How Martial Arts Can Help Kids Develop Critical Skills - SE2EP19 - Matthew Eyler
In today's episode, we have a special guest joining us, Matthew Eyler. Matthew is a former New York State General and Special Education teacher with a decade of experience in the classroom. However, feeling frustrated with the state of public education, he made a bold decision to follow his passion and utilize martial arts to empower students mentally, physically, and emotionally. With over 20 years of martial arts training and a 5th Degree Black Belt in Tang Soo Do, Matthew brings a unique perspective to parenting in the digital age. He has developed a martial arts curriculum and character development program that not only strengthens families within the studio but also extends its positive impact into the community. Connect with Matthew Eyler Website : https://www.trinitymartialartsny.com/ YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/trinitymartialartsny Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/trinitymartialartsny/ Facebook : http://facebook.com/trinitymartialartsny This Episode is brought to you by Skill Samurai – Coding & STEM Academy www.skillsamurai.com.au
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Speaker 1 (00:08): Welcome to the Parenting in the Digital Age podcast. Many parents are concerned that their child might be falling behind. Others are just looking for ways to help their children thrive, not just in the classroom, but socially and well into their future careers. Each episode we explore the challenges facing parents in the modern world, from behavior, education, and nutrition to device and gaming addiction. We interview a range of leaders in the area of childhood development to help you successfully navigate parenting in the digital age. Here is your host, Jamie Buttigieg.
Jamie: Hello parents and welcome to Parenting in a Digital Age, the podcast that explores the unique challenges and opportunities of raising children in today's tech-driven world. In each episode, we dive into insightful conversations with experts and thought leaders to provide practical guidance for navigating the digital landscape as parents. In today's episode, we have a very special guest joining us. We always have special guests joining us, Matthew Isler. Matthew is a former New York State General and a special education teacher with a decade of experience in the classroom. However, feeling frustrated with the state of public education, he made a bold decision to follow his passion and utilize martial arts to empower students mentally, physically, and emotionally. And with over 20 years of martial arts training and a fifth-degree black belt, Matthew brings a unique perspective to parenting in the digital age. He's developed a martial arts curriculum and a character development program that not only strengthens families within the studio, but extends its positive impact into the community. Matthew, thanks for joining us. Please share with our listeners in your own words, what you do and what you're passionate about. Matthew Eyler: Yeah, no problem. Thank you for having me. Yeah, as you mentioned, I was a teacher in the New York State public education system for about 10 years. Always wanted to be a teacher since I was young, knew I wanted to work with kids, had a passion for that. And really the reason that I wanted to do it was, you know, kind of that cheesy, it sounds cliche, but just really wanted to help people. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart. That's really what I wanted to do. And so I went to college for education and said I was going to be a teacher and did my did my time doing all that. And I became very, very frustrated very, very quickly with at least here in New York State. A lot of the red tape and the curriculum and the requirements that were required by the state and by public education. And I got really, really frustrated because at the end of the day, I was teaching. My kids may have been scoring well on their tests and achieving their benchmarks, but there was a whole component of social and emotional learning that was really missing. I wasn't seeing my students grow in the way that I knew I had grown under the tutelage of teachers when I was younger. Um, so side to that, uh, I've always done martial arts since I was about 10 years old. I've been doing it for about, it'll be 23 years this fall. Um, I started helping out in classes and teaching after just a couple of years of, of taking martial arts classes. So it's been something I've always done. Um, and it got to a point where I saw the amount of good that I was able to accomplish in the martial arts studio far out, far out pace. the success that I was able to find in the classroom. And so when COVID happened in 2020, I was presented with an opportunity where I could leave education and open up my own studio. And so I took it and we've been growing and thriving here for about two and a half years now. And it's just been a pleasure. It's been great. I've met, we've had over close to 200 students come through our doors. just in the past year or so and it's growing exponentially. And we've gotten to a place where we're seeing students, you know, obviously we're learning martial arts, that's the filter, that's the lens that we teach through, but it kind of blooms out into all aspects of life. And I hear great stories about kids doing well in school and improving relationships with their families and growing in the soccer field and the dance studio and all these other places. So we're really able to make a difference through the lens of martial arts. but it extends outwards to other areas as well. Jamie: Yeah, that's tremendous. And congratulations on taking that bold move and that step. And the impact that you're creating, but the future impact that you're going to create. And we shared before the show, I'm going to share this with our listeners, they've never seen this before. But I'm a fellow Black Belt, not quite as accomplished as Matthew. But one thing I wanted to share is that there are two things I believe all children should do. Well, and I'm. Well, the first one is very biased. I'm gonna say kids should learn coding. All kids should learn how to program a computer to become an innovator and a problem solver instead of just a