Saturday, December 23, 2017

Mom and Dad I want to quit, Can you quit with me?

The title of this article may sound confusing; however, when you read on, you will see the relevance to a parent’s life and common daily occurrences. I have been running a martial art school for almost 30 years. Before running this particular school I ran another school when I was a teen-ager. So I have been around parents and children for almost 4 decades. 

Image result for picture of a quitterWe have a saying amongst martial art school owners – “behind every demotivated student, there is a demotivated parent.” Before you get angry, stop reading or take that saying the wrong way, allow me to explain. I realize most parents are the most motivated individuals on the planet. I also realize that parents dedicate their lives to the pursuit of happiness, the success of their children and they will stop at nothing to help their children achieve these goals. 

However, the problem in parenting at times is lack of tools or strategies and methodology of parenting skills. After all, there are not many courses, out there that teaches a fool proof system on parenting. No matter whether your child is in the martial arts, plays a sport, instrument or it has to do with school, we all run into the same problems. Children get bored, frustrated and want to quit. My school has been open so long, that I get to see children grow up to be adults and even have children of their own and they rarely say, they were happy they quit. Most of the time, I hear stories of how the adult has been regretful their entire lives because they didn’t stick with their martial art training and should have continued. In fact many parents enroll their children because they wished they hadn’t quit when they were younger. They blame their parents saying things like “they were the parents, I was the child, I didn’t know any better,” or they say things like, “They should have made me stay, and my life would have turned out much different than it did.” 

In a parent’s defense, being a parent myself, we tend to choose our battles. We don’t want to go through life miserable continually bargaining, fighting and arguing to get our children to do what is the correct thing for them. Remember the last time you checked out at the super market and your child started bargaining for gum or candy. You said “No,” but eventually gave in. However, if we don’t parent (teach and discipline), then what is the sense to parenting at all. It is easy to be a parent, but the art of actual parenting is difficult. 

So our article title “Mom and Dad I want to quit, can you quit with me,” is so true, because when a child is bored or demotivated and they want to stop. The parent may stand strong and fight the child or even force them to go to their martial art classes or other activities. But eventually the child will win out. With enough pressure from the child, enough tantrums, enough struggles, a parent loses their motivation. So in essence the child pressures the parent into quitting as well. We may not see it that way, but the reality is both the child and parent quit. We realize as parents that a child has so many opportunities in the 21st century, they quit martial arts, they take up gymnastics, and they quit gymnastics they take up swimming and soccer. You get my point, they are in a perpetual cycle of quitting. Which will eventually become a character trait whether you like it or not. Children rarely stick with many activities long enough for them to benefit them in the real world. To become amazing. They quit long before, they master, or semi master that particular skill. 

The martial arts due to its diverse nature, it can help a student young and old in a myriad of ways. However, some are not evident until they experience that particular lesson or struggle. So for example as they get older and start college, they may find the discipline that they have learned long ago in their martial art classes can be applied to their schooling. Or even their job, or interview process and most of all it is never too late to learn self-defense. So why is it that people quit? It is quite simple; complacency of the activity, or routine and boredom breeds contempt or lack of interest. Because of the way the activity is perceived it is looked at as a stimulant. In other words, they get used to it and it is in their mind the same old, same old is going on... Repetition breeds contempt in many cases, however it is the most important part of mastery.

It is our goal as martial art teachers to always keep things fresh but what makes a martial art teachers job so difficult is they deal with children for many years. At least in the public school system a teacher and the student spend a year together then they move on. Even in our school system this type of learning is failing our children. They become great at cramming for a test, spending way to little time mastering the material and moving on. They do not work toward mastery, they work on mediocrity. There is very little time or enough time to stay on a topic to become proficient at it. In fact I coined the phrase “mastery not mediocrity.” 

In a martial art school with years of repetition a child turns to an adult and continually becomes proficient at “The Self.” They are always improving who they are as human beings and growing.

Check out this testimonial I just received. 

“Hello Shihan I've been thinking about this for a while and I've been having this idea bounce around my head for a years. I still remember the times when I was younger and I trained with you all the way up to brown belt as a child. I was very nervous knowing that I would be eventually taking my black belt test and I decided to quit. I have to say, I regret this still to this day. It's something that I still harp on at times and I would live to actually earn my black belt and practice for the rest of my life. I wonder if my life would have taken a different path if I stuck with you and the martial arts. I don't know if you know for the last 5 year I moved and started a new life in a new state and I seen that you just opened a new dojo which is literally 10 minutes from me in Delray. My mom has been an inspiration to me that she kick boxes and started off with you as well. I feel like I need an outlet and would like to join your dojo again. And start over learning Ninjutsu, possibly to complete my goal and journey toward being a better person. 

