R E S P E C T, Respect! Respect Other Mom's Martial Arts Choices.

Updated on July 31, 2012
P.P. asks from Chicago, IL
22 answers

My son announced today to a friend of mine and her children that he has his black belt test in Tai Kwon Do in four weeks. He has worked hard at this. Been in Tai Kwon Do since he was 4 1/2 and it has not always been easy for him. There are many forms and kicks to remember, etc. Also there is a three hour stamina test. I fully expected that he would get encouragement or a kind comment or just a plain "good luck" on your black belt test. But instead, my friend went on and on about how her kids martial arts choice is much better because you really learn how to fight. Her choice is Jui Jitsu. I really don't understand why she chose to go on this tangent instead of being encouraging. I kept trying to change this subject because my son was there and I didn't want him to feel bad about what she was saying but she redirected it back five times. I don't think that point is whether Tai Kwon is better or Jui Jitsu. I think it is a personal choice. My point is that this showed lack of respect for my son and I. When we were alone later, I told her my son really could use a confidence boost because he is nervous about this test and that he might have got the wrong impression from what she said earlier. I said it to her very diplomatically but she didn't offer up any encouraging words. The main thing for me enrolling my son in TKD is to build confidence and self-discipline. He is nine. And secondly, I'm sure he is gaining valuable skills should he need to defend himself. I am sad about this interaction. I really don't know what to do.

What can I do next?

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answers from Chicago on

Why let this bother you? It's not really worth it. Are you going to change this woman? Probably not. At least, you got to vent with us.

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answers from Bloomington on

Sorry, don't have any good advise on the interaction. It's awesome that your son is 9 & already getting his black belt. He must be very dedicated. Good for him!
ETA: maybe she was a tad jealous that your son has been so successful & her children haven't had the same dedication. So, that was her way of compensating.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Usually people do that when they are feeling jealous or insecure. Great lesson to teach your son, that some people will not always be supportive, but it doesn't matter what they think.

Is she normally like that?

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Aw Mama! That is really sad, that she felt no remorse about speaking that way, especially in front of your son.
I say to you (and to your son) WAY TO GO! My kids do martial arts, too (they do Tang Soo Do) so I know a little bit about what your son is undertaking. The First Dan test is probably a little different, but generally the same. It is a VERY long day for them. My son was so nervous. Scared even.

I'm sure your son will do fine! And at 9 years old... that is a TREMENDOUS achievement. I also know it involved a lot of work from you! It can be hard keeping them encouraged when they have been at something for so long like that. My son has gone through periods where he just wanted to quit, because he was tired of going. Tired of always having that schedule to keep. Etc. I KNOW how tough it can be. Great job, Mom! When he receives his belt, all those years of hard work will show in his face. He will stand a little taller. He will have a little swagger. (just a little, come on...).

Not to diminish the actual martial arts he has learned, (a big part of which is respect, hello other mom!) but he will look back on this later, and you will refer back to this later, reminding him how if he keeps working hard, and keeps working towards his goals, he can achieve big things. Big things are just a string of little things....

Kudos to both of you!

High 5's from our house!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Our son did TKD. He made it to senior red belt. It was the best thing for him. It help with his confidence and discipline. I would have been pissed if someone had said that to my child. It is a lot of work to get the the black belt. Its time and money. Piss on her!!!

Congrats to your son! This is a wonderful achievement and he should be very proud!!!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

How pathetic of her, that she couldn't manage to say a simple 'Best of luck' to a child, leave alone ask her children to wish him as well?!

You know what, kudos to your son on his achievement. I'm sure learning martial arts is not an easy thing. And each style has its own importance and challenges. A truly wise person will realise this. Those who don't, are mostly ignorant. Don't let her behavior bother you or your son.

All the very best to your son, the soon-to-be-black-belt! :)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

What a sad commentary on your friend that she would need to tear down a child in order to make herself feel better....

IF your son brings it up--just remind him that she's not the Uber Grand Poobah of Martial Arts!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

There is really nothing more you can do. You spoke to the mother when you were alone with her, and expressed your opinion about her lack of encouragement to your son. You did all you could do. Unless of course you want to sever your friendship over it. Someone will always have a different opinion or not act the way you think they should. I'd just chalk it up to that.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

Some people are just self-centered and think they're right, you're wrong, they know all, you know nothing. Tell your son that he need not worry about what one mom thinks. She doesn't know anything about TKD obviously.

