Only a couple of days ago my 6 year old son David came running out of his Mini Mantis class and said: “Mummy – the word of the month is Respect and it’s the same like at my school” (Claygate Primary). That’s when the penny dropped and I realised just how good Martial Arts is for David and his older brother Anton (who is 9 years old and in Dragons class, on his journey to black belt).
Just to make you aware, this is the lowdown of a mum who doesn’t do Martial Arts herself but is spending a lot of time on the other side of the dojahng, precisely in the plush waiting area with black comfortable sofa chairs for an hour or two, whilst the children get busy inside. Amidst catching up on work emails, chatting to the other mums, trying to perfect my French, catching up on Henry James’ literature or going through Sunday’s music programme in my head (I’m a church organist) I can’t help noticing how well organised a club Claygate Martial Arts Centre is. The children line up before entering the dojahng and inside there is a lot of respectful greeting and bowing going on before they actually start with their physical martial arts exercise.
Respect is this month’s value at Martial Arts and every month we see a new one, which the children can aim to achieve (by behaving accordingly) and those who do it well get rewarded and called out in front of parents where they receive praise and a patch for their uniform with the relevant word. So far my boys have the following patches which they are very proud of: Knowledge, Humility, Responsibility, Assertiveness, Positive Attitude. There are lots more of course!
Why am I telling you this? The martial arts values correspond with most of the values at our boys’ school which is amazing and great to know that their school and favourite hobby are interlinked. Claygate Primary have the following values this year: Safe and Healthy, Courageous, Achievers, Respectful, Responsible, Friendly. Amazing how it comes together, isn’t it?
Apart from that, it is fascinating to watch our boys performing complicated forms and techniques in beautiful black uniforms with various coloured belts on their journey from white to black belts. It’s utterly astonishing to see how they manage to kick and throw each other without actually hurting or injuring themselves and others. I’m told that this is the whole purpose of it and if it came to a real attack they would be able to defend themselves or fall in a less painful way. Hence the word ‘break falls’ and ‘spin kicks’ and doing a ‘nakbub’ (which seems to be a forward or backward roll). Naming the classes after strong animals (Tiny Tigers, Tigers, Praying Mantis, Cranes, Dragons, Snakes) makes it even more exciting.
Even my dear husband started martial arts when the boys expressed interest two years ago and has achieved a lot in his time there (he’s almost reached black belt level). The master and his team motivate both children and adults and twice a year we get to travel elsewhere to national and international championships, in Norwich and Liverpool. My role at these two week-ends consists of being hotel/travel manager and kit checker which includes carrying some of it (usually two big staffs and a wooden sword!), something I am quite good at. I am less good at the actual tournaments when trying to get the boys into the correct ring for their age group! Last year we stood in the wrong hall when David’s name was called out several times over loudspeaker in the other hall and until we got there we couldn’t find the numbers on the floor. After a few directions from friendly helpers we finally arrived at the correct place where we saw that his age group had started already performing techniques. Luckily David was allowed in late and came out with a few medals overall, so that’s all part of the Martial Arts experience and I promised myself to be better next time.
I can truly recommend Claygate Martial Arts Centre as a wonderful place to send your children, so far it has done them a world of good!
by Barbara Wadley