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Teaching my daughter Kung-fu in the future

Written by Daniel Otero

Mia, I and Kung Fu

By: Daniel Otero

Let me start by setting the record straight, I have very little or formal Kung-Fu training. For all intents and purposes, I know nothing. “Like a tea cup, my cup is always empty; ready to be filled with knowledge!” But then I came to China and met a fabulous-young lady and we fell in love.  So happens when you fall in love and want to spend to the rest of your life with that person; well, two people come together as a family, marry and have a baby.  Which was the case with XIao qin and I.  We had Mia Otero on the 16th December, 2019.  Then, as we started speaking about the future. Xiao qin and I would like certain things for her.  We would like her to take dance classes.  My ancestry is from Spain and my family has some pretty-good dancers.  We thought further on the future…

I told Xiao qin, “When Mia is old enough, let me teach her the little Kung Fu I know and later if she’s interested can get some formal training!”

To her mother’s surprised astonishment, she said, “What!  You want to masculinize my baby already!”

I thought, answering, “No, first, because she’s from China.  It wouldn’t take away her femininity.  It would help her with confidence, it’s good exercise, keep in touch with her roots and Kung Fu has great techniques in self-defense.”

Her mother shook her head in a ‘Peking Dramatic’ sort of way and I decided in the never ending style of relationship-diplomacy to leave it at that.

Kung-Fu was never a system to take away from a female or masculinize her. It was to make her strong.  That is what I want my baby to become in life. Somebody who can stand-up for herself and not become the submissive entity in life or in the conversation.

This is what Kung-Fu has taught me from my little experience.  It has been an art to build me up and make stronger–not only in body, but in mind with the everyday challenges.  Kung-Fu came from a long history, which possibly surpasses 4,000 years.

Why wouldn’t Mia learn it?  And one lesson I learned and witnessed while living in China.  The last thing I want is to force anything on my baby.  Or XIao qin to become the typical ‘Tiger Mother’.

What I want from Mia is to be able to make her own choices, like her father did.  If she wants to learn Kung Fu when she is old enough, I hope she does! But the last thing I want is to take the art which I love and impose it on her or anybody for that matter.  It doesn’t really help anybody in their development.  Force fed and pushing something down their throat only creates rebellion.  This is the last thing I want from Mia; specially when she starts to approach those difficult-teenage years.

I also believe in great examples.  Strong-beautiful Chinese women who have done great strides with the martial art.  Women like Chen Pei Pei (Shadow Whip), Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and Zhang Ziyi (Grandmaster) are just to name a few.

In the meantime, let us [XIao qin & I] enjoy this moment while she is still an innocent-infant; when she grows-up, I hope to build in her that spirit of independence.  Therefore, one day, when she is good and ready, I hope she can choose either dancing, martial arts or both.  But the most important part of it all, allow her to be happy and great.  She can still make her own choices down the line. For this, I am sure it will happen.  I want her to learn Kung Fu, but let the choice be her’s first.

Dedicated to Mia from your father. 

About the author

Daniel Otero

A New Yorker who has been living in China for the past 10 years. He's a freelance writer/journalist and ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher.

A former member of the military with extensive travel to 50 countries and has lived in six.

Lover of life, good food, travel, writing and dealing with social issues.