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My son has been taking Taekwondo for a few months now, and really enjoys it. Recently he was invited to join the leadership program. As part of the leadership program, the students are allowed to start training with weapons. The first one wasn’t so bad – a Jahng Bong – essential a long wooden staff. He had a lot of fun learning to use it. Last night we went to a seminar to introduce the new weapon for the next cycle – a Gum Do. Sounds fun, right? Well – for those that don’t speak Korean – the Gum Do is a sword. At first I thought – that’s really cool, my son is going to learn to use a sword. Then I thought – holy crap, my son is going to learn to use a sword. What were we thinking when we agreed to weapons training?
That set my mind to work – no one ever offered to teach me swordplay when I was nine. Would I have been responsible enough to learn swordplay at that age? Would I have been responsible enough to learn swordplay at any age? What kind of injuries would I have inflicted on my parents, my friends, my brother, and myself? (I realized that perhaps one of the best decisions my parents ever made was making sure I was never in a situation where someone could ask them, within earshot of me – “would your son like to learn to use a sword?”) I began to worry about my son’s well being, with a sword in the house. After all, I had trouble enough with just the normal things around the house when I was a kid – things like bicycles, grills, skateboards, floors, and spray paint. I can’t imagine the carnage a sword would have wrought. I managed to accrue three major head wounds in my childhood with nary a sword in sight. It wasn’t pretty.