When I first walked into the martial arts studio in 2001, I wanted to get a good work out! I took a kickboxing class and then started karate. I had NO idea that I would get so much more than six pack abs from my martial arts experience. During my training, I became a different person and began seeing things in a very different way.
Most karate schools require a commitment from the families to support their child through their martial arts training. The training does not end when they walk out the door of the school. Our school required students to submit a form each month based on the "focus of the month". Students had to list ways that they demonstrated actions based on the focus such as kindness, self discipline, respect, and courage and have their parents sign at the bottom. I thought that many children were too young to really understand these ideas. Boy was I wrong! Fortunately, I had the the experience of reading some of these forms and I was AMAZED by the skills these children were learning and applying outside the classroom.
When I was younger, I was quite a "girly girl". I wanted to take dance and music lessons and thought that karate would be aggressive and painful. I did not think it would be fun to punch or kick things (and I definitely did not want to get punched myself!) Boy was I wrong! Although martial arts does teach self defense, a good martial arts school will not allow anyone to get hurt and will not encourage aggressive behaviors toward others. Perhaps I underestimated the importance of learning how to defend yourself by putting yourself in good situations, setting healthy boundaries and using your brain to get yourself out of difficult situations. At belt tests, every parent was so proud and excited about their children's accomplishents. Are you convinced yet? If not, you should be!
Why should your daughter take martial arts? Martial arts is such a great opportunity for girls to learn many of the things that boys are taught throughout their lives. In our culture, many of the sports/activities for boys and men teach confidence, resilience, and discipline. These are characteristics that we all must learn to effectively navigate through life. I began teaching martial arts to children and quickly learned the important, valuable lessons that martial arts has to offer. I saw many girls, in particular, walk into the studio shy and lacking self esteem. After a few months, I could see a visable difference in their confidence. It was so exciting to see them hold their head up and looking others in the eye. It got me thinking, have I been cheated out of these valuable lessons all my life? How would my life be different if I had been taught these lessons earlier in life?
Well, it's pointless to look back and say "what if?" but what I can do is provide my children with this essential experience to allow them to learn the skills that martial arts has to offer.