Mother and Daughter

Karate Kid and MomR

I’ve been training with my daughter for seven months now.  Because I’d trained for about 3-4 years when I was a little younger than her, I was able to promote at a fairly rapid rate after I started training again.  I caught up to her pretty quickly and now outrank her by one belt (the picture is a little out of date).  My daughter is working hard to catch up to me.  It would be fun to promote together some day.  However, if we never promote together, we’ll at least know there’s someone cheering us on!

I love it that there’s someone I can geek out with.  At dinnertime, we probably bore my other daughter and my husband with our karate talk.  But then again, they do get to listen to some funny stories from time to time.  It’s nice to have someone who was there when the funny thing happened – that way if the others don’t think it was all that funny, at least my daughter will laugh.  We spar some of the same people, then later we pick apart their preferences and go over strategies.  It’s great to have a buddy!

Our practice times together are fantastic.  Sometimes we’re in the garage, other times if there’s a studio empty at the YMCA we’ll be there.  My daughter coaches me in kumite, I coach her kata.  We want to learn partner stretches.  It’s not always easy to get practice time together because of her school schedule, but it’s worth it.

There are challenges to training with my daughter.  I have to fight my own urges to control her life.  There is an ogre in me that wants to really be on her about this, that, and the other.  She’s a teenager, so that would backfire rapidly.  I don’t like fighting the ogre, but it must be done.  I know I’ll be a better mother if I do.  That said, I have intervened once or twice outside the dojo to steer her back on course.

We’ve had little tiffs outside the dojo about things that relate to and affect Karate (like nutrition).  It’s rough, but we eventually work through those things.  Inside the dojo it really, really, really helps that the Senseis are in charge.  I’m supposed to be loosening the leash anyway.  If Sensei is in charge, I can let my daughter make her own choices and mistakes and allow her also to learn the consequences.  The good part of me backing away like this and acknowledging Sensei’s authority is my daughter’s accomplishments are really and truly her own.

I think we’re becoming more than just mother and daughter – we’re developing the friendship that comes when the relationship is good between mother and adult daughter.  At this stage in my daughter’s life, it’s great to have something we can do together.  Karate is giving us skills that are serving us well through this time of transition as my daughter matures into a young adult.


Author: Joelle White

I began training in Karate in June of 2014 after a 27 year hiatus.

21 thoughts on “Mother and Daughter”

  1. Excellent post and lovely picture. I started with my son who is now nearly six. We started when he was just 5 and I was, ahem….21 and many years besides. We have both graded twice but the junior and adult belts (and requirements) are different so he’s still on (yellow) 10th Kyu (with 2 stripes – 4 left til orange and 8th kyu) and I just got 9th kyu (yellow with one stripe). I knew nothing about karate and my husband had done the research about local clubs and I agreed that it would be a good thing for our (often wild child) son to start.

    I took him to the second session and the Sensei asked if I would like to join in…..he looked scary (as I am sure I have mentioned) so I felt kind of compelled to give it a shot. I really liked it so I kept going. There are a few families that train together so it’s actually kind of nice talking to people about how it all has worked out over the years.

    Like you I am glad to leave the discipline / instruction (of my son) to the Sensei at the dojo and we have chatted about it. It helps me and it helps my son. Me because I can focus on what I need to do and him because he needs to learn to follow authority in whatever form that may be. I think he has more respect for Sensei than for me sometimes – he’s pretty firm with him which is great! Sensei’s son also trains there and has become my son’s main training buddy which is great (they are the same age give or take a few months).

    I think the benefits of me and my son both training / starting together have included strengthening our relationship, being able to understand what he is learning and being able to help and having quality time together on our journey there and back and even during. Of course we can’t really practice kumite (he doesn’t do it and technically being over erm 21 and some I don’t have to – just choose to) but we do practice basics and kata together and other things we learn in class. I hope he’ll keep going and we will be able to do more together as he grows and matures.

