scared of what comes next. With that grades conversation, getting yelled at or grounded are possible consequences of doing the right thing. You know you will survive them, so there’s no reason not to go straight ahead and start a conversation about your grades.
In later weeks during this cycle, we’ll talk in detail about some of the ways Bravery is important and how to be Brave in the face of real fears. For now, think about Bravery that’s physical and Bravery that’s mental, and how they’re the same and how they’re different.
Teaching kids about bravery was one thing: you basically led by example, and did everything you could to hide the source of fear from them. With teens, though, you need to start teaching about fear by first admitting something scares you, then showing how you deal with that fear to do the important things even though you’re scared.
This is easier said than done, but we’ve talked with a few experts who have the following suggestions:
Invoke Culture -- whether it’s a family history, a national identity or simply being a martial artist, you can use pride in those things to remind your teen why we do things even when they’re hard or frightening
Show Real-Life Examples -- one of the nice things about Facebook and other social media platforms is that about once a day we get some news item about a person being brave. You can share these with your teen and talk about what you admire in that person
Discuss Foolhardiness -- this is especially important with teens, because even smart teens lack long-term decision making skills. Take time to talk about where the line between Bravery and foolhardiness is, how to recognize it, and what to do when that happens.
The media makes Bravery hard to discuss and think about sometimes. The staff here at AIK is always available to help with that discussion any time you need. Just ask.