Interview with Karate Mom Jessica Reichert:
Jessica Reichert: My name is Jessica Reichert, and my husband Dennis and I have two children, Logan who is almost eight and Abby who’s almost four. Both of whom are students here now.
Q: And how did you hear about the school?
Jessica: Logan at about three‑and‑a‑half started in on us. He seriously wanted to go to karate. We called around, checked a bunch of schools out. Nobody would take him until he turned four. So during that six months or so we toured a bunch of the schools in the area. And this is the one that was the fit.
Q: What turned you off at the other schools?
Jessica: We went into one place that was very drill sergeant‑y. Lots of screaming, lots of this guy barking at these little kids. And that wasn’t what Logan needed, nor what we wanted for him. We went into another school where we watched several hours worth of calisthenics, which also wasn’t what we wanted. We came in here, Logan was met by one of the instructors and it was an instant connection.
Q: So what would you say the big reason that you guys as his parents wanted him to train?
Jessica: Logan’s an incredibly bright kid. He’s also a very passive kid. He was in preschool and we got told that he was a doormat. Because if a child wanted a toy, they took it and Logan found something else. He was in a daycare setting and I was so proud of him. All the little kids were sitting in a circle, and when I looked closer I realized that all the little kids that were sitting in the circle were facing in, and Logan was facing out. So he was kind of socially inept.
Q: So given that that’s kind of how he was, how do you think he fit in with the classes here, the kind of the structure of the class and what his experience was like in the group?
Jessica: I really expected him to run off the mat the first day, and he absolutely did not. The instructors made him feel very welcome. They really took him in and showed him how he needed to do things and what he needed to do. And he just thrived.
Q: So, why don’t we take a little bit about him being bullied and that kind of situation. Kind of what was going on around him being bullied, what did it look like, when did you notice it?
Jessica: There was one little boy in particular that he was