Little Johnny

Dear Parent

Thank you for enrolling your child into our Taekwondo dojang here in Perth, and for taking the time to write that extensive email highlighting Little Johnny's social and emotional needs.

There seems to be a misunderstanding regarding your role in the martial art training your son receives. As Principal of Joong Do Kwan, please allow me to address some of these issues:

  1. After an appropriate period of deliberation, I have decided to communicate to you that you are not in charge, and in fact I am. 
  2. You have your one child, own a few alternative parenting publications, and have watched Monkey Magic. I have 35 years in the martial arts world, written articles, been quoted in several publications, officiated for numerous martial art events, led seminars internationally, maintain a network amongst an international cadre of instructors, and hold a postgraduate Master's degree qualification professionally. Additionally, my black belts are competent, and well-respected in this region. I myself have two older, well-adjusted children. Yes, I would say that qualifies me to make decisions in my own school. 
  3. The buck stops with me on who gets to lead classes, what students do, and what level of intensity they do it at. If it seems like I've taken cues from our various chats, this is pure coincidence. 
  4. As instructors, we see kids 'go completely feral' ... mostly due to poor parenting. So when your child is in our dojang, and we want them to understand how things work in our school and perhaps in the real world, don't be a backseat driver. We are attempting to correct your errors after all. You want to help? Go through our training, and get ranked. If by chance you make it past the other coloured belt kids you might then be able to complain yet again comment about training. 
  5. I understand how you or your child may think I am intimidating - perhaps it's because I've spent the better part of 35 years training to hurt highly-skilled individuals. Saying that, if your child misbehaves in my program no one will hurt him. But I do reserve the right to tell him off, maybe isolate him from the other children for their safety, or to dole out push-ups or similar physically-beneficial exercise as punishment. No, this will not result in psychological scarring. And yes, he will be better for the experience. 
  6. If you need to keep your child away from training, keep him away for the right reasons. Your child is tired? Have him sleep earlier. Has an upcoming exam? Start studying sooner. Or has had a tough day? Perhaps take him off his vegan or gluten free diet? In fact, I don't believe anything short of a medical certificate excuses him from Taekwondo practice. Have commitment in developing his character, he will appreciate this in time.
  7. I know you want your child to learn some discipline and self-confidence from us. But it's hard for him to do so if you distract the entire class by taking your sweet time to leave. Even worse when you and the other parents whinge about your first world problems: your travel plans, the cost of sending kids to private school, the Porsche Cayenne you're buying for when he gets his Ps, the leavers parties he has to attend, or however else you jostle for social clout. 
  8. Don't get me wrong, you have made some valid points that may improve our school and the services we offer to our members. At this moment, however we do not have the luxury to be all things to all people. If you want patches, go enrol Little Johnny in the Scouts. If you want better hydration, go get him a larger drink bottle. If you need to complain any more and participate any less, go latch on to another chardonnay-sipping 'parent's group'. If you want something less taxing for Little Johnny, try the Chess Club. 
If I have not addressed your original concerns or if you have found this letter offensive in any way, please feel free to escalate the matter by filling in this Hurt Feelings Report form.

However, if you think you are best served by another martial art organisation which might better pander to your parenting needs, feel free to make the move. I am eager to support whichever McDojo you choose in their efforts to water down martial art training, provide a cheap and ill-trained alternative to child care, and delude you and your child by handing out meaningless belt ranks to support subscription revenue and 3 year contracts.


Colin Wee

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