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Arts and Entertainment Sunday, Mar. 11, 2012 8 years ago

My Kids Kick Butt, In More Ways Than One

by: Candice McElyea

Raising kids today can be scary. I feel like I used to be pretty normal, but after I had kids I became this paranoid freak who thinks every person’s sole mission in life is to take my children. It's a thought that is reinforced every time I turn on the TV news, which is why I have stopped watching. It's also why I encouraged my children to get involved in martial arts. Not only had I heard from many people about it raising self-esteem and being good discipline for kids, but I also wanted them to get exercise and the ability to thwart a kidnapper.

My one reservation was them learning how to kick my ass---or each other’s. Or even worse, getting that call from school saying my little monkey had just sent someone home with a bloody nose. The paranoia over someone stealing them took precedence over the latter fear, however, so I started my search for the perfect place.

Much to my dismay, the first place I took them was a major fail. The teacher was a screamer and my kids got scared. They vowed to never step foot in another martial arts studio ever again. Sigh. Then, about six months later, we were walking down Main Street in Lakewood Ranch when we spotted some kids in gis walking into a new studio that had just opened. Inside we heard laughter, and I convinced my crazy little monkeys to take a look inside (under the pretense of just wanting to meet the new owner).That’s when we met Rob Tucker. Let me just say this: amazing. He instantly bonded with my kids and had them trying out karate moves on the mat in about 10 minutes. Tucker is a black belt and the owner of America’s Best Martial Arts in Lakewood Ranch. He is also amazing with kids. Then there’s "Mr. D.," another amazing and awesome instructor who even knows how to beatbox (see video below). The atmosphere inside is friendly and bright---and the best part about this place? They don’t teach your kids how to kick or punch.

What? Really?? You read it right. Until they reach a certain age and earn a certain respect for the art, this place only teaches self-defense, ground grappling and anti-bully techniques. We decided to sign up for the two-week trial for $19.95 and now my kids are hooked. We go to class two days a week for about one hour each class. They learn how to get away from an attacker, how to get the bad guy, and my four-year-old son will say the best part ever is learning the superhero moves like the "Spiderman crawl." The kids are rewarded for grades and chores with stripes on their belts, and they make a huge deal out of it. Now my kids are clearing the table at home, making their beds and putting their toys away without being asked. As for me and being normal? Well, that depends on who you ask ...

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