consumer. But I think all kids should do martial arts. You know, the values and what it helps you become as a person, I truly understand. Hopefully Matthew's gonna help us help convey that today so parents get a bit excited about what the potential of martial arts and what it can do for their kids. Let's start with a question that. about martial arts, how do you think it can contribute to a child's mental, physical, emotional development in this digital age? Matthew Eyler: Yeah, you know, it's interesting because for me, I was a child when I was younger, you know, anxiety, ADHD, you know, just run the list of mental health problems that a young person can have, and that was me. And so the Rational Arts, the most as a young person was the structure that it provided. Kids, young people. They tell you they don't want structure, they don't want routine, they wanna do their own thing, but the truth is they really thrive off it, right? Our brain likes when you have, if A, do B, right? We like that kind of sequencing. If this happens to me, this is my solution. And when students aren't given the tools to know how to deal with those problems, that's when anxiety and frustration is created because they don't understand if I've given problem A, I don't have the tools to create solution B. And so the structure that martial arts provides students with this idea of routines, you know, everybody stands a certain way, everybody dresses a certain way, there's a certain way to do a kick. If someone throws a punch a certain way, these are the different ways we can defend against it. structure that allows students to be successful. And then the goal of martial arts training, at least at my studio, is to take those structural tools that we're teaching students, which end up becoming things like confidence and discipline, kind of these key core character traits that we develop in our students through the lens of martial arts training, is to take those and then send them out into the real world with those skills that they've developed and apply them to other situations. You know, so for example, This is a really simple example, but I've had students come to me, the parents come to me and say, Oh, Johnny can't sit still. He can't focus in classes. Okay, he's got issues with focus. He comes, does our martial arts training, and in our martial arts classes, we stand, we act, we carry ourselves a certain way. Now that being said, I want to really emphasize that, you know, it's not like if you've ever seen like Cobra Kai yelling and forcing students to act a certain way and answer a certain way. There's a time and a place for that kind of attitude, but it starts out with just gentle reminders. Oh, Johnny, I love the way you're standing. Oh, very good. I love how so-and-so here standing. Can everybody, can you guys stand like he is? That looks great. And those reminders eventually develop into routines. where there is a positive reward for standing a certain way. And it'll start off very simple with a compliment. You know, oh, I love how Johnny's standing. But then the students, they start to see the results. Well, what I'm standing still, I can focus more. And when I'm focused more, I'm able to achieve more. And then once they've developed that within our studio, you know, that starts to apply elsewhere, where they say, okay, well, I remember, the students call me Master Eiler. Oh, I remember Master Eiler telling me about sitting still, you know, I could try doing that in the classroom, my teacher's talking, let me keep my eyes on them. And you start to see these skills being applied. So everybody always thinks of martial arts as punching and kicking and grappling and fighting, and there's definitely elements of that, don't get me wrong. But, When it comes to training young people, you know, that kind of demographic of ages three through 15, that's really what we're looking at is we're looking at developing routines and structures that the students can take inside the studio and then apply to areas outside, whether it be school or one day employment in their jobs or in their relationships, whether it be with siblings or parents or boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse. the studio. Jamie: Yeah, absolutely. And you guys, you're only just scratching the surface. Like I know at your studio and many other martial arts studios around the world, you know, you're teaching things like self-discipline and resilience, you know, and, you know, when a student walks in for their first class, you know, they learn their first punch and how to form and they practice that for the next five or 10 years. And sometimes they don't want to do that. They think, well, you know, I've done this punch. I know this punch, but it's a... It's that repetition, it's that development that builds character. It's pushing through things that are really difficult or tremendously hard in the studio, you know, translating that to real life, like resilience is a skill that, you know, we can't underestimate. And I know you guys do a tremendous work there. So as parents, we're always striving to raise our kids with good values. And you've touched on some of that. You know, we want to help our kids effectively become good people. We want our kids to be happy. So tell us a bit about your character development program. Like, you know, what's that about and how does that compliment the values that us as parents are trying to instill Matthew Eyler: Yeah, Jamie: in our kids? Matthew Eyler: I mean, the character development program that we started using, we end every single class with what we call a message of the week, which there's a key character development attribute that we're going through the week and we're discussing. And we discuss it in class and we discuss it at the end of class. But the way I always frame it to parents and to new students is martial arts is about being strong. And there is a physical aspect of that, right? Doing punches and kicks and pushups and, you know, breaking boards, there's that aspect of it. But there's another component about being emotionally, right, strong, about having strong character, being that type of person that is able to deal with difficult situations. So I always tell students, you know, yes, we want to be physically strong. We want