Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vertically Challenged Martial Artists

There’s a young lady in my karate class who is quite self-conscious about enthusiastically participating. General Mayhem told me that she is a green belt. If so, she’s studied karate for a year-and-a-half. In that time she hasn’t gotten past her embarrassment of screaming “Kee-yah!” while striking or kicking, or yelling “YOU ARE NOT MY FATHER!” during an escape drill. Young Champions places a lot of emphasis on teaching young children how recognize and protect themselves from Stranger Danger. If she thinks it’s hard to scream “Help, stranger danger!” as loudly as possible at age 13, she ought to try it at 45.

After a few weeks in class, I have developed a pretty good report with my fellow white belts. Once the four-year-old set got past looking up at their classmate from his knees, they realized they have nothing to fear. I do a fairly good job of keeping my row of students quiet and listening, while allowing time to discuss important matters, such as how many toes Collin has on each foot. Collin told me last night that the big toe on his right foot was bothering him.

“It’s red,” he explained. Then he pointed to each toe on that foot and said, “And this one’s red…and this one’s red…and this one’s red, too.”

“Wow!” I earnestly replied. “How many toes do you have?!”

He counted. “Five!”

“Five? That’s a lot of toes! Do you have the same amount of toes on your other foot?”

Collin immediately started counting the toes on his left foot. It was then that I realized three other students who had been listening to our exchange began counting all of their toes. You could read their thoughts as they counted. “Do I have five toes one each foot, too?”

Collin and Connor were the two white belts I made friends with last night. Collin is a towhead and Connor has dark brown hair. Both boys are four years old, and both of them have a huge crush on Captain Chaos. Apparently, they like older women. They jockeyed to sit next to her. Collin was prone to cry in frustration if he lost his place in line behind her. Poor kids. The Boss and I already know that the poor fool who dates our daughter is going to have a tiger by the tail, with absolutely no idea what to do next. As for my little cougar, she was more interested in locating her mother and waving “hello,” since the Boss and the boys arrived early to attend a make-up class after missing their regular class last week.

At each class, a group of parent helpers assist our sensei by holding blocking bags for students to punch and kick. I was a parent helper for years. When a four-year-old kicks a bag, you can barely feel it. You should see the look of terror on a parent helper’s face when a 6’ 2” and 232 pound man (I’ve lost ten pounds since I started my diet) runs up to them, stops, and prepares to kick the bag they’re holding. The women all giggle when I look them in the eyes and yell, “Help! You’re not my mom!” I’m fairly certain that I am older than all of them.

I’d like to speak with the young, embarrassed green belt and tell her, “You have nothing about which to be embarrassed. You are learning a skill that will serve you well in life. There is a tremendous amount of power added to a strike when you yell as you land a punch. And if you are too embarrassed to put your all into a strike or kick in the safety of our dojo, will you be able to it when someone is grabbing you on the street corner?” I hope she continues to study. I hope to see her self-confidence develop.

If I can do it, anyone can.


Papa Bear said...

LOL! Another win for Arby and Captain Chaos!

Linda said...

How fun for you and the four year old children! (Don't they have an adult beginner class?!) BTW, I would NOT want to hold the bag for you. I'm picturing the Charlie/Lucy scenario. :)

S.K. said...

Did it occur to you that her extreme shyness could very likely be a sign of abuse? Not that there's much anyone can do about it. It's just that I can totally relate to the feeling of being willing to suffer almost anything in order to avoid drawing attention. Go easy on her.