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White Belt All Over Again

A month or so back, we started my seven-year-old daughter S in a self-defense course teaching Sachin-Ryu karate. It's a community education program that meets once per week on Mondays.

I had wanted to get S into something like this. In part, I'm an overprotective Daddy and I want my daughter to be able to protect herself if she needs to. From my own experiences in Tae Kwon Do, I know it will be good for her balance and coordination. The class also talks about things like bullying and home safety, which I like. So it seemed like a good idea.

It was a great idea. I love this program. In the first class, they had everyone chant, "I will mess up!" Two minutes later, the black-belt teaching the class stumbled over his instructions. He just grinned and said, "See? I told you I was going to mess up." It makes for the most relaxed environment I've ever seen in a martial arts setting.

On the very first night, they invited me to work out with the class. I passed, but appreciated the invite. They asked the next time, and again on the third. I didn't feel pressured; they just wanted me to know I was welcome. So I asked S what she thought, and she wanted me to join in. (Sneaky dad that I am, I figured this would also let her teach me at home when we practice, which would be fun.) So I'm now the newest white belt, and have participated in two classes.

I'm having a lot of fun. It's great being able to do something with S, and how can you not like a style where the "ready stance" involves knees bent, feet in, fists ready, and smile! One hour a week isn't much in the way of exercise, but it's a step up from what I had been getting. Curse the sedentary writing lifestyle! I'm also struggling to retrain 20-year-old habits. (Sachin-Ryu kicks are lower than what I learned, the fists are held differently, etc.)

On a more serious note, I'm very glad S is in the class and likely to continue. When I was doing rape advocacy and education, I had conflicted feelings about the self-defense for women thing. Understand, I don't think self-defense is a bad thing at all. What bugged me was the way they were presented as The Solution. Like, if we teach women to protect themselves, that will take care of that whole rape business. Every newspaper article about rape on campus would talk about what women should do, and never said a word about the guys. Because even though the vast majority of rapists are men, it should be women's responsibility to fix the problem, right?

That said, I want my daughter to have every tool she can to protect herself. I want her to be confident enough that predators will hesitate to mess with her, and if they do, I want her to be able to put a fist through the bastard's solar plexus.

I think these classes could help on both counts. Once per week isn't a lot, but we can look into other options eventually. I'm pretty sure there are more regular classes. Best of all, it's something the two of us can do together, and I'm really enjoying that.


( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 12th, 2008 02:02 pm (UTC)
As a long-time participant in the martial arts, I officially welcome you back to the fold. ;)

I've never heard of Sanchin Ryu, but Sanchin is a kata in the Goju-Ryu families of Karate (which includes Shotokan among others) so I assume it's related. Cool stuff. :) The non-competitive philosophy is cool.

Thanks for the link. My teacher is looking for ways to build up his kids' class, so I'll have him check out the site :)
Mar. 12th, 2008 02:05 pm (UTC)
I don't know much about the history of the school yet. (I only found that link today, actually.) But I'm told part of the reason the sensei founded it is because he couldn't find a school with the attitude he wanted.

Generally, the beginner classes are about 5-10 minutes of stretches, 40-45 minutes of techniques and practice, and 10 or so minutes of talking about safety. Everything from bullies to fire drills to what you should do if someone breaks into your house. I suspect it's that last part that draws in a lot of community participation.
(no subject) - sboydtaylor - Mar. 12th, 2008 03:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peachtess - Mar. 12th, 2008 02:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sboydtaylor - Mar. 12th, 2008 03:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 12th, 2008 02:21 pm (UTC)
Mar. 12th, 2008 02:24 pm (UTC)
I thought you'd approve :-)
Mar. 12th, 2008 03:00 pm (UTC)
That sounds like a really good class! I'm glad your daughter likes it. My brother has his black belt in Tai Kwon Do and has gotten his whole family into it too. He has three boys, so he likes the discipline and respect that TKD emphasizes.
Mar. 12th, 2008 05:20 pm (UTC)
We're still getting some of the discipline, but it's very ... gentle. It would have to be, when half your class is between 6 and 8 years old, though :-)
Mar. 12th, 2008 03:11 pm (UTC)
Congrats on teaching the youngling to defend herself. Who can blame you in this day in age?
Mar. 12th, 2008 03:16 pm (UTC)
The confidence that a martial art will give your daughter as she is growing up alone is worthy. Any young person, boy or girl in today's society, needs to feel confident.

When I took Self Defense in college, defense was presented as the last resort, after yelling or running. I certainly hope that this hasn't changed.

At any rate, good for you and your wife for giving your daughter valuable tools! Personally, I'll be spending my weekend at a tai chi retreat. Less martial, more art.

That said, tai chi is the only way to win a soccer tournament.

Mar. 12th, 2008 05:44 pm (UTC)
Tai Chi was one of my one-semester, one-credit electives during college :-) I really enjoyed it, but it never occurred to me to try to transfer the skills over to soccer.
Mar. 12th, 2008 03:21 pm (UTC)
I think it's wonderful!! I tried Tai Chi once... b/c of my back, I ended up in the hospital the next morning, couldn't feel my legs and I was all hunched up. Yeah. After this latest back surgery I'm going much slower, but I do want to do Tai Chi eventually!! But go you and your wise views!!
Mar. 12th, 2008 07:22 pm (UTC)
Ouch. I'm sorry to hear that.