to exercise. That is a lot of what we do. But if your character... is not strong, right? If you are not able to deal with emotions in a way that is persevering and strong, then how strong of a person are you really? You know, so our character development program is all based on that idea of how can we become stronger, more whole people, emotionally, mentally, physically, and that's kind of the basis. So whenever we're Developing a skill. So for example last week our message of the week was about good habits, right? It was about good habits And developing those. And of course, that looks different for like our preschool students versus like our elementary students versus our high school and adult students. And we differentiate that based on the ages we're talking about. But how do we frame that in a way where we're talking about being a strong person, right? So for example, with good habits, right? That was the message of the week we talked about last week. We talked about how students who develop good habits, right? Are more successful in life, right? A person that doesn't have to think about brushing their teeth is gonna be healthier. right? A person who eats healthier is going to be physically stronger. But then we take it a step further, right? We say, okay, a person who has a good habit of talking to themselves positively, I am confident, I am strong, I can do this, right? That kind of positive rhetoric. That's a good habit. Okay, so it's not just how you're acting, but it's also how you're thinking. It's also how you're feeling. And so we have these conversations with these kids about not just what they're physically doing, but what they're emotionally doing. And then there's a part where we bridge the gap. So, for example, one of the things our students do is we break boards. You know, when they receive a new belt, they have to use one of their martial arts techniques to break wood. And so we'll relate that to our physical skills. So for example, oh, if you want to break the board with a punch, you have to make sure you practice good habits of keeping your hand tight, right? That's a physical aspect of it. If you hit that board and it doesn't break the first time, you have to practice the good habit of saying to yourself, I'm strong and I can do this, right? That positive rhetoric. You have to develop the good habit of when it doesn't work the first five times, you try another five times, right? That resilience. And so there's all these things that we are able to tie activity of martial arts to develop a person both emotionally and mentally. And you mentioned before about wanting kids to be happy, right, to be successful adults. That's what we want them to grow into. And you know I always think it's funny because a lot of our adults benefit from these same messages that we are talking to our kids. I'll sit, we have we have a little corner that all the kids come and sit down and at the end of class and we'll sit down and I'll give them this really uplifting message and we'll talk about these feelings and about how to handle certain problems. And I've had parents come up to me afterwards and be like, that was really good. Like I really needed to hear that. You know, so it's something that we can all work on developing, but I think the earlier we started with our kids, you know, this positive rhetoric and these emotional. and mental skills that they need to be successful, the more happy and successful adults they're going to grow into. I know I can speak that from experience. You know, I'm definitely a different person as an adult and have handled things much better than I would have if I didn't have my martial arts training. And it doesn't have to be just in a martial arts school. Obviously, I want everybody to do martial arts. Martial arts is my passion. That's great. But I know one of my favorite things that I've seen is as I'm having these conversations with kids, the parents are listening and they're partnering with me at home. know so we'll talk about something in the in the in the studio the parents will go home and they'll reiterate I remember what master Eylers said let's try that and so now we're building this two-way street of communication where the kids are getting reinforced what I'm saying at home Jamie: That's wonderful. I'm just gonna pause for a minute. I'll mark this clip so that I can edit. I don't normally stop halfway through, so apologies for that, but I've got a message coming up that I haven't seen before. It says, Matthew Iler ran out of storage. Restart the browser, free some hard disk space to end avoid incognito mode. So there's probably something you need to do on your end. Sorry, I've not actually seen that before. It may be. What we might do is, let's just try restarting the browser. I'll go out of the, this is recorded, so I'll stop this recording and we'll come in and we'll record the second part of this. So we'll just pick up where we left off. Let's try that again. Jamie Yeah, that's so powerful, Matthew. And I'm so pleased to be able to be sharing this message with parents, because when the average parent peers through the window of Trinity Martial Arts or any martial arts academy around the world, what they see is kids doing punches and kicks or maybe some sparring or maybe some pushups. But really what's going on inside of your studio is far more life-changing, certainly in my view. And I think parents really should check it out. Matthew Eyler I'm just pleased to be able to be sharing this message with parents. Because when the average parent peers through the window of Trinity Martial Arts or any martial arts academy around the world, what they see is kids doing punches and kicks or maybe some sparring or maybe some push-ups. But really what's going on inside of your studio is far more life-changing, certainly in my view. And I think parents really should check it out. I wanted to share my screen for a minute. Jamie I wanted to share my screen for a minute. Just you've given me an idea. And if I can get the technology to work on my end, this will be wonderful. Let's have a look, let's find the window. Okay, there we go, this will work. Can you see that at your end? Matthew Eyler and if I can get the technology to work on my end, this will be wonderful. Let's find the window. Okay, there