As a full-time instructor in the Filipino martial arts through my organization, Bayani Warrior Group (www.bayaniwarrior.com), teaching the FIlipino martial arts has become way more than just a hobby or a entrepreneurial pursuit. Rather, it has become a way of life for me. A big part of anyone’s life are the relationships within it, particularly a relationship with your significant other. My last article entitled, “Protecting the Family” dealt with the importance of training with your family to deal with an emergency. However, in this article, I will be dealing with a topic that is a lot more touchy and one that a lot of my fellow martial artists (especially the male martial artists out there), have a hard time with, which is training your siginificant other.
I have been in an amazing relationship with a beautiful, intelligent, and driven woman for the last year. As a current boyfriend and a Filipino martial arts instructor, I have two major drives in my relationship with my girlfriend. One, I want to make sure she is loved, protected, and safe. Two, I want to show her the value of Filipino martial arts training as a means of keeping her protected and safe, particularly when I am not around. Most of my fellow male martial artists can probably relate to this, and oftentimes, many of us die-hard martial artists want to train that special lady in our life. However, a problem for many male martial artists is that they have a hard time training their significant other. They either don’t want to train, and even if they do decide to train, they end up questioning your authority and not taking the training under you seriously.
Now, allow me to emphasize one important rule to all the guys out there who want to train their ladies in the martial arts, a rule that Silak Dianne Atienza of Atienza Kali (www.atienzakali.com) taught me: If they do not want to train, DON’T force them to train. I cannot emphasize this rule enough. No one wants to be forced to do something they do not want to do. If you force your lady to train, not only will she resent you. She will also not pay attention or learn anything from the training, anyway. Therefore, it is imperative that you do not force them to train, no matter how passionate you are about martial arts, or how important you think it is for them to train.
(Forcing your lady to train can lead to resentment and arguing.)
Now, you are probably wondering, “How do I get my girlfriend to train?” Well, it is really their decision whether they should train or not. You cannot “get” your girlfriend to train any more than she can “get” you to love shopping for curtains. It’s just not going to happen.
We as husbands or boyfriends need to understand that despite our passion for the martial arts, our women will not always see eye to eye. At the very least, your special lady may find martial arts, weapons, or anything of the sort to be scary. However, it is also important to note that most women out there do feel that learning how to protect themselves is a valuable skill. In light of this, you need to be able to show her the importance of training, and how safe and effective training can be. Forcing them to train will feed their fears about training, and in turn, will result in them not wanting to train. Your job as the man is to ease those fears and make her feel safe through the training. The safer you make her feel, the more comfortable she will be, and the better your chances of having her train with you. Now, this is not to say she will train with you, but it does increase the odds of her wanting to train.
(While it may be cool to envision your lady training and fighting alongside you, you have to remember that they will only train if they truly have the desire to do it.)
Now, if she does decide to train, most male martial artists will realize that their girlfriend or wife will often take the training as a joke. After all, the guy who she yelled at that morning for not taking out the garbage or forgetting to do the dishes is now training her how to swing a blade or throw a kick. In light of this, many male martial artists find it frustrating to teach their ladies, and often resort to yelling at them or becoming strict with them. It is important to remember that your lady is not you student, so it is important to train your wife not as their martial arts teacher, but as their husband/boyfriend. It’s important to talk to them and teach them in the same way you communicate to them every day. By doing so, you will help them feel more comfortable because they feel a sense of familiarity, and as a result, they will begin to try to understand the training better out of respect and love towards you. Make sure to use positive reinforcement and tell them what they are doing well, while at the same time encouraging them to correct the things they may not be so good at. It’s also important to make them feel that they are training with you, not under you. In turn, they may eventually feel closer to you as you train, which allows them to feel safe while training.
(A picture of my girlfriend Kristine and I during a Bayani Warrior session, rocking the same shirts. Training can and should bring you closer as a couple, not farther apart.)
In my own relationship with my girlfriend, I have found that training has actually improved our relationship as a couple. She is not exactly a die-hard Filipino martial arts practitioner by any means. I don’t force her to train. Rather, I simply invite her to join in our training sessions, and when she feels like training, she jumps right in. I have found this has helped her get a better idea of what I do and what Bayani Warrior is about, and she has also befriended many of my students, which provides a great learning environment as well and allows her to feel comfortable. This is truly the biggest benefit of training your significant other: growing closer and bonding. I don’t expect her to ever be as passionate about the stick and blade as I am, but through inviting her to train, she has become more supportive of who I am and what I do.
In conclusion, training your significant other is something all martial artists desire to do. However, it is important to not force your special someone to train. Rather, invite them to train, and allow them to feel comfortable doing so. If you do it right, you may find your relationship growing stronger than ever.
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