Monday, August 6, 2012

Milo doesn’t lose, as long as he’s having fun

(Photo: Milo Ezekiel—now seven years old—sculpts a rose from modelling clay and offers it to his Mom.)

I feel guilty for letting my adult, competition-oriented attitude kill the joy my six-year-old son felt, after engaging in friendly rounds of sparring with his new-found friends. (Sorry to the Department of Social Welfare and Development, but I believe that the children’s lack of punching power, further softened by boxing gloves, made those sessions rather harmless. If I’m wrong and legally liable, then do what you have to do.)

One night, I took my eldest child Milo Ezekiel to the martial arts gym that I co-own. While I trained for my coming fight, my little boy played all over the place: he tumbled on the wrestling mat, threw the medicine ball as far as he could, wore the oversized boxing gloves and hit the bags, and ran around like crazy (honestly, he’s a little weird like me).

Soon, around six children climbed up the gym. Coming off the stairs and right before stepping on the mat, each of them joined their palms together, chest-level, and bowed down before Kru Art Pantinople, our muay thai instructor.  Kru Art then told me he trains those kids for free in boxing—both the Western and Thai kind.

Except for the girl who must be eight years old, all the others, three boys and two girls (as I remember) were smaller than Milo. And, all of them including Milo ended up chasing each other playing tag.

Later, two boys clambered up the boxing ring and wore gloves, and were soon striking at each other while the eldest girl acted the referee. Milo, wanting to join the fun, stepped inside the ring and joyfully volunteered to fight next.

The children happily obliged, and helped put the gloves and protective head gear on Milo and his sparring partner. The equipment were all adult-sized, and therefore over-sized for the kids.

My son is quite tall, and has always been one of the tallest in school. And, for his age, he’s on the lean and muscular side. The definition in his shoulders and back are noticeable, compared to other children his age.

Unfortunately for him, his statistical advantages in height, length and weight didn’t matter to his opponent who was a head shorter, during their friendly sparring.

The smaller one, though still awkward in boxing movements, showed the training he has undergone under Kru Art: he kept his sight on Milo and threw accurate punches. My untrained Milo, on the other hand, flailed with his head turned away to his left side—showing his childish and instinctive way of avoiding getting hit in the face.

He fought another and much smaller boy, and it was the same story on the ring.

On the bus along the way home, Milo (still) excitedly remarked, “Daddy, it was fun boxing at the gym!” My honest response was, “Yes, but the children there know how to box.”

Milo’s joyful expression changed into puzzlement, and the smile of satisfaction left his face. With a hint of disappointment at the “mild” disappointment I myself felt (which he apparently discerned), he answered “But, I also know how to box.”

Then I (stupid me) rubbed it on some more and our conversation continued:

“Well, you fell down a couple of times.”

“But, my playmate fell down, too—twice,” he replied then, in a serious tone and facial expression. I wanted to reason out some more, and tell him that those were slips while his were legit knockdowns, but wisely refrained.

Right after breakfast the next morning, for some unkind reason I brought it up again, and told little Milo that, “We’ll both learn how to box, okay?” To which Milo grumbled and dismissed my offer, “No, I’ll just learn on my own,” and left the dining table with a frown.

Next time, I’ll remember that little children just want to play and have fun with one another, unlike us grownups who are too conscious of competitiveness and putting one over the other—in sports and other matters in life.

My apologies to my mother and sister—Milo’s very protective grandmother and aunt, respectively—for putting their wonderful baby through all that. Anyway, I’m sure that those children’s strikes were more pushes than punches, and Milo only ended up leaving from a little rough fun, for his age…right?

Anyway, I’d be wiser with four-year-old Mikael Fedor. (Yup, named after the legendary MMA fighter.)

Milo Ezekiel kneeling at front, wearing a Batman shirt; Mikael Fedor stands behind him, carrying a ball. (Standing from left are S.P.R.A.W.L.-MMA's coach Christian Virtudazo and popular TV and movie actor JM De Guzman.)

Kru Art Pantinople, aside from being a former top-ranked muay thai fighter and certified instructor in the Philippines, also holds a BJJ blue belt from Yuki Nakai, founder of Japan's Paraestra (Shinya Aoki's former team).

This blog is sponsored by Limitado

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