I’m sitting in the waiting room at Kang’s Black Belt Academy, watching both S and J in the Lil Dragons class, which J just joined 3 weeks ago, and which S graduated from (now he’s a Kid Tiger, and SO proud of it).

S has been taking karate classes from the Malakoffs, who own and operate Kang’s studio. He initially participated in the enrichment after-school program offered at their preschool, and then, last fall, we shifted to having him come to class at the main studio in Olney, MD. His first experience of karate was as a guest of our friends, the B family, whose older child is about 3 years older than S. At the time, S spoke very little English, and the instructor asked us to sit on the side and watch until there was a good time for S to join in. Despite not having any idea what was going on, he waited patiently…watching his friend M doing his moves, occasionally looking at me inquiringly. Finally, he was invited to participate, in an exercise where he got to kick a punching ball-type of prop – he loved it!!! So, we signed him up, and now it’s a family thing, with both boys participating.

I had never really had a strong opinion about karate classes, one way or the other. I didn’t see a huge value, other than basic exercise and coordination, but I also didn’t object on grounds of promoting violence or fighting. I can now say that I have become a proponent – it is wonderful to hear S speak about teamwork, respect for elders, and practice and patience, all values that are actively taught within the context of karate. J is just starting, but watching him today, I was amazed to see how the teachers gently brought him gently into the group activities – he was initially reluctant, and they didn’t force or pressure, but by the end if the class he was engaged enthusiastically!

So, it looks like Kang’s Black Belt Academy is a part of our lives for years to come.

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