we go. This will work. Can you see that at your end? It's coming up right now, it's loading. Hopefully our viewers, or those that are at least watching on YouTube or one of the right channels will be able to see this. If you can't, if you're on Spotify or Apple, I'll talk through this anyway. But one of the things we do in our own classrooms, so to speak, at Skillshare Samurai, is it's much the same thing when you peer through the window of a coding school or a STEM academy, what you see are a bunch of kids working on computers, Jamie Hopefully our viewers or those that are at least watching on YouTube or one of the right channels will be able to see this. If you can't, if you're on Spotify or Apple, I'll talk through this anyway. But one of the things we do in our own classrooms, so to speak, at Skill Samurai is it's much the same thing when you peer through the window of a coding school or a STEM academy, what you see a bunch of kids working on computers and you don't really see the underlying values that are being transferred. Matthew Eyler underlying values that are being transferred and we kind of borrow this from martial arts and you know you probably see that right away and skill samurai is kind of in our name but we teach kids generosity, resilience, honesty, kindness, self-discipline, respect and courage. And one of the ways much like yourself that we do that is you know when we see a student in class who's perhaps Jamie We kind of borrow this from martial arts. You know, you probably see that right away and skill samurai is kind of in our name, but we teach kids generosity, resilience, honesty, kindness, self-discipline, respect and courage. And one of the ways, much like yourself, that we do that is, you know, when we see a student in class who's perhaps, you know, going out of their way to help another student, you know, one student's got a problem with their code and another student helps. Matthew Eyler you know, going out of their way to help another student. One student's got a problem with their code, another student helps. At the end of class, our educators are gonna stop that student, acknowledge them, give them a sticker for generosity. Because generosity is being generous with time, not just contributing. It's one way that kids can contribute. And in the same way, we wanna partner with parents to help these kids build great values, morals, social skills, and life skills that will empower them well into the future. So, yeah, thank you. Jamie At the end of class, our educators are going to stop that student, acknowledge them, give them a sticker for generosity, because generosity is being generous with time, not just contributing. It's one way that kids can contribute. And in the same way, we want to partner with parents to help these kids build great values, morals, social skills, and life skills that will empower them well into the future. So thank you for sharing that. And I encourage parents to check out... Matthew Eyler and I encourage parents to check out wherever you are in the world if you haven't tried martial arts, at least go and try a class. This is something that is inclusive and it is really for everyone. Yeah, and I love that you said the word inclusive there because I've had over my years doing this, parents come to me and almost sometimes really upset. Jamie wherever you are in the world, if your child hasn't tried martial arts, to at least go and try a class. This is something that is inclusive and it is really for everyone. Matthew Eyler that my kid is going to be a bother or my kid is going to be trouble for your class. I don't want there to be a disruption. They may have physical limitations, which are they ever gonna be able to be a black belt or whatever and that type of thing. And those are all conversations we can have, but I always wanna reiterate to parents that this is what we do. This is what we do. There's very little that I haven't seen. And... as my job as an educator, whether it be in the classroom or in the martial arts studio or wherever, is to try to help. So, you know, it's gonna look different for everybody. You know, I've got some students who have trouble kicking above their belt, and I've got some students who can't do a single pushup. But the ability for the... us to try to help them is what's there. You know, they are working on improving themselves in which way in one way or another and that's what our job is. You know, that's why I wanted to get out of public education and go into martial arts because here in the studio I feel I can do that. Couldn't always do that in the classroom and that's the goal, right, is to be inclusive and to help people where they are. Jamie Yeah, that's wonderful. And I guess that's why the, let's call it the private education sector and the industry and the space that we're in has so much innovation or is able to tailor learning or to be able to create these diverse, inclusive spaces or wonderful programs is because you're not bound by that red tape and the politics and the governance. And I'm not saying that's not important. Like we need that in schools, but you're able to move it and be a bit more nimble and adapt. And Matthew Eyler let's call it the private education sector and the industry and the space that we're in has so much innovation or is able to tailor learning or to be able to create these diverse, inclusive spaces or wonderful programs is because you're not bound by that red tape and the politics and the governance and I'm not saying that's not important because you need that in schools, but you're able to move and be a bit more nimble and adapt for a modern era. So just let's take that point a bit further. Jamie adapt for a modern era. So just let's take that point a bit further. So how can martial arts foster that sense of community and belonging for children? So, you know, if you consider the social isolation or potential isolation that's caused by excessive screen time, so kids in social media and YouTube, and I see it in my own kids, right? You know, I'm not immune to this either, but how does martial arts foster that sense of community and belonging for kids? Matthew Eyler How can martial arts foster that sense of community and belonging for children? So, you know, if you consider the social isolation or