By the time Priya was preparing for her junior black belt in Tae Kwon Do she had developed the ability to kick above the hight of her head. Seeing her do this for the umpteenth time (in our living room) eventually led to a catastrophic argument between me and her Mum. But more of that later…
…It all started out (as these things do) in a most innocuous way. Marketed as “self-defence” the girls’ Mum used to take Priya off to a Tae Kwon Do class in Exeter. We were sold the line about “improving children’s self-confidence and overall fitness”. And in truth, the first few lessons saw Priya running around the sports hall learning all about stranger -danger and generally having fun with other children.
But – and parents reading this may well recognise the trend – stranger danger didn’t last too long and eventually methods of blocking and counteracting punches delivered to your body were being followed up with teaching on how to punch yourself, and ultimately how to kick.
By this stage, The sports hall in Exeter had become the dojo (with dojo rules!) and the bloke who ran the classes had become “Sensai”. Literally translated as former-born and all round Master of his craft.
All of this martial arts business started to cause real domestic friction. I will admit to in-built bias. Ever since I was a boy I have found the whole, “I’m a 3rd degree brown-belt in Ancient Korean Kendo”, all a little bit, how to put it, odd! Especially when these words are uttered by British males. I have always had the thoughts that these men have spent too much time in their bedrooms watching Bruce Lee films.
But as I say, this is my own personal prejudice!
It all came to a head in our house when I took Priya to one of her classes in Exeter (she was six or seven at the time) and seeing her go through various blocking and punching routines I withdrew her from the class. I remembered the words of my father, who frequently having to break up scraps between me and my two brothers, would say, very quietly, “there is too much kicking and punching in the world already”. He was right.
In the year before our marriage disintegrated, this subject of martial arts and Priya’s attendance became a real battle ground between us.
I’m glad to say, that since Mum left, neither girl has entered the psuedo-sacred space of a Dojo!
Since leaving their martial arts classes my girls have enjoyed dancing and ballet, gymnastics, trampolining, and will shortly be expanding their interest in climbing through an organised club. In all of these pursuits no teacher has ever demonstrated an axe kick to them. I’m one relieved Dad 🙂
Martial Arts are so named after Mars, the Roman God of War. Adults will do what they need to do, but to my mind children should really be spared the dubious pleasure of being taught to fight better.