Thoughts from a Karate Mom

Thoughts of a Karate Mom

A call came in recently to the dojo. A lovely and kind elderly gentleman was moving from his family home and, in packing, found boxes of karate trophies stored in the basement. The spoils of the competitive success of his son from years gone by. You could tell as we spoke that he was very proud of his son but “did we want them” he asked? He would like them to bring joy to someone else and not to end up in the trash heap of things that he could not take with him in his move. Yes, was the answer.

Washington DC

The evening is uncomfortably humid and there’s a storm brewing in the distance. We’re in a restaurant with delicious food, a warm and welcoming atmosphere and we think “how lucky are we?”. That still, after a decade, we continue to have a bird’s eye view to watch our son, now a man, follow his passion. If there was any doubt, yes, we’re at a karate tournament.

We once sat over a glass of wine and calculated what it has cost over the course of a decade of competing. We finished the wine, laughed in slight shock, clinked our glasses and said we wouldn’t change a single thing. The places we’ve been, the people we’ve met, the friends we’ve made, the opportunities we’ve been able to give our son. Win or lose, it’s priceless.

Oh don’t get me wrong, we all love for our kids to have a great day. Head home with the bling. We are proud of them. We feel reflected glory in their accomplishments and oh the social media posts! The likes; the shares! The social media validation of accomplishment. It’s sweet for them and, truthfully, sweet for us.

But it’s honestly none of that. It’s being their cheerleaders when they win and more importantly when they don’t. They need to know that no matter what, they will look to you and you will say we love you, well done.

It’s a celebration of character and guts, dedication, triumph, defeat and resilience. It’s a celebration of doing what you love and loving what you do. It’s about sitting and having a family dinner before competition, laughing and being silly and not talking about the competition at all.

It’s about carving out moments when you’re at a tournament that have absolutely nothing to do with the ring. Life is short and moments are precious and not to be squandered on worrying about winning or even the politics of sport for that matter. Karate is not a sport isolated from politics – parental or otherwise.

And so, as we sit on a warm Washington evening having a lovely meal, chatting about life and karate – we savour the moment because it might not come again. The best and most lasting rewards are usually not in the ring at all.

Of course, strive to be the pinnacle of your sport. Push yourself to be your best. But enjoy yourself and you will rediscover your passion. And then you remember skill comes from passion and passion starts with fun.

Reconnect with the joy of sport and life. As a family, reconnect with each other. Slow your breathing to take in the moments of life; of sport. It will let you, as a parent, rediscover the joy of just watching your kid do something they love.

Over time, karate can form the punctuation marks of your life. Don’t make it a run on sentence. Remember that commas let you breathe. Punctuation gives expression and enhances meaning. Don’t rush; savor. That will bring joy back for your competitive kid and yourself too. Because when you have a bird’s eye view watching your kid do something they love – just sit back, relax and enjoy the view.

And someday, offer whatever trophies you may have to someone else and hope that they say yes. Because trophies gather dust; memories live on.

Maureen Clarke 
Douvris Martial Arts Orleans

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