Tae Kwon-Do: Family Kicks
by local writer and Charlottesville mom Beverly Rakes
Karate Kid or Ninja Warrior?
I dont think so, I said. He looked at me with the puppy eyes that all kids are born knowing how to make. I was seven months pregnant, cranky, and willing to say whatever was necessary to avoid a stress event. Well, maybe we can just check it out, I said aloud. To myself I was still saying, I dont think so!
I knew many people believed martial arts to be a positive influence (I had seen the Karate Kid after all.) I knew it was supposed to be good for self-discipline and self-confidence, but Jack already had plenty of both. Why did he need to take a martial art? The word martial bothered me. It suggested aggression and fighting, two things I was trying hard to discourage. I thought if I let enough time pass, hed forget he ever asked about Tae Kwon-Do.
He didnt forget. In fact, a month later he was still begging to take Tae Kwon-Do. My husband and I talked it over and decided it couldnt hurt just to check into it. I called a few places in the phone book, but then a friend recommended the International Black Belt Center of Virginia (IBBCV). Her son had been taking Tae Kwon-Do there for nearly two years. Visit the school, she told me, The Hamricks are very nice. I called the school and arranged for Jack to take a trial lesson.
I watched the entire class. Jack caught on easily, and seemed to be having fun, looking over to where I sat every few minutes as if to say, See Mom, this is not bad. Then as the class was about to end, the instructor called all of the students into a circle. The children answered, Yes, Kyosah-nim (our instructor in Korean). Whats the first tenet of tae kwon-do? he asked. A few hands shot up into the air. Jack glanced in my direction, hoping I think, for some telepathic answer from me. Well? the instructor demanded. Courtesy!! the kids shouted. And what does courtesy mean? he continued. Be polite the kids answered in unison. And how do you show courtesy? he prompted once more. Say thank you to mom! the kids yelled.
I decided a few lessons wouldnt hurt.
The Five Tenets Of Tae Kwon-Do
Tae Kwon-Do Catches On
Kyosah-nim James and Virginia often tell their students to go home and practice what they have learned. One night after class I decided I would go over the techniques I had been shown. I went into the living room, shoved the couch out of the way and tried to remember the lessons I had learned. The first few moves came easily, then I couldnt remember any more. Was there a step here or was that just a punch? Was I supposed to turn to the left or to the right? I tried to start again. The more I tried, the more confused I was. I heard a few giggles behind me. I turned around to find Jack and Kelsey leaning against the wall with looks of complete amusement on their faces.
What are you doing? Kelsey asked. I tried to think of a snappy response. Vacuuming under the couch sounded plausible maybe they wouldnt notice that there was no vacuum cleaner in the room. They giggled again. Well, dont just stand there, I finally said to them. Help me. For the next hour, they became the teachers and I became the student.
The learning continues.
One of the things I have always liked about the IBBCV is that it does not emphasize competition. Of course, kids have a mind of their own. I was helping out in my youngest daughters word study class one morning when I overheard her talking about Tae Kwon-Do with one of her little friends.
I take Tae Kwon-Do now, Lauren said.
You know guys, Tae Kwon-Do is not about competition. Its about self-improvement. Isnt it great, I said to them, That so many people take Tae Kwon-Do. Its like we all belong to one big happy family. They looked at each other but didnt say anything else.
Then as I walked away I heard my daughter whisper, My mom ate a bug once by mistake. Cool! her friend said. What kind of bug? (Theres no competing with that!)
The White Belt That Never Quit
As parents, we make decisions every day that affect and shape our children. Often we cant be sure if these decisions are right or not. I watch Lauren join the circle that marks the end of her latest class. The instructor reminds the children to stand at attention to show respect for the instructor and the school. As soon as the wiggling stops, he looks around the circle. What is he first tenet of Tae Kwon-Do? he asks. My youngest daughter grins as she shouts, Courtesy! with the rest of the children. And how do you show courtesy? he asks. Be polite, they all answer at once. And who do you show courtesy to? My daughter looks my way, still grinning. I hear her voice above the rest. Mom, she shouts.
Sometimes we make exactly the right decision.
Beverly Rakes is a local mom, freelance writer, and tae-kwon-do enthusiast.