By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 11/13/2018
Occurred: 11/9/2007
Topics/Keywords: #Zachary #Karate Page Views: 4313
Zach returns to the world of martial arts.

This has been a heck of a busy month, and we haven't even gotten to Thanksgiving yet! Between Michael's kidney stone (as I write this, he's back in the emergency room with it), my having a tooth pulled, and having to get major repairs on the car, not to mention crises at work, I have not been able to do the postings I had planned. I've already started a piece on mankind's many genders ('way more than two!) and another on Lord of the Rings character Tom Bombadil that I just haven't been able to finish. Nevertheless…

No matter how busy things get, never miss an opportunity—or, if need be, make an opportunity—to take your grandson to karate class.

Zach at three: Youngest kid in his karate class.

Back when Zach was just three years old, he attended a weekly karate class given at his preschool by " Karate Charlie". He was the youngest kid in the class, and I have to tell you if there is anything cuter than a three-year-old assuming karate fight positions I have no idea what it would be.

But when Zach left preschool, he also left karate. We wanted to re-enroll him, and he wanted to continue to take karate; but with moving across the Valley and his starting grade school and with everything else that was going on, somehow it just never happened, until a few weeks ago. Michael and Jenny went "halves" on the tuition at a karate school conveniently located just a couple blocks from our home.

Apparently it's a requirement for the parents to remain while their kids are in class. At least, Zach insisted I stay. There are three rows for us to sit in and at least most of the parents, and usually a few of the students' siblings, use them.

They are also very convenient for taking pictures of the kids doing their kicks and stuff.

Ready… …Set… …KICK!

The first night I went, I noticed a couple there with two other kids, all in karate outfits but attending consecutive classes because of their ages. So their parents were going to be there for three hours. They were the most patient people I have ever seen, watching their son on the mat but giving equal and loving attention to his little brothers. The youngest was four and absolutely adorable, grabbing and pretending to eat his father's ear, giggling all the while. By comparison, there was another dad there with his little kid, who never stopped crying the whole time (the kid, not the father—though the father came close). The father was nice, but the kid was just a whiner. Fortunately, the parents with the two kids were right in front of me so I could exchange smiles with the giggling four-year-old and kind of ignore the whiny seven-year-old.

Did I mention the parents of the well-adjusted kids were both men? Yes, a gay couple had brought their three sons to karate classes.

Don't read anything into the gay couple's kids being so cute while the kid of the hetero dad was an annoying whiner.

I'm just sayin'.

When Zach was three, karate class was spent teaching the little ones to roll, somersault, and so on. This class is serious. The instructor, an extremely tall young man with a shock of spiky black hair and who obviously loves teaching the little ones, is helping them build strength and endurance as well as teaching them the moves. He and his also-tall, blonde assistant have the kids run back and forth in the space, following the lines painted on the mat and switching directions as quickly as possible. Now sure, kids love to run anyway. But this goes on for several minutes, long enough that he has to let them cool down afterwards. The same goes for all the exercises, including one where the kids do one-handed pushups and high-five the kid opposite them!

High-fives WHILE doing push-ups. Can Arnold do this? Where skill meets exuberance.

What amazes and cheers me about all this, is how much fun the instructor makes it. There's absolutely no bullying, belittling, or pushing. In other words, it's as far a cry from my own physical fitness classes in high school as it's possible to get. The Sensei (instructor) tells the kids to strive to be "the best", with the implication is that they betheir best. And when the kids pair off—so far, just for posing and doing their karate moves in the air—he tells them all to "be stronger than your opponent". So they are all encouraged, and none are discouraged.

And I bet any one of them could whoop Rush Limbaugh's ass.