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answers from Dallas on

Let it roll off your shoulders and don't let your son pick up on the fact that this upset you. This is a classic mom envy thing and you'll go through it in all shapes and forms until your son graduates high school or more.

My daughter, now 17, is a black belt and worked her butt of for almost 7 years. She trained in Tang So Doo. Yes she has used it for self defense.

Each form of martial arts takes on its "personal" thing and what you choose for your program is what is best for you. We personally did not like the sparring, fighting, fighting tournaments, etc. We were more interested in self defense and the ethics that are taught along with the art form.

Our daughter was in a small private school which was far from a belt factory, privately trained and worked in a group. I think some martial arts programs give the whole thing a bad rap because of a few schools who focus on getting kids through the system and making profits.

The black belt test is tough, about 3 hrs long, hard work. She had to defend herself from someone much bigger than her in front of guru's who came in from FL to oversee the testing. Talk about perserverance!!

I don't know tradition at your school but at ours, it was the tradition that the new black belts had a catered lunch afterwards for everyone.


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answers from New York on

First, congratulations to your son and your family. My younger sister is a black belt in TKD and it is an incredible commitment on the part of your son and your family. Kudos! Oh... and for what it's worth, she has only had to use her "skills" once, but let's just say the 6'1" guy who took a swing at her best friend ended up with a broken jaw :)

What should you do? Nothing. She's not going to apologize and if she says something to your son now it will not be genuine. If I was in your shoes, I would distance myself from this person. My guess is that this is just the start of the "my kid/ parenting is better than yours because..." type of interactions.

As they would tell your son in TKD... if someone is trying to start a confrontation, walk away. If they continue to pester you, come out swinging!

Enjoy the black belt ceremony. It's really special. Take tons of pictures and videos!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I wouldn't let your son's self-esteem and self-confidence be determined by what one clueless adult happened to say, or not say, at that moment.

If he's bothered by it, you can just tell him, "Hey, it doesn't matter what she says, you have worked very hard toward this and you should be very proud of yourself. Some people just don't think before they speak, do they?"

I wouldn't say anything to your friend about this - it's just not worth the hassle, IMO. I have a friend who can be like this sometimes - no matter what we happen to be doing or decisions we make, she's got something somewhat negative to say about it. We are putting DD in private school - she doesn't think the tuition costs are worth it. We took a 3 week trip to Hawaii and Disneyland - she didn't think it was a good idea. She's a great friend, but can be a bit of a "wet blanket" sometimes. I just brush it off. Teach your son to do the same.

ETA: I would agree that it's possible she is jealous too. Sometimes I wonder if that is my friend's issue - she really wishes they could do the same things we can do, but they can't, so her comments are her way of making HERSELF feel better.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

She sounds insecure about HER child's choice of martial art. So she went off on her tangent as her way of defending it. Even though you were not attacking their choice, she was still defending hers -- yes, it's strange, but insecure people do things like this all the time. I would bet she has gotten flak from someone, somewhere about Ju Jitsu. Either that, or she is a "stage mother" for her son and would act this way no matter what his chosen "thing" was -- if he were a soccer player, she'd be going on about how soccer is the only real sport and he's great at it; if he were an artist, she'd be going on about how his favorite form of art is the best form and he's so talented. He may indeed be talented at many things but her reactions will end up making him obnoxiously conceited if she doesn't ramp it back. But that is not your problem.

I know you're sad but try to drop it. You say you "don't know what to do," but what IS there to do at this point? You comforted your son, you told her later that he needed a boost (so you did not let her get away with her comments), and it's over. Unless he will be directly interacting with her again and again and you think she will constantly berate him for choosing TKD, there's nothing else to do. I would let the boys have play dates without mom along, or get them together at a neutral site like a park and focus on watching them rather than talking with her. Nothing you say can overcome her insecurity and her issues that are not your issues.

I hope your son does great in his belt tests!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

Fellow martial arts mama here (proud mom of a karate black belt) . . .one of the powerful things your son can learn is that the best affirmations come from within. When your son walks across the stage, or mat, to receive his black belt it will not matter what anybody else in the world thinks about it. It will be one of the proudest moments of his life. He will know, IN HIS OWN HEART, that he gave all and EARNED that belt.

IMHO sometimes parents get a bit envious when your kid has reached that black belt level. If they feel competitive it can generate some comments that come across strangely. Just let it go.

Your son is AWESOME to get that black belt at such a young age. He can, and WILL, do it. Please tell him congrats from us.

