I’ve started going back to Taekwondo after my regular fall semester hiatus. Things have changed slightly. Our master has incorporated a few yoga-inspired moves into our stretching routine. Different methods for escaping from an attacker’s bear hug are being practiced (if your arms are pinned, wail on his nuts with your fist; if they’re not pinned, it’s elbow-to-face time). What has not changed is the fact that I am the sole adult in my class. Once in a while we have one of the teenaged black belts assisting in class but, other than that, it’s me and the elementary school crowd.
Needless to say, lessons are not always as challenging or helpful as they could be because, well, little kids suck at martial arts. Okay, that’s not fair. There’s this one little kid, his name’s Xavier and he’s eight, and he’s really, really, really good at sparring . . . other eight-year-olds. So, really, little kids don’t necessarily suck at martial arts — although plenty of them do — they just suck at doing martial arts at an adult level. They can’t hold a target high enough or tightly enough. You can’t throw them properly or kick them properly because they’re small and you’ll hurt them. You have to constantly encourage them and tell them they’re getting better even when they’re not because otherwise they get all emotional and start crying. I mean, c’mon guys, this isn’t freakin’ preschool. Grow a pair!
The one good thing about the whole situation is that, because of my superior intellect and muscle control, I totally dominate that class. Like, last night, we had a quiz on all the Korean terms we have to know when we test for our next belt. I killed! What is palkup? Elbow. What is poomsae? Sparring. What is olgul sonnal maki? Anyone? Anyone? It’s high knife-hand block, bitches! All they could do is sit there and shake their little heads while I mopped the floor with ‘em because, as I may have forgot to mention, little kids also suck at learning Korean (except, I suppose, for actual Korean kids; then I guess it’s pretty easy). So anyway, I kicked their collective butts at the vocab quiz and even though they were pretty upset, my daughter included, I think they came away from it with a profound sense of humility which is good because, as any adult could tell you, humility is important in martial arts.