Raising Ninjas

I have had several people make comments about the extra curricular activities that my children are enrolled in.

Scarlett: Age 10

  • Girl Scouts (Homeschool troop that meets weekly for 3 hours)
  • Swim Team (summer only – after 2 years of a year-round team)
  • Musical Theater (August-May)
  • Martial Arts (2-3 evenings a week – year round)
  • Girls on the Run (August-November)
  • Triathlete (just completed her first triathlon)

Emmett: Age 8

  • Cub Scouts
  • Club Level Soccer (Fall, Winter, and Spring, with a camp in the Summer)
  • Wrestling (Winter)
  • Swim Team (Summer)
  • Martial Arts (2-3 evenings a week – year round)
  • Triathlete (just completed his first triathlon)

Lyle: Age 5

  • Soccer (First year on the club team!)
  • Swim Team (Summer)
  • Martial Arts (2 evenings a week)
  • Wrestling (First year for this!)
  • Wanna-Be Triathlete (haha)

Ollie Jack: Age 3

  • Martial Arts (one evening every few weeks, when he’s in the mood)

We recently dropped piano lessons for the oldest two, but Emmett will begin guitar lessons soon. He has also been begging for baseball to be added to his list. (But there are only so many evenings in a week!)

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Yes, it looks like a lot. Yes, we are broke (haha). But it all falls into place, and we take breaks (and vacations – duh!) whenever we feel the need. Homeschooling allows us to complete the education portion of the day within a few hours, giving the kids ample down time – and me, plenty of writing time. So, no, we are not over-scheduled or drowning, yet. Once Lyle wins his argument on joining a basketball team and the youngest two join in, we’ll see what happens.

The biggest question that I get about their activities is always about karate.

How do you manage to do it alongside other sports?

Why would you do it when the kids do other sports?

Why do you do it in general?

Is it worth the money?

What do the kids really get out of it?

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It is time-consuming, with a long term goal; meaning that it isn’t something you just start or stop, you are committed to it. The truth is that I grew up as a ninja myself, as did my brother. I was a ballerina and a black belt – the two having a significant impact on one another, both of which shaped my outlook on life and fitness. I did not begin martial arts until I was 12, though. It didn’t take long before everyone noticed that it was something I was pretty damn good at. I began competing throughout the country, and by 16, I had become a first degree black belt and held a few world fighting titles. Even after leaving for college, I still threw a few punches with old karate friends. But, I fell out of the sport as I became an adult.

It wasn’t until my oldest was about 7 that I realized just how important it was for my kids to pursue ‘black belt excellence.’ I would love for them to become world champion fighters and compete in famous tournaments, but I am also (very) okay with not going to down the route- at least at their current ages.

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Becoming a black belt is about the journey you have within yourself. It is a long and hard goal to accomplish – and it is a one-man sport. A teammate cannot do the work for you, you must show up – for multiple days every week, for years in a row. You must study the art – and you must practice. You must learn dedication, perseverance, failure, and triumph. You also learn internal motivation, self-confidence, and conflict resolution. Becoming a black belt sets a positive path for a lifetime of learning, acceptance, and happiness. Because finding and understanding happiness happens once you learn to stop comparing yourself to others and start following your own journey – much like what happens while pursuing a black belt.

Karate doesn’t have an end game, though. A black belt may just be an item you can order off Amazon, but the mindset one gains from earning that belt is so much more than can be explained. Respect, kindness, appreciation for others’ arts, self-discipline, and a passion for bettering one’s self is all par for the course when becoming a ninja. I also love that my kids will feel able to handle themselves if needed as they get older.

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After all, the rule in my house growing up was “You have to be able to fight before you can date.”

I’m pretty sure that this could be the best rule ever. It will live on.

So, friends, this is why I am raising ninjas.

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