From a mom's POV, get ready for some tears. I couldn't hold it together when my son received his black belt. It was six long years of hell, especially the last two years. But he never gave up, and he grew so much in the process.

In a previous post I mentioned that my song for my younger son is Measure of a Man by Elton John (from one of the Rocky movies). Listen to it on Youtube and you'll know why!

Congrats mama! Way to go support team!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

We ran in to this when our kids were in TKD as well. Just let it go - everyone has their own view on what is best for kids. I agree that TKD is a great tool for kids to have. We were just overscheduled and they disliked that the most.

CONGRATS to your son!! A black belt at 9 is pretty fabulous :).

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answers from Savannah on

I think that is so ridiculously immature that I would have problems continuing a close friendship afterwards. Your child is N I N E and she is belittling what he's working for? A positive, physically active, goal driven, disciplined activity that teaches different lessons you can take into other areas of his life was belittled because her kids do something different? And couldn't catch herself and wouldn't shut up when you tried to stop her? She's lucky it wasn't my kid she was talking to.

Perhaps you can pull up National Geographic's Fight Science episodes online. The world champion TKD that they use with some really interesting equipment and testing techniques is not only very cute (hee) but also so ridiculously powerful. It shows that the force of the kick from a trained TKD fighter is worse than a baseball bat, and can produce results that are just amazing. The strength it takes to do some of the jumps and kicks did actually give me some real respect for the sport. My son practices Hung Gar Kung Fu and we are very happy with it, and we enjoy seeing the Kung Fu (and other sports) on the show. There was one very interesting episode where they actually lined up world champions from different arts and compared them. TKD was pretty impressive. The art that "won" was actually Muay Thai, and they showed what the guy had done for some of those things to be possible (things I would not be willing to let my son do), but it gives respect to everyone for the years of PRACTICE, athletic prowess and strong mindsets that make these things possible.

I have a friend who is a black belt in Jui Jitsu, I personally took Brazilian Jui Jitsu for years. They are, as someone else said, apples to oranges with TKD and wouldn't go together unless you were actually in an MMA event. (Of which we are HUGE fans, but that's because to be a well rounded fighter, elements from ALL the arts are actually very special and important). The strength from TKD is impressive. Good luck to your son! Talk to him about silencing the outside voices and just focusing. That's part of martial arts: learning to focus and direct your energy to the task at hand.

WHY did she disrespect you, your young son, and which art you'd chosen? The short/simple answer is because she's a small-minded person who is insecure and needs to feel important by having her (or at least her children) be in "the best" thing so that she can feel good about herself (even if it's her kids, not her, that are in it). She's putting her self worth and importance in the fact that her kids are learning the new fad (MMA has brought JJ / BJJ back to our attention again, in the last 15 years....though if she really wants to be "cutting edge" she needs to go to KM or MT, but that's beside the point....I say that a little facetiously). In my opinion, not only did she do a little tap dance all over your feelings and that of your son, but he is NINE. She was an immature bully. I wouldn't have tried to change the subject. I would have looked her in the eye and said "He's worked very hard for this, we are so proud of him, and he is preparing for a test and working to build his self confidence on this. This art is his choice. I know that he can do anything he sets his mind to. That is the end of the subject, NOW."

I can see you being sad about this interaction because you felt trampled and didn't know how to react. I can see you being sad because you see a flaw in your friend's adult persona....disappointed in your friend for not acting like an adult, and maybe feeling that she rejected your son (when in fact, she was only rejecting a form of martial arts, it's not really personal except that she has a need to be the best and needs to learn to direct that in a useful way). When people get involved in something new (anything! a religion, a political party, a football team or school, etc), it is the best to them, and sometimes they can get dogmatic. Again that's not against you or your son personally, it's just that she didn't know how to behave and keep it in check. I can't tell you what to do. The mature part of me would say talk to her about it: NOT about the martial art, but about the behavior. OR to blow it off as a personality fault and still be friends with her but a little more at arm's length. But the immature mama bear part of me (which I tend to fall into sometimes) would say blow her off instead of blowing off the situation. That's not great or healthy, but I can't say for sure that I wouldn't do it. There are a few personality traits that I don't accept, and talking down to MY little BOY because you're not interested in his choice of sport is not ok. But that's me. Just focus on being an encouragement to your son and help him through this.