potential isolation is caused by excessive screen time. So kids in social media and YouTube and I see my own kids, right? You know, I'm not immune to this. Sure. But how does martial arts foster that sense of community and belonging? Yeah, I tell people that martial arts training is the most individualized team sport. You know, when a student goes to competition. There are some such things as team competitions in martial arts, but I would say 99% of the time it's very individualized. You are in a sparring match against someone else. You are doing your form, your routine, competing against other people. You're not on a team. No one is helping you. Everything is on you. And that can be really powerful because if you win, guess what? It's all on you. If you lose, it's all on you. stepping aside from that and looking at a martial arts class, it is such a powerful community when done the right way. I have been in martial arts studios where sometimes the instructors will pit students against each other and you know try to see who comes out on top and that can be very toxic and you definitely have to watch out for that. But I think the modern trend with a lot of martial arts studios is now that it is a sense of camaraderie right. Martial arts is military right that's where the word martial comes from and when you are working together in a platoon or a unit that type of thing right. sense of supporting each other. Everybody might come from different walks of life, everybody might have a different skill set, but at the end of the day you're there for the same reason, whether it's to capture the enemy's flag or whatever goal you want to envision for yourself. And so in martial arts we kind of treat it that way where, hey, we're all here for a different reason. Johnny's here because he can't focus. Sally's here because she wants to learn to defend herself. Tommy's here because he just has too much energy and his parents don't know what to do with him. But at the end of the day, we're all here. And so we help each other at whatever goals we're working on. So if I've got students that aren't flexible, maybe they can't stretch out. They can't kick that high. We're going to make sure that we are encouraging them. And it's not, oh, man, Johnny can't do that. Sally's better. Look at Sally. It's, hey, Sally, see if you can help Johnny with that. Right. And I tell people all the time, I say, I'll say to, you know, Sally, go help Johnny if Johnny doesn't look good. It's on you, Sally, you know, that type of thing. So there becomes this camaraderie of like, Hey, we have to help each other because we're all in this together. Um, and everybody's working on a different goal. Everybody's at a different belt or working on a different routine. Um, that type of thing, but at the end of the day, we're all on the floor, we're all sweating, we're all tired. We're working on improving ourselves. And that's really what matters. Um, so, you know, I see. A lot of students, they come in very isolated because a lot of the students that I work with, they're here because they don't have confidence, they don't have friends, they don't have that sense of self that a confident person would have and so they might lack that community. And so when we're here in the studio, we're all in this together and so people bond together really quick. You know, when you are all... This sounds really negative, but hopefully everybody will understand what I mean. When you're suffering together, you know, Payne is a great teacher. When you're all doing push-ups together and you're all sweating together, that brings people together really, really quick. And it comes from a place where we're able to build each other up and help each other. And yeah, I think that's the biggest thing is, you know, in this digital age where kids are constantly... bombarded by isolation and social media and technology. It's really nice to bring people together with a common goal. And whether that goal is training in martial arts, or I know great studios that do dance, or do soccer, or other team sports, that's something that's really lacking in today's day and age. And so I really see martial arts filling that gap of, hey, we are a community, we support one another, and we're all working to improve ourselves, so we're gonna help each other with that. Jamie Yeah, you're wonderful. You know, when a kid starts martial arts the first day, they almost set a goal to become a black belt, you know, almost from the day they walk in. It's this aspirational identity. So talk a little bit about what it means to be a black belt or to become a black belt. What does it actually mean to you? Matthew Eyler When he starts martial arts the first day, they almost set a goal to become a black belt. You know, almost from the day they walk in. It's this aspirational identity. So talk a little bit about what it means to be a black belt or to become a black belt. What does it actually mean? Yeah, you know, we have, and my studio and a lot of different studios, at least in the US, use what's called the student creeds, which every day before class, we say four different affirmations. And the last one that we end with goes along the lines of this is a black belt school, blah, blah. And we end with what's our quest to be the best? What's your goal? Black belt, sir. That's how we end it. And we say that from day one. When the student starts, they say that student created the being a class and the goal is to be a black belt. And goal setting is one of the most important things about martial arts. You know, hopefully a student gets to the place where the belts don't matter. They just want to learn. They just want to grow. Right? But they do, you know, it's yeah, motivation is key. And so it's a great tool to teach students to have something to work towards when you have something tangible that a student can achieve that next color belt. That's very motivating. So the goal is right to get to black belt. But there's so much beyond that. Jamie We're human, we're human. Matthew Eyler And we do at my school, we do Tang Soo Do, which is a Korean martial arts similar to Taekwondo. And originally in Tang Soo Do, if you go to its founding in the 1940s, there were four belts. There were white. green, red, and black. And the reason those were chosen in