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All Women Are Created Equal

15 Oct

My daughter turned me into a feminist.

The North Shore Invitational Taekwondo Tournament circa 2010. My son and daughter, young adults, each competed in black belt breaking competition. Men’s and women’s divisions of course. Robb sets up his routine, and you can see it in the eyes of the black belt guys who will be holding boards and who are watching as they wait to compete: this is going to be good.

Tricia sets up her routine and you can see it in the eyes of the black belt guys who will be holding boards: she’s going to try this? Yeah, right.

I might have read them wrong, but I’d been reading such reactions and interactions, including my own, within Taekwondo for two decades by then. I’d heard the after-talk of board-holders, competitors and judges regarding ambitious routines of both males and females for nearly as long. I know the way Taekwondo guys “talk in the locker room” about such matters. That’s within the context of an art-sport that I see as very open to, equal for, girls and women in regards to opportunity, challenge, accomplishment, empowerment, respect. It’s a fantastic endeavor for girls and women, even if it’s still largely a guy’s sport.

So, it wasn’t that event per se, but . . . my daughter turned me into a feminist. Continue reading

Molly and the Indomitable Spirit

30 Jan

I attended a taekwondo tournament this past Saturday. At two hours away from Duluth, it is one of the closer tournaments available to our students, so I encourage them to participate since there are few such convenient opportunities. Tournament competition is an infrequent experience for nearly all of our students, so I like for them to have it and to benefit from it.

One student of ours who participated was Molly, a petite eight-year-old girl. She and her brother Sam participated last year; however, this year, Sam chose not to participate, largely due to the overbearing sparring match he had last year. As a smaller tournament, organizers are hard pressed to split competitors into ideally appropriate divisions based on age, rank and experience. Sam had gotten consistently scored on in sparring by another boy who was, I believe, older, bigger, higher rank and more experienced.
Even though Sam had competed well in forms and breaking competitions, the sparring experience Continue reading

A little goes a long way

11 Feb

On Monday and Thursday evenings I conduct Taekwondo classes at an elementary school in a nearby town through their school district’s community ed program.  I teach a class of teeny kids, then one for older kids, and then a class for teens and adults.

After teaching the older kids, I had one of my black belts start the adult class and I went to get a drink down the hall. One of my youth students, “William,” a fourth grader who waits while his dad takes part in the adult class, came along with me. We encountered the school custodian on duty, “Tim,” and I introduced Tim to William, since William actually attends that particular school. Continue reading

Listening across 44 years

26 Nov

A couple of Fridays ago I was bell ringing for the Salvation Army at a supermarket in Cloquet (Minnesota) on behalf of my Rotary Club. As I was nearing the end of my shift, a small elderly woman pushing her shopping cart stopped to fish a dollar out of her handbag. After she put it in the red kettle (donate here!) she started chatting with me.

She told me a lot of people need help right now and she tried to do what she could. She explained how she is a Christian woman (Lutheran) and she believes if you are Christian you are supposed to help other people. Continue reading

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