Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Finding His Niche

My eldest son Michael has presented me with a daddy challenge when it comes to organized sports.  It never occurred to me that my offspring might not take to such activities in the same way I did, which was very competitively and aggressively.  What I may have lacked in talent could usually be masked by this inner desire to never quit and die trying.  I sort of thought that was an innate part of being part of the male species but he has proven me wrong.  Mackenzie has that kind of hunger but Michael is more cerebral and wants to understand why aggression is useful before he even considers harnessing it.  So in other words, he is much smarter than me.

Thankfully he has improved season by season in soccer.  He has decided football isn't for him and is now participating in Karate.  I had always believed that individual sports might be an area where he would excel but hadn't ever had the opportunity to test the theory.  So we started with the Red Tiger program in Denton about 9 weeks ago.  The first half of the semester was spent learning the five white belt moves.  Michael had trouble with a few moves, especially getting his leg up high when doing a round house or side kick.  But for the most part he understood the mechanics and was getting a good workout each week.

Then sparring started.  I was worried because he is my non-aggressive kid and let's face it, sparring is a nice word for fighting with pads on.  So I coached him like it was a video game (something he excels at) and we talked about various strategies that would give him an advantage against his competitors.  Everything from making the first move to putting together combinations that would close the gap between him and the opposing fighter quickly so he could land a scoring strike.  I knew if he would listen to me that it had the potential for a good result.  But I had no idea just how effective our plan would be.  His first sparring practice he won 5 out of 5 matches.

The next week he excitedly asked me to help him come up with a few more strategies to add to his already effective arsenal.  I thought it was a good idea since some of his competitors might be picking up on his methods and adjusting to them.  So we hatched a few other options so that he could change things up as needed.  He officially ended this semester with 20 wins and 1 loss and even took home the first place trophy at the tournament.  I really could not be more proud and I certainly believe we've found his niche.  Karate for as physically demanding as it may be is a very cerebral sport.  It requires you to analyze your opponent and always be looking for a weakness or point-scoring opening.  All of which Michael is well suited to take on.

There is something very rewarding beyond trophies and ribbons when your child finds a place and activity to plug their God-given abilities into.  I highly recommend you take the time and let your children find their niche as well!