By Doug Dunbar

With the benefit of hindsight, I reflect back to the summer when my wife and I dropped off our kids (2) for a camp at a Tae Kwon Do facility. It was a week long, 8 hour a day camp. Outside of a late night movie, or goofing around at the house, they had never been exposed to any type of traditional martial art.

I’ll always remember when we took them in, and all they saw was strange faces, most dressed in traditional martial art garb, and both kids looked at me and their mother, and said “You’re really NOT going to leave us here are you?” They were truly serious. We asked them to just give it a try, and if it was that bad, we’d discuss it afterwards. They were heartbroken. How could we leave them there? Honestly, I felt awful leaving them. But I wanted them to give it a try.

That night, I was at work, when they called for our nightly good night chat. I didn’t recognize who was on the phone, because it was two children, as excited as Christmas morning, having gotten every present they ever dreamed of! What? Yup. In that room, on that cushioned mat, with all those faces they’ve never met before, my kids fell in love with martial arts, just like that. Master Lee is “awesome,” they told me.

Here we are, months later, and both of them are still overjoyed every time we take them. My daughter has moved into sparring, my son advances to orange belt. In the class, they are loud and proud with “yes sir” and “no sir.”

There is a process to advancing, steps at a time. You must show Master Lee that you have mastered your skills, and you have done so with respect, before moving on. And that is what’s hidden in all of this fun, martial arts world, a fantastic lesson in discipline and respect that has come home with them.

I have always shared with our kids, that in our house, love, and respect, are items one and two on the list of being good people. As any parent will admit, enforcing these aren’t always the easiest. It’s never been that much of a challenge with my little boogers, but on occasion, they act like kids can! But the difference in how they hold themselves, and the level of respect they now show, is noticeably different, and heartwarming.

When we have our little moments now, conversation often quickly turns to “What would Master Lee say?” That usually is enough to stop whatever is going on.

I have no clue how far my kids will take this, I’ll support whatever they chose. But even if they decided to move on to something else today, what a great benefit this was to helping shape these young minds, to be respectful of others.

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