Why We Do Tae Kwon Do

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Our children started tae kwon do at the Gatlinburg Community Center in January 2016. It all happened because our son got interested in ninjas through the LEGO Club magazine (thanks a lot, Ninjago!). Also, because my husband insisted we let them do this. I have allowed eight months to go by before I blogged about this, as I was not very sure about it myself. So far, I am very pleased with the results.

Have you read Wild At Heart? I read it before I was married with children and it helped me understand men – their desire to fight, to protect, to be bold and gallant knights.

Boy and girl in tae kwon do outfits

My children are very proud of their yellow belts.

I feel like my son is a knight-in-training. He loves war. He has dreams of training the Gatlinburg Police Force as ninjas to fight bad guys. His sister imitates him in everything he does, so they both had a desire to learn martial arts. Since most of the things we do in our homeschool require lots of motivating on our part, we were very happy to provide one activity the children were eager to do.

Let me tell you something in case you missed it: I am homeschooling real children – the kind that do not always show enthusiasm for math or violin or spelling. This mom gets weary of cajoling and looking for the right buttons to push in order to extract willingness to “do school” from her children. It is refreshing to have one thing they rush to with eager hearts.  Continue reading »

My husband and I both took karate in our adolescence. Some Christians believe martial arts are wrong because of underlying Buddhism/Confucianism and the whole idea of fighting/self-defense. I do not have an agenda to change anybody’s mind about anything. To each his own.

We would have preferred karate instead, but the closest program was 30 minutes away. Also, the kids would have been separated by age, which meant more time.

So here’s why we do tae kwon do:

  1. Because we can. (Ha!)
  2. My husband wanted it. I trust his judgment.
  3. It is five minutes from our house by car.
  4. It is later in the day, so it does not interfere with our morning and afternoon activities.
  5. It is affordable.
  6. It provides physical training for our children. Most class time is taken by pure physical exercise. Hiking and biking can only take us so far and, in all honesty, I don’t have the inclination to hike and bike with them as much as they need it.
  7. The kids get “play time” (read “supervised socialization”) with other children. It’s five minutes before and after class, but it counts.
  8. They use sparring gear. It is a combat sport and a contact sport, but no real injuries happen. My children have gotten hurt more in soccer than in tae kwon do. Before we started, I asked Coach Evans if they get kicked in the head. He laughed and said, “If they are lucky!” Most of the students are small children with not a whole lot of fire power. It’s not what you see on youtube.
  9. They can be together in the same class. Laurence Evans, the black belt who leads this program, knows how to integrate different levels and ages in the same program simultaneously. It’s a multi-level classroom and it works just fine.
  10. It teaches them the process of earning something through hard work. They love going to the next level and have started to associate training with being prepared for the test. There’s merit in the process.
  11. It teaches them to make decisions based on principles, not feelings. After every class, they repeat the values of tae kwon do together, in a chorus: “modesty, courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, indomitable spirit.” In their binder, Coach Evans added “kindness” as a vital value to cultivate in their lives. No matter whom you meet, if you show them kindness, you will take a path toward a good relationship. Who can argue with that?
  12. I can sit on the sidelines and observe everything or I can drop them off. I usually stay and read a book, while half listening to what is going on. Now and then I raise my eyes from the book to see how my children perform a certain task. It helps me to observe their behavior under somebody else’s leadership. It confirms certain things I know about them or it teaches me new things.
  13. I can hear their conversations with other children. It’s a large room, but not huge.
  14. It helps us connect with the local community. I knew some of the people in the program, but we made some new friends as well.
  15. We live in a strangely violent world. People get attacked with knives and axes on trains in Germany and France, countries in the heart of the “civilized” Western Europe. Some self-defense skills may come in handy when you least expect it.

Buy Local

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About ten years ago, I became aware that the US was going green. It was a recycling revolution. Words like “going green,” “sustainability,” and “recycling” entered the every day banter in mass media. Then, of course, “buy local” followed closely behind.

Well, we have been travelling to Knoxville for four different activities for the past three years. We are getting tired of the drive. It is two hours both ways, but, of course, you have to also consider driving between the activities once we are there.

Anna Porter Public Library Story Time

We have been attending Story Time at our local library for seven years now.

It’s not the gas money. It’s my emotional fuel. I get tired and then I bring the kids home late in the evening, around 9pm, and by the time we get to bed it is 10pm. The next day, we are dragging and it takes us another 24 hours to recover and get back on schedule.  Continue reading »

So many people have been telling me that what I am doing with this commute to Knoxville is hard, I have started believing them. My husband has also been telling me we need to support local providers of classes for children instead of driving to Knox County.

Besides, when the kids asked for Tae Kwon Do lessons, which they take five minutes from our house, it spoiled me for life. Wow! Can I really believe it? Hop in the car 10 minutes before the event? Get there in five and have time to spare to chat with the trainer before the class starts? And then I can walk on the indoor course with a book in my hand while they are learning self-defense skill? Yes, please. I’ll have another helping of that!

So when Smoky Mountain Soccer Academy made a big splash announcement in our local paper about beginning a 10-week program on March 9, my husband took notice. We switched from doing soccer at Berean Christian School, one hour from our house, to doing it at Rocky Top Sports Center, five minutes away.

Which brought about a chain reaction. Do we want to rush to Knoxville after soccer and do Adventurers from 6-7:30pm anymore? Tough decision. The year is almost over. How responsible is it for me to just drop out? I am not only thinking about the kids’ badges – we can finish them at home and still receive their pins and be part of the Induction Ceremony for the year – but about the class I am teaching to five-year-olds.

As it turns out, we only had three classes left. And two of the moms are really good teachers, in fact they are homeschooling moms. One in particular has shared with me that she would be willing to teach if I needed a break or my kids got ill. So I talked it over with her and she agreed to finish off the year for me. Thank God for people who step up to bail me out!

She was also doing too much in 2015 and dropped a few hats she was wearing, going into 2016. Not only did she understand me, she had the willingness and energy to continue carrying the torch.

It has been a hard decision to make, but really I should have quit Adventurers a long time ago, after the first night when I got ugly with my children in the car on the way home. I am doing too much and too much is not good for my stress level or for the kids’ psyche.

They dislike not doing Adventurers anymore. They made friends over there and enjoyed the program very much. But something has got to give. And I even gave them a choice between Tae Kwon Do and Adventurers and they chose to give up Adventurers. It’s good for them to understand we need to make choices and sacrifices.

Even now I still think we are doing too many extracurricular activities. The little one is still learning boundaries and she makes things take twice as long as they should. Next year, she will be in first grade and I will need more time to do “school” with her.

As it stands, time is at a premium around here and every minute or hour we can spare from traveling can be put to really good use.