This past weekend, my boys received Jedi training in Phoenix, which included learning how to use a light saber.
The “Star Wars”-themed session was a program of Dignity Kids, and was taught by Obi-Wan Kenobi (OK, it was someone dressed like him). It was a character-building session about using the light side over the dark side (listen to your parents vs. talking back to your parents) and equipping them to react to bullying or other threats. (If somebody grabs you, scream “Stop!” as loud as you can then punch, punch, kick and scream, “I said, no!” And run.)
The session was held in various locations in the Phoenix area, including at a karate studio about 10 minutes or so from our house. It was great how they incorporated important lessons into a fun activity. The instructor kept them busy by having them stand up, sit down, turn around, face your parents, sit down, stand up, run in place, sit down… etc. That really kept them engaged. I wonder if that method would work at home?
During one part of the lesson, when they were running in place, one of our sons pushed his brother. Obi-Wan stopped the lesson and had everyone sit down. He asked him why he pushed him. “I don’t know.” Then Obi-Wan talked to the group about how that’s never a good answer – if you do something you weren’t supposed to do, there’s a reason you did it and even if it’s not a good reason, “I don’t know” isn’t a reason.
He then talked about how we each have a choice in how we respond to things and we can make good choices or bad choices, but it’s our choice. (Which is a lesson that we’ve repeated over and over again to the boys, too.) I was half glad that the instructor called our son out for pushing his brother, because it’s not the first time and I was silently demanding him to stop it from across the room, and half proud of our son for realizing he was at fault and continuing the lesson with a full effort.
After the instructor went over the basics, light sabers were handed out and they got to do a few moves with the light-up light sabers. Fortunately our boys followed the instructions not to hit each other with them.
Dignity Kids is a nonprofit that started in 2008 that aims to educate and empower youth through fitness-based programs that teach STEM concepts, encourage healthy lifestyles and promote positive youth development. It sounds like they’re doing some great work. Learn more at dignitykids.org.