this art was because they represented seasons. White represented winter, green represented spring, red represented summer, black represented fall. And the idea is in white is winter, you're empty, you're clean, you're poor, you're pure. Green is spring, you're growing, you're blossoming. Red belt, it's hot, it's summer, you're working hard. And then black belt is the harvest, right? That's your black belt exam, that's your taking the fruits of your labor and putting it to the test. But what people always forget is if black belt, at least in our system represents autumn, represents the fall, after fall comes winter. After fall, it starts all over again. And so the idea with black belt is that it is this constant state of learning, of self-improvement. When you get to black belt, you're really going back to white belt. You are realizing, hey, all that stuff I learned, there's a lot of fine tuning that I can do. And like I mentioned before about taking these character lessons that we talk about inside the studio and applying them elsewhere, that lesson of being an eternal learner is something that we teach our students. We have an ongoing joke in my school of what's the biggest room in the whole world? The room for improvement. You know, there's always room to grow. There's always room to learn and improve. And so for us at Black Belt, We continue to second degree, third degree, fourth degree of black belt. You graduate high school, you know, you might be picking up a trade, you might be going to college, you might be joining the military. There's always this determination to improve ourselves and grow and set a new goal. You know, whatever that goal is, there should always be something on the table in front of you. And I think that makes for a, going back to what I said before, makes for a very strong person, a very determined person. And. You know, that's something else that I think a lot of kids are lacking these days is, is what am I working towards? You know, am I working towards something tangible and real that's going to better me as a person? And martial arts is one way of providing that. Jamie Yeah, and that whole continuous learning, in my view, leads to leads to purpose in life, you know, to understand your place and how to contribute and give beyond yourself. So it almost becomes that finding a life of service where perhaps in our junior belts, we don't have that life of service. It's more about us and the focus is on us instead of our community and external. Well, here's an interesting question. How is your own journey? Matthew Eyler to understand your place and how to contribute and give beyond yourself. It almost becomes like finding a life of service. Perhaps in our junior builds we don't have that life of service. It's more about us. the focus is on us instead of our community and external. Yeah. Here's an interesting question. How has your own journey to Black Belt and certainly well beyond, you've encountered many seasons in your journey, how has your own journey shaped your character personally or altered your life? Yeah, I mean, it has 100%. For me and myself, Jamie to Black Belt and certainly well beyond. You've encountered many seasons in your journey. How has your own journey shaped your character personally or altered your life? Matthew Eyler emotionally stable of homes. And so martial arts, like I said before, provided that stability, whether it be providing me an outlet to help me learn to focus or providing me a community because I lacked that. It was the structure that I really needed when I was younger. And so even now as an adult, because our problems don't go away when we're older, right? Our goal is that our children grow up and be strong, healthy, happy individuals. But we know as adults, that's not the case 100% of the time, or there's always gonna be struggles, there's always gonna be difficulties. But the ability martial arts has given me to deal with those difficulties, whether it be a sense of resilience, or commitment, or discipline, or focus, strong personal character, that has been the key. I would never say that martial arts has made my life easier, but it has helped me. deal with difficult situations in a way that has helped me find success. And that's the goal for our students. If I look back, it's funny, I look back at when I was a white belt or a green belt or those younger lower belts, when I was like 10, 11, 12, 13 years old. And I look back and I'm like, what a punk. I look back at who I was as a kid and I had a completely different. worldview than I do now. But if it wasn't for martial arts, I would have never grown past that. I would never grown past that. So I'm not ashamed of those mistakes I made when I'm younger. More so I can see how martial arts was able to help me be steered in a better direction. And like you said before, that's the goal for our kids is to have that structure and support so they can grow up to be happy, healthy, strong adults. Yeah, martial arts is, like I said before, is one great way of doing that. Jamie And it really looked at, and that's a tremendous gift for a parent to be able to give a child. And it also helps them form a more compassionate view on the world and how they see the world. Almost you're talking about martial arts being a lens and it is, because they see all sorts of situations within the studio that they can apply to real life. So here's another one. Let's say I was a parent listening perhaps to this episode. Matthew Eyler That's a tremendous gift for a parent to be able to give a child. And it also helps them form a more compassionate view on the world. Sure. And how they see the world. Almost you talk about martial arts being a lens, and it is. Because they see all sorts of situations within the studio that they can apply to real life. So here's another one. Let's say I was a parent listening, perhaps, to this episode. And I'm interested in looking for a martial arts studio. I mean, you're in New York. Jamie and I'm interested in looking for a martial arts studio. I mean, you're in New York, I'm in Sydney. What advice would you give to a parent? How does a parent find the right martial arts studio? Because you said earlier that there can be some that might have a toxic culture perhaps. So how does a parent find one that would be