Let’s talk about karate. Why do you ask? If you haven’t been following along from the beginning you may still be wondering what “My Happy” is all about. I decided to write this blog about happiness and how to work on it daily because whatever brings you happiness should be practiced daily. Which will lead to a healthier, more mindful, and more enjoyable life, especially when things get tough!
I’m writing about what I have found to be helpful towards this goal for myself or my family. I want to share what has worked and maybe inspire others to try something positive. Karate has been that for my son. Karate welcomes all ages and abilities.
Exercise, building a village, and helping others, are all areas incorporated into karate. (Please see: Happiness Page) I would like to talk about Kenpo Karate (only because this is the one I am familiar with). There are other forms such as Taekwondo, but I’m not sure how similar they are. At the age of four, my son needed physical therapy. He had been falling and having trouble running. He also needed to have some occupational therapy as well. Those areas are an entire post in itself, but not today. His OT, Anna, a wonderful person, suggested we have our son take karate. She informed us it assists children with coordination, balance, focus and more. I knew my son’s preschool friend was taking karate. I asked his mom where he was taking it. I enrolled him and luckily he was in his friend’s class. Even still, my son would be timid at times and not want to go, or once we got there would not want to take class. I remember strongly feeling the importance of karate, although I had little knowledge of it. I would have him sit with me and watch his class. The teachers were always supportive and encouraged him to try “next time” which he did.
I’m writing about this as a very proud mother and a glad one. I am proud because even though my son struggled in the first few years, he got better and better with practice. Six years later he is about to earn his black belt! Karate gave him a second family, strength, courage, understanding, respect, friendship, flexibility, confidence, and so much more. First you need to be able to do the basics, like sit ups and push ups. Then you learn blocks, holds, forms, combinations and the creed. The creed tells of respect and peace over power.
When my son was about to earn his last brown belt, we had one of our proudest moments as he didn’t pass the test. As a karate student one needs to go through a few hours of testing to gain the next level belt. This particular test day, he didn’t pass. His teacher gave him his belt, but explained he would have to test again to have actually earned it. I was so grateful that he was able to still have the belt, but what surprised me was when my son chose to wear his old belt to his class that week. I asked him if he realized the kids in his class would know he didn’t pass his test, and he said he did. He explained he wanted to be honest and that he would only wear his new belt after he had past the next test. Which, of course, he did. I was also pleased with how the other karate students and teachers handled it as well when he chose to wear his lower level belt. They all supported my son and didn’t ask him any questions!
I have teared up watching other kids and adults achieve their black belts, not only do the students have to put in effort, they are asked for letters of recommendation, to acquire ten hours of community service, an essay on the requirements and responsibilities of a black belt, good grades and conduct at school, and to be able to run a nine minute mile. In these last few months I’ve come to realize what a terrific achievement this is for my young son. Karate has strengthened him not only physically, but socially and emotionally as well. All of the parents whose children participate in karate, whom I have spoken to, feel the same. I highly recommend karate for children, boys and girls and I also would like to encourage you, as well. I, myself, have it as a future goal. I think back to my younger years and wish someone had talked to me about it. I hope to interest any age (with your doctor’s okay, 🙂 ) to try a class or two and go from there. Again, I am very glad that we gave our son this gift. He is so young, about to earn his black belt and now has the confidence that with hard work, a support team, and perseverance he can accomplish ANYTHING!