Friday, October 14, 2011

Should You Train with Your Child?

Should you sign up and take karate classes with your child.  In an unequivocal, unambiguous short answer; Yes!

Now for the disclaimer... don’t let your child’s needs, challenges, or advantages disrupt your progress.  Maintain a healthy balance of parent, co-student, and independent martial artist.  This takes a little explaining, and some effort on your part.

I trained with both of my kids, a girl and a boy for over six years. My daughter left when she entered college as a second degree black belt.  My son, pictured here, is a third degree black belt.  Training together provided us with some of our best times and fondest memories.  It wasn’t always easy.

Early on, I made a decision that my journey was separate from theirs.  Maybe we would advance together, maybe not.  I would encourage them and support the instructor to the degree that my knowledge and skills would allow, but their journey was for them, and mine for me.

As parents, my wife and I had decided that our children would have a balanced life that included academia, religion, community, physical fitness, and music.  They got to choose which instrument, but music was mandated.  They didn’t get to choose which religion.  They got to choose which classes, but dropping out of school was never going to happen.  They got to make some choices, but others were made for them.  They chose different sports, but as a family we did Tang Soo Do.

There were times that my kids struggled with karate.  My son had a rough time at tournaments because his divisions were always comprised of small villages; with 30 to 40 competitors.  It’s hard to win, place, or show in a large crowd.  My daughter struggled with the limited number of female role models.

We were always encouraging to each other, helping to remember the complex patterns, and practicing together - even on vacation.  But in class, I was just another student.  if they acted up and the instructor called them on it, I didn’t add to it (although it *might* come up on the drive home).

If you are taking a karate class with your kid(s), or are thinking about it, good for you.  I strongly encourage it.  But let them grow at their rate, and yourself to grow at yours. Celebrate your accomplishments together, and provide encouragement when needed.

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