Karate is different from soccer. When they played soccer, I sat and watched every practice. We practiced at home. I was invested in their games. I cheered for them, cringed when they messed up, and encouraged them to be good sports even when they lost.
When the boys started karate, I took them to the lessons and waited for them to be done. I can't really watch them and keep Lizzie occupied, so I just did the latter. They seemed to be enjoying it. I picked up bits and pieces of the lingo, heard reports if one boy or another was required to sit for any reason during training, but mostly, my responsibility was to wash the uniforms and get them to lessons on time. I did that! To me, karate was EASY! I could even drop them off and run errands! WOW! Love karate!!
I knew there was testing required for advance to the next level. Let me be more specific.... I knew the date of the testing! I knew they had to be there early that night and I knew I had to pay an extra fee for them to test.
Every day during school time, I send them out on the patio and tell them to practice their karate routine and work on karate stuff. It is a time for me to read to Lizzie. If it were not for that, I wouldn't ask them to practice. I only watched them once and made note of the fact that Paulie was turning the wrong direction a lot. I spoke to him about it and he and John Henry worked on this together.
Okay.... I'm telling you I didn't do anything for karate. I've been feeling like I was taking the easy way out by doing karate vs spring baseball!
BUT.... last night was testing. I washed and IRONED their uniforms and had them there early. I got there and realized that all the other parents and some grandparents were sitting in the training room waiting with cameras. This was for sure a different day. I called Steve and he came over. Thankfully, Lizzie was visiting her grandparents and we were able to sit for the whole hour!
Testing was a HUGE deal. Instructors were brought in from other dojos, the children were watched the whole time (not just during routines), they were all required to do every punch, block, kick, and routine they knew.... in front of the whole bunch of us. They were called out individually to spar and they were expected to sit at attention when waiting for others. It lasted an hour. I got more and more nervous. I realized I had 3 little guys working REALLY hard to pass this test. I realized I'd done NOTHING to help and I realized my middle guy was still turning the wrong way sometimes. I realized my 6 yr old was expected to do the exact same things (and just as well!) as my 11 yr old. Uh-oh.
I also realized that this was one of those times when I sent them out and they had to do it for themselves. There was really no helping them. It was up to each one to get the job done. Plus, did you know that good effort and not giving up counts more than turning the wrong way!
Well.... 3 white belts went in to the dojo and 1 hour later....
3 YELLOW belts came out.
I could NOT be more proud. John Henry also received the award for Perfect Stance (still NOT sure what that means) and he gets an extra patch on his belt. He takes this very seriously and is in it for the long haul. He wants black belt and he can see it closer now! His form is impeccable and he looks great doing his stuff. But, I was most proud that when he realized his friend did not pass on to the next level, John Henry comforted him and tried to make him feel better.
Paul turned the wrong way once, but he never gave up. He kept going and threw those punches hard and tight. He kicked high and blocked low. He did GREAT!! And he did show great effort and concentration and he showed amazing restraint. If you knew Paul, like I know Paul.... you'd know that last night was a real victory for Paul. He likes to be perfect and even though he knew he wasn't, he never gave up during his routine.
Sam was amazing. You know how they say little dogs don't realize they are little. They will try and fight bigger dogs! Sam is like that. He had NO concept that what he was attempting to do was anything too hard for him. He did it all. He sparred, he punched, he kicked, and even when his opponent was 3 heads taller than him, Sam never let it bother him. That boy has confidence! But, I was MORE proud when John Henry's name was called before his and Sam jumped up and clapped, "Hey, that's MY brother!!" and when Paul's name was called (again before his) and he clapped and yelled,"Congratulations, Paul! That's my other brother!" Then when his name was called, he ran up, bowed like a samari warrior and then high-fived his way back to his seat! He also comforted a friend who did not pass his testing.
Testing again in 3 months. I'll be more prepared next time, but it really won't matter, will it??