My wife took S one night, and they invited her to join in. Given her back, hip, and knee ailments, this would have been a very bad thing.
(no subject) - mela_lyn - Mar. 12th, 2008 07:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 12th, 2008 03:22 pm (UTC)
Martial arts--always a Good Thing!
Mar. 12th, 2008 03:33 pm (UTC)
I am apart of an Aikido group. Though due to a non aikido injury (falling down the basement stairs) I had to take a break because I did a number to the muscles in my right thigh and hip area.
Because my group is a Ki Aikido style I still go from time to time and work on the Ki exercises.

I am a big fan of martial arts, especially groups that promote confidence and self esteem.

I got as far as my yellow belt in judo (one up from white), but I left the club because I got tired of being lumped into the teen agers class because my learning style didn't work for the instructor who taught the adult classes.
I had signed up for an adult class, not a class of 13-14 year old boys and the only one the same age as me being the instructor. The instructor who ran the class was good, but he understood my feelings about being misled as I was told I had to attend this particular class and t clearly wasn't an adult class.

I did a lot of research before joining the Aikido club and I have loved it. A nice community of wonderful minded people.

I am glad you and your daughter have found such a group for yourselves.

(no subject) - jimhines - Mar. 12th, 2008 05:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 12th, 2008 04:00 pm (UTC)
Strangely in my rape care advocacy training they were teaching that martial arts is generally a bad thing, unless someone is rather well trained. It is good for mugging and whatnot, but since violence is generally the turn on for a rapist it only provokes them more.
Mar. 12th, 2008 05:43 pm (UTC)
This is a hard one to respond to. My understanding is that the rape is about power and control, but I haven't come across the theory that violence is actually a turn on for most rapists. I'd be curious to hear the research behind that one.

There's no one right way to respond to an attempted rape, and it's certainly not my place to second-guess someone's choices in that situation. There are too many variables. Is a weapon involved? Is the attacker a "friend" or a stranger? Are you in a relatively public place (I.e., at a party?)

At a minimum though, I want my daughter to have the option of fighting back if she decides that's the best choice.
(no subject) - rosefox - Mar. 12th, 2008 11:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 12th, 2008 04:27 pm (UTC)
Yeah, Dad.

I appreciate the commentary about women protecting themselves too...which is why i heart jim, the great orper. You rock, Dad.

(Deleted comment)
Mar. 12th, 2008 05:24 pm (UTC)
It doesn't work as well as I had hoped, sadly. She doesn't have the core skills down well enough to teach, and I think she gets flustered when I ask her to lead me through the moves. But we'll keep working on it.
Mar. 12th, 2008 06:04 pm (UTC)
You may only get a white belt in Sachin-Ryu, but you deserve a black belt with diamonds and gold stars in being a dad.
Mar. 12th, 2008 06:13 pm (UTC)
My youngest recently started in a ryukyu kempo class and it's been great, mostly because the sensei is very good with the youngsters. That is the most important thing in my experience, more important than the individual style. It will be a while before anything taught in the class would be of much use for self-defense, but the increased confidence in the ability to handle an attack comes right away.

This beginners class isn't geared toward parents joining in but there's an intermediate class where parents and kids train together. Not only would it be fun to share that with my kids, but mine enjoy knowing something that I don't, being the one who's doing the teaching isn't the one being taught. So it's fun to let them school me. :)

For actual self-defense, I've taught my kids the simple rule: Anything that's not allowed in cagefighting. The first thing that's not allowed in cagefighting is running away. ;) Also, asking for help from an adult or calling the police aren't allowed, so they're good responses, too. I don't want my kids to have a false confidence that would lead them to trying to trade blows with someone. Whilst that looks good in an action film, it's contraindicated in real life.
Mar. 12th, 2008 06:15 pm (UTC)
I like the cagefighting philosophy :-)

One of the very first lessons in this class was on screaming and running away. They all took turns running and screaming from the "bully/attacker". It was a fun one to watch.
(no subject) - sarge_5150 - Mar. 12th, 2008 06:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 12th, 2008 07:46 pm (UTC)
This is a really lovely post. having a very good father/child relationship is vital in my opinion judging how dysfunctional of a human being I came out being (Second grade teachers are not fond of Grim Reaper drawings) and that is partially connected to that, although I blame zombie movies for that and not my dad entirely. Hah!

Also I find it that in today's society you need to be like UF hero/heroine, because while girls get raped, boys get beaten and possibly killed. I can tell really gruesome tales, so having martial arts is vital. Too bad I am all defenseless.
Mar. 12th, 2008 10:53 pm (UTC)
What a great dad you are! Also, "I will mess up!!" That's awesome. I love the attitude of the folks running that class.
Mar. 13th, 2008 09:18 am (UTC)
Awesome, Jim. Some of the best memories my son and I share today are from when we were in the Dojo together.

When he was 11, I enrolled him for fitness, self-discipline, and confidence-building purposes (he heartily agreed :) This Shorin-Ryu Dojo was nearly an hour away from our house, but came highly recommended for the same things you seem to have found in yours. Before half an hour was up, his new Sensei had coaxed me out there too! (That I was in my mid-30s and quite overweight didn't seem to matter.)

Some years and six belts later, my son and I had something that time would never erase. The knowledge that we were stronger in mind and body than we'd ever considered possible. When you watch yourself conquer real fear and physical walls, and watch someone you love conquer their fear and walls too, that kind of bond and self-confidence never leaves you, no matter how many years pass.

We've been out of the Dojo for a while now... but in our minds, it's like we've never left it.

Enjoy this time with your little girl. It's priceless!
( 31 comments — Leave a comment )


Jim C. Hines


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