Several months ago, a twelve-year-old was robbed of her cellphone at gun point by a fellow adolescent, in a neighborhood adjacent to mine. It turns out she was a schoolmate of my six-year-old kung fu student. A former schoolmate, that is. My martial arts ingénue no longer goes to that school.
I learned this in a conversation that started with: “My friends think there are robbers in the bushes on my street. I think so, too.” I asked pointed questions in a curious and casual way as we did our cool-down stretches at the end of class. She answered with several non-sequiturs and a tangent or two before telling me enough to remind me of the news story about the cell phone robbery that had so alarmed me in the spring. Then she concluded with: “But I can just give them a karate chop!”
Is that why a six-year-old ballet dancer with piano lessons is also enrolled in kung fu? I wondered. For self-defense, a sense of security, the ability to ward off the robbers she thinks are in the bushes?
In a six-week beginner course at the gym, there’s only so far we can get on that mission. But if the bear hugs she keeps giving me on the way out the door are any indication, she seems confident I’m up for the task. She certainly gave me a lot to think about as I practiced the newest moves of White Eyebrow.