Since martial arts are very popular in Silicon Valley, we had a lot of choices as to where to send her. My husband wanted her to take judo, because he did it as a young man. But our close friends suggested to come and try a taekwondo studio where their young son was already a student.
Smarty came in for a trial lesson, and she fell in love immediately. The head coach is also an owner of this dojo, and he is a very special person. He has an amazing gift of dealing with kids. He is strict and firm, but at the same time he has a great sense of humor and makes kids laugh. It was amazing to see Smarty trying things that she would not do in gymnastics including full splits. It was fun to see her breaking the boards and developing "yes, I can!" attitude while trying something that was personally challenging and meaningful for her. Both the head coach and his assistants (our second-in-command is in the picture above) seem to genuinely like Smarty and push her to do her best. She made such a big leap this year, joined the leadership team and earned her entry into an advanced group. But it's not just about sports - our instructors are doing their best trying to build a sense of belonging and to create a community for their students. They hold potluck lunches after every belt promotions, host parent night outs, and encourage kids to participate in various service opportunities such as back-to-school drive, fund raising for hurricane relief, and now Operation Gratitude.
It's exciting to see that Smarty found a sport that she truly enjoys and that she is supported by nurturing and committed instructors. She goes to taekwondo three times and has almost 90 minutes a practice every session without whining or complaining. She is not afraid to attempt board breaks and, even when she is unsuccessful, she shakes off pain and tries again. She has just started sparring, and, she stays in the fight even when her opponents are bigger and more experienced than she is. She says that she cannot imagine stopping taekwondo, and I hope that this attitude continues all the way to the black belt and beyond. I hope that she will not only learn to control her body, but that she will also get better at controlling her impulsive behavior and develop wisdom in when to speak up and when to let things go.