How Martial Arts can Help Build Confidence--Daniel's Story
Posted: October 07, 2020
We put our son in martial arts at three and a half years old. Daniel was a late walker (18 months) and even then, his gait gave our pediatrician concern for some time. Because of this, our doctor recommended that we start him in an activity that would help him develop flexibility, coordination, and balance; we saw the Tiny Tigers sign on the Champion ATA window at exactly the right time.
The first night we tried a class, I sat with Daniel on the mat while he watched fascinated. We signed him up for a month, took his uniform home (he thought it was pajamas), and were excited to start. Little did we know we were in store for a month of tears and flat refusal to participate. A large part of the issue was confidence, and Daniel's flat refusal to try new things - we knew this going in, and it was a big reason why I wanted him to participate in martial arts. Compared to friends his same age, he was so timid, and I hoped that the skills in the Tiny Tigers program would help him build confidence in himself.
We'd promised ourselves that we would give it a month, and if we couldn't get him to go out on the mat after a month, we would stop the classes. Near the end of the month, I put Daniel in the arms of a trusted teacher and sat in my car where I could see him clearly. He cried for about 30 seconds, and then decided to enjoy himself. This was a turning point for him! He began to participate more and more, and although I had to sit in the car for a few more classes, the tears were (mostly) gone.
What helped him in the early days was the structure of the Tiny Tigers program, including the animal character belts and accompanying books. Because he started so young, Daniel earned every belt in the Tiny Tigers program - as a reward for each belt, we would buy and read the companion book - we still read them nearly four years later. Another reason for his success in the program was Mr. Vondra's exceptional ability to teach and guide young children. I can't say enough good things about him as an instructor: he's funny with the Tiny Tigers, firm and compassionate with the Juniors, and I can say with certainty we may have given up were it not for his leadership. For years (and I mean years) Daniel wouldn't jump when playing "Jump or Duck." The first time he actually jumped over the stick, I don't know who was more excited - us or Mr. Vondra.
Daniel has been participating for almost four years. He's had a birthday party at Champion ATA, he's made friends, and I've watched him grow from a terrified toddler into a self confident kid, who practices his form with focus and determination. I can't wait to see what the next four years brings him.