an inclusive diverse space that's just right for their child? Matthew Eyler What advice would you give to a parent? How does a parent find the right martial arts studio? Because you said earlier that there can be some that have a toxic culture perhaps. So how does a parent find one that would be an inclusive, diverse space that's just right for their child? Yeah, I would really suggest. So my school, we have two ways of getting students, right? Our two ways. We have our website, Google SEO. through that Internet Avenue, but I would say just as many if not more come from parent recommendations. And I've had many students come to me, their parents come to me and say, oh my son tried it out at so-and-so's down the street. We did not have a good experience, but he's so happy here. This is completely different. So I would really suggest reaching out into your community and And I would especially reach out if you know somebody who does martial arts, who has a student that maybe has disabilities. I have students that are on the spectrum. I have students that have ADHD. I have students that have depression. I have students that have physical limitations. And those parents are the ones that give me the best reviews, right? Because it's one thing to help a kid who's a star athlete do martial arts. You know, that's great. That's awesome that the kid is succeeding. but it is a completely different level of success when you're able to help a student who is the least of these, you know, quote unquote, lower on the totem pole and needs that extra hand. So I would tell people to reach out to the community, talk to people you know, see if there's anyone out there because that personal connection is gonna be your best bet. But then the second thing I would tell people is go in and just ask if you can watch a class. You know, and when people watch their class, I tell them, would you be okay when you listen to that instructor teaching and you listen to the way I talk, the way I teach, don't ask yourself if you would be okay with me talking to your child that way. Ask yourself if you would be okay with me talking to you that way. You know, because a lot of times teachers in public education and extracurricular activities, a lot of times teachers have this kind of ability to talk down. to students, right? And in martial arts, that's one of the most toxic things I see is, I am the master, I am the sensei, I am the instructor, and you listen to me, and it's yes, sir. There's a time and a place for that. But when it becomes condescending, when it becomes detrimental to the student's mental well-being and emotional well-being and their confidence and their skills and that type of thing, that's when it becomes. negative. And so a lot of times parents will come in and they'll listen to the way we teach the kids and be like, oh that's great, that's the way, that's what Johnny needs. Johnny needs that. Johnny needs that firm hand. But I always make sure to do it in a way of I'm correcting Johnny, but I'm also not bringing him down. You know, I'm not putting him below me. I am trying to lift him up to me, you know, if that makes sense. And so I would just I would always say to parents, you know, ask if you can go watch a class. If you're not sure if you want your kid to try it out, just ask if you can go sit and watch. Because a good studio that has a good culture, they'll have no problem with you watching. And if you go watch, you'll know it's a good culture if you hear them talking to those students with dignity and with respect. Because at the end of the day, you know, we talked a lot today about wanting to teach our students those skills and those positive character traits. It doesn't matter how much you profess. you know, respect if you're not giving it, you know, and kids pick up on that. And so I would tell you to go into those schools and listen to the culture. And again, don't put it on your kid, put it on you and say, hey, would I be okay if someone talked to me this way? And if the answer is no, don't put your kid there. You know, don't put your kid there. Put it in a place where you would feel comfortable and feel respected, because they deserve that. Jamie That's great, great advice, great advice, Matthew. What about for those parents who maybe don't have access to a martial arts studio? I mean, I know they're almost on every street corner, but there are some places where there might not be anything convenient, or I might not have the means or to be able to afford to send my child to something like that. But yet I still want to help my child through martial arts and learning the principles and the values. Would you have any advice for those parents? Matthew Eyler What about for those parents who maybe don't have access to a martial arts studio? I know they're almost on every street corner, but there are some places where there might not be any convenient. Or I might not have the means to be able to afford to send my child to something like that. But yet I still want to help my child through martial arts and learning the principles and the values. Would you have any advice for those parents? Matthew Eyler I am teaching is, martial arts is just a lens for what I'm teaching. You know, I am in a position where I am the master instructor in my school and I'm able to have an impact on kids and we do that through martial arts. But I would really suggest people, if they're not able to get themselves into martial arts, to search for that type of mentorship. elsewhere, you know, so that could be done with like a basketball team or a baseball team, you know, there could be a coach, could be if you're a person of faith, could be someone in your church that you really look up to, could be a neighbor, you know, down the street, you know, I really respect Mr. Smith down the street. Look for those mentorship opportunities. It's really important for our kids to hear good influences from someone other than us. You know, I'm on the same team as Johnny's parents, but Johnny's gonna listen to me in a completely different way than he listens to his mom and dad, even though I'm saying the same thing as his mom and dad. Right? And so I would tell parents to really look for opportunities for their kids to be mentored. That can be done through sports, that can be done