10 Year old Instructor…Local Karate Kid!For Kids . News . Profiles
Dana Hienbucher is not the average 10 year old girl, however she is the first to receive certification as a Junior Martial Arts Instructor at the Karate Institute in DeKalb, IL, USA. The program began a year and a half ago with ten eligible students, Dana is the first certified. While not the same as becoming a certified Sensei the program is described as “stringent”. Junior Instructors do not have their own classes but does help with teaching lower belt rank students.
To become certified as a junior instructor, Dana had to reach the level of brown belt, spend a year assisting with lower-belt classes and training first-time tournament competitors, and provide letters of recommendation from her parents and teachers. She also had to join the Professional Karate Commission, one of three professional groups she’s involved in. Dana who began practicing Karate three years ago also has 49 trophies to her credit.
Wow! While I think this is great I have my reservations, perhaps because of the title “Junior Instructor”. Before I open Pandora’s box let me say this…Kids do great in the martial arts, it is good for their development into confident and compassionate human beings with the correct instructors and environment (home life). But from my perspective I have never put merit in the “Junior” rankings/belts and now certifications. Why? They are false. What? False, because they instill a sense of false reality for the child. Children because of a lack of experience and maturity often do not realize the differences in their abilities and those of an unknown adult. I say unknown because hopefully they have matched their skills against other adults in their club. This localized experience however does not spill over to non-club members because the child doesn’t judge a stranger as a fellow martial artist or is simply over confident. This is demonstrated by Dana’s own words…she said. “And you never know, someday some bully or bad guy might try to hurt you, and you need to know how to defend yourself.”…Some bad guy. While I agree that she and every child should know how to defend themselves, we as a martial arts community must be careful not to create a false reality around our youth so that they will not place themselves in a dangerous situation. Think of it this way, of you raised you child to swim in the bathtub and told them every day what an awesome swimmer they are, do you think they would have the appropriate level of caution when they encounter their first pool? And what if they are alone or with their peers at the time?
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