Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the Modern Olympic Games, was born in Paris in 1863 and was personally involved in fencing, rowing, boxing and cycling. His visits to British public schools resulted in a lifelong interest in trying to get the heavily academic French schools to take up more sports-oriented curricula. As an educational theorist, de Coubertin was convinced of the importance of sport for the development of the individual. He believed that the qualities of initiative, teamwork and fair play should be encouraged in young people through participation in school sports and competitive games.*The modern Olympic games have become the poster-child for an elitist program for developing athletes:
- Identify young people with exceptional potential in Olympic and other high-profile sports
- Enroll them into national sports institutes for long periods
- Train them full-time, often at the expense of other aspects of their education
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In my martial arts experience I have enjoyed what may be termed "elite training" in the sense that it is of exceptional quality, and often demanding, but not restricted to a selected elite (thankfully!).
The overriding objective of the elite institutes is to develop athletes who can win in a narrow field of endeavor. By training in martial arts we can aspire to develop our potential fully and widely, and not just in a way which relies on the external benchmark of winning.
Remember, it is a win for you every time you overcome a limitation, learn a new skill, have an aha moment, or apply what you have learned in one area of your life somewhere else.
Learning a martial art can provide an avenue to train yourself to better meet the challenges of life.