Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Girls Coming to the Martial Arts and They are Here to Stay

There was a time when a martial arts school was a male dominated world. I started my training in martial arts in the late 80's. I was one of two women training in a school of approximately thirty men. The other woman - my younger sister who I dragged with me for moral support. I wasn't ready to be the only female in class.

As the new milennium arrived the male to female ratio in adult classes stayed about the same. However, a few more girls started finding their way into the children's classes joining the school with their brothers or on their own. The numbers increased incrementally, the boys still outnumbering the girls four to one.  It was a hopeful sign. Yet years later, I was surprised when a friend decided to have her son's birthday party at our school and none of the girls that had been invited wanted to come to the party. The reason? Because martial arts was "boys' stuff and girls don't do martial arts." 

That was seven years ago. How times have changed.  Today, my classes are now even and at times the girls outnumber the boys. What was driving this change in the kwoon's demographic?  Why are girls now attracted to learning martial arts? What are the outside influences creating this atmosphere of change?

The only thing I can think of is children's movies and children's television have had a lot of female leads in the last decade. Mulan picked up a sword. Lilo was no push over in Lilo and Stitch, Matilda, and neither is Miss Piggy from the Muppets. Other strong female characters, Susan and Lucy in The Chronicles of Narnia,  Katniss in Hunger Games, Tris in Divergent, Merida in Brave and let's not forget the Powder Puff Girls. Others show their adventurous spirit and their fascination in exploring their world or worlds unknown, Rupunzel in Tangled, Ariel in the Little Mermaid. Harriett from Harriett the Spy. And now Anna and Elsa from Frozen. I haven't even touched on Anime or superheroes.

From television iCarly and Hannah Montana were wildly popular as well as Lizzie Mcquire, That's So Raven, and Wizards from Waverly Place all with savvy female leads.  

Then there is Hermione Granger whose hard work, wit, skill, preparation, and level headedness has saved her friends over and over.  She knows who she is and never apologizes or backs down to peer pressure.  She doesn't let anything or anyone stop her. She knows that to be one of the best takes hard work and she works harder than anyone else around her.  It seems she always has what anyone will need in her bag. The level of planning and preparedness is truly awe inspiring and admirable. She is brave and a true hero.

These are all recent examples of heroines in the movies and television.  But there are many more excellent examples from decades past of positive strong female leads. Search for them.

But how about the real life role-models. When I was a young girl, it was watching the women in the Olympics. The stand out for me was the United States Women's Soccer Team winning the World Cup in 1991 and FIFA World Cup in 1999.  They went on to win four gold medals in '96, '04, '08. and 2012. Our heros were Mia Hamm and Michelle Akers, and the rest of the team. Tennis star Serena Williams or race car driver, Danica Patrick challenging and offering a new perspecctive in their fields. So many more examples of women and girls finding their voice and re-imagining their place in society past and present.

So are these influences changing how girls think of themselves?  Is this what has brought girls to the martial arts? And when they walk through our door, does it give them solace and confidence to see me in front of the class, a female instructor. Whatever the reasons are, I am very happy that they are here. I will do my best to help them become the positive and strong female leads that will inspire  future generations of women.  

Monday, May 7, 2018

Brilliant Teens - A Teacher's Love Poem


These four poems were inspired by four brilliant young women. I have known one since she was a toddler, the other three since they were six years old and now all are teenagers. In the past, the kwoon was mostly a male's domain. But in recent years, girls have joined the wonderful world of martial arts. What a joy to train girls. Watching these beautiful girls' friendships blossom as WCD sisters is inspiring. They are so different and most likely never travel in the same circles except in my universe. After Z's blackbelt test we were all celebrating this momentus achievement. As the teens started posing for pictures, I asked if they could envision their future and this picture was taken. Each girl means so much to me and when I looked at this photo, four poems came to mind that evening.

Brilliance - Potential Unknown

Brilliance of hair and soul
Potential kissed her forehead and kissed her forward.
Hurrying toward the future, sitting on your hands
Yearning for more, without recourse
Yearning for a space to call her own home
Searching for a world of belonging and created by her own hand.
To belong by seeking and moving as fast forward as she is allowed
When she gets her chance, she'll fun wild to be free.
To be who she thinks and wants to be.
Stop once or twice and look behind,
To see us wave good-bye and wave "go-on."
Remember that brilliance is not out there, but born within.
Run if you must, but find the time to first, run into you.
You are brilliance - potential unknown.

