It was apparent early on, with my son Cobi, that many of the sports little boys engage in were too fast paced for him. My son could run, but not as fast as the others. My son could kick, but with very little coordination. My son could throw a ball, but not very far. By the time my son was able to kick that ball, or throw the ball, another little boy got in there and stole Cobi’s opportunity, causing him upset and frustration.
What was I to do? He loved being involved in activities with other children. He was open and willing to try anything new. But all too quickly in Cobi’s effort to participate, he was left defeated. So being the dance instructor that I am, I thought, let’s try tap dancing. It is great for coordination, mind-body connection, balance and still a social activity. And let’s face it, my son was a lady charmer, he loved the ladies, so dancing in a class full of girls was definitely his cup of tea. His tap classes lasted about 3 years before the advancement of the tapping became too fast and intricate for Cobi to keep up with.
Luckily, a Karate Dojo, Dynasty Martial Arts, opened up in our town and I had heard about the way in which the Sensei, Sensei Rob St Jean, conducted his classes. It was based on a more one-on-one focussed instruction. I was excited. Just what my son needed, extra direct attention yet still in a social setting. I signed him up! And you know, to this day I still feel that it was the best decision I could have made for him. See, Cobi wasn’t a hockey player, or a soccer player. They were fun sports for him, but he gained very little out of the experience. So, in retrospect, Karate offered so much more to my son than just social interaction. Here is what Cobi gained…
He gained a skill – Learning the craft of Karate offered my son, Cobi, the skills in self defense to defend himself in any type of confrontation. The skill to manipulate his own body to protect himself.
He gained precision – Karate required my son to find his inner rhythm and timing as he manipulated his body in response to his environment, another person and even himself. The ability to judge distances, making contact with an opponent in exactly a specific way to defend himself, utilizing weapons and self defense patterns.
He gained better response and reaction time – Cobi has always had delayed reaction and response timing. As part of his disability, his brain takes a few extra minutes to process his surroundings, questions, answers and emotion. Since attending Karate lessons, this area in his development improved significantly. He was making connections to things more efficiently.
He gained better coordination – For my physically awkward son, learning form patterns and sequences helped him to coordinate his movement better, gaining control and balance.
He gained in better verbal abilities, reducing his stuttering – Who would have thought that taking Karate lessons would help improve someone’s verbal abilities? But it did. My son always struggled with stuttering his thoughts but over the 10 years of Karate lessons my son engaged in, I witnessed his verbal clarity improve constantly. Perhaps due to confidence, the mind-body connection or even from training in patterns and sequences that help form his speech performance.
He gained in strength – With all the kicking and punching on the punching bag, planks and push ups, sit ups and burpees, I watched my son physically transform into a powerful force I did not want to cross. He strengthened mentally as well, pushing himself harder and longer and not giving up.
He gained flexibility – Yep, my son was stiff and rigid. I would watch, while cringing, as my son struggled to perform splits and other physical manoeuvers because he just didn’t have the range in his body. But over time, he continued to improve, increasing his range in motion and becoming more comfortable in performing his Karate movements. He complained less and less of aching joints and muscles.
He gained in confidence – Part of strengthening mentally is developing a strong sense of confidence in yourself. My son learned to not curl up in fear when in the face of a confrontation. He learned to stand tall, because he was prepared to defend himself if need be.
He gained better focus – One of the difficulties my has had to deal with in his disability is keeping his focus on the task at hand. Any little movement or sound would distract my son towards it. He needed an Education Assistant in school because of this. But in Karate class, my son was trained and encouraged to remain focused on the technique, and the skills he was learning so that in the face of a confrontation, he wouldn’t lose sight of what his opponent was going to do next.
He gained self control – Not just physically has Karate helped my sons development, but it has also helped his behaviours. Cobi was better able to regulate his emotions, and his expression to difficult situations, and as well, redirect himself better to return his focus to the task at hand.
He gained respect – Yes respect. Now that people know my son is trained in the martial arts, he hasn’t had to endure as much teasing and bullying as he did in the past. With attaining the appropriate skills to defend himself, it kept his enemies a little more at bay. And not only this, Cobi gained self-respect. As Cobi progressed along in his lessons, he began to express less negative self talk in himself and his abilities, and began to believe in himself more, in every area of his life.
He gained in continual self improvement – Cobi had been training in Karate for 10 years. In those 10 years my son increased in his ability, which in turn increased his opportunity to grow and experience even more. He continued to test at every belt level, moving on towards more difficult levels. He achieved his Junior Black Belt after 9 years of training! He enrolled in Karate tournaments, which tests his skill against other Karate students. He always came home with an award of some kind. Yes, my special needs son came home with trophies and medals!
He gained a few new friends – It is difficult for my son to make friends, because of his social differences, people tend to shy away from interacting with my son for any length of time. But in karate class, he was accepted as everyone else, and formed a few friendship bonds with his peers.
I cannot thank Dynasty Martial Arts enough for everything they offered my son over these last 10 years. It has empowered my son beyond my expectations . Karate offers so much for so many, whether or not there is a special need. I have watched so many children, and adults alike, gain in all ‘self’ improving areas of their lives – self-respect, self-confidence, self-esteem, self-awareness, self-discipline, and self-defence. The only thing my son lost by taking Karate lessons was a little weight, due to the exercise component it offered, and still that is a positive thing.
Enroll your child in Karate today, and watch them bloom, grow and become their very best selves.
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