Hmm. My child sparring. Let me think about it…I don’t think so. That DID go through my head when my sons began studying martial arts in 2000 at the ages of 4, 6 and 7. So, how did I begin to change my mind? Well, let’s talk about the ATA Tiger story of Mir, the blue dragon. I have found that the best lessons are learned from stories.
Mir was tall with long limbs, and POWERFUL. When he sparred, he was known to knock his opponents out of the ring, on the floor, upside down. But his heart was kind, and he hated to hurt his friends. Sometimes, without thinking, he did, accidentally. One day, he came to taekwondo class with a science experiment perched delicately in his hand–an egg which he was not supposed to break until his science class the next day. He laid it gingerly on a pad as he geared up for sparring. On this day, he was paired up with Ara, the turtle, one of the smallest students in the school. And, could you have guessed? Ara ended up in a crying heap on the floor. Ara had indomitable spirit in the face of failure, and he bounced back quickly. But Mir resolved to simply do nothing in the next match, so he would not hurt Ara, and they started quarreling.
Well, Master Jahngsoo (that would be me in a white tiger kind of way) approached Mir to ask what the problem was. Mir angrily announced that he needed a new partner because his partner was too small, and not a challenge. Ara angrily retorted back, “I can’t learn anything if you don’t DO ANYTHING!”
Master Jahngsoo calmly asked him to retrieve his egg. He pointed out that Mir could hold the egg gently. “So you CAN show self control in your power!” Mir got it right away. He turned humbly to Ara. “I am sorry I did not use self control. I am ready to learn from you!”
I wanted my sons to be aware of their power, aware of others’ needs, humble enough to learn from anyone and anything (especially failure) and kind enough to have self control over their power. Sparring can teach all those lessons to our children. Even as an adult, sparring helped me learn these lessons as well.
Helping us to grow a bright spirit, kind hearts, and sound minds.