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Martial Arts With My Daughter

by Amanda McAlpine

Female Black belt and female white belt child karate
Sensei Amanda McAlpine and female karate-ka

It has been said that as we try to “teach our children about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” I enrolled my daughter in Martial Arts with me - karate and judo -- with the hope that she might experience many of the incredible life-changing benefits that I have experienced in the disciplines and despite challenges along the way, it has been amazing for both of us.

Although she is at the beginning of her journey in many ways – it has been beautiful to see the growth that my 8 year old daughter has already experienced. One of my favourite memories was my daughter’s first karate tournament. We both happened to be competing in different rings at the same time and her centre judge paused their ring so the kids could watch the black belts compete for a moment. Shortly before the competition she had been in tears – scared to get up in front of people – with a million “reasons” to back out. With the help of her Sensei she persisted and as a result gained a confidence and maturity I had never seen before. The funny thing was that I had felt exactly as she did, and as adults sometimes we let ourselves “off the hook” a little too easily. I persisted and as I finished my event, I turned to see her watching me, I suddenly became very aware of the impact we have as parents. I was grateful that we were able to share that experience and grateful that I had chosen to be a positive example in that moment.

I have always admired and respected the teachers and mentors who practice what they teach. It has been said that “Your child will follow your example, not your advice” and so I felt that it was important to never ask of my daughter anything that I was not willing to do myself.

There are many incredible sports teams and organizations in which children can benefit, but the impact that training in Martial Arts has had on me personally has been immeasurable and so I believe as a parent I need to provide opportunity for children to train as well.

At the end of the day, it is about a way of life and character development. Bruce Lee said, “The martial arts are ultimately self-knowledge. A punch or a kick is not to knock the hell out of the guy in front, but to knock the hell out of your ego, your fear, or your hang-ups.” The richness of life on this path has been incredible, but not without cost. It is challenging to face yourself; challenging to face your ego and your fears, but the rewards far outweigh the struggles.

1. They (and you) will get more active 2. They'll learn to find focus and stillness 3. They'll learn to take hits – and be able to get back up again (in life) 4. They'll gain self-confidence and self-respect 5. They'll connect their mind and body 6. They'll learn conflict resolution 7. They'll learn to breathe (Eric Stevens)

How incredible -- if kids can learn these elements before they become adults! Imagine the tools they will have …that can help them experience greater happiness, health, and peace!

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