Brilliance - Presence of Power

Why do you cover your face?
No spotlight, unapolgetically invisible,
Unsuccessful because you create a presence
A Mona Lisa, recognizing the artist's greatness and because she chose him,
It makes her great, thus seen.
You quietly sit, silently quieting your physical and mental being
To be an unknown observer, a social investigator,
Scoping the space for any possible suggestion that eyes may fall toward you.
Staying motionless as a statue, but your presence betrays
The brilliance, seeping out along the edges.
Eyes follow the light to the silent presence, so still, so composed
That all motion must stop to see.
Look at the presence on the canvas, beautiful, still, yet full of life.
The Brilliance is waiting, waiting patiently for safety so power of self can emerge.

Brilliance Complete

A girl who knows who she is
Receiving accolades, that don't stop coming.
A wonder to a girl that so many people are in wonder and awe
Organized, focused, self-realized.
Starting to realize her strengths are powerful.
Willing to explore those skills with fervor to complete something magnificent.
Joy is the task at hand, to plan, to implement to joyous completion.
Brilliance of heart, mind and soul
Does it scare her, the eyes of others on her, praising her, validating her?
The bar of expectations begins to float higher.
Do you continue to awe them or do you already know to awe only yourself?
Remember to rest, that the complete can sometimes wait.
May the joy and love of the ride take you wherever you want to go or whatever you want to be.
You are Brilliance Complete.

Hiding Brilliance - Potential Restrained

Brilliance is pouring out of every pore.
The flow held back restrained, pushing and pulling to be released.
A brilliant beautiful person hiding in her own shadows
Unwilling or unable to show herself as the roaring river that she is.
Experience gave you knowledge of uncertainty, loss, apathy, and abandoned bliss
Don't let these lessons lessen your will to be brilliant.
You are a wonder, a jewel not yet polished.
A potential of the highest order, a power of will and intelligence
A significant creative mind and being, waiting for the moment of self-realization.
Be the power, release its potential, move out of the shadows and
Be the Brilliance Beautiful that you already are.

Here is another picture of a wonderful group of young people. Feel so blessed to know all of them.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Keep Kids Safe Afterschool Program at Ambrose Academy

The award winning, Ambrose Academy of Wing Chun Do, in Livonia is now offering a new after-school program.  An after-school program that gives families the benefits of three great services for the price of one - a structured after-school program focused on health, fitness, safety and personal growth.  Keep Kids Safe After-School Program's three components include a safety enrichment program that offers the acclaimed Stranger Smart Program, conflict avoidance skills, Good Bystander anti-bullying techniques, and more.  A big part of children's safety is developing good health and fitness routines. Also children attend kung fu classes learning the art of Wing Chun Do along with other fun and exciting activities. 

As founder of the Keep Kids Safe Afterschool Program, I want to present a program that offers more than the typical latchkey environment. Here is a unique opportunity to create another great learning experience for  children in a structured, more productive way during after-school hours, but still maintain the fun and excitement. This program helps families in other aspects of their lives by promoting solid child safety skills, offering an extracurricular activity such as Wing Chun Do kung fu classes, and promoting fitness, and health. We believe by combining multiple quality activities that families will find more time and experience less stress during the day.

It’s not too late to enroll in the program.  Ambrose Academy keeps attendance to the program under fifteen to ensure that each child receives a quality experience and individual attention.   

Program details:
Cost 62 a week, which includes all of our safety classes and handouts, martial art classes, testing fees, t-shirt, belts, foam weapons, and craft supplies depending on the theme of the week. Children bring snack(s). 10% sibling discount. $40 non-refundable registration fee per child.

Time for homework and reading for those that have a 3 or 3:15 dismissal

Transportation available if your school falls within our pick-up zone.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Summer Day Camps Announced for Summer 2014

Our popular Summer Day Camps at Ambrose Academy, an award winning school, are back for summer 2014.  Our theme of course is Fitness/Sport/Martial Arts. Sign ups are starting today. Make a deposit to reserve your spot.

