One of our Junior Students by the name of Soham Basu decided to live a day mute and to make that part of his next belt test. At Johnson's TaeKwonDo & Leadership Academy, we call this empathy training. Random House defines empathy as "the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another. "
To teach empathy involves getting the student to identify with another person...to understand what it would be like to walk in their shoes. This is what Soham set out to do as part of his martial arts training-an exercise that gave Soham a new outlook on those with disabilities.
Soham Basu took 3 attempts to achieve his goal of refraining from speech for one whole day. Soham said in his essay, "My first attempt failed in late morning and then the second attempt lasted a little longer till mid-afternoon. First time I failed because I was asked a question and I replied in by speaking. Next attempt failed because I called out my sister to help my solving a 300 pieces puzzle."
Finally, due to Soham's persistence, he succeeded on the 3rd day. Soham learned some valuable lessons through this process. "I can imagine how tough a mute kid’s life is – growing up and learning at school. They need special care and teaching tools. They have to write down every question they have for their teachers. For a kid, like me who always has lots to questions, I would have a tough time."
Great Job, Soham Basu, for showing us how to make our martial arts training embody the body, mind, and spirit!