In essence this person regretted quitting for many years and this is only one out of hundreds of students that have told me this. 

You may be asking – what can you do to win this battle as a parent? 

Here are some suggestions: 

1) Always be the parent. Never allow your child to decide things on their own or coerce you through resistance to change your mind. All Character trait are developed within the first 10 years of a child’s life. This is a very crucial time. So within this time you need to set good examples and make choices for your child. As difficult as it is, or as hard as it may feel, you must persevere. This is the trait we are also teaching your child. So if you allow them to quit, or you say I choose my battles wisely you in essence are sealing their fate to be that way for ever. It takes a ton of really dedicated hard work to change your personality or character traits.

2) Teach the “Stick-to-itiveness” Attitude. Many times parents will say, we are not quitting we are going to finish out our year. Or the Smith Family are not quitters we are just taking a break. I know that when they say this, they just don’t want to admit to themselves that they are quitting. Stopping after a year is quitting. If you went to college and stopped after a semester or a year and didn’t go back, that would be considered quitting. However, we don’t like to label ourselves or children as quitters, but if they start and don’t complete the skill to at least black belt then they quit. 

3) Understand that your children will not hate you, if you force them to do what is right for them. They may not like you for a small period of time, but they will love you in the end. I have never had a child who received their black belt say “my parents made me go and I hate them because of it.” They always thank them, hug them and say they love them because of it. So do not stop, push through the hard times. It is you as the parent that has to be strong for the both of you. Your martial art teachers will be there with you through thick and thin. Changing hats, personalities and language as your child grows through the ranks, always deepening or attempting to their relationship with your child or you as an adult. 

In closing, if you had a crystal ball, you would see that keeping your kids in any activity for a long time is beneficial. Teaching them the “I am not going to quit attitude”, will change their lives forever. The martial arts are life changing in every way but you have to stick with it long enough to see that. Also, remember the old saying, “Quitters, never win and Winners never Quit!? Don’t allow you children to stop, because the benefits are endless. Take this from a dad and a martial art instructor with over 50 years of experience.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Ninja Parenting tips 101

Ninja Parenting tips 101 - By Allie Alberigo - Shihan 

When why daughter was a young child - I used every technique and trick I knew to get compliance and results. Have you ever had a problem with getting your child to do what you want? Having asked numerous times, reasoned and even bribed with no results? Sometimes it seems you are at your wits end and ready to give up. But all is not lost, sometimes is it not a matter of having a difficult or bad child. It is the simple lack of knowledge and tools/weapons a parent has in their arsenal to get the desired results. Try these little tricks to lower your stress level and get better results when you need them. 

Some answers to your issues come straight from the martial art floor of a Ninja Master. I have been teaching martial arts for over 35 years. Running a school in my town for 27 years and also, performing and training in the martial arts for 50 years this year (2017 when this was written). If that isn’t enough, I am also the proud parent of a college girl, who is excelling in her first year at Oneonta state, in Oneonta NY. 

Try some ageless tips. 

1) Instead of using reasoning, turn all obstacles or lack of motivation into a contest. Do not personally compete, because that could open up an entirely new can of worms for you. Utilizing time as your assistant and if necessary the bad buy. I remember when my daughter was young, I would ask for her to get into her Pajama’s and she would drag her feet. She obviously didn’t want to go to bed and the connection to the P.J.’s made her feel like that was in the immediate future. I would say, “hey, I will time you and you see how quick you can put on your P.J’s. Yesterday you did it in 2 minutes. Can you beat that. Are you ready? Set. Go…………….” She would be running to her bedroom. It was amazing at how quick she loved to get her P.J’s on at that point. There were no hassles or stress. It was simply a race against the clock and fun for her. We used this with many activities – and the results were similar. Heck I use this in my school all the time. You can use your creative imagination. 

2) Setting a clear understanding of actions and consequences. Most of the time in my martial art school I witness parents threatening punishment if their child doesn’t perform a specific task. If the child doesn’t comply many parents simple brush over it and they do not follow up. This leads the child to believe they are empty promises or threats and they have no consequences for their action. 

