One campus of our church host's a summer sports camp. The camp takes tons of volunteers in each of the areas: cheerleading, art, karate, soccer, drums and basketball. They need so many volunteers, in fact, they'll pretty much take anyone. Wanna know how I'm so sure of that fact?
I emailed the volunteer coordinator two days before camp started and offered to help. Minutes later (on a weekend), she emailed back, asked zero questions about my "skills" and said "YES, we do still need helpers." Then promptly assigned me to
Ok, I'm exaggerating. She asked very nicely and acutally she gave me a choice:
cheerleading, art, karate.
let me think about that.
Cheerleading- screaming girls learning "stunts". no, thank you.
Art- need I remind you? I'm an accountant. An accountant who was not always a welcome sight in my childhood camp's craft cabin. The very idea of all that thinking outside the box stresses me out. So, no, but thank you.
Which leaves Karate.
Or should I say
THANK YOU, SIR."
Here's a little recap of my week:
Headed out the door, I asked KJ "Do I look like a Karate coach?" He responds "Um, mom, you know nothing about karate. No, you don't." He was absolutely right.
I arrived to find that there were actually 5 girls signed up to do Karate. Turns out, none of them knew anything about karate either. Awesome, I'll play the encouraging "empathizer" and we'll all learn together. This is going to be easy.
However, after one of my empathizees met me she snuck out and switched to "drums" before our first lessons even started.
As class began there was some good news for me- there is one Karate instructor, who stands at the front leading class. The rest of us just stand on the edges, try to follow along in case anyone happens to be watching us instead of the really cool guy at the front and we help maintain some sort of crowd control.
I learned a couple of blocks, punches and kicks. But I did have one major roadblock to being a successful demonstrator at any of these things. Apparently it is quite necessary to know your right from your left to do Karate.
Finally, on night one, I learned that while no particular equipment or protective gear was required to attend this Karate class...if you have had four babies and are going to try to do many jumping jacks, you're going to need something. We'll leave that there.
I came better, um, prepared for jumping jacks.
And I figured out if I just listened to the instructor and didn't try to watch him I got less confused about right from left.
I think I might be getting sore. And I didn't even do the sit ups.
"Cheryut!" means "Attention!" And it works. Might start using that one at my house.
I learned that the first rule of Karate is always "Take no action" and that it is braver to stop a fight than start one. I was telling KJ about this on our way home, and even showed him my fancy "STOP" hand position. To which he responded:
K : "You learned that in Karate"
Me: (beaming with pride) "Yes"
K: "Do you realize that you actually just took both hands off the steering wheel? I'm not sure that is safe"
Me: (deflated) "Right"
I absolutely did not practice "blocks" in the mirror before bed.
It's undeniable now. I'm sore, like really sore. And after subtly asking the other "coaches" about it, I'm starting to realize it is not from how hard I've been working, but how wrong I've been working.
I'm also wondering how wrong it would be to forget the whole "take no action" thing and use my new moves on a couple of the boys in Karate class. Seriously, I can absolutely wait for my boys to be in the range of 8-10. I can wait a long time.
Tonight I learned my ace-in-the-hole with KJ, the flying kick. Although I actually didn't practice it in class and I'm 100% sure that my best efforts were far short of the goal (and you'll never see any picture or video evidence of those efforts), he was very impressed. And asked me to teach him. Score.
It's "show-off night" for my Karate darlings which = no major exercise for me tonight. My body thanks me. I did have the opportunity to practice my jumping kicks again (or flying kicks as I've taken to calling them). Which is more fun than I'll admit here.
They did their demonstration and I was like a glowing teacher (as if I had anything to do with their successes). I told a couple of the girls (my "empathizees") how proud I was and even hugged one of the boys that I earlier wanted to try some Karate blocks on.
I realize I've just written way too many words about my (short-lived) profession as a Karate coach. Trust me, if you'd been there you would see the humor. Then again, if you know me well, it won't take much stretching of your imagination to picture it.
The theme for the camp week was "It's Your Turn". Your turn to be confident. Your turn to make good choices. Your turn to be fearless. And your turn to be forgiven. It was a great series for sports camp!
But apparently it was my turn to try something new. And I believe that I was exactly where I needed to be this week. If for no other reason, it was great exercise. And I met some fun new friends (Cyndi-shout-out). And I have to admit that a good "hi-yah" is some awesome stress relief.
I'm not sure how helpful I actually was to our real Karate instructor (who was awesome with these kiddos, by the way). But, at the beginning of the week I made a choice. If I was assigned to Karate, I was all in. One thing I hope to always teach my kids is that the sidelines sure are comfortable, but I've never regretted leaving them behind to jump into the game. Even when, at times, it means failing miserably.
And even then, it makes for a great story.