My kids started taking karate lessons. We figured we should make it official, as they’d been checking books out of the library about karate and practicing their “moves” on one another for over a year now and it was really only a matter of time before we had to explain a compound fracture or concussion to a suspicious ER doctor.
The only downside to karate, as I see it, is the chunk of my paycheck that will be going toward the class. But that is nothing compared to the many upsides, at least at this particular place. The biggest upside, without doubt, being that we no longer have to parent our children ourselves.
In two classes, their instructor managed to drill into them the four or five major lessons kids need to learn in order to grow up to be decent, productive, happy, self-actualized little citizens.
Listen to your parents, and be grateful for the things others do for you. Respect all other living things and other people’s spaces and belongings. Take care of your body and your mind. Self-discipline in the practice of one thing will translate to a life of happiness and accomplishment. After getting my kids to stand at attention, respond to him with “yes, sir” every time he addressed them, and maintain eye contact with him and obey his every request for a full hour and fifteen minutes, their teacher explained the principal behind the “guard up” stance that all the students assume when they are not at rest in karate class.
You don’t have your “guard up,” necessarily, in order to constantly defend yourself from physical harm, he told them. Instead, you practice being in the “guard up” position to remind yourself that in life you always need to have your guard up against negative influence – whether that be your friends trying to get you to do or say things you know are wrong, spending your time in ways that are ultimately harmful or not productive for you, or even to counteract your own negative “self-talk” – the nasty and critical, and often inaccurate, things the bitchy voice in your head says to you.
“Tap Tap,” he barks, as a way of initiating the command. “Guard up!” They yell out in unison, assuming this defensive posture, one foot back, fists clenched, and hands and elbows facing forward. They did not take their eyes off him, not even for a second, and they talked about what he had meant the whole drive home.
Again, this is after two classes. I can hardly wait to see what they’ll be like after a few months. I’m thinking humanitarians? Philosophers? Future world leaders? People who remember to flush?