Sunday, 13 May 2012

Martial Arts Mother

Mother and son practising the Kata Heian Nidan

 was at a Karate tournament in Toronto about 10 years ago when this happened.

I was helping to referee the Black Belt division. There was a fair group of very strong Black Belts, both male and female, assembling at the side of the ring. One of the Black Belts was almost late; she had been holding her infant up to the last second, and she had barely enough time to pass the child to a friend before her ring was called.

She picked up a pair of sai (a traditional trident-like weapon made out of steel, about 18” to 21” in length). All the Black Belts in her ring performed a weapons routine – most of them used the bo staff, some the wooden tonfa and a few others the sai. All the Kata (routines) presented were strong, spirited and showed good technical ability.


The mother who had been cradling her child only minutes before, won the weapons competition with her routine. After receiving her medal, she hurried back to her child.

Next came the open-hand Kata routine competition. Again, she held onto her child until the last moment, then hurried out to join the rest of the competitors. She performed the Kata Unsu. Anyone familiar with the repertoire of Japanese Karate Kata will appreciate Unsu’s difficulty. Again she won.

Yes, back to the child – and more hugging.

Her last competition was the sparring, 3 points wins with light contact to the body. Her competition was fast and experienced. Some of these Black Belts had been fighting in tournaments for over a decade.


She left her child, put on her sparring gear and joined her group.  (There was no women's division; women and men had to fight each other). By now, everyone was cheering for her.

She fought her way up the pyramid of fights. (She even managed to sneak away in between her matches to hug her child). It was amazing to see.  Finally, she came away with the gold medal. She ran back to her child. With 3 medals around her neck, she coddled the little one, a smile on her face as wide as her Black Belt was long.


It was just so cool to see! This, I was reminded, was also the spirit of the martial arts. I was honoured to have seen her compete; I was humbled by the expressions of love toward her child. An ideal mix – confidence, skill…and love!

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!

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