Thursday, September 30, 2010


Karate entered our lives unexpectedly. During our eldest son's Back-to-School Night for Kindergarten we sat through several speakers who were connected to the school district. Other than the principal all of the speakers were drab, lifeless orators who relied on notecards, made no connection with their audience, and bored us to tears. That was until a young man appeared late and was introduced as the last speaker of the night. With a sincere apology to the audience the man spoke eloquently, off the cuff, and with such charisma the whole of his audience listened with rapt attention. He spoke of being a Sensei in the Martial Art of Karate and having the tools needed to focus our children, make them better listeners, students, and children. The man told us if we wanted these things he could deliver them at the end of a one hour class he was offering the sign-up for that evening. Interested I tracked him down before the event ended.
I listened to this engaging young man, small in stature and physique, but commanding, confident, and serene amidst the chaos of Back-to-School Night. He had me sign my name and phone number on a clipboard and assured me I would be called about the class. When I inquired about his program costs he simply said this class I signed my son up for was free and he would not talk pricing until I experienced his complimentary class. I admired his "no sell" policy at this forum.
The day came for the free class and my son was immediately drawn in to the atmosphere created by Sensei. He learned how to sit and stand "like a Black Belt" so he could easily focus on the speaker (be it Sensei, his teacher, or Mom and Dad). He learned that listening was about keeping your mouth closed and your ears open. My son learned that being a first time listener would keep him out of trouble in life and make him a more successful person all around. And although a couple of Karate moves were lightly introduced, the class was more about tips to succeed than how to throw a proper punch. By the hour's end I had my credit card out to sign my son up for classes. My husband was also impressed and delighted that Martial Arts, something we both knew nothing about, was going to be a part of our son's life as he thought it was something I'd never agree. Perhaps too many viewings of Karate Kid (the original) left me anxious about the violence factor of Martial Arts, but what Sensei had proven to me in one hour's time was my first impressions had been inaccurate at best and deserved to be updated. We signed our son up and signed contracts. He started that late September week.
By January I was so pleased with my son's progress and the Dragon program he was a student, I signed on for a free class. We, as parents, were encouraged to make classes a part of our lives, too. Given the option of a free aerobics class or Karate class (both offered at the Dojo at the time) I sat like a deer in headlights with the decision until Sensei and I talked about the choice at hand. He told me if I wanted to change my body to take the aerobics class. If I wanted to change my life, with the body change being a bonus, to sign up for Karate. I did and by the end of January was enrolled as a Karate student myself. By June my husband had signed on and by the time our second son was 3 1/2, he was enrolled in the school as well.
Our eldest son is gangly, tall for his age, uncoordinated, and suffers from weak hand muscles that make things like turning a light switch on/off, printing, and opening water bottles difficult. He has suffered some teasing along the way from peers and never knew how to handle such attacks. Since enrolling in Karate he has learned to build his self-confidence, work to strengthen his hands through calisthenics and studying with weapons, and even employ non-violent ways to deal with bullying. He is able to focus in school, take on responsibilities at home, and utilize the lessons he learns at the Dojo throughout his daily life. From basics to complicated Katas (choreographed fight sequences learned as individuals), and from weaponry to learning Japanese, our son continues to thrive under the tutelage of Sensei.

Our youngest son, watching his big brother at the Dojo since he was one year old, couldn't wait to suit up and start taking classes. When he was able to begin last April he has proven to be a well-behaved, focused, and talented student, all before he turned four! He may prove to be the best Martial Artist in the entire family! Of course, we'll see if his little sister gives him a run for that title one day!
As adults my husband and I found a common bond in training. We encourage one another, help each other, and practice together. Because of the arrival of our third child I have put my training on hold but have earned my blue belt as of June 2010. My husband, showing true aptitude, commitment, and skill, has earned his brown belt, starting his path directly to black belt. A torn ACL left my husband needing surgery in August and in the middle of an intense recovery, but he is still training and awaiting the day his doctor gives him the "all clear" sign to step foot on the Dojo floor again. And as soon as I feel it time, I will resume my training. Because, as Sensei pointed out to me, Karate is a lifestyle, not a goal with a finish line. My family and I are on this journey for life.


  1. Sensei Kaye has indeed touched our lives in a positive manner.

  2. Interesting stuff, I have always been a tad sceptical about martial arts but it seems you have all really benefited from the experience :-)