sideways rabbit

Monday, January 9, 2012

Kick Start: The Journey to Karate

Our household is about as disciplined as a bag of sugar spilled on a shag carpet. So I figured a little karate might benefit our only child, and I enrolled him in a beginning program last August. Admittedly, it is a loose, fun program, a class combined with gymnastics -- not one of those scary martial-arts schools that tend to thrive in blank cinderblock buildings, the barely accredited kind governed by clench-jawed INDIVIDUALS WITH ISSUES.

Really, that's not true at all. It had nothing to do with discipline. We ended up in karate because we couldn't do soccer. Beau is prone to leg injuries, and after a knee sprain this summer, his orthopedist directed us away from the inevitable youth starter sport: soccer, he said, was rife with potential disasters to legs.

I was secretly relieved. Although we'd certainly support Beau in whatever he chose to do, we don't follow team sports in our house, at all, which makes us a slightly grotesque curiosity in some corners. Because we're not exactly intellectuals, either, but somewhere in the middle. Neither Bergman nor the Broncos shall brighten the corner where WE are.

But I digress.

Karate. Unlike the three other athletic endeavors we've tried so far -- swimming lessons, basketball, and T-ball, with a respective success rating from disastrous to reasonably enjoyable -- the karate class did not require close involvement from parents. We watch through an observation window, but y'know, they're all dressed in white, it's hard to tell who's who, it lasts an hour, and it's all too easy to pick up a book, diddle on the phone, or start a gossip session with a fellow mom. In short, I really had no idea whatsoever what he was learning in there.

And he wouldn't tell me. Beau's like his dad: when he doesn't want to talk, which is a lot of the time, wild senseis couldn't drag words out of him. When I pick him up from his morning preschool class, for instance, our conversations tend to run something like this:

"Hey, Beau. What did you do today?"
"I dunno."
"But you were just there. Surely you remember something."
"Mmmm....I dunno."
"Did you have a good day?"
"Look at that flatbed in front of us, Mom. He's hauling 4,000 million boards. Or maybe just six."

But at least he was getting exercise in karate, and seemed in great spirits at the end of every class. Then I learned there was to be a "board breaking" ceremony to commemorate the jump from white to yellow belt. Really? Impossible. I pictured some kind of trick board, with a pocket of air in the middle, like one of those ersatz dictionaries with a secret cache for a whiskey flask. They were going to break real boards? How had that had a chance to happen? Pessimist that I am, I began to brood, again, that I'd chosen the wrong activity for my son's laidback personality. We practiced at home for the board-breaking, just a little, using a phonebook. But he went all noodly on me, distracted by a tow truck on the book's back cover.

The day came: today. Looking utterly bored before he was called -- or was it the proper meditative spirit? too soon to tell -- he executed a fierce sidekick and smashed his board apart, an exhilarating move that seemed to surprise him most of all. He stared. Everyone cheered. He closed his mouth. I gushed.

Later, at home, I suggested we put the broken board on the same shelf as his T-ball trophy. First things first, though. Two halves of a pine plank mean nothing if a fleet of matchbox cars has not parked on them.


  1. Your post has me laughing out loud. Way to go Beau and way to go mom! Isn't it amazing how a sport can change when your child is a participant? Torben has been pestering Cecilie to enroll in some kind of martial arts class and she has been shrugging him off yet at the same time wondering if it would be good for him? Discipline, focus and place to channel his energy might be a good thing.

  2. aw, thanks! :)
    he's definitely enjoyed this more than anything extracurricular we've done so far...personally i like that there are levels to aspire to, and that it's about personal achievement more than a team mentality