By SHAWN TAYLOR
“How do you raise a child in safety in a world that is getting more violent by the day?” Some parents recently explored the question as their children played. Three mothers and a father were already engaged in (what seemed to me) an act of bullying hysteria when my daughter moved closer. I heard different versions of how the parents were terrified that their child would become the victim of bullying and have their precious esteems demolished. At that point I was eavesdropping, not participating.
One of the mothers must have known I was ear hustling; she brought me into the conversation. “So, what do you think?” All eyes shifted and focused on me. My daughter quickly climbed to the top of the play structure, removing herself as a possible excuse for my not becoming involved.
“Think about what?” I asked with feigned innocence.
The father in the group, using much more bass in his voice than he used with the women, clarified: “How do we protect our kids from all the violence they are sure to encounter? Is there a way to keep them safe from being bullied?”
Here I was, the lone brother in a group of seemingly upper middle class White and Asian parents. I couldn’t help thinking I was about to confirm a stereotype of Black men. They all collectively balked at my suggestion: “Teach them how to be comfortable with violence.”
They stumbled over each other’s words as they simultaneously attempted to assimilate and repudiate my position. All manner of how what I said was “contradictory” and “just as damaging” were cast at me. I used my old teacher’s trick and held up my hand until they quieted down. Then I asked them if they would be interested in hearing my rationale.
I have trained in some form of martial art for the past 30 years. While I did go through a street-fighting phase where I was acting beneath my values, I would attribute my participating in martial arts as one of the key reasons why I’m so disciplined and confident. Most of my close friends are involved in some form of martial art and would co-sign my assertion that training is partly why they’re successful today.
As soon as my daughter could stand, I was teaching her how to throw punches, kicks, elbows and defensive footwork. After a while, around her fourth birthday, she started to become competent. Now she is good. I’d dare say that she’ll have talent when it comes to defending herself and others. The best part about my training her is that she enjoys it. While I have been a fighter up until recently, I want my daughter to be a warrior…
Read the rest of Shawn Taylor’s [Father/Hood] post about why he’s teaching his daughter how to fight on Ebony.com.
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