The kids had a karate recital today. Also known as the "belt test", it's where they get to show what they learned this term, and do all of their techniques in front of the black belts who will score them and give them feedback. Throughout most of our time in karate, I haven't gotten to watch them because I'm testing also, but now that the only test looming in front of me is the eventual black belt test, I could just sit in the audience and enjoy seeing them do their thing.
The thing that most strikes me when watching Mackenzie is just how big, strong, and fast he's getting. That and the deep voice that comes out of him when he kiais (the karate "hiya" yell). He is definitely operating at the brown belt level and is moving toward the day when he will test for his black belt too. He's gotten very serious about karate lately, especially since he and I have been going to the more rigorous brown and black belt classes together. Focusing on the basics as well as harder and harder techniques has a way of making everything look sharp.
As for Asa, she is coming into her own as well. Karate is not her main focus like it is for Mackenzie. She saves that for dance, singing, and theatre of course. But I'm glad she has stayed with karate even though her schedule sometimes gets crazy. It's important to me that both of the kids can defend themselves if the need ever arises, and sadly in our society she's more likely to need to do that than Mackenzie. I liked watching her perform the escapes from hand grabs and the take-downs that accompany them.
For both of the kids, our karate dojo is also more like a family than just a class that they attend. They've made lifelong friends here, friends that are in photos from recitals going back almost half a decade now. As they move into the tween and teen years, I see the kids that they're hanging around with and I smile. They're confident, respectful, polite, and nice. Being involved with karate, most specifically at our dojo, has more than a little to do with that. The family-friendly atmosphere and focus on values ensures that the kids grow up with more than just a few fancy moves in their repertoire.