I’m pretty good with kids. It is my job, after all. I teach martial arts, and 80% of our students are 10 and under. More specifically, I am in charge of the junior karate program, for students 4-6. I get a lot of praise for my work here, both from my co-workers (who are thankful that I willingly teach one of the most demanding classes) and parents.
Yes, they are adorable … but teaching them is like herding cats.
Sometimes the parents talk to me before or after class, just idle chit-chat; rarely does it come around to karate or teaching. Sometimes these talks turn to me, and sometimes I get the following: “You are so good with kids. [slight pause] Do you have one of your own?” That pause is always interesting, as if they don’t want to presume but are curious regardless, as if only a father could be that good with children so young.
The answer, of course, is no. I don’t have any kids, and I can’t see that changing. Continue reading
Somehow I became an adult. At least, that’s what the calendar tells me. Born in 1985, so I’m 31. That’s firmly in adult territory. I’ve been an adult for years, somehow. I don’t think I’ve ever viewed myself as an adult, and that includes right now. Me, an adult? Preposterous.
Next you’ll try to tell me Michael Cera is an adult.
Nonetheless, most people treat me as an adult, especially kids. I work with children as a karate instructor, and there is a clear demaractation, a dividing line between what I can do and what kids can do. If I play tag with them, for instance, they instantly react different than with other kids. “No fair!” I’ll hear over and over again. “You’re too big!”
And it’s true. I’m twice their size … and really, that’s the only difference between us. I’m just a really big kid. Continue reading
As we grow as chess players, our style evolves. This happens naturally as our positional judgement deepens. We gain a better understanding of when and how to attack, of where it makes sense and where we are just using wishful thinking.
For most of my chess development, I’ve been an aggressive player. I started with 1.e4 and 2.Qh5 in more games than I care to admit. The King’s Gambit played a large role in my opening repertoire. My entire chess strategy was 1. Develop pieces, and 2. Throw pieces at the enemy King. Crude, but if your opponent makes one mistake you win in 18 moves, so that’s pretty nice.
Along the way, though, I gained a much stronger positional grasp of the game, and this greatly curtailed my attacking tendencies. When I did attack, they were usually because the position demanded it, not because I felt like it. Here are some examples of my game maturing over the years. Continue reading
I went back to high school today. I can’t say my high school, as it wasn’t. My high school is some four hours away, and I haven’t set foot in it in over a decade. It felt like I had, though. It may have been a different high school, but it was still high school, and I think they are the same anywhere you go across North America. It was truly eye-opening.
I should point out I didn’t go just for the fun of it. That would be insane. Who would willingly go back to high school? No, this was work. I am a martial arts instructor, and the school invited my dojo to come and give a lesson. We actually do this for several high schools in the area, generally as part of a ‘conflict resolution’ phase of the curriculum. We teach basic safety, how to deal with bullies, how to avoid escalating a situation, that sort of thing. You know, skills that are 100 times more useful than calculus or half the other things you learn in high school.
I’m so happy I learned this and not, you know, how to properly balance a budget.
Seriously, if they offered martial arts at my high school when I went, it would be the only course I would’ve taken. Continue reading