Courage and confidence found in karate

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Photo caption: Alex doing her routine with her eskrimas. Photo credit: Karen Walrond.

ONE Mom Karen Walrond is a photographer and blogger at Chookooloonks and author of the book, The Beauty of Different. She was inspired by Phiona Mutesi and the courage she found in playing chess, especially against boys, and shares her own daughter’s story of finding confidence through karate.  

I was never an athlete.  Growing up, my hobbies were more sedentary:  I played the piano, I read voraciously, I even had a stamp collection.  (Yes, I was that kid).  And while I did do ballet for a few years, eventually even that fell by the wayside.  Although sports has never been something that interested me, I’ve always rather envied the girls I knew who were athletes.  They had a confident bearing that I wished I had.  They seemed more prone to body acceptance than I was.   So when I became a mom, I was determined to introduce my daughter to sports at a young age.

At first, my husband and I put Alex in the usual things:  gymnastics and ballet, for example.  But Alex quickly lost interest, and to be honest, my husband and I were concerned about the highly competitive nature of the classes, particularly for our preschooler.  We weren’t ready to start grooming her for the Olympics or the Joffrey Ballet just yet.  We just wanted her to have fun using her body.

And then we discovered karate.

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Photo caption: Alex and her instructor, Mr. Garcia. She admires this man beyond description. Photo credit: Karen Walrond.

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Photo caption: Sparring with her instructor, Mr. Garcia. She landed a few impressive ones! Photo credit: Karen Walrond.

When Alex was 6 years old, we enrolled her in a karate school.  Her class of white belts was comprised of both boys and girls her age, and we were thrilled to learn that the instructor not only taught the kids the proper moves, but life lessons like honor and integrity.  He emphasized the importance of education and respect.  And Alex ate it all up.  My husband and I were thrilled.

And this past winter, after 3 years of pretty intense training, our daughter earned her black belt in karate.

Alex still loves every bit of it — in fact, during her black belt test she had to give a little speech, the first belt test which required it.  She talked about what karate has meant to her.  She said that it has given her courage.  Which is true.

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Photo caption: Breaking a board with her bare hand. She learned how to do this several belt tests ago, and it still blows my mind every time.  Photo credit: Karen Walrond.

But what I love about karate is how it has impacted her own body image.  More than anything, Alex loves how strong her body is.   (It’s also crazy flexible).  I love that she takes pride in the fact that she can beat all the boys in her class in arm wrestling — and that she sees boys as her friends, but more importantly, her peers.  I love that she’s proud of how high she can kick.  I love the determination on her face as she spars or does her katas.  I love that she’s a force.

I’m so proud of her.

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Photo caption: Her best Bruce Lee impersonation in her brand new black belt. Photo credit: Karen Walrond.