An eye-opener and a moment of unexpected pride.
I’m always proud of my children. But something happened recently that gave me an unexpected
moment of pride in my son.
My son doesn’t share my passion for karate. He doesn’t mind doing it but he’s not interested in fine-
tuning his technique. He’d rather help out with the little kids or do kumite than work on his grading kata.
And that’s fine with me. Because I recently saw evidence of exactly what karate is teaching my son: good manners.
I recently saw evidence of exactly what karate is teaching my son: good
Let me explain.
My son has been doing karate since he was four. He’s 10 now. He’s smart and athletic but he hasn’t yet
progressed past orange belt because he just doesn’t put his heart and soul into his karate training.
Recently, he started dance lessons, which he’s been talking about for at least a year. And he loves it.
He’s absolutely found his passion and joy. And that makes me just about the happiest parent in the
world. Who wouldn’t be thrilled to see their child doing well at something they adore?
The first lesson was an eye-opener
When my son went to his first dance class, he’d been doing karate for five and a half years. We were
both shocked at what we saw at dance class:
- kids coming in and out of the class whenever they felt like it, grabbing a drink or talking to their
- kids talking when the instructor was speaking
- kids not answering when the instructor asked them questions
- kids ambling across in their own time when the instructor asked them to gather
- kids complaining about what the instructor was teaching them and asking to learn something else instead.
- My son was gobsmacked that this behaviour was tolerated. Here’s how he behaved:
- ran to be the first to line up, ready to start the class
- snagged a spot near the instructor so he could see himself and the instructor in the mirror
- kept silent and listened intently to what the instructor was telling the class
- answered with a big loud ‘yes!’ when the instructor asked if they were ready to begin and if they understood the instructions
- tried his absolute hardest at every single moment in the class (and never wandered off for a drink until the instructor said to take a drink break)
- walked over to the instructor at the end and thanked him for the class while all the other students ran out the door.
The exciting part for me was that I did not have to remind my son to show these good manners. It was
completely ingrained in him from his years of studying karate. And that’s when I had my moment of
Karate has given my son something far more important than the ability to punch and kick. It’s instilled in
him a sense of good manners and etiquette, and above all, respect for the person who’s trying to teach
So, karate or dance?
I asked my son how much he loves dancing and he said he loves it more than anything. I asked which
activity he would pick to continue if he could only do one of his activities: dance; soccer; athletics; or
karate. He chose dance but said he wouldn’t want to give up karate.
In his words, “Dance is for joy. Karate is for spirit.”
He’s getting amazing benefits from both activities and I’ll never make him choose between them. And it
sure is nice to see him applying the life lessons he’s learned from karate into other aspects of his life.
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