By Rochelle E. Brenner
Sometimes art imitates life. And sometimes life imitates hashtags.
The hashtag “#actionliferocks” is commonly used by Action Karate instructors to reflect the martial arts lifestyle. The purpose of the hashtag is to post images on social media that illustrate that teaching martial arts is a real profession – not just a hobby. Instructors used the hashtag frequently not to brag, but to bring light to the comfortable, meaningful lifestyle that’s possible through martial arts. The hashtag is used for anything from the freedom to take a midday run to the joy of seeing your son lead in class to a trip overseas with paid time off to a concert while the team has everything handled. Action Life Rocks because Action Karate is a real career – it is even now available as a franchise. Full-time instructors get retirement and health insurance and professional certifications and ongoing training and salaries that don’t require second jobs.
This is a big deal in martial arts because historically, families have been less than enthusiastic to see their relatives go into this profession. You might as well have said, “I’m going to play kickball for a living.” They saw it as a hobby – or at best a job, but not a career. As the industry grew, Action Karate embraced the career concept and became one of the few martial arts organizations to keep pushing it forward. We included:
intensive and frequent updates to the curriculum
flexibility in teaching the most relevant material as opposed to what was done historically
a focus on ongoing training
opportunities to expand
health insurance and retirement
a clear path for career growth starting with teenagers
competitive salary with bonus tiers
One of my favorite stories is about a former college professor who now teaches martial arts full-time for a higher salary. His family still asks, “Are you still doing that karate thing? When are you going to get a real job?’
That mentality stings and it’s a stigma that we fight against.
Martial arts is now as respected in many places as any other teacher. And rightfully so - martial arts offers benefits that professional therapists and educators value, admire and copy.
So the hashtag tries to represent that Action Life Rocks.
But now it’s going to mean something else. I went to St. George, Utah – of course I went because actionliferocks – and got to visit aspiration trail (aspirationrocks.com). The trail has several miles of painted rocks placed there and it’s beautiful and mesmerizing and it made me smile. I want the same thing here.
So over the past few weeks, we have started painting rocks and once we have a couple hundred, we are going to plant them here in Philadelphia on a public spot so that everyone can enjoy them and add to them. The cost to participate is low – all you need is a free rock you find anywhere and some paint. The skill level needed to participate is low – paint whatever artistic vision you have.
There’s no age requirement. We have toddlers, kids, parents and grandparents all painting rocks together either as a theme or as individual efforts. There’s no deadline. Any time you paint a rock and want to drop it off, go right ahead. It’s not something we are trying to own or control, but we are trying to encourage people to participate. You can visit your rock and look for new ones every month. Your school class or camp or family can do it. It can be any type of rock. Offensive sayings will be removed, or at least flipped upside down.
In this way, we are hoping that whether people have any association with Action Karate they can all enjoy being part of the rock garden initiative called “Action Life Rocks” and share that You Rock, too. Marketing/promotional rocks will be removed unless they are particularly clever.