    Miss 4 is keen to start too although I am not sure how this will go. I don’t think Sensei likes to take them so small…..will broach it later with him and see if she can try a class……I am actually more anxious about the interaction between brother and sister rather than her ability to follow instructions!! She already seems to have picked up a lot from watching her brother and me practice!

    1. Hi, Rach! So great that you joined with your son! I am always dismayed to see young, strong, fit moms drop their kids off at the dojo on their way to Zumba. If they can do Zumba, they can do Karate, LOL! Scary Senseis and Sempais are the best – you learn to squish down on any feelings of intimidation that are based only on size/appearance – let’s face it, we do have instincts that say we need to run/hide/cower when faced with a big scary critter. Does your dojo have a “pee wee” class Miss 4 can join? I briefly helped teach that age group when I was a teenager, and they do need a lot of shepherding. All the best to you and your son, thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      1. Hi again. I found it funny that you mentioned about fit moms taking Zumba instead of Karate. I have a good friend in New Jersey who not only take Zumba but also Karate, among other things. In fact, she’s a certified Zumba instructor. Sometimes I don’t see how she does it. So, like you, she is a strong mom. I guess that blows that myth about women being the weaker sex out of the water. I for one would rather take Karate, only because I have two left feet. Plus with my past experience doing Kata, it might be to my benefit when the time comes. I’m glad to hear that you are getting better. Like Tom Petty once sang: “The Waiting is the hardest part”. But we have to do by what Sensei Andrea’s article stated about patience. 😎 Take care, all the best and full respect.

      2. Hello again, Steve! LOL, I’ve got an exercise routine that blasts “weaker sex” out of the water too 🙂 Karate class is only twice a week, so I absolutely must put in fitness stuff outside of class time. Hey, I’ve got two left feet too, that’s why I’m taking a low-impact aerobics class once a week that’s similar to Zumba, only it incorporates Indian dance moves done to Bollywood tunes. My co-ordination and agility are picking up nicely 🙂 Thanks for the well wishes, and yes, waiting is the hardest part.

  2. Great article. It’s funny that you mentioned the garage. When I was in Karate, I would sometimes go into the garage and brush up on kata moves (especially when I had an upcoming exam). Also when the weather cooperated and tonight isn’t one of them. 3 below right now. I guess I can be considered a fellow “geek” since the martial arts fascinates me. I have a few friends that I’ve met online years ago that were in martial arts. I always tried to find penpals who shared an interest in martial arts as an “ice breaker”. One in particular took up Karate while in college back in the early 70’s. Sort of “Old school”. Back then when they sparred in class, they didn’t use no protective gear. Being the wannabe tough guy, I was thinking that had to smart like crazy. And yes I read that there were a couple of students in her class that went a bit overboard. So much for controlling your emotions. Anyway, I’m glad to see that the two of you have a great bond through Karate. I only wish the both of you “geeks” continued success with your training and everything good for you and the family. Hope you are doing better now. All the best and full respect.

    1. Hello there, Steve! Thanks for reading and commenting! The garage is great, but I think I’d draw the line at three below too. The way I figure it, if I’m out walking the dog in winter, I’d better learn to fight in what I wear in the winter, so I do still sometimes go out to the garage. When I trained as a teen, the knuckle pads were pretty pathetic so we might as well not have worn anything 😉 Thanks for asking, my injury is on the mend. I just gotta stay quiet between now and Monday so I can get back on the mats 🙂

  3. What a nice post! I can relate because my husband and I and two of my children talk about karate frequently. My other two kids no longer take it, but they still enjoy hearing the stories of us teaching the little ones, or what happened in class that day. It’s a great bonding experience, for sure. My kids are stuck with me as a teacher, so in class they don’t refer to me as “mom” but as Sensei or Ms. Andrea like the others 🙂 Keep posting your wonderful and insightful articles. I really love them.

