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A month full of Jion…

14 May

Three times a year, at Jion, the karate school that my kids attend, there is a grading. A grading allows a child to get his next karate belt if his Sensei (teacher) thinks that he is ready to grade.

Before sending your child off to grading though, they have to go through what is called a’ mock grading’ – which is almost like the idea of a ‘staged combat’. In the Middle Ages, the jousting games were also referred to as ‘mock fights’. So there you have it, a piece of not-so-useful information to drop at your next dinner party. A mock grading is therefore like a dress rehearsal before the premiere of a theatrical play. Stress levels are on a rise and performing at your best is important if you wish to prove to your Sensei that you are in fact ready to go to the real grading.

A few weeks before the mock grading, in our house, we live through a lot of karate moments. Over and above their twice a week karate lessons, there are moments of practicing their kata (organised moves that represent a fake fight), moments of staged fights with dad, teaching and teasing each other and of course a lot of hope and expectations to get the ‘Oss’ signal from their Sensei.

Between the mock grading and the actual grading, there are usually only 5 days (from the Saturday to the Thursday). However, the first grading for this year happened to be over some public holidays which meant that between mock and grading, we had almost 2 weeks. Two weeks over which a lot of bargaining and rewarding could – and did – happen.

‘Mmmh no, you can’t play on the iPad until you practised your karate.’

‘Ooh I don’t think you should behave like this. A genuine karate-kid should know better. Maybe you aren’t ready to grade to green belt… ‘

Aaaah, happy days these were…

These days of easy bargaining came to an end  beginning of May when the kids from Jion that were ready to grade, graded.

Léa and Killian graded to, respectively orange and green belt and Matty got 2 stripes on his white belt. Not yet ready to grade to yellow, his grading stopped at the mock grading. It’s always a positive life lesson when hard work is rewarded with the coveted result and for that day at least, their world remained a just, fair and fun world. Long may it last…

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More than ever before I am convinced of the right choice of sport for all my children. Whether they are competitive, perfectionist, low-confident or just floppy, the values of discipline, respect for each other, hard work, healthy body development and a fun Sensei really build them up and make for a holistic approach to what is good for them.

And the best part is that they love it!!

If you’re interested in finding out more about karate in Cape Town, you can contact Sensei Dirk by going to the website www.jion.co.za

I promise I don’t have share in the business!! 🙂

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Karate is contagious!

18 May

Our house has become very safe over the last month or so, thanks to these 3 karate kids! Léa and Matty follow in the steps of Killian. Matty with his I-don’t-really-mind attitude is decidedly the most chilled out karate person I know. Léa listens attentively and tried her hardest to look the part. Mmmh, she makes me think of the prayer mantis character in Kung-Fu Panda, with her long dangling body.

But they are all super motivated (Matty in his own way), they love it, they sweat at it (Matt comes at the end of each lesson and tells me “Look Mama, I’m nearly sweating!’). Léa is practicing practicing practicing. She is in the same class as Killian (white, yellow and orange belts are together) and wants to feel that she is good enough.

I love the structure of karate, the discipline it requires, the respect of others and the way the gradings are organized. If you work hard, whether you look good or not, you will move on to the next belt (well, in the early stages at least) which is great for young kids. It helps them to stay motivated and to know that they can do it. No doubt, Killian looks much better than Léa, but to a certain extent, it’s irrelevant.

Here they are, taking their role very seriously! Killian not flinching (apart from the oh-look!-a-butterfly moment), Léa trying to look fierce, and Matt and his cooler-than-cool attitude. Aren’t they cute!!!

The only downside is the washing. Lots of white, white and white!!

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