The dates for each camp is:        July 7-11  and  August 4-8

Each day is filled with activities to keep your child moving all day long.  Morning exercises, daily martial arts class, sports games, team play, creative free play and so much more.  Children expend tons of energy during focus play.  Lessons on nutrition, making fitness a life long pursuit, and of course martial arts training.  Arts and crafts too!  What parents have to say about our camps.

Sign up for the whole week or ask about our half day programs.  Drop off mornings at 8am and pickup at 3:30pm.  Call us for more information at 734-422-4420. Join us on facebook to keep informed.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ambrose Academy's Parents Night Out Balloon Fest

Ambrose Academy loves to offer to its young students an atmosphere of creativity and free play fun.  After twenty-five years in this business, we've learned what needs to be in place to make an event special.  For kids, take your cue from Disney or other kid friendly venues.  Color, lots of bright colors.  I wanted to create a theme for the next Parents Night Out event.  So what better way to create instant fun than to have a balloon themed party for the kids.

Balloons everywhere!  No direction needed, just let the kids go.

Balloon Holding Contest

Relay Races

Trying to get all the balloons in the air.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Crafty Kung Fu Girls

The school has an unprecedented number of girl members.  It is so nice to see that girls want to participate in the martial arts and no longer think it as a "boys only" domain.  This past year the number of girls in my school doubled surpassing the boy student body, making it a 2 to 1 ratio for a while.  The class is now about 50/50.

I also want our school to be more than just a martial art school. I envision the school as a place akin to a community center that offers special events, enrichment classes, and happenings that will excite and build a bond between the students and the school.  I want it to become their club, another nurturing and safe place to be,  a highly positive environment, where creativity is always encouraged, and a freedom to be themselves a must.

I decided to offer a class and invited the girls to my first craft party. Fourteen girls showed up and it was a blast. It was a whirlwind of activity. As I was helping Samantha with her project, my attention was suddenly drawn to the background of voices, the din of activities, the girls engrossed in their projects happily creating, the excitement and positive energy that was all around me.

I felt so fulfilled and happy.  It was a happening!

I looked up to see the girls in groups all over the floor, at the painting table, at the ribbon table, making their choices and complementing each other.  I saw my helpers, Amy, Evelyn, Tessa, Alyssa, and the other moms that were drawn to stay helping the girls with their designs.  Grandma G. sitting on the floor using a hair dryer to help dry the paint more quickly with three girls around her watching. Mrs. M with a constant tear of joy in her eyes, bless her. Everyone happily working, being creative, using their hands, creating their own style and thoroughly enjoying the party.

It's still all kung fu to me.  It's a way of expressing oneself - honestly. Each girl showed off her personality and individuality in their pieces. I was amazed that six year old Samantha was so positive in her choices, never asking me for an opinion on what to do.  She picked out everything and proceeded to tell me how and where to place her design.

Amy and I helping the girls with the sewing machines.

Then of course we just had to have a runway show.  It capped off the event beautifully.   I created a wonderful memory for myself, one that I know will stay with me for a long time and I hope will stay with everyone who was there.

By the way, ignore the woman with the two left feet that falls down at the end of the video.

Now what to do with the boys.....

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Lil' Dragons - They Grow Up So Fast


Every once in a while my Lil’ Dragons class is empty for at least a short time.  My class consists of four and five year olds, and children I consider young fives or young sixes.  Lil Dragon’s membership is limited to five to seven children to keep the student/teacher ratio low.  Their attention span isn’t what it should be and every once in a while, one is stuck in what I call “imagination land,” meaning they’re just visiting another world in their head. 

It’s my job to try to get them focused, thinking, and observant to what is around them.  I’ve discovered the best way to get my task done is to play with them. I guide the games that not only entertain, but also challenge them physically and mentally keeping them present and in the moment, in a word, focused. When they are ready or when they reach a milestone like another birthday, they leave my class and join the Children’s class, ages 6-14.

Right now, I’m enjoying my second cup of coffee, and checking on how they are doing in the new class.  Of course they are doing great. Soon a new Lil’ Dragons class will form and I can’t wait to meet them.  But for now, it’s nice to sit back, take a rest, and watch if the lessons I have taught them have taken hold.


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