    1. Ossu, Sensei Andrea! [bow]
      Thanks for the compliment, and thanks for reading! I’ll bet you love every minute of teaching your kids Karate 🙂 I don’t make my daughter call me “Sempai” because she can still whip my tail in kumite and I don’t outrank her by that much. Rumor has it the Senseis have been eyeballing her for promotion next week, so I’d better watch out! I do have fantasies of us earning our Shodans together – it could happen! Thanks for the compliments, and you have a great day!


  4. OSU! This post brings tears of joy to my eye. What’s better than seeing someone grow stronger taking martial arts? Seeing a FAMILY grow stronger taking martial arts!

    Happy training! 🙂

    1. Ossu, Sensei Ando! [bow]

      Wow, I made a Sensei cry – and not because I failed to execute a technique properly for the hundredth time, LOL!


    1. Ossu! [bow]

      Awww, have a heart, Sensei Ando! I stayed after promotion for a board meeting (I’m one of the representatives for our dojo). Will you take that in lieu of staying up all night with my punching bag? Also, I’m leaving for class in an hour – this is the first week I’ll have Karate four times a week instead of just two. Will that do?


      1. 4 times…..impressed. I would if I could I guess. We started bsck this week at my sister dojo and I went mon and last night. So good to be back. We were encouraged by the sensei to make karate new year resolutions. It gave me the impetus to formalise mine. I sent mine to him so he could help hold me accountable too. I know it is going to be a good year.

      2. Hi, Rach! I got spoiled back when I was a teenager – the dojo was a business, the Sensei was a full-time employee, so I could go anytime my homework schedule allowed. This organization is different, and I’m not saying it’s bad – there are plenty of really wonderful things I am grateful for. It’s just that in order to get more training than 2-3 times a week, one does need to show the Senseis one has what it takes to train hard. Then one may seek permission from one’s own Senseis and the Senseis at the sister dojos. I feel enormously privileged.

        All the best on your resolutions! Mine are going to change throughout the year, so I’m just continuing with the goals given to me last promotion, added one or two based on some pivotal moments in class, and just trying in general to be the best I can be.

      3. OSU! Sorry, Jo. Only punches count as punches. Unless you break a board at the board meeting–that somehow seems appropriate!

        But you’ll probably be asked to leave. 🙂

  5. My home club doesn’t start back until 1st Feb….our last training was 21st December so that’s a loooooooong break. I am fortunate too though in that we have 2 very welcoming sister dojo in the network who allow members to come and train there too. This is especially important since my home club only meets once a week currently (ok so we train hard for 3 hours when we do meet but still!). The sister dojo (the one that started back on Monday) train 3 days a week (90 min Adult classes) so I try and get to at least one of these in addition to my home club.

    Unfortunately it is a really long drive so twice is about the limit as I spend more time getting there and back! I am looking into trying some training at the third dojo as the Sensei there is 7th Dan and pretty jolly amazing all round. He’s a bit older than me I think and has about 40 years training behind him. His style is different again to the Goju we do in my home dojo but he has trained in Goju / urban Goju so it’s probably a little closer than the Shito that the other club do. Had a chat to him online today and he said I was welcome to come train with them if I can make it…..perhaps I will try that next week.

    All our sensei have full time day jobs too but they are pretty dedicated and approachable and through the network they organise lots of guests, camps and tournaments so I feel pretty supported.

    As for the resolutions….. it is easy to have goals as I have so much to work on (I don’t think that’s going to ever change…..just the level) – I actually made mine into a poem because that’s how I roll – but when I counted them there were 26 in all that nearly covered it! (even though mine are in a nutshell to train hard and do the best I can do and have the confidence to throw my hat in the ring for whatever is going). We haven’t been given a great deal of feedback at grading so far. I think I am going to ask for more next time.

    1. Once a week? I’d cry!!! I’m glad you found ways of getting extra training – challenging, but worth it! Especially if you’re taking on two different styles! All the best to you!

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