through the arts. At the end of the day, it really doesn't matter how it's being done, whether it be musically or physically or artistically. religiously, it doesn't matter. What matters is that student has a positive role model who they can look up to and can impart to them the wisdom necessary to grow into a strong, healthy adult. And I think when it comes to the digital age, a lot of kids that mentor is becoming a screen, whether it be social media or gaming, there's nothing wrong with those things. But when that becomes the thing that shapes your identity, that's problematic, right? So finding a role model, a person, an activity that can be the mentor to your child, not replacing technology, technology's not bad, but giving them an alternate source for that positivity, that's really meaningful. And so I would tell people to look into that, to find community and whatever. Aspect you find it and provide that to your child because that's gonna be really helpful to them Yeah, sure, absolutely Jamie That's very wise advice, Matthew. And there are two other avenues I'll share. Of course, don't forget your local coding school, shameful plug for skill samurai. Never forget that. Lots of great educators, world-class mentors within that. But actually, in all seriousness, apart from that, reach out to your local Rotary club. Rotary is a wonderful international organization. They run many youth programs. They contribute to many programs that your child can perhaps participate in. They sponsor kids into. Matthew Eyler Rotary is a wonderful international organisation. They run many youth programmes. They contribute to many programmes that your child can perhaps participate in. They sponsor kids into camps and all sorts of mentorship programmes, often at no cost. So look up your local Rotary club and get involved. Jamie camps and all sorts of mentorship programs, often at no cost. So look up your local Rotary Club and get involved. Matthew, one last question, one fun question we like to, a little bit lighthearted. We ask everyone on our show, that is if you had a time machine and you could go back to the, let's say the 10 or 12 year old Matthew, and give yourself one piece of advice, what would that advice be? Matthew Eyler Matthew, one last question, one fun question we like to light hearted. We ask everyone on our show that is if you had a time machine and you go back to the, let's say the 10 or 12 year old Matthew and give yourself one piece of advice, what would that advice be? Oh, I've thought about this a lot actually. My advice to my younger self would be to like yourself more. the struggles I had growing up and one of the reasons martial arts benefited me so much was because I lacked confidence, right? And one of the reasons I lacked confidence was because at the end of the day I had a lot of negative voices telling me that I wasn't good enough and so that voice became my reality. I'm not good enough. I'm not smart enough. I'm stupid. I'm ugly, whatever. And so if I could go back to my younger self it would be like yourself more, you know? Love yourself more. And That's one of the things that I've always carried with me when I'm teaching with martial arts is if, you know, one of my students is just really has a terrible kick or just can't break that board. I don't want that to be their defining characteristic. I don't want their failure. I don't want their lack of confidence to be the thing that really forces them to spiral and be down on themselves. I want them to know that they are loved and they are valued and they are important to me and just because they didn't succeed this time or just because they didn't have as good of a time, they are still valuable. And that's something that I would tell my younger self and that's something that I try to tell all the young people that I work with is that you are important in whatever shape or form you take. And you know. and you are loved because I think that's something a lot of young people need to hear. It sounds cheesy, it sounds cliche, but I think a lot of people if they really ask themselves do I like myself, that's a scary question they might not and so I really encourage people to think about that. Jamie More wise words, Matthew. Thank you for your time today. Thanks for your contribution to the community. Yeah, no, it definitely was. And just one last thing, where can people reach out? How can they find you if they want to reach out or they're in your area? Matthew Eyler Thank you for your time today. Yeah, no problem. It was great. To the community. Yeah, no, it definitely was. And just one last thing, where can people reach out? How can they find you if they want to reach out? Yeah, absolutely. So we are located in the Hudson Valley of New York, a little bit north of Manhattan, New York City. People are more than welcome to check out our website, trinity martial arts ny.com. Follow us on social media. Even if you're nowhere near me and you're just looking for some positive influences and some cool martial arts, you're more than welcome to check us out on Facebook, Instagram, trinity martial arts ny. And if you are a martial artist and you're looking for some fun, we also have a TikTok. We post funny memes and videos just about kind of martial arts community and what it's like to train in the martial arts. So yeah, you're more than welcome to reach out and check us out. And like I said before, I really encourage you to find some martial arts. And if you can't find martial arts, find those other positive community influences. Jamie Yeah, wonderful. Thanks again for your time and I hope we cross paths again soon. Cheers, Matthew. Matthew Eyler Thanks again for your time and hope we cross paths again soon. Absolutely, thank you.
If you enjoyed the show, please connect with Jamie on LinkedIn or Instagram. You'll find links in the podcast description. Parenting in the Digital Age is sponsored by Skill Samurai Coding and STEM Academy for Kids. Skill Samurai offers afterschool coding classes and holiday programs to help kids thrive academically and socially while preparing them for the careers of the future. Visit www.skillsamurai.com.au. This episode is sponsored by Skill Samurai - Coding & STEM Academywww.skillsamurai.com.au
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