What’s your take on the martial arts? As a teenager and honestly, up until about a month ago, I balked at families involved with karate, judo, jui jitsu, etc.
“It’s not a real sport!” I would say, as I trotted off to basketball practice or drove a little one to soccer. Sure “The Karate Kid” is one of my all-time favorite movies (the original, of course, starring the once very hot Ralph Macchio), but that was as far as I was willing to venture into anything that even remotely resembled a dojo. They’re wearing pajamas for Jean-Claude Van Damme’s sake!
Enter nephew, age eight, and his little sister, age five. My husband and I received an email from their parents describing a hilarious session between said children, some bamboo boards and a Korean tae kwon do master. They invited us to come see one of the practices, so Doo and I grabbed our son Andrew and headed over to Master Yoo’s.
The humidity was palpable, as there were about one billion kids jam packed on a center mat, screaming and punching to the commands of not one, but four adult instructors, all with multiple black-belts. After exhausting lines like “Swipe the knee, Johnny!” and “Wax on, wax off,” Doo and I eventually began paying attention. And we were impressed.
Children of all ages and sizes were listening intently, saying “Yes, sir” at every turn, bowing to each other and to their teachers, and following instructions to the letter. When they made mistakes, they were gently corrected. When they succeeded, they were high-fived. And every so often a master would single out a Bruce Lee wannabe and have him perform amazing feats, or at least make it appear so. We could actually see the confidence levels rise each time they kicked the paddles to the cheers of their classmates. Steven Segal would have wept.
I glanced over at our son, our one child who still seems to be looking for his niche, and knew we were toast. And so, after a two-week free trial to make sure he would actually enjoy it, and some hard-core selling on the part of Master Yoo’s persistent staff (I heard they even signed up Chuck Norris), we officially became a tae kwon do family. We have a one-year contract to prove it.
Turns out I was wrong about this martial arts thing. Not only is it a sport, but it’s one of the best I’ve seen at promoting the importance of focus, self-control, determination and respect. So I’m happily replying “Yes, sensei!” to tae kwon do and hoping we do in fact have a Jet Li in the making, PJ’s and all. Peace out.