This April, martial arts schools from across Canada participated in Breaking Boards Breaking Chains, a month-long break-a-thon in support of IJM. Run by Martial Arts for Justice, the event inspires students to realize that not only can they protect themselves, but they can protect others around the world. They are 'Champions of Justice,' and united they can strengthen justice and equality for all.
We sat down with 8-year-old Cade and his mother Trudi to talk about how breaking boards can change lives.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Cade, I’m 8 years old, and I’m in grade 3. I like to listen to music and ride my dirt bike. I like Legos, I play baseball, and I study taekwondo.
How long have you been studying taekwondo and how did you get started?
I’ve been doing taekwondo for probably about a year. And I started because I kept on getting bullied at school and I wanted to learn a martial art.
How did you feel about yourself and the bullies once you started taekwondo?
Well, I did get punched in the stomach, which I wanted to defend myself from, and I also got a bloody nose from that fight. But taekwondo made me feel better about [dealing with conflict].
How do you think justice (sticking up for people and protecting them from bullies) connects to taekwondo?
When you learn how to defend yourself and others.
Why is that important to you?
Because I don’t like getting hurt, I don’t like other people getting hurt.
Why is it important for you to participate in Breaking Boards Breaking Chains?
To free people in Bolivia from sexual abuse and slavery.
Tell us a little bit about your experience with breaking boards breaking chains this year.
I broke 3 boards. I did two axe kicks and one hammer blow. An axe battle kick is a straight up and straight down kick.
Watch out world! Cade’s coming! You sound like you’re pretty strong. How has doing taekwondo changed you?
I feel like I’ve gotten stronger from all the push-ups and sit-ups.
Who is your favourite role model or super hero?
Batman. Because he survives and he beats the villains with tools and gadgets, and he also knows a bunch of martial arts.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
A song writer.
Do you write songs right now?
If you could tell people one reason to participate in BBBC, what would it be?
Maybe if they’re Christian and they don’t know what taekwondo is for I could probably tell them. Like how we’re protecting people from sexual abuse and slavery.
Thank you Cade so much for speaking with us and answering our questions. And now we have a few questions for your mom, Trudi!
Trudi, what do you feel that Cade learns from studying Taekwondo and participating in the Breakathon?
Well through studying taekwondo he’s definitely learning how to defend himself, and in learning how to defend himself we can see his self-confidence has increased so much. We were homeschooling him, partly because he didn’t want to go back to school after having some problems with his peers. But learning how to defend himself has really increased his self-esteem and his self-confidence to be able to stand up to some of the issues he was afraid to stand up to before. We have just seen a huge change in him.
One of the things that taekwondo teaches him is respect, our instructor goes into great detail in helping the kids learn what it looks like to respect yourself and what it looks like to respect others. I know as parents, we’re always telling our kids to ‘be respectful’ and ‘you need to respect them.’ But I think we often fall short in teaching them what that actually looks like. And they are learning that through taekwondo.
Self-control as well. My son has issues with focus, which a lot of the kids do. Focus and controlling his emotions. One of the tenets they learn in taekwondo is self-control-- Controlling your thoughts, actions and emotions. They learn the importance of being able to control yourself and to control your body. Get your body to do what your mind is telling it to do. To control your emotions and your thoughts whether it’s through sparring or whether it’s through dealing with your peers at school; really if you can’t get control of your emotions, everything else just falls apart.
They’re really big on teaching [the students] that you are ultimately responsible for your own actions and your ability to control yourself. We’ve truly found a big change in him at home, whether it’s with his brother or with being respectful to us, or controlling his emotions. He’s someone who gets almost paralyzed by his emotions. For instance, if he is told he needs to hurry, all of a sudden he’s so focused on hurrying that he goes into a state of panic and almost stops moving. The harder he was pushed, the slower he would go. Now he’s learning how to calm himself down, to focus, and to do the task that needs to be done. To not allow his emotions to control him.
I really find that he’s learning so much about himself through taekwondo.
Through Breaking Boards Breaking Chains, he’s learned and is becoming aware of what’s going on in the world. Often we can become so focused on what’s going on in our own lives that we don’t realize what’s going on outside of our own personal world. We were able to discuss it with him, and his instructor discussed it with their class, helping them to see some of the terrible reality that children around the world actually have to live with every day.
I believe that getting involved with Breaking Boards Breaking Chains teaches them to be compassionate towards others. And it also teaches them that we’re not only responsible for our own well-being, but that we’re also responsible for the well-being of others. I know sometimes for myself, I get stuck on the idea that the problem is so big, so what could I ever do to change it? I really think that being involved with something like BBBC shows him that even though he's just one person, he can actually be a part of the solution. He can make a difference in somebody else’s life. I think it’s a really good experience for kids. It’s a really good experience for the adults too! I think it’s very important for them to get involved in it and realize what others are going through in the world and what we can do to help them.
Why should other parents get their kids involved in Breaking Boards Breaking Chains?
Again, it just makes them realize that the world is not all about you. There are people out there that really need your help and you can do something to help them. You can be a part of the solution.
Is there anything else that you want our readers to know or any final comments that you have?
It’s an event that is worth the effort and sacrifice of your time and money. To know that you are helping to free some child or some person out there that is suffering greatly. For myself and our family – it doesn’t take thought in terms of whether it’s something we should get involved in or not, it’s just something we know we need to do.