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A Good Night At the Dojo

I love being part of building a brand new stand-alone dojo. I love watching kids show up for the first class--sometimes totally hyper, sometimes afraid we're going to Karate Kid them--and end their time on the mat with glimmers of self-discipline and happiness. I love seeing my higher level students discover new skills. And I deeply love watching students change the way they say "This is hard!" (It starts as a whine, then becomes a statement, then transforms into a desired challenge.)

But what I love most of all is bowing nervous but excited parents onto the mat for their own first class.

I remember how it felt to be in that position. I'd wanted to learn karate since I was a kid, but never voiced that desire to my parents. It was the mid-70s, and I the only female I knew who trained in martial arts was a classmate who scared the shit out of me. My knowledge of martial arts could be summed up by three things I thought true: karate was that it was a mysterious and violent thing, Bruce Lee could kick anyone's ass, and I wanted to know how to do it.

I remember how it felt to be in that position. I'd wanted to learn karate since I was a kid, but never voiced that desire to my parents. It was the mid-70s, and I the only female I knew who trained in martial arts was a classmate who scared the shit out of me. My knowledge of martial arts could be summed up by three things I thought true: karate was that it was a mysterious and violent thing, Bruce Lee could kick anyone's ass, and I wanted to know how to do it.

Saying karate wasn't What Girls Did at the time is too simple, though. In reality, I was held back by my own little-girl fears and insecurities. Who was I, a geeky and awkward kid, to say I could attempt such a thing? Then, as a young adult, I bounced off a couple martial arts programs. The first attempt was a community college class that was utterly boring. The second attempt left me unable to walk without severe pain for about two weeks. That's when I discovered congenital hip dysplasia, even as minor as I'd always considered mine to be, was a really bad match for the kind of training I'd been exposed to.

So when I enrolled my son in karate, I did it with not only the hope it would be good for him, but that I'd find a karate-home as well. It took some talking and convincing from the instructors, but I finally bowed on the mat for my own first class. I was frightened. I was awkward. I feared looking like an idiot, and I fearing hurting myself. Most of all, I feared being thought of as arrogant and presumptuous for thinking I--a dorky mom in her early thirties--could ever attain a reasonable measure of skill.

Tonight, I had a mom bow in for her first class. She worked hard and she struggled. She will be sore tomorrow, and even more sore the day after. And she will, I have no doubt, show up for class again on Monday. But the greatest moment was when she bowed off the mat with a smile and said, "That was actually fun!"

And that, my friends, is the greatest moment of teaching

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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
sartorias
Mar. 14th, 2013 04:30 am (UTC)
Yay for her!
blairmacg
Mar. 15th, 2013 01:52 pm (UTC)
She's an awesome lady.
nicofeld
Mar. 14th, 2013 08:22 pm (UTC)
Yes, wonderful!
blairmacg
Mar. 15th, 2013 01:53 pm (UTC)
:) And it looks like I'll have another mom starting next week!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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Blair MacGregor
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