Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Taekwondo Experiment Ends

One year ago Fred and Jr decided they wanted to attend a promotional Taekwondo class to get free pizza. They asked Scoonie if she would take them, but she told them "no" because she was working on a sewing project (she told me afterwards that she didn't want to take them so she wouldn't be sucked into Taekwondo classes); Jr then asked me with her big brown eyes to take them and said "Mom was too busy." I thought it would be a good idea to get the kids out of the house while Scoonie worked and also that it would be fun to spend some time with the kids. So I drove Fred, Jr, and George to the free class.

While at the free class, I could tell the main instructor worked well with my kids and that they responded well to him. Afterwards, the instructors gave a sales pitch and Fred and Jr were eager to sign-up for classes (George didn't participate as she was playing the shy, scared "I want to cling to my Daddy's leg" part). The sales pitch by the instructors was "Normally there is a $225 initial down payment and eleven monthly installments of $125 for lessons per student" (a total of $1,600 per child for one year or $3,200), but if I put $49 down, I could evaluate them for two weeks risk free and I could enroll both Fred and Jr for the price of one student; on top of that, they would discount the remaining tuition for the year to $999; uniforms were included in the price. Both Fred and Jr could attend twice a week.

This sounded good to me; think about it, if you do the math, there are 52 weeks in a year. If you take $1,048 ($999 plus $49) and divide it by 52, you get about $20 and if you divide that by 2 (the number of classes per week), you get approximately $10 per class, and if you divide that again by 2 (the number of kids I was enrolling), you get about $5 per kid per class for one year. On top of that, it was something that I could do with my kids a couple of times a week.

So I put the $49 down, went home and talked it over with Scoonie. First, Scoonie told me that the reason she had not taken the kids herself was she didn't want to get sucked in to Taekwondo classes. I discussed the cost with her and explained that I thought this was something that I could do with them. Scoonie agreed to go along as long as this was my thing; I was in charge of taking the kids.

Thus, I started taking Fred and Jr to Taekwondo classes twice a week and George tagged along. After the two week evaluation period, Fred and Jr still were enjoying their classes and I paid the additional $999.

In July, the Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles graced the girls' dojo and everything seemed great in the Taekwondo world. Then August rolled around and Fred shocked me with the news she wanted to quit prompting a Dr. Phil moment at my house. Ultimately, Scoonie and I agreed that Fred didn't have to participate in classes, but she still had to go and watch Jr with George and myself. Fred watched once and then started the lessons again. Fred's instructor didn't pressure her and made sure to let her know how well she was doing and pointed this out during class; eventually, Fred started liking classes again and everything was fine until March 2010. Scoonie even made a tax season concession to take Fred and Jr one day a week to their class.

In late February, Scoonie and I decided it was time to get equipment for Fred and Jr as they had progressed to a level beyond the basic classes. I did some looking into equipment prices at the Taekwondo school, but couldn't get straight answers on equipment pricing, and noticed some of the students in class were using dowel rods for sticks. I took this as a sign that we could buy equipment from other sources and looked up pricing on Ebay; after looking around, I found some very nice affordable equipment and made purchases for both Fred and Jr. The equipment quickly arrived and we surprised both Fred and Jr the morning of March 4th - it was just like Christmas! The girls tried on their equipment and started sparring. Class had moved from 6:15pm to 4:30pm as the girls had moved from the lower ranked class to the higher ranked class; so I left work early and picked the girls up and took them to Taekwondo.

Unfortunately, an instructor in training was teaching the first high rank class for Fred and Jr and was more physical/business like than what Fred and Jr were used to; so when it came time for Fred and Jr to put on their equipment, Fred decided to sit out the rest of the class. On top of that, Jr started putting on her equipment, but was told by one of the regular instructors that she could not wear it. His reasoning was this was "due to insurance purposes". I explained I would happily sign a waiver, but then found out the real reason; it was not their brand of equipment and it was nice equipment to boot. In talking with the main instructor, he said that the reason the dowel rods were allowed was that they couldn't brand sticks and so any type of stick was allowed (yes, that really was his answer; my thought was, "yeah, I couldn't tell those dowel rods weren't really martial art standard sticks.")

Over the next couple of weeks, I worked things out with the Taekwondo school. I bought a minimum amount of the school's brand equipment (helmet, hand guards, and chest protector) from them; the main instructor provided an equipment bag, a couple of short sticks, and a nun-chuck (I'm sure he provided them from his own pocket as it didn't sound like the school was willing to negotiate); and the girls were able to use the re-breakable boards Scoonie and I had purchased as the boards were the "correct" brand.

Yes, the equipment experience left a bitter taste in Scoonie's and my mouth (here's Scoonie's recount of the experience), but I talked with Scoonie and we decided to let the kids finish what they started. The instructors continued to instruct Fred and Jr, and I did not see animosity between the instructors and our kids.

Over the last couple of months, George made a friend with another little girl at the Taekwondo school who was watching her sibling, and now wants to start Taekwondo lessons in a year (that's when the other little girl is supposed to begin lessons).

On April 30th, both Fred and Jr were awarded purple belts! I'm very proud of my girls for sticking with Taekwondo and fulfilling their commitment for the whole year!

Here are pictures of my girls with the main instructor (we did return to him the equipment he provided us):

None dare call it conspiracy


Monster Miata


Flying in a squirrel suit