I promise to be a good person
with knowledge in my mind
honest in my heart
strength in my body
to make good friends
and to become a super awesome black belt, SIR.
No less than twice a week I watch as my son and a small group of other 4 to 6 year olds recite this oath. This spring for week my son had been asking if he could go to ninja school. We were heavy into a Power Rangers stage with him daily battling imaginary Putties and calling for his Mega Zord, so naturally this was the next step, ninja school. I know some parents may think “I don’t want to teach my child to fight!”, which as a total pacifist myself I completely understand, but making the decision to enroll in Taekwondo was a no brain-er for me.
Taekwondo is about so much more than just the physical. Yes you will find the gym filled with little people learning how to hit and kick with determination, but you will also see those same little people learning about respect, self-esteem, and how they play a key role in their safety.
My son is on the smaller size for his age, something I am totally OK with, but why not empower him to know that he has the skills and abilities to protect himself should the situation arise. Through the practice of each technique my son is strengthening his body in a way that teaches control and discipline. More important than the ability to physically protect himself each class his instructor focuses on being aware of your surroundings, identifying strangers, and teaching students how to be assertive and loud.
Coordination and Physical Control
Have you ever seen those big green men that are full of air outside of car dealerships? That is my son. His arms and legs never seem to stop moving, my husband says at least once a day, “Please control your extremities.” During class my son can hit, kick, and block with such grace and precision that I wonder if it is the same kid. Each week I watch as my son’s confidence in his technique and ability grows. Through Taekwondo he is learning to have confidence in his body and his abilities. I love watching his little face light up with pride and excitement when the instructor tells him he has done a technique well or when he has hit a new level.
The instructor will often have them hold completely still I remember the first day of class hearing him say we are going to hold perfectly still for 30 seconds and I about fell out of my chair laughing. No way was my son going to be able to do that.He lasted a whopping 9 seconds. He has learned that when they practice holding still he needs to visually focus on something and pay attention to his breathing and is now able to stand completely still for much longer periods of time. While holding still seems like no big deal it is instilling in him the ability to reset his body, focus on breathing and find his center. Honestly I wish this was something I had been taught as a kid.
By far this has been the aspect of Taekwondo that I am thankful for. Watching my son walk into the gym stand completely at attention bow and say, “Hello Sir. Hello Ma’am.” fills me with such pride. The instructor commands respect, but more importantly gives respect to each of these little people in return. Adults expect for children to respect them, they have earned it right, but how just by living life? Taekwondo teaches that respect must be mutually received. I love seeing this respectful behavior displayed in our home as well. When I ask my son to do something now he will often respond with, “Yes Ma’am.”, and I am sure to always respond with a “Thank you, Sir.” I don’t know that there is a better life lesson that can be taught than to respect each other.
Even if my son doesn’t become a super awesome black belt, I know that Taekwondo is teaching him to be a good person, is putting valuable knowledge in his mind, granting him an honest heart, strengthening his body, and surrounding him with good friends. What more could a mom ask for?