Finally: you want him to learn confidence and self discipline, and something that will carry through to other areas of his life? This is one. He's going to learn to block out the nay-sayers, focus on his task at hand, work towards it, and achieve his goal. That's a huge life lesson. A very important one indeed. Another important lesson that my 5 year old experienced earlier this year? He got the first few belts pretty quickly. But then he didn't get his purple belt on the first try. He took it like a little man: his face was flushed red, but he nodded and said "Yes Sifu" and stayed calm. I wanted to run hug him, but that's not my place. For his sake, I stayed calm and nodded my head like everything is ok. A few minutes later, he did break his gaze and look at the floor for a moment. The female teacher walked up behind him and put her hand on his shoulder for a little reassurance, and all was well. I told him I was proud of him for trying, and that it will just take a little more practice. We practiced together (I can't do those moves, but I video taped the demonstration of it and we watched it together and compared it so he could get it right. His problem was leg strength and balance because he wobbled on a stance and couldn't hold it long enough---he's just a little guy). Three weeks later, he asked to retest and passed. I told him I was MORE proud of him for not giving up, continuing to practice, and having the guts to retest than I was of him receiving his purple belt. The belts will be a little trophy for him at some point, but possibly forgotten in an attic if he doesn't choose to stay with it. The actual lesson though, that will last forever, because it's a brick towards building who he is and how he thinks.

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answers from Tampa on

Congrats to your son! My son just started ju jitsu, and yes it's hard! I would never tell another child's parent their kids activity is any less then my sons. It's rude! So it's not what her kids like so what! Keep your son motivated and let him know how proud you are! And again a big congrats and GOOD LUCK! Let us know how he does :)

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answers from Redding on

She is comparing apples to oranges.
I would just let it all roll of your shoulders and encourage your son to do the same.

Your son is doing what works well for him and he's excelling at it. That really has nothing to do with what her kid is doing. That's exactly what you should tell your son. Not everyone is good at every thing and that's okay.
Also, sometimes adults say things without thinking first.

Just help your son concentrate on what he has been so focused on and worked so hard for and not to worry about anything else. In this case, it's all about him, and that okay.

He's awesome!

In sports or activities of any kind, you can't let other people psyche you out. This is a good lesson for him.

I wish you the best!

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answers from New York on

Ha. Don't have a response to your question. I just thought it funny that I mis-read it, and thought you were asking about MARITAL arts, and not martial arts. Marital arts piqued my curiosity.

Congrats to your backbelt.
F. B.

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answers from Chicago on

she's probably a narcissist who just enjoys hearing the sound of her own voice regardless of what anyone else is saying. you can't change someone like that. Good luck to your son though!

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answers from St. Louis on

I get the feeling there is a lot more to this story. On the surface she doesn't seem supportive but most people attack other choices and defend their own for one of two reasons. One is that they are insecure about their position so everything is perceived as an attack on their choices. The other is that you are giving off a I made the best choice vibe and you don't realize it. When someone hears over and over about your kid and how great they are doing how proud you are...blah blah blah...you snap and say well I did this and I am happy with this.......

If she wasn't a friend I would say she is being a random b****. Since she is a friend there is something else going on.

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answers from Chicago on

Martial arts is martial arts, regardless of which form you take. They all teach you fighting skills. When I worked at the juvenile center, we were taught some of aikido to control the kids and bring them down if need be. After going to the school and getting no help in the bullying my daughter experiences, we both enrolled in taekwondo earlier this year. We're just orange belts at this point, but the moves we've learned all prepare us to fight and, more importantly, to defend ourselves. The instructor is very clear that what we learn is only to be used if someone physically hurts us first. We also have optional Sat AM classes. Depending on your level, there's weapons, board breaking, self-defense, and sparring. So you're actively put in an environment where you take the skills from your belt level and apply them - lower belts are frequently paired with self-controlled black belts for 2 reasons: 1) Depending on the level, you likely don't have sparring gear, so your partner needs to not hurt you; and 2) They talk to us and give us pointers. Maybe you and your friend need to visit each others' martial arts. Maybe your kids could put on their sparring gear (assuming they have it) and practice what they learn with each other (no judgment on winners or losers). Your friend was very insensitive, but maybe you can talk to her again after a bit of time has passed (maybe she'd be more receptive) and ask how she'd feel, too, if the tables were reversed and you criticized her child's martial arts right in front of him. If none of those options are explorable, then I would just never let the subject come up again; if it does, leave or end the conversation (tell your friend you can't talk on the phone any longer, etc).

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