Photo Credit: Isak Tiner
After much procrastination and Roan totally getting ready to poke my eyes out because I’ve put it off for so long, I’m finally ready to start teaching Muay Thai Kickboxing for kids, again. I love teaching these classes. First, there is something inherently cute about a kid in boxing gloves. Second, it is so cool to see kids feel strong and powerful, and third, there is also something profoundly hysterical about kids putting punching and kicking combinations together. Roan loves having me teach these things and I love having him be proud of me.
I’m starting with just two classes, so if you’re in the NYC area and have a kid between the ages of 5 – 10, you can register them here. Registration is for twelve weeks, one day per week, either Thursday or Friday, from 3:30 – 4:15, beginning on February 25, 2010. They’ll be held at Area Yoga but my advice is to not take a yoga class during that time because baby…..I like my people to get loud. And in my experience, these kids do not hold back on their “Hiiiiiiiiii-Yaaaaaaaa’s”!
Finally, a chance to wear satin.
Let me just preface this by saying I’ve taught Roan how to throw a mean cross, and how to hook a jab. He’s also been drilled about when he can use his punches and kicks. While practicing Muay Thai? Sure. While playing with friends? Nope.
So he’s been telling me that he and his friends have been play fighting at lunch. He also has told me that they all walk away from it happy. So I haven’t really offered too much feedback on it. But today, during my weekly lunch-lady shift, actually watching it was a different story for me. Those kids are landing their kicks and punches on each other. I convinced myself that maybe that’s just where they’re at now developmentally – establishing strength. I could see Anson rolling his eyes at me and telling me that it’s just the way kids play, especially boys. I negotiated with myself that it was ok because they were all laughing and smiling. No one seemed to be running away from it or to be in any distress. So even though it was way way rougher than I would like, I didn’t intervene.
Then a bigger kid came over to join in. I don’t think he normally plays with Roan and his posse, but he was pulled in by the monkey business. The play seemed to be escalating until finally I couldn’t take it anymore. The bigger boy was twisting Roan’s arm behind him, until Roan broke free and started hooking his jabs, in a pretty primal and determined way. I called out to them and they both stopped immediately, but didn’t seem mad. I told them they couldn’t punch each other or kick each other. I told them it was way way too rough. I was going to leave it at that when I noticed Roan’s face looking the way it does when he’s fighting hard to not cry.
He wrapped his arms around me and began sobbing. I put his hood over his head and hung there for a short time, totally knowing how he hates crying in front of his friends. He came up for air and said, “I was just trying to get away from him!” And burst back into tears.
I couldn’t and still can’t figure out if he was upset because he thought he was in trouble, or if he was upset over the way the play had escalated, and was feeling scared. Maybe both? I wonder if I shouldn’t have stepped in, but well, hells bells that’s just counterintuitive for me because I’m a stepper-in-er, particularly when it comes to my boy.
So: rough play. What’s too much? What’s normal? Should I just reach for the bottle now because he’s only six and I’m already lost?
|I’ve started teaching my Children’s Muay Thai Kickboxing classes. I have to admit that I did not develop an outline for what I wanted to tackle in the 10-week course. I have some general ideas about the basic things I want to teach, but since I’ve never taught children before, I want to stay kind of fluid with the goals pertaining to techniques.
The thing I have been focused on though, is that I want these kids leaving each class with at least a little more confidence in themselves then they arrived with. I’m resolved that every child absolutely has to taste success in each class, so they have something positive to walk away with. The other thing I want to sear into their minds is the idea that there is no room for bullies or bullying in their world.
To that end, I’ve designated the last 5 minutes of each class to role-playing. I say something a little cuckoo to each kid, with the idea that they figure out language to get me to stop. For instance, I’ll say, “Hey Roan, I hear that your dad eats pancakes with broccoli!” And he’ll address me by name with the response, “Jodi, I don’t like how that sounds.” Then he walks away. This went over well in the first class, with even some of the shy girls being able to speak up. I know this is so intimidating for some of them – to have to speak up. But I’m convinced that if they get this one-two combination of success in physical challenges combined with learning language and faith in their own ability to speak up, I will have an entire classroom of very confident students.
And I am asking you for your ideas. When thinking about kids who get bullied, and kids who do the bullying, what approaches seem effective? What have you used that worked, and what have you tried that didn’t work so well? Bring it in the comments!