Gratitude in Martial Arts

One thing children sometimes lack is gratitude. It’s not like it used to be. Nowadays, many children have a sense of entitlement and feel that they are owed things.  Many children expect to get everything and have everything handed to them. They are not disciplined appropriately, usually get everything they want, and don’t appreciate life’s gifts.  They are often disrespectful, inconsiderate, and can’t handle when things don’t go their way. Obviously not all children are this way, but a good percentage these days are.


I am proud to say I was brought up right. I never had anything handed to me and I always worked for everything. I was disciplined, punished, and led in the right direction.  I am so thankful for that because I wouldn’t be as independent, focused, driven, motivated, and appreciative if everything had been handed to me.  I wouldn’t have the work ethic I do and I would look at life from a complete different lens. Martial arts training also helped to mold me into the person I am today.


Gratitude is a must in martial arts. I often find that children tend to get comfortable in the normal routine of life and tend to just start going through the motions and forget about the privilege of being a true martial artist. They forget about what their instructors have done for them and what they continue to do for them. Many parents see the changes and are thankful, but often times the children are oblivious.


I often get parents and grandparents e-mailing me, calling me, or stopping me after class to tell me how much they appreciate what I am doing for them and their children. Sometimes it’s after the child has been studying under me for one month, eight months, one year, or even one week.  One child who recently started taking my classes in the Little Dragon (ages 4-6) program displayed immediate positive results in school after taking only two classes.  His mom was amazed at how much better he has been doing in school. He’s much more polite, he listens to his teacher better, doesn’t run in the hallway, doesn’t disturb class, and much more focused. His daily reports have been much better.


It makes me feel awesome when parents show their gratitude and tell me how awesome I do with their children.  It makes me feel even better when children come up to me and thank me for what I do.  I will tell you, that doesn’t happen often. I have had a few times where children thanked me and told me stories on how what I taught them helped them in certain ways, but that is a small percentage since I’ve been teaching for almost 15 years now.


If you are a martial artist, and this includes adults, never lose gratitude. It’s an honor and a privilege to be a martial artist and your instructors are your mentors, counselors, teachers, role models, coaches, motivators, and much more. Without them you wouldn’t be who you are and where you are today. They have done so much for you and will continue to do so much for you.  Always have gratitude and always show it. Your martial arts instructors are some of the biggest influences in your life aside from your family, friends and school teachers.


About Michael Miller:

Michael Miller is an international martial arts, self-defense, personal protection, and anti-bullying expert who holds a 5th degree black belt in American Kenpo – a modern reality based street system of combat. He is the co-founder of the “Stomp the Bullying” program, where he takes an active approach to teaching children and parents all about bullying, how not to be a bully, how not to become a target, how to handle bullying situations, and more. The program is becoming world recognized with celebrity endorsements from actors Martin Kove (Sensei John Kreese in the Karate Kid Series) and Sean Kanan (Karate’s bad boy Mike Barnes in the Karate Kid III). Miller runs a full-time martial arts school in Bradford, Pa (Miller’s Kenpo Karate Dojo) and teaches American Kenpo, boxing, kickboxing, Joe Lewis Fighting Systems, Gracie Barra Jiu-Jitsu, and Modern Arnis. He worked for McKean County Children and Youth Services for three years certified by the state of Pennsylvania as a Direct Child Service Worker dealing with child development, child abuse and neglect. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pittsburgh in writing with a minor in sociology. He is also a writer with several magazine feature articles published and one book. He can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 814-368-3725.

Me with my primary instructor Mr. Kelley. I am so thankful for him beyond words. TCB.