Saturday, October 6, 2007

Tae kwon do

Over a year ago when Cullen was starting half day Kindergarten and having a very hard time Edward and I were racking our brains for a way to boost Cullen's self confidence. After some thought and taking into consideration Cullen's interests and needs we decided to try Tae kwon do. We were looking for an activity that Cullen could excel in and gain confidence in himself and his ability to learn and master new things. As well as a place where he would be challenged to persevere. He and Avery both have now been Tiger Cubs and members of ITA (International Tae Kwon Do Association) for over a year.

They started out in the Tiger Cub program as white belts and have gained three belts over the past year, yellow, green, blue and are about to test for their red. They learn blocks and kicks, discipline and following directions, how to greet people properly with a hand shake and steady look in the eye while they say "Hello, I am Cullen Harvey. Nice to meet you." They have learned their street address and the full name of mom and dad. They are now learning how to respond when a stranger lays hands on them.

The Tiger Cub program is like Kindergarten. It is intended to be introductory and preparatory for regular Tae kwon do classes. The Tiger Cub program focuses on:

* physical maturation and coordination
* mental readiness
* attention span
* social skills
* safety awareness
* self-awareness
* self-concept
* self-discipline

Cullen has always been very apprehensive about trying new things. But the instructors at the Tae kwon do school he attended were wonderful as making him feel less afraid and gaining success early in the program. The training happened within an 8-10 week cycle for each belt and then a test is taken at a very big event for all the academies in the area. Both Cullen and Avery must sit patiently and wait to be tested in a big gym. They must perform with a lot of people looking though there are a lot of events happening at the same time within the room.

During their first test they had to recite the Taekwondo promise... "I promise to use Taekwondo in class and to escape from strangers. I will not use Taekwondo to cause trouble." This was daunting for a 3 and 5 year old but they did it, as well as, their blocks and kicks for their yellow belt. And it was the gaining of each new belt that kept Cullen coming back. They both received patches for their uniform and certificates with each subsequent belt.

We attended Tae kwon do classes 2-3 times a week. I drive them all the way to Gulfport which can wear on me. But I see what it is doing for Cullen and its worth it. Right before their first testing weekend there were flyers on the wall at the school with the information needed to get to the testing center. And there was a framed paper hanging from the wall. This is what it said...

Strength and courage aren't always measured
in trophies and victories.
The are measured in the struggles we overcome.
The strongest people are not always the people who win,
but the people who don't give up when they lose.

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