I have watched the news lately and I have seen so many crimes against women. Now I don’t think crime against women is any worse than the same crime against anyone else. However, it hits closer to home when I think of my daughter when she is 12 being killed by a 15 year old boy. We see everyday that women are victims of violent rape. As parents we try to teach our kids the dangers of drinking alcohol or doing drugs, we try to educate them about date rape. We educate our boys to respect women, we educate our children to use caution in certain environments. But how often do we really and I mean really give our children the tools to fight off.
I had a conversation with one of my best friends Jon. Jon has been there through my transition of being a father and has watched my relationship with my daughter develop. We got talking about the state of the world and I naturally shared some of my thoughts with him. In today’s world, more children are raped, killed by other children, than drown. Current statistics show that 1 out of every 6 women will be the subject of forcible rape or attempted forcible rape. I am not an optimist so I don’t think those are going to decrease. I am terrified for the world my daughter will be raised in. Jon who is a very accomplished 4th degree black belt , head instructor and owner of a martial arts studio said to me, “My 10yr old daughter (he actually used her name here but I am withholding it) has been training in Karate for 6 yrs. Could she fight off a 200 lbs. 6’2 grown man? Maybe not yet, but she would put up such a fight that she would be more trouble than he would want to deal with. As she continues to grow and gets ready for high school and college, I am not going to worry as much because she will have the knowledge to take care of herself.”
After this conversation I really got to thinking. We send our kids to school to increase their ability to survive. Many parents teach their kids to swim, so the kids won’t drown. What do we do for our daughters to prepare them against violent rape? What do we do for our boys to prepare them to deal with bullying? . If 10k for lessons until my daughter is 18 buys a chance that she can avoid being forcibly raped or date raped, then it is money well spent. With that in mind I shopped around for martial arts lessons.
I have a background in kickboxing and from my troubled youth I had been in many fights with self proclaimed martial arts people. After using my own personal knowledge and who I was getting them for, I chose, Krav Maga. Several of the traditional martial arts didn’t appeal as much to me, because I felt they were from the sport aspect, not the survival aspect. In the real world nobody says ‘go’ or gives you points, you are walking down the street and three people slam you up against the wall. I would prefer to take her to Jon, but something about weekly drives to St. George kills my desire for free lessons and socializing with Jon.
My only concern with Krav Maga was that it is extremely brutal, and 6 year olds don’t know when the appropriate force is justified. However, every martial art has its advantages and every martial art prepares people to protect themselves in the real world. After taking advantage of the free week, I was impressed that they didn’t teach anything really brutal to the kids. Everything was taught with how to deal with the schoolyard bully and how to walk away with confidence.
One of the most important things that they teach is how to protect oneself. My desire to put Marina in martial arts was to help protect her. The reality was they were teaching respect for everyone. They were teaching discipline. They were teaching things like not using violence to solve the problem. They were teaching respect for other people. They were teaching accountability. These are things, I am not sure kids, learn in school. Kids are often influenced by other children with very little consequences. How many rapes, murders or bullyings may not happen if kids learn responsibility for their actions. This is something that I think they can learn in martial arts, which is a popular social atmosphere. Not only is Marina learning to defend herself, but she is being reinforced on the values that I have been trying to teach her all along. This was a double victory for me as a parent. The true test though was if Marina liked it. If she liked it, and it was teaching her positive values then she would be much more receptive of those values.
I took her to a place called Krav Reborn. They offered a free week trial before we had to commit. Her first lesson was on a Saturday. As we showed up, I ran into a good adventure buddy of mine who had nothing but positives to say about the place. As the lesson got underway, Marina was the most outgoing and talkative. Everytime they asked a question Marina’s hand was the first to shoot up. A lot of the parents laughed and I got a lot of comments on how awesome her personality was. I asked her at the end if she liked it and she said she did, but Marina can be fickle, so only time would tell.
On Wednesday when I picked her up from school, she said she wanted to go to Krav Maga again. I didn’t ask her or bait her into it. She just really wanted to. Her teacher told me that she had to show the class what she learned. Almost every time I have her, she claims that she wants to go. She looks forward to it and has lots of fun. Even at home she likes to role-play with the bully situations.
At first I thought it would be a great opportunity for teaching defense, and it is. What I didn’t expect is that the discipline, and other lessons they are teaching are life skills, that in the end, can only make the world a better place.