Saturday, February 15, 2014

When Mat Time is Family Time

Like many adult women, I initially got involved in the martial arts via my family.

My daughter started up first, then a few years later, my husband started, and then I was the last one to join in a few months after he stepped on the mat.

I very much enjoy the fact that our entire family has essentially the same hobby.  My daughter is studying Tae Kwon Do, while my husband and I are studying Modern Arnis.  We all study at the same school under the same teacher.  Our youngest daughter wants to start class as soon as she's old enough.

Younger Daughter demonstrating a Dos Manos drill.
That's one of the great things about the martial arts.  It's usually something an entire family can do together, each with their own individual achievements.

However, there are pros and cons to training with family.


  • Mutual support  system: We all understand the issues and problems each of us struggle with, because we're all doing essentially the same thing.  We can talk to each other about issues we're having and because we have deep knowledge of the subject, we can genuinely be very helpful.
  • Martial Arts Geekery: We always have someone we can discuss the martial arts with - yes, when you're geeky about it as we all are, it's important!
  • Equipment:  we can share some equipment, especially weapons (that helps save money, believe me).
  • Schedules: while we have different "martial arts" nights, we all have essentially the same schedule and we're not going different directions every night of the week.


  • Hypersensitivity to criticism: I think, when you are in a close relationship, it's easy to take constructive criticism in an training environment personally. It *feels* hurtful, even if it's no different than what someone completely unrelated to you might say.
  • Imbalance of Power:  If both partners of a couple are training together, this can be very difficult. On the mat, one person may have higher rank and knowledge than the other. Off the mat, the couple should be essentially equals.  Sometimes, it's difficult to make a distinction between the two situations - accepting the higher/lower status on the mat and the equal status off the mat (one bleeds into the other).  It may drive one half of the couple to quit training to save the relationship.
  • Schedules: since you're all doing the same thing all the time, it leaves little time to get other stuff done (like laundry!)
Do you train with family? What do you like and dislike about it?  I'd love to know!