"It's really good for them, you know.” this woman from church told me. "My pediatrician recommended it for my son who happens to be very active and high-energy."
"Really?" I responded. "It does not make them more violent and prone to beat up others for fun?"
"No!" she strongly ensured me. "It teaches them discipline and channels their energy in a controlled fashion."
"Hmmm. Sounds like something Jack and Gus might enjoy. I think I’ll try it!"
And so begins my experience with martial arts, Clemens style! I had always hesitated signing up the boys for martial arts for various reasons the least of which included my fear that they would use their newly honed skills on unsuspecting 2 year olds enjoying a relaxing walk in the neighborhood park or worse, trying them on a teacher or adult (you never know). Even so, I quieted my inner voice screaming, "You've totally lost your mind, Georgie” and signed Jack and Gus up for their first class. We attended the first session yesterday along with 15 other children. I positioned myself on the floor against the wall to watch while the boys and girls sat politely in a horseshoe arrangement facing their female and somewhat "hippie" styled instructor. Let me rephrase...the GIRLS were sitting politely while most of the boys sat fidgeting on their hands, rocking back and forth, wiggling around, waiting for the action to BEGIN!! After introductions and ground rules, (which were taking waaaaaay too long for the boys) the instructor explained one last rule to the group. This last rule was the most important of all the rules regarding martial arts. She somberly and seriously explained to the kids, "You must never, ever use the martial arts learned in class on ANYONE unless you are in DANGER! You must not use these moves on your friends, siblings or parents because they are dangerous and could hurt people. These are self-defense techniques and must only be used if you are in a dangerous situation. " She proceeded to explain the various dangerous situations they may encounter and then asked for verbal promises from each child that they would keep their promise.
She began with the first child in the horseshoe and asked, "Do you promise to use the techniques used in class only when in danger?" The child responded, "I promise." This continued around the class until she got to the last two children, Jack and Gus. She repeated to Jack, "Do you promise...?" Jack sat there staring at his instructor, head cocked, thinking. After a few seconds, he shook his head and said, "um, I don't think so." Gus was watching his brother’s actions and concurred with his brother Jack. "Nope." Gus loudly said. Every parent in the room turned to look at me. I partly wanted to die and partly was extremely proud of the boys for being so honest. Ahh, humility, you get it whether you want it or not with kids.
The instructor slowly turned to face the horrible birth mother of these two heathens and said, "Mom, you will have to set some ground rules for your boys in order for them to participate in this class, for we cannot have them hurting others". "Of course", I responded to my hippie friend.
I'll let you know later about the "ground rules" (Clemens style)