Hallways: How Martial Arts Guides You through Tight Spaces

How does martial arts training help kids negotiate the elementary, middle, and high school hallways? Read on.

This Saturday morning I cooked breakfast for the family. Boiled potatoes, shredded into hash browns, spread in a pan with grease from the bacon I’d just fried in a cast iron skillet, then shoved in the oven with the broiler on high.

(Hang in there, karateka; I’m going somewhere with this.)

When I checked on the ‘browns they were a bit heavy with grease so I pulled out the pan to pour some of it out. The glowing-hot pan in my oven-mitted hand, I turned, and saw my two daughters who had just run up the stairs. They were standing smack dab in the runway between me and the trash can.

The pan was heating through the oven mit. I felt it warming up my thumb. The open oven door behind me was breathing heat, and the pan grease would be scalding if it spilled on little kid skin. But I moved between their bodies, shifting with a kind of grace, even, slipping between the girls and over to the trash to tip the grease from the tray. Breakfast saved. Tragedy averted.

Attribute it to Black Belt.

Over the past five years I’ve been learning to actively dodge kicks, punches, lunges and advances from everything from 4th-degree Black Belt instructors to wild and spasmodic green belt kids on the sparring floor.

My kids have, too. One’s an orange belt, the other earned her Black Belt before I did. They accommodated my little scamper with the pan of grease with a sort of instinct that (I’d swear) comes from training on the karate floor. No ineffective flinces in the face of danger; just useful, artful slips that allowed me to move through to where I needed to be.

If you recall what middle school hallways are like when the bell rings… It’s not unlike the situation above. The clock’s ticking while you scurry through the gauntlet of students, notebooks and bookbags to your locker, spin through your combination, grab what you need, slam it shut and spring away through the sea of bodies to science class before the bell rings.

It makes you anxious. Unless you’ve been through it hundreds of times on the mats.

At home or in the hallways, martial arts prepares you to succeed.

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