Yellow Belted Gestures


John and I went to karate class last Saturday. We weren’t doing karate; we were just watching. Our friend Will was taking his yellow belt test.

I’m glad Will is interested in karate. Having watched just a few of his classes, I see that karate teaches valuable lessons such as: mental and physical focus, self-control, self-discipline, goal-setting, proper conduct, and respect. It builds confidence and channels energy in a positive manner. I particularly like it when the kids finish their form, put their arms at their sides, and announce “I try my best, Sir.”

In last week’s class, Will showed determination…


and demonstrated his form well. And he broke a board on his first try. We were very proud when Master O presented him with a yellow belt.


We struck a tiger pose together outside to commemorate the achievement.


But as you can see, the photo was a more memorable gesture for John and me than for Will. I wanted to do something else for Will so that he would understand John and I are very proud of him for earning his yellow belt.

I told John I wanted to make a paper robot for Will. He thought it was a nice idea. So today, while John painted wood trim in the kitchen, I cut out shapes for a yellow belted robot (which is much more fun than painting wood trim).


Will and I have made several paper robots together. I cut out the shapes. Will punches holes and fastens the pieces together. He has 3 colored paper robots hanging up in his office.


We made the first one because Will is into robots, and we thought it would be a fun activity. Over time, we made two more, because… well, because Will told me to.

When I arrived at Will’s house with the yellow belted robot kit, I explained it is special because it looks like Will does in karate class. I hoped he would like it. It was hard to tell at first — Will takes robot making seriously.


Although we have not constructed a robot in a very long time (since way before kindergarten started), Will’s skills at hole-punching and brass fastener-fastening are still state of the art. I think he was pleased with himself.


Just when I thought the robot was complete, Will ran out of the room. He returned with a blue marker,


and quietly added a few final touches.


I took this as a sure sign of his approval of the new robot.

Now complete,


and wearing his yellow belt with pride, the robot was ready to join the others.


live. enjoy. repeat.

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