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Bowley Kenpo Karate » Personal Stories, Philosophy, Sparring » Everyone But Daddy

Everyone But Daddy

“It takes a village to raise a child” is a common proverb almost everyone has heard. While talking about how it’s a group effort to teach a child the necessary characteristics to be a responsible, well-round adult, it can apply to martial arts training as well. Anyone who teaches karate to, and specifically spars, with their children will probably be able to relate.

Mr. Guzman helping to teach Emalee Bowley

Mr. Guzman helping to teach Emalee Bowley

As of this writing, my daughters are ages 11 and 13. They’ve been studying in the Kenpo for over three years. If you’ll forgive a father’s perspective, they’re pretty good. And their sparring abilities are one of the characteristics of which I am most proud. They like to spar just about everyone. Except daddy.

I’ve seen them spar other kids and adults much larger, much faster, take hard shots, get up and keep going. But when they line up opposite me, there’s just something they don’t like about trading punches and kicks with me. It doesn’t matter how light the contact is as we don’t spar extremely hard to pound on each other. Nor do they like hitting dad even when the opening is there and it’s the right thing to do during sparring.

At Mr. Duffy’s Spirit Camp in Austin, TX recently, I had the opportunity to ask Mr. Duffy about this as well as ask guest instructor, Mr. Bob White. Mr. Duffy’s two kids also trained in Kenpo karate from him, and he confirmed this reluctance-to-spar-dad issue also occurred with him. Mr. White also had this issue with his children and went on to elaborate that’s why it’s so important to be part of a close-knit karate community.

Serra Bowley sparring Mr. Guzman

Serra Bowley sparring Mr. Guzman

It’s this community, or village, which is helping to make my daughters better fighters and martial artists. They aren’t afraid to open up to their potential against other adults in our organization of Kenpo. They’re also very willing to accept coaching from these people. We’re extremely fortunate to have great students, training partners, and fellow instructors in our “village”. These relationships have now become almost as critical to success as the material they’re learning.

This issue of not-wanting-to-spar-dad could be resolved if the student-instructor line was more strictly adhered to with my kids, but I much prefer to be daddy as opposed to the teacher.

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Sam Bowley
McKinney, TX

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