A number of years ago, we realized that our younger daughter needed an activity to call her own. We knew that a true team sport wouldn’t work for her. She needed something that would let her feel a part of a larger group, but where her efforts would drive her success.
Eventually, we decided to give TaeKwonDo (TKD) a try.
Now, for those who know my daughter, this seemed like a strange choice. Marianna is not only an introvert, she’s also incredibly tenderhearted, extremely shy in new situations and struggles when she feels put on the spot.
In fact, when we first went to the school, she hid behind me when one of the instructors invited her on to the floor to give it a try. Eventually she let go of my hand, faced her fear, and took that first class.
Over the years, there have been many successes as well as trials, but she has stuck with it, becoming an introverted warrior (and a second degree black belt). Staying true to herself, instead of changing to fit in to a particular mold, she is proving that you don’t have to fit a stereotype to thrive at TKD.
We believe she is redefining what it means to be a warrior.
Why TaeKwonDo Worked
To see Marianna in class now, you’d find it hard to believe she wouldn’t go onto the floor at first. She believes in herself and that shines through. She has been tested often throughout the years and discovered a quiet strength even she didn’t know existed.
Marianna is one of the highest ranking junior students at her school. That means when kids, especially other girls, look to see what will happen if they stick with it, they see her. She takes that role very seriously and uses it to push herself to be better.
As a member of the instructor program, she helps teach the lower ranks in class and assists during testing and tournaments. Her favorite group to work with is definitely the Little Dragons, the 3-5-year-old kids.
Her quiet demeanor, soft heart, knowledge and experience makes her an effective instructor.
Turning Challenges in to Triumphs
As I mentioned, not all elements of TKD immediately worked with Marianna. However, we did what we could to turn any negatives in to positives.
All Eyes on You
In TKD, there are times when you are the only one being asked to do something, and it seems like everyone is watching you. Marianna has a fear of being embarrassed in front of people, so this was difficult for her at first. We’ve needed to develop strategies to help ease some of the anxiety she feels when she is in this position.
Appreciating the Individual
Her instructor has learned which teaching strategies work best with her. Marianna appreciates constructive criticism, but doesn’t respond when it is yelled at her. So, her teacher talks to her directly, telling her what she wants changed.
When possible, we practice scenarios at home, giving Marianna tools and knowledge she needs to answer up or perform when asked. By running through things together, she feels more confident knowing she won’t have to come up with something at the last-minute when she feels like everyone is watching her.
While sparring, she struggled with trying to think on the spot, because she often needs time to process what’s going on before acting. However, time is the one thing you don’t have when someone is trying to kick you.
We asked her chief instructor to teach her some combinations that could become a part of her muscle memory. Now, she instinctively knows that if she does a side kick, she needs to follow it up with specific movements.
When she is prepared, she feels less stressed if she is singled out. She is confident in her abilities and knows that she can successfully do what is asked of her. It’s part of what pushes her to practice regularly and take her training seriously.
I’m not talking about making things easy for Marianna by eliminating challenges. Instead, we all work together to acknowledge her unique make up, and give her tools to help her successfully overcome the challenges she faces. We don’t take things away, we guide her through.
Overall, TaeKwonDo has been a positive part of Marianna’s life and has shaped her as she’s grown. Looking back, it definitely seems like a strange choice, but has been the best one.
Has your child participated in an activity that seemed like it wouldn’t be a good fit, but actually worked well?
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