M. Giant's
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Friday, October 29, 2010  

Karate Kid

As I think I've mentioned before, Trash and I try not to indulge M. Edium's passing whims; just the lingering ones. So it was with gymnastics, so it was with Bucky the hamster, so it was with karate. You'll notice that last item in the list isn't a hyperlink, because I haven't told the story yet. Which I'm about to do now.

We had actually been considering signing him up for karate at the same place where he has his gymnastics classes, but decided against it because a) it wouldn't have worked well with his schedule, b) it's farther away from our house than a full-time karate school, and c) those people have enough of our money as it is. So in August, Trash brought him to the dojo for his first class.

Even though he'd been requesting karate lessons for months, we weren't at all sure how they was going to go, given M. Edium's well-documented reluctance to do…well, anything that isn't his idea. But Trash said it went well. Then, a class or two later when I brought him, I saw for myself that it went well. I could also see that when his sensei -- a fifth-degree black belt who is the closest thing to a real-life Jedi Knight M. Edium has ever met -- presented him with his white belt, the kid was hooked.

But that wasn't all. There were…unexpected consequences.

Soon Trash learned that lots of parents sign their kids up for karate for reasons we knew nothing about. She filled out a questionnaire on which one of the items was why we were enrolling him. Her pen floated on past expected answers like "to help my child deal with bullies" and "to help my child get more exercise" all the way past surprising answers like "to help my child learn to stop fighting" and "to help my child with his/her attention issues," all the way down to the blank next to "other," where she wrote, "so he'd stop bugging us about it."

So it's obvious that we didn't know about any of those other reasons. But we noticed a difference in him almost right away. And so did the teachers at his Montessori school.

This is a boy who, during the graduation ceremony in May, refused to get up and come to the front of the room when his name was called. Twice. But suddenly, he was doing his own show-and-tell presentation, rather than using his teacher as a megaphone. Something about taking off his shoes, putting on a wrinkly white cotton uniform, and walking into a room where a large man tells him exactly what to do with his body for thirty minutes has given him confidence.

I credit some of this to gymnastics. He started that in January, and back then we noticed an almost immediate drop in the frequency with which he face-planted for no reason whatsoever. I think a lot of the coordination and balance he's picked up every Wednesday since then translated into the karate arena, giving him something of a head-start over the kids whose moms checked the enrollment questionnaire box next to "to keep my child from face-planting for no reason at whatsoever all the goddamn time."

But confidence seems to be a by-product for the other kids, too. And so does another thing. You know how sometimes kids that age will get so wound up that all you can do is go Lloyd Dobler on them and scream in their face, "YOU MUST CHILL!" Well, now all we have to do is snap, "Chunbi!" and he freezes in ready position. I admit that it's sometimes hard not to use this power for evil.

My dad noticed it too, when he came to see M. Edium test for his white-with-gold-stripe belt. "That's the longest I've ever seen him stand still," he said.

And compare his graduation non-march with his first tournament, in which he was called up first and was put through his paces while watched by eight other kids and more grownups than I could count. He got up there and he did it, and he can prove it.

m. edium's trophy

So domo arigato, karate. Yes, he'll be able to kick my ass when he's eight, but right now it feels worth it.

posted by M. Giant 5:32 AM 1 comments

1 Comments:

This is one of the coolest things I've read all month. Congrats to M.edium! What a great trophy.

By Blogger DuchessKitty, at November 2, 2010 at 10:55 AM  

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