The goal of course is to show the child you mean what you say. You must follow up and follow through. Also, establish a clear understanding of what the punishment is and also why they are receiving it. I would often ask my daughter after she didn’t do something properly “if that is the way she is expected to act?” Sometimes I would say “would a Ninja act like that?” She would reply with a logical answer and say “no.” Then I would reply with okay then don’t act like that and I will not permit it or (then I would lay out the punishment). “Do we understand each other?” Very rarely did I ever have to punish her. She clearly understood right from wrong and that I meant business. 

3) Do not allow yourself to lose your cool. Speak in a calm voice no matter how frustrated you are. If you need time to step away and gather your thoughts, do so. Remember there is only one letter that separates Danger and Anger. If you can sort through your feelings in a calm tone expressing to your child how you feel they will be more empathetic and react properly. Think and speak to your child so you can think of your best line of action. Remember - Calm heart, calm mind. 

4) Set up clear rules that are age appropriate. Often within my school kids come to class unprepared. There are two different sets of parenting skills which I see on a daily basis. Those that will be hard noses and make their kids responsible for their action. They will allow their child to show up unprepared because they have asked and gotten no results so they have them deal with me. I am never happy if they are unprepared. So the parents know that the consequences will be dealt with at my school. However, what this does is make me out to be the bad guy and the parents the good guy. It doesn’t help me connect with the child and doesn’t create good habits at home and a respectful child. I would rather they didn’t use me as a tool to do this, but speak to me secretly and allow me to talk to the child without them even knowing. We use “Mat Chats” to accomplish this. This is where we talk to the entire class in hypotheticals and they hear it deeply because they know they just did that particular thing. However, they are not being reprimanded publically or by me as their teacher. 

The other set of parents blames themselves for the lack of preparedness. This to me is the same offense, just a different person to blame. However they are removing the level of responsibility from the child and putting it on themselves with no consequences what so ever. They also create a non-compliant child. This teaches the child it is okay not to come to class prepared. That it is no big deal and the wishes of the instructor rules of the school or public school are not a high priority. 

My suggestion is of an entirely different nature. I recommend setting up and creating good habits through continuous repetition. Always teaching the child a set way of doing things, leaving less room for error. In other words, continually setting time to prepare their uniform or do their homework. Make sure it is done the same time every day and in the same way. Make it a part of the child’s routine. This way, they do it without thinking and do not resist it. Nothing is worse than failing continuously and not doing anything to change the negative behavior. I teach my students to do personal inventory. Meaning checking and double checking what is needed for school, or for other sports or for their martial arts training. This lesson will help them in everything they do going forward in their life. It is not micromanaging; it is setting your child up for success 

Shihan Allie Alberigo is a parent, martial art instructor, Vegan and Animal Activist as well as public speaker, actor and the author of 5 books. If you have any questions or would like to see an article written on a particular parenting issue you are having, simply comment below or email us at

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Ninja Parenting - Top 6 parenting ideas for kids ages 1 - 15!

Ninja Parenting
Top 6 parenting ideas for kids ages 1 - 15!

I am a father of an 18 year old daughter who is in college.  I consider myself pretty up to date in regards to parenting, the mindset of the 21st century parent and also as an educator.  Having run a martial art school for 27 years, I have taught 10’s of thousands of children, teens and adults.  I have taken parenting courses, read countless books and audio series and studied the mindset of children and parenting from many different people and philosophies for almost 3 decades. 

My view of parenting is this:
Years ago, you may have heard things being spoken from parents like, "No! Means No!, or Stop that or you are going to pay later!, Don't you talk to me that way, it is disrespectful and you are going to regret it!” In my martial art school I would hear things like “bow and be respectful and make eye contact when speaking to your instructor or an adult."  These catch phrases were a little more common place in my schools, 20 years ago, than they are now, although in my school and many martial art schools around the country you still hear these phrases. 

I think many of the old catch phrases were cast aside due to modernized parenting skills.  Many of the new parents felt that by parenting you risked and had the fear of ruining our children by making mistakes. So we replaced terms like “Suck it up, or deal with it with phrases like your awesome, Give me a high five, okay - we will get you a sticker or prize when we leave, here is two dollars for the gift you pestered me for, or hey, the big threat, I am going to take away your iPad if you don't listen.”    

