We first thought about letting El join taekwondo after he was beaten up by Gar yet again. I asked him which martial arts he was interested in for self defence, and he mentioned taekwondo in between sobs. His friend had talked about it and showed some photos during a show-and-tell session in K2.
I thought it was enough to let El join, but Gar seemed to have the talent for martial arts. After all, he was punching and doing splits since long ago. I contacted El’s friend’s mother and after weeks of arranging (due to travel and illnesses), the children could finally go for it. They had fun during the trial class, so I signed both of them up.
Unfortunately, due to travel and illnesses again, we missed quite a lot of lessons in December, so their progress was slow. They started learning end of last year, but it was only last week that they took their grading test.
What do I like about their taekwondo class?
1. The boys get to have fun! The teachers let them play with balls, freeze, and other obstacle courses. They train them in different aspects.
2. They get to learn discipline. They are taught to respect their parents, instructors and peers. The instructors even taught them how to fold their belt and uniform.
3. They get to learn how to kick and also follow a set of pattern that would earn them new belts.
4. As a number of the instructors are Korean, the children learn a few simple phrases such as ‘kamsahamnida’, ‘annyeong hasayeo’ and a few others. I hear Gar repeating this sometimes in his own play. I realised that I could understand a few more phrases when the instructors speak to the Korean children in Korean based on my immersion from Korean dramas.
5. There are many children from different nationalities such as Korean, Chinese, European and American. This allows the children to be exposed to other cultures.
There were occasions when Gar became very shy or scared. He simply refused to go to class sometimes or he would run back to me. It could be due to the teachers counting in Korean, or a student bumping into him, or him tripping over and hurting himself, or a student asking where his brother was. The teachers would try to coax him back with stickers. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it did not. Once, when he was supposed to have an extra class, he only participated for 10 minutes and then felt so upset by a boy’s innocent remarks that he remained with me for the rest of the 50 minutes.
Thank goodness the children were finally ready for the grading test. El had been quite steady. Gar got his steps mixed up occasionally, but his poses looked better. He was slightly slower in the first few steps, but he caught up and completed the steps properly during the grading test. There were so many children, at least 25 of them going for the white belt test, where they would aim to get a white belt with a yellow tip. It was so crowded, so after I waved to them to the room, I went downstairs to watch them on the screen.
I hope they would both get their belts and move on to higher grades soon.