Oh how I miss karate. Years back I pushed myself into doing something I’ve always wanted to do, I started practicing Tae Kwon Do.  I can’t even tell you how much I loved it.  It felt good to do something that scared me a little, but always fascinated me.  Putting yourself out there like that is definitely frightening.  Finding your voice and letting yourself scream, “HI-YAA!” without feeling like a fool takes some getting used to, but after a while you learn that it really does help to channel your power and you actually look more foolish if you aren’t doing it with the rest of your class.  And after all,  knowing how to kick butt is a good thing.  You kind of release your inner superhero…!

And ahhh, the power.  Not power in a scary Sarah Palin kind of way (did I say that?!) but in a way that makes you feel strong, like you can take on anything in your life with grace and confidence.  It’s something I have always strived for in my life but had often had a hard time finding it within myself.  I’ll never forget sobbing all the way home from my first tournament in which I won first place for my form, or after hearing a parent in the lobby say to my instructor, “Wow, she’s tough!” upon watching one of my sparring matches.

As much as I loved participating in the martial arts, my gimpy back did not.  A low back injury only allowed me to get up to a red belt before telling me it had had quite enough.  Red, than brown, than black.  Dang.  So close, but yet….so very far.

And this was the first reason I was so delighted to hear that Scout had some interest in starting up Tae Kwon Do.  He started in August and is now a blue belt.  V joined the bandwagon and also goes.  It’s pretty awesome. I get to hang out and be a part of it at least, even if I can’t be out there doing it.  That place is like a family, and it’s good to be there again.

Of course other than just being good for anyone in so many ways, Tae Kwon Do is especially excellent for Scout.  Aspies can tend to be a bit clumsy and uncoordinated, and of course karate works on balance and grace.  For someone who wouldn’t dream of ever joining a sports team, it’s the perfect sport.  He is only going against himself and setting his own goals.  Scout is a very cautious guy–he finally rode a two-wheeler bike much later than most kids because he was so convinced he was going to fall and break his leg.  Getting hit in sparring makes him realize he is not going to break.  And of course the sheer pride Scout feels when he gets through a belt promotion and moves on to the next level.  I used to hate those promotions–I remember asking myself on the way why in the world I actually chose and PAID to put myself through them, they made me so nervous–but not Scout.  He loves them and gets so excited to get out there and do his thing.  Most people dread it if they have to come out and do their form again after making a mistake, which does happen…Scout just looks at is as getting to do it again.  It’s great.  And you should have seen him after he broke his first board!  Scout says:

I like karate because it’s good exercise and it helps you defend yourself if someone tries to hurt you or play a mean trick on you.

I just can’t say enough about the actual studio too, American Karate Studios.  As I said above, it’s like our second family.  Our instructor, Ms. Obermiller, takes the kids under her wing and teaches them not only to be strong and work hard, but also the life lessons about being kind to others, working hard at school and being respectful and helpful to their parents.  (that’s a very good thing.)  I still can’t believe that of all of the studios out there, I just stumbled upon this one in the phone book.  Kismet?  Maybe.

If I ever needed convincing that karate was a good thing to keep Scout in, even though sometimes he balks about having to go, I just remember watching him at his first promotion.  There he was, practicing his form on his own with all of the other kids around him.  There he was, sitting quietly on the side, watching them as each one did his own form.  There he was, watching the other kids to see what they were doing and following their lead.  There he was, listening intently and calling out “Yes Sir!”  when it was his turn to compete.  It was a time when I realized that no one watching my child would think he has Asperger’s Syndrome.  No ‘twinkling’, no talking to himself or being in his own little world–he was engaged and present.  And that was a present to me.

So if any of you out there have a child on the spectrum and want to get him or her involved in something, I suggest some form of the martial arts with all my heart.  As you can see there are so many wonderful things about it…and of course, it never hurts knowing how to kick butt.