Thursday, November 8, 2012

Reader Question: What if the fear of injury...isn't your own?

Hello blog readers!

I received a kind email from Carolyn and she asked the following question:

"What if the fear of injury...isn't your own?"

I ask because... I've seen students leave martial arts because their parents don't want them to start sparring, or get hurt in some other way. More tragically, these students are usually girls. 

Watching someone be forced away from something they enjoy because of someone else's concerns breaks my heart.

Thanks again for your email and question! 


caterina said...

I am 45 years old, I've been studying kenpo for six years and counting, and my mother still doesn't approve . . . because I might get hurt.

It's not that I don't understand how she feels. My oldest son got a good sock in the eye while sparring a few years ago (accidentally and unexpectedly, since contact to the head is a foul under our rules), and I thought I was going to throw up. I certainly had the fleeting thought: "This is all my fault. I should never have let him do this."

A few thoughts for nervous parents:

The risk of getting hurt while learning a martial art has to be balanced against the possibility that self-defense skills could someday preserve your child from serious harm. Even just knowing how to fall properly is a big advantage.

I am always amazed to discover than some of the same people who think karate is too risky will allow their children to ski, or play football. Depending on the exact circumstances at your school, martial arts training is probably less dangerous than people may be inclined to think. It's not always easy to estimate relative risk correctly just on the gut level--that's why it feels scarier to fly than to ride in a car. Sometimes just being better informed about the actual degree of risk can help.

I think there is also something to be said for learning that minor injuries are not the end of the world, since they are part of life anyway. (My son was actually far less upset about the time he got the shiner than I was.) Now if I can just get my banged-up thumb well enough to get back to class . . .

Glad to see you posting again, Michele!

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