My husband and I wanted our daughters, Mei and Min Min, to learn martial arts or some form of self-defense. Well, either that or Hubby jokingly declared he would get a shotgun! Because of the rising crime rates and bullying incidents in the news, we felt that it was crucial for the girls’ safety and protection. Early this year when Mei just turned 7, and Min Min was nearly 6, we felt it was time for taekwondo lessons.
A martial art originating from Korea, taekwondo teaches more than just physical fighting skills and self-defense. The synchronization of the movements require concentration, coordination, good memory, confidence, and self-discipline. The patterns are a set sequence of moves with many steps that the students must memorize. They are tested and graded in order to progress to the next taekwondo belt, starting from white belt for beginners to the many degrees of black belts for the advanced students.
Taekwondo and martial arts are traditionally considered a male-dominated sport, though more and more girls and women are doing it now. I wanted Mei and Min Min to spend a portion of their week in an activity that was “masculine” in order to bring some balance to their princessy, glittery, pink-centric life. We found a martial arts dojo with an instructor who was great with kids. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Mei and Min Min loved taekwondo class. They soaked up every minute of the no-frills, sweaty, primal experience. It was a thrilling, new discovery for Mei and Min.
I was amazed at how quickly Mei and Min Min took a shine to their burly taekwondo masters. Both with booming voices, one is tall while the other with dark skinned. May I remind you, both my daughters, especially Mei, used to be terrified of tall, dark men. They also had visual and auditory sensory processing disorder. Loud noises freaked them out, certain acoustics would be sensory hell for them, being in a room filled with people would send them both into a terrifying meltdown. A taekwondo class is usually a busy, noisy dojo filled with students kicking and striking, complete with grunts and yells accompanying every executed move in unison to the taekwondo master loudly calling out the patterns. But Mei and Min Min took it all in stride. Not a trace of fear or agitation to the noise and controlled chaos. They were mesmerized. In fact, they got their “battle cries” down pat on the very first day. They were actually thrilled at this “license to yell, kick and punch,” because I’m forever telling them to keep the noise down and stop roughhousing at home. The yells or “Kihap” during kicking and striking helps to regulate their breathing, keeps them focused, and prepared for the point of impact. Taekwondo is also an excellent way to redirect their extra energy, they come home tired, happy and mellow.
Mei and Min Min are now yellow belts with two green stripes, and they are working really hard to get their green belt. They attend taekwondo classes three to four times a week and they practice every single day at home, I don’t even have to remind them to practice. They enjoy practicing and sparring with their daddy, and Hubby is pleased there’s finally an activity he can do with the girls that doesn’t challenge his masculinity. As it is, Hubby knows the names of every single character in My Little Pony, he has dressed far too many Barbie dolls and joined in too many tea parties with the mandatory sticking out pinky finger.
How far we have come from those autism days, when we had to employ therapists and consultants from America to create special therapy programs just to teach the girls how to play appropriately with a dollhouse, learn simple skills like drinking from a straw or blowing out a birthday candle. Now, learning new skills come so much more naturally and effortless for them. Taekwondo is now one of Mei and Min Min’s favorite activities. I hope you enjoy the video!