Pointing out there has been an incredible shift in parenting styles since I was a kid. Some of the new age or younger parents still practice what could be called old school mentality. When growing up their parents taught them this mindset and they are still passing it on to their children.  However, many are not.  I was raised by a single mom, who worked three jobs and barely had time to be home to parent me.  My dad wasn’t really a disciplinarian and didn’t do much parenting.  My mom did an amazing job, with the cards she was dealt.  I had to do a ton of growing up on my own.  This left room for some serious mistakes and a lot of sheer luck, that I didn't kill myself or end up in prison.  Well, maybe it wasn't that extreme but the old saying is "the village helps raises your children is 100% true."  I learned a ton from experiences and living life, some good some bad. 

Fast forward ahead, I did the opposite when raising my daughter.  I watched over her, held her hand through every phase of life.  I admit I sheltered her.  I reviewed every show she watched, reviewed the kids she played with and scrutinized and watched over her school, dance and music teachers like a hawk.  Heck, to this day, she is still a little green in regards to street smarts. I did this all out of love and the desire for my child to be exceptional.  You may be asking, well did it work?  The answer is Yes and No!  She is a great kid, who stayed away from trouble her entire life and is a straight “A” student.  She is confident, caring and compassionate and driven.  So in those areas, she is perfect in every way. I am not just saying that because she is my daughter (well maybe a little, lol).  However, when she went away to college I was nervous if she can do it on her own. 

She just is completing her first semester away and it seems that she is flourishing.  She is doing amazing well academically and living on her own without a hitch. She has proven to be more street smart then I thought she would be and really doing amazingly well.  So the question is, did I do a good job. I think that I did, could I have done somethings differently? Maybe!  Although based on the results my parenting skills worked.  So I want to share some skills I used while raising my daughter. 

Here are 6 tips Ninja tips for parenting.  From a Ninja teachers perspective!  

1)       Be a parent, not a friend, you can create a bond that is even deeper then you imagined being the parent.  Friends come and go, but a parent is there forever. Don’t worry, if you child will love you if you make them do something they do not like. I have found it to be the exact opposite.  Parenting and holding your child to a standard will make them love you even more.  They might not love you at that moment, but they love you.   
2)       We need to be the guiding force in a child’s life.  Do not adapt the saying, I will choose my battles wisely. Every time you allow a child to get what they want, out of choosing your battles wisely.  You allow them to establish the higher ground for negotiation and believe they are in charge.  Remember, being a parent is easy, parenting is difficult. Sometimes you may not be your child’s favorite person. However, you will always be the love of their life. 
3)       Lead by example – the old saying “Do as I say not as I do, doesn’t work.”  Statistics will show a that a child is 50% more likely to do what they see their parents do.  This goes for drinking, drugs, diet, language, and personal preference.  So you are setting the tone for your child’s life by what they see you do.   Be the example, lead by example.
4)       Don’t give into peer pressure by trying to keep up with the people around you.  Remember,  just because the other kids are playing a sport, doesn’t mean you have to as well.  Do your best to fit your child with activities that will benefit them.  I always recommend martial arts because the lessons are endless.  Many team sports are great too, but they essence is on the game, the team and winning the game.  In martial arts, you work on you and there are many areas that you can excel in.   We have a saying “There are no bench warmers in the martial arts.” 
5)       Teach your child to be independent, confident and live a life of love and compassion.  Again, the martial arts are great for this.  Many times though, parents are confused about what develops confidence and self-esteem.  This is not an inherent character trait. It is something learned and developed through trial and error, blood sweat and tears.  With parenting, it is difficult because we never want to see our kids unhappy.  So we fear when pushing our children to do what they may not like.  We may ruin them.   I always told my daughter that she had to spar (fight) in tournaments. Even though she said, she didn’t want to. I would say “to bad, you are doing it anyway.” Maybe not in those exact words, but I knew she wasn’t always happy and at times cried, but now that she is in college, she is able to deal with stressful situations and in her own words praised her martial art training for her many successes. She said that in her own words. 

6)       Focus on the important things.  Filling your child’s life with a “To do list,” will not make them happy productive children.  I am believer that the more is better mindset or the we want our child to experience many things is not the right way.  This way allows them to go through life without any real sense of success. If they dabble in many different activities, jumping from one to the other, they may have a full resume with tons of experiences, but they will never have a chance to shine and excel and be proud of being amazing at something.  Even though they may not love a particular activity but becoming proficient at it, gives them lessons that can be taken from that activity and it will spill over into all they do.  

Allie Alberigo is a father, martial art instructor, writer, blogger, vegan activist and business coach and owner. If you have any questions or comments you can do it write here on the blog or email him at