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Pennsylvania Junior Student of the Year Nicholas Stoner trains with his father, PA Chief Instructor Bill Stoner

Valerie Edwards-Robeson and son Walker train together at the Minnesota Genbu-Kai Dojo. Walker's brother, Tucker, is also a blue belt

By Shanley Wells

One of the wonderful things about karate is that family members can train together - parents and children, bothers and sisters, husbands and wives.  Many students even form friendships outside the dojo, and we often refer to
ourselves as a "karate family." 

Since those who study a martial art often find it quickly becomes a passion, it's nice to be able to share it with loved ones.

But sometimes, too much closeness can cause problems in any relationship.

A little awareness and a few "rules" can help you keep your loved ones in the "loved" category as you train together.

Here are some tips for training with friends and family members:

1.  Keep your relationship out of the dojo.
If you're mad at your sister for ruining your new shoes, that's okay.  But leave it out of class.  As you bow to enter the dojo, tell yourself that you are leaving the family ties behind you.  Your sister is no longer your sister.  She is your
fellow karateka, so you can't be mad at her about the shoes (until you leave the dojo).

2.  If possible, try to partner with someone you don't live with.
You get to see your kids almost every day.  Let someone else be your son's partner, so you can focus on your role of student and not worry about whether "junior" is behaving himself or not.

3.  Work on your own karate during class.
It's tough for parents, but do your best to completely ignore your kid during class.  It's Mr. Cooper's job to correct them or stop unwanted behavior.  You're there as a student.  Try to focus on yourself and work on improving your own techniques.

4.  When your family member is practicing karate at home, do not make corrections or tell them what you think they're doing wrong.
Only give them feedback if they ask for it.  You're not their instructor.  Again, let Sensei Cooper teach them in the dojo.  It's not your job to correct them or point out mistakes.  If they ask you to watch their kata or if they ask for help remembering moves, then okay.  By all means, talk about karate at home and help each other.  But don't force your opinions on them unless they ask - even if you just "know" you're right.  You are responsible for your own karate and only
your karate.

Shanley Wells is a brown belt in the Ponca City, OK Genbu-Kai Dojo

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