Kung Fu Princess

I’ve written about such serious things this week that I thought it was time for one that was a little more fun.

Back when I was 16 my best friend was taking martial arts lessons at a local karate school.  Somehow she talked me and one of my other friends into taking lessons offered by her school at the local community center.  There we were at least twice as old as every other student in the class learning the basics of martial arts.  Turns out, it was a lot of fun.  By the time I got out of high school I’d earned my way up to the third rank.

Fast forward a few years to after Matt and I had gotten married.  I’d re-connected with my friend and found that not only were the lessons I took in high school still being offered at the very same community center, but now my friend had actually taken over as the instructor of those lessons.  So, Matt and I signed up to take her adult class.  This time around I managed to earn one more rank, and Matt earned enough ranks to be on equal footing with me.  We quit because I was pregnant with Brendan and it was quite a few years before we had time to think about getting back into it.

Around the time Brendan turned 6 we decided that karate might be a good thing for him.  He had trouble doing sports and other activities because he has low muscle tone.  We thought that working out like that on a regular basis might help him strengthen his muscles and build up endurance.  He stuck with it for quite a while and even earned the second rank, but it was hard for him and he could see that he wasn’t on par with the other kids in his class and so eventually he dropped out.

During that time I realized how much I missed doing karate myself, so I dug out my uniform and joined back up.  This time around I stuck with it for more than a year and was rewarded with two additional ranks.  However, life intervened again.  I earned my second rank just a few months before Kaylee was born and despite assuring my friend that I wouldn’t drop out completely and that I’d be back soon after Kaylee was born that was not meant to be.  I quickly learned that having an infant and a toddler at the same time was a whole lot harder than it was having an infant and a school age child and so karate went on the back burner for the third time in my life.

I actually ran into one of my friends from the adult class a year or so ago and he tried hard to convince me to come back and re-join the class.  I was actively considering it until…I broke my leg.  Once that happened all thoughts of going back to karate were completely erased from my mind.  The last 8 months have been spent doing everything I can (which unfortunately there isn’t much I can actually do) to get the nerves in my leg and foot working again.

Somewhere in this time I had a conversation with my daughter about the karate classes that Brendan and I used to take.  She decided that, of course, she needed to do it to because if there is ever anything that her brothers have done before her she must do them as well.  I contacted my friend and sure enough there was a new session just starting so I enrolled Kaylee.  I wasn’t sure how well this would go over because truthfully it is a lot of work, and more importantly you can’t talk during the class.  I knew this would be a major point of contention for my daughter.

Despite that, she actually enjoyed the class and was learning a little bit.  Her classmates seemed to have almost no interest in learning and were holding her back a little bit.  Thankfully, after taking the classes off and on for the past 20 years, I still knew all of the requirements for the first rank and was able to supplement my friends teachings at home.  After a couple of sessions when it became apparent that my daughter would be sticking with the classes my friend moved her up from beginner to the advanced class where she had more assistants and could spend some good quality time working with Kaylee to get her ready for her second rank.

Since moving up to the advanced class at the beginning of this month her progress has really skyrocketed.  She’s still not quite ready for her next rank yet but she’s getting there which is really impressive to me given her age.  I can remember learning what she is when I was 16 and it was a lot for me to try and remember.  I can’t even imagine how she’s processing the same information at 5.

Now that my kids are older, and we don’t have any babies or toddlers at home I’ve tried to convince Matt and Brendan both that maybe it’s time for them to give karate another chance.  Neither is keen to take up the hobby again, and despite telling my friend that there’s no way I can go back with no feeling in my left foot I’ve been contemplating what we could do to accommodate that injury and thinking maybe just maybe it’s time for me to go back and finally finish what I started.


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