“Well, that won’t be a problem while she’s little, but it will be an issue when she gets older and she won’t be able to compete”

Those were words that made my heart sink. Why? Because I thought it had signalled the end of my daughter Jessica’s martial arts journey before it had even really begun. Jessica is a developmentally delayed child, one of those that we originally thought was ‘just a late bloomer’ before we found out about her birth defect at around 18 months. From that time onward, the one thing that was constantly reinforced was her need for exercise that could build her coordination and development.

Three years on and we had tried (and discarded), swimming, music, dancing and kiddy-gymnastics. Although beneficial for many, in Jessica’s case they weren’t providing enough benefit and in most cases, were providing more challenges than she could meet. Then one day, nearly 16 months ago, she began randomly putting her dressing gown on over the top of whatever she was wearing at the time and walking around the house yelling “I karate – HI-YA!”, complete with a punch or a very clumsy kick. It was time to explore the wonderful world of martial arts.

Not knowing where to start, I visited a local Karate school, explained Jessica’s desire to learn martial arts and also her physical limitations. That’s when I heard the sentence that started this article. My child wasn’t going to be ‘good enough’. Not good enough to compete, not good enough to meet expectations and not good enough to be a worthy member of the team. It was heartbreaking. So, I left, feeling deflated, but that deflation was soon replaced with a determination to find somewhere that she would fit.

A short google search then led me to Little Martial Arts Narre Warren, part of Casey Martial Arts & Fitness and a feeder school for Raptor Taekwondo. Steeling myself for more rejection, I emailed them. And Wow! – within 15 minutes I had a response from Troy, complete with some hastily done research on Jessica’s condition, how martial arts could help her and asking if we could have a chat about it. Talk about chalk and cheese.

16 months ago, Jessica finally found what she needed at Little MA, followed by Raptor Taekwondo. Under the dedicated care of the Little MA team, within 2 months of starting, she was able to balance on one foot. Within 4 months, she could balance on one foot on an uneven surface while delivering kicks to a punching bag. She soon moved into Raptor Taekwondo, and 16 months later, she’s a yellow belt.

We found the miracle we were looking for with Troy and his team. My baby girl has blossomed, found her balance, improved her coordination, increased her confidence, and looks forward to the physical activity of Taekwondo in a way that she doesn’t with anything else. For that, I will be eternally grateful to Troy and the entire Casey Martial Arts & Fitness group. Jessica is in the right place.

Jessica’s mum