By Tracy M
Conventional wisdom would dictate, putting a 4 (almost 5) year old boy full of boundless energy and a will of iron, in a class to learn how to fight would be a bad idea. You would think. When DH suggested we put our rambunctious oldest boy in a martial arts class, I cringed, imaging his poor younger brother, who is already tormented and pestered with Jeff’s ninja stylings. My first answers was a dead-on “NO WAY”. It just goes to show what I know about martial arts…
We signed him up for a mini-session of karate at a local martial arts studio, with the caveat that this would only continue if he could be responsible. I was swayed by it being only $29, and you got a free white karate outfit (called a gi) with those three classes. His first class was solo, just him and the instructor (Mr. Tong, Sir!), and he tried to hide behind my back. The teacher, obviously having dealt with this before, was stellar in getting him out, and commanding his attention. After about 20 minutes, Jeff was listening and following directions with a rapt attention I had never seen. At the end of class, Mr. Tong (Sir!) sat him down and told him what was expected if he wished to earn his first belt. He gave Jeffrey a checklist of all the things he had to do during the week, and told him his parents had to sign it when it was complete.
The list had things like cleaning up after himself, personal hygiene, helping family, promptness and showing respect- nothing we don’t try for anyway, but as we looked it over, Jeff piped up “Don’t remind me of anything, mom. I need self-discipline and to remember myself.” (!)
So all week he had been just awesome. He has been helping his brother, been kind and respectful (most of the time), been very helpful to me, cleaned up after himself, used manners, and he has practiced. He has been practicing his stances, his defensive maneuvers, and his kicks. But not on his brother.
Tonite, DH took him to his next lesson, list in hand, checked off and signed. I wasn’t there to see it, but he earned his first belt, a white one, buy listening, learning, being respectful and practicing. As part of his test, he broke a board with a kick. Broke a board. Real wood! (Probably better I wasn’t there) The board is sitting on the kitchen counter, with his name and the date on it. We are going to frame it. I think my baby may have found his groove.
So if you have a rambunctious, or even wild, little boy (or girl)- you might want to think about martial arts- I had no idea how much self-discipline, respect, structure and strength these little kids are taught. I guess instead of soccer, I’m a karate mama. It’s what my kid needs, and I’m ok with that, Grasshopper.