My experience might be a little different than most about why I so passionately believe in Martial Arts especially when it comes to children. We hear about all the wonderful attributes that Martial Arts provide for children. I think we are all aware of the benefits of discipline, confidence, honor and respect. These are wonderful qualities. Do not get me wrong I love that these are values that the art I teach instills in students of all ages. Most students come seeking these qualities amongst others such as fitness, and self-defense when they are looking for a school and they should. However, I got to see through a different window the amazing resilience of the human body and spirit and how the arts have an impact on them through my 6-year old daughter.
When my son was two-years old he went to a birthday party at Team Karate Centers. As a parting gift he got a gift certificate for karate classes. We ended up enrolling my son in karate classes while my daughter opted for dance. Life was going swimmingly. Everyone was happy and healthy. We were doing all the things young families should do school, karate, dance, Indian Guides and Girl Scouts. Friends were always at our house and my kids were going to lots of parties and sleep overs. Then one day my daughter woke up complaining of elbow pain. I took her to the doctor and after an examination and x-rays they found nothing wrong. Next day she awoke with horrendous pain in her hip. I took her back to the doctor. After several days of examinations and tests, the pain getting worse and worse, she ended up in ICU with Septic Hip. She was admitted into the hospital and had surgery to clean up a nasty infection that was eating away at my sweet little baby’s body.
The following months seemed like a blur. She spent a month in the hospital and four months in a body cast. This was followed by learning to get around in a wheelchair which graduated to a walker and finally she was able to walk on her own. However, she still had weeks of Physical Therapy and after months and months of hard work on her part she was able to return to school. We had closed the chapter on that experience and were slowly getting back to routine, or so we thought.
A year later I began being a room parent in my children’s classroom. I noticed a difference in my daughter’s learning. She was really struggling with academics. Although she had been tested as a gifted student, she was getting behind, unable to keep up and not doing well on tests. We decided to take her to a Psychologist specializing in educational development in children. This began a whole new serious of testing but after several weeks we had the answer. Due to the prolonged immobilization of her body while she was in the cast a such a critical time in her development, her large motor skills did not develop properly and as a result, her fine motor skills were affected. So ensued weeks of occupational therapy. When we were done the therapist strongly suggest that we continue her progress by enrolling her in some type of program that continued to develop motor skills. My first thought instantly went to karate.
I knew through watching my son in classes what a wonderful job was being done instilling confidence and respect but also developing strength and coordination. I shared my experience of Martial Arts with the Director and Therapist at the Occupational Center. They were so impressed with what was being taught at the studio that not only did they recommend I enroll my daughter in karate, but they put the studio’s information in their referral book.
My daughter continued to have some learning issues but enrolled in karate and went on to become a 2nd Degree Black Belt. I know that the experience and guidance she got taking Martial Arts enabled her to have the confidence and discipline to overcome the challenges she faced. The strength, coordination and perception skills that are inherent in the martial arts help her to further develop her motor skills. Ever since her experience as a young child she has said she wanted to help children with special needs and give back what she has learned. Today she is a grown woman with a Master’s Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis and works as a Behavior Specialist with young children.
You know they say it takes a village. To me being a good parent is not knowing it all, but knowing when to ask for help and where to go. Martial Arts is one of the places in my village where I go to get that help. As for me, I too have made Martial Arts my way of life. I practice the principles daily and my purpose in life is to share it and provide a safe place where children can go to learn and grow.

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