Sensei Jasmine’s firm life lessons for little people

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Illustration: Karl Speller

“Sensei Jasmine had the kids in the palm of her hand… I felt I was learning more about parenting from this young, strong woman than I have from anyone in a long time. Perhaps she could run a class for parents?” writes “Mummy” columnist KATE MEIKLE

MY son has become a karate kid. 

During the covid lockdown, he started attending Zoom lessons twice a week and really got into it. We found it was a good way for him to relieve frustrations and be active when playgrounds weren’t an option. 

He also enjoyed the structure of having to log into a “class” and was able to see other kids also on the screen. 

His teacher, the wonderful Sensei Jasmine was incredibly positive, encouraging and energetic – even with the challenges of teaching remotely she was able to create a great sense of fun and excitement. Having hosted many a ho-hum Zoom work conference, I admired her ability to transcend the digital barriers and be “larger than life” on the iPad screen for my son. I figured if he enjoyed karate via Zoom, he would love going to training in person. 

With the lifting of restrictions, he arrived at the dojo (karate hall) and met his sensei (martial arts teacher). She is the perfect mix of strength and kindness and there is no doubt she could kick the crap out of you. 

In the large dojo in Fyshwick, classes soon came back to how they would have been run normally, with a few important hygiene and distancing requirements. 

It didn’t take long for him to settle into weekly classes, accompanied by his dad. And he looks pretty cool in his karate uniform! 

A few weeks ago, my husband also took along our daughter, the little “boss baby” of the family to watch her big brother. It wasn’t long into the training before she was invited by Sensei Jasmine to join in. 

Being only four, I wondered how she went being in a class with the older children, but my husband assured me that she did a great job and kept up with the exercises. 

Last week, it was my turn to take the children and I saw it all in action for the first time. I was amazed at the sensei’s ability to capture the attention of many children – especially mine! 

On arrival, the boss baby took to being “shy” and held on to my leg. Sensei Jasmine had her measure immediately. It only took one firm but kind: “Come on, let’s stand over here” and off went the boss, no complaint! 

The boss baby sure has met her match with Sensei Jasmine. 

The rest of the 45-minute class was nothing short of a transformation – Sensei Jasmine had the kids in the palm of her hand. They were quiet, calm and co-operative. They listened to everything she said. Her instructions were clear and direct. She was encouraging and upbeat but also held them to high standards, explaining to them that they need to keep focused and work hard. 

I felt I was learning more about parenting from this young, strong woman than I have from anyone in a long time. Perhaps she could run a class for parents, I mused. 

If only I could channel my inner sensei… I started daydreaming… how easy would life be if I captured my kids’ attention and commanded the respect that Sensei Jasmine did. Why couldn’t I do it? I wondered. 

“She talks to the kids as though she expects to be obeyed, whereas when we talk to the kids it’s like we are expecting to be disobeyed, as we usually are,” my husband reckoned. 

Older children were involved in the training session, giving my kids the chance to watch their skills in action and learn from them. An excellent way to encourage mentoring in the older children and helping to motivate and inspire the little ones. Jasmine has been teaching them that things are worth working hard for and some gentle messages about bullying and standing up for yourself. Great life lessons. 

How I wish I could bottle the empowering and positive environment of the dojo and bring it home with us. When I asked the boss baby if she wanted to continue with karate, she replied she did, but didn’t want to wear the uniform. She said she wanted to wear a tutu instead! 

I smiled, as I knew that despite what the boss might say at home, the moment she stepped into the dojo, Sensei Jasmine would make sure she wore her uniform and fell into line quick-smart… even if I can’t.

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Kate Meikle
Kate Meikle is a staff reporter for "CityNews"

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