Meet Calvin and Alanis, two students in our martial arts program. They are siblings and are both members of an elite crew of dedicated students we refer to as Black Belt Club. They come to an extra class every week, where we work on building muscle for the tough, physical requirements for Black Belt, perfecting poomse, and learning a Filipino weapons system.
Calvin and Alanis are pretty hard-core.
Calvin is 12 years old, tall for his age, with dark brown hair and hipster glasses. He’s startlingly smart and very observant. Calvin's got lots of questions, and he always wants to do things right. He earned his red belt a few months ago and is well on his way to Black Belt. Calvin spent his holiday break writing an extra credit book report for Black Belt Club.
Alanis is nine years old, also tall for her age, and generally pulls her long brown hair into a ponytail with glittery pink scrunchies. She manages to balance martial arts and dance, and she’s pretty good at both of them. Alanis is a blue belt, but she’s within spitting distance of red. She’s always excited to be in class and works hard to learn the material.
Calvin's Board Breaking Experience
One of the homework assignments for our Block 3 (red belt) students this segment was Focus, which included breaking a board for the first time. The students are usually pretty excited until they look at a one-inch-thick hunk of pine board. Their eyes get big, they swallow hard, and they think the instructors are crazy when we say it’s easy to smash their foot through. Calvin was no exception. It can be intimidating, no doubt. But – like a true red belt – he got after it and smashed right through without any trouble.
His favorite part of martial arts? “I like learning the self-defense and other cool moves.” Then, with a grin on his face, “Oh, and kicking through the boards!” Part of Bodies in Motion’s purpose is to encourage empowerment. Can you think of many things more empowering than a 12-year-old kid realizing he can smash his foot through a board without it even hurting? He learned that he can quickly and successfully tackle scary-looking challenges. It also doesn’t hurt to know he’s got a killer kick.
Calvin also says he values the self-discipline he’s learned over his years of martial arts practice. It helps him get to class and work hard even when he’s tired. He also appreciates the self-defense skills he’s learned and the physical strength he’s gained.
Alanis's Love of Poomse
Alanis hasn’t had a chance to break a board yet, but her opportunity is quickly approaching. Until then, she really likes learning the poomse. Poomse (or forms) are a prescribed series of techniques. The goal is to increase the power and speed of techniques by synchronizing the breath with the movement. She likes being able to do them with precision and control at the Belt Ceremony to show off to her family. It takes a lot of practice to be able to do the poomse that well, but she uses the self-discipline she’s learned to make it happen.
Alanis says she really likes having strong self-defense skills along with the confidence those skills give her. If she had a friend thinking about starting martial arts, she would tell her friend, “You should join to be able to defend yourself and to gain strength.”
Why Should a Friend Join?
If Calvin were to persuade a friend to join, he thinks his argument would be something along the lines of:
“You should join so you can get good at defending yourself and to learn good life skills like focus and self-control. We should learn to respond to problems, not with violence, but learn to use some self-control to figure things out.”
Calvin and Alanis’ mom, Clare, usually brings them to class, and she has a lot of positive things to say as well. She really likes the confidence and physical strength they’ve gained. She’s a fan of our character development homework assignments and watches Calvin and Alanis put a lot of effort into those assignments. She’s thrilled to know her kids have practical and useful self-defense skills.
How does she know they have good skills? They’ve practiced on their dad! He says they work really well. Clare also really loves the flexible class schedule. We recommend that students come twice a week, but our students aren’t locked into classes on certain days at specific times. Clare says,
“If my daughter has a bad day or my son doesn’t feel well, it’s not a big deal. We’ll skip that class and just come to one a different day. It makes it so much easier for our schedule to not have to stress about making it to class at specific times.”
Calvin and Alanis (and their mom) agree that they are learning practical life skills in class as well as from the character development homework assignments. They are building strong self-defense skills, which builds their confidence in different situations. From poomse and board-breaking (as well as sparring, grappling, and boxing) they are learning that they can take challenges head on, and – with consistent, hard work – they can be successful. That’s empowerment.