Before my wife and I had children, learning self-defence and being able to protect myself was a personal decision not shared by my wife. Her philosophy was to never put yourself in risky situations to begin with and if faced with a threat, just run away. It’s a simplistic way to look at things, but ok, fair enough if that gives her enough peace of mind. For myself, however, I like to live in a Walter Mitty world where getting myself out of a tight situation using my self-defence training was a real possibility so I signed up for various martial arts through my life, with Krav Maga being on the list.
Then, our two daughters were born and I began to look at life a little differently. I became less inwardly focussed on my self-preservation and my priority turned to how can I best protect my daughters that the brutality of life sometimes presents? In spite of my desire to want to be around to always protect them, I knew that it was not only impractical but harmful to their own development and road to independence. As any parent soon realizes as their children grow up, they have their own hopes, dreams, and way of doing things. In the early days, you can just tell them what to do and they’ll listen, but after too early an age they soon start talking back and want to do things their way. The best you can do is just introduce them to positive experiences and hope that your examples resonate with them enough that it sparks an interest in them to continue.
In my case, I introduced our two girls to the dojo quite early in their lives, and the Krav Maga kids class was their first foray into the martial arts world. For my older daughter, the concept of self-protection was so impactful that she then asked if she could take judo to supplement the ground game that is more lacking in Krav Maga. It turned out to be a good decision on her part, because she soon became quite adept at it and a natural talent that she won many competitions and continues being involved in the sport to this day. So for her, introducing her to martial arts has been very beneficial for her overall development. Conversely, however, it hasn’t quite been the same for the other daughter, who is 4 years younger. While she accompanied us to the BC Winter Games when the older daughter was competing, while I was cheering her on, my younger daughter (9 at the time) was patiently and quietly sitting beside me knitting, reading, or working on her colouring book. She sat there the entire day, which I recall being 9 hours long, with no complaints at all. But was she interested in martial arts and watching her sister compete? Not at all.
You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this. Well, as a parent we try to do the best for our children, and in spite of our best intentions, we can only do so much. However, as long as we act as good role models and do what we say we will, our children notice and hopefully, with all the things we throw at the wall, some of it will actually stick. In my older daughter’s case, even though she hasn’t taken Krav Maga for quite a while now there’s a recent experience which I think is worth telling. The other week my wife and I took them out for ice cream, and on the walk back up the block to where we parked the car, our older daughter was walking far, far ahead. Our younger daughter then started running towards her, hoping to surprise her and possibly give her a little scare. In the end, it turns out that my older daughter sensed that someone was running up behind her, and while having no idea that it was her sister, turned to face the threat while sub-consciously adopting the semi-passive stance. It’s comforting to know that some good habits are still ingrained.
And for the not-at-all-interested-in-
So, there’s still hope for the rest of us.