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  • Martial Arts Teacher: Why Dating My Daughter Will Be Risky Business

    A dad who knows Aikido and Jujitsu, among others, has a warning for his 6-year-old's future suitors
    by Anthony O. Alcantara .
Martial Arts Teacher: Why Dating My Daughter Will Be Risky Business
PHOTO BY courtesy of the author
  • Kneeling, I prepare to attack. I suddenly send my fist flying towards her. She deflects it with her left palm and then parries with her right arm in one smooth movement. At the same time, she moves forward and then shoves her left hand into my face. That moment of distraction gives her enough time to put her right arm across my neck and send me back and down on the ground.

    That’s when she begins giggling and laughing as only a 6-year-old can.

    “Let’s do it again! Let’s do it again!”

    It’s all a game for Aria. And practicing simple self-defense techniques is one of the ways we entertain ourselves at home. I’ve been practicing Aikido for years and trained in a few other martial arts such as Wing Chun, Danzan Ryu Jujitsu, Kendo, Kali, and Judo.

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    As with everything she does, Aria's carefree, buoyant disposition shows, a contrast to my usually calm, restrained nature. Sometimes, when I watch her play and convulse with laughter at my corny jokes, I wonder what she’ll be when she grows up. What things will fascinate her or enthrall her? Will she pursue martial arts like me when she grows up? Or will she grow up to be a ballerina performing stunning grand jetés and dizzying pirouettes? Will she be a scientist? A doctor? A lawyer? Or a coloratura soprano like her mom?

    The last time we asked Aria what she wanted, she said, “I’d like to cook and wash dishes.” Wow. Yes, dear, I like to cook and wash dishes, too.

    That’s when the inevitability of her turning into a teenager someday hit me. How will I feel when my sweet little baby, who now insists she’s no longer a baby but a “princess,” grows old enough to date? It’s too far away in the future, right? That will happen in a little over a decade or so. But then again I realized it was not that too far off, considering that it seems like I just yawned and, voila, my wife and I will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary next year.

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    Which made me realize the urgency of preparing my daughter well. First, Aria has to learn self-defense. You never know when you’ll encounter a lunatic with a club or a scimitar (a short sword with a curve). I haven’t encountered any, but they do happen to someone else in the world, right? And she could meet lecherous perverts somewhere. The news say they do happen. So it’s imperative that I make sure she masters those techniques...without giggling, of course. She has to stop the giggling.

    And if cooking she wants, I’ll teach her to cook! I believe using the knife, the kitchen mallet, and the cleaver are transferrable skills that has applications in martial arts and practical self-defense with improvised weapons. Yes, we can weaponize the kitchen.

    Heck, I can even weaponize her mouth with what you call "kiai," a yell or shout done when executing an attack. Sometimes it intimidates attackers or makes them think twice before attacking. Of course, we’re all familiar with people who learned to weaponize their maws by expectorating odious profanities to irritate or offend others. In our case, a more feral shriek or yell, maybe even caterwauling, will help attract attention.

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    And as for washing dishes, well, we all know, at least those in my generation who are familiar with Karate Kid, that anyone can learn self-defense with mundane tasks. While washing the car, the Karate Kid practiced “wipe on, wipe off” to hone his blocking techniques.

    Same with washing dishes. We can exercise our wrists and hands as we wipe them with dish detergent or rinse them. Then again we can just learn to smash dishes on the head of an assailant. In any case, nobody would want to annoy my princess unnecessarily.

    If my daughter is going out on a date, I think my wife ought to give Aria some guidelines. I’ll take care of the guy. I will give him not only guidelines, but some strong suggestions and benign hints of some undesirable consequences. Maybe I’ll get inspiration from old movies or other parents who have gone through the same predicament.

    A few days ago, I was preparing my daughter for her ballet class because her mom was away for work. I have learned to put her hair in a bun, not perfect but good enough for ballet class. “Thank you, Daddy. I love you,” she said after I fixed her up. Then she gave me a big hug.

    For now, I guess I just need to savor each moment with my sweet young princess because, when she finally grows old enough to go out on a date, I will surely think of her giggles and laughter when practicing Aikido techniques, and my struggle to fix her hair as she prepares for ballet.

    I’ll think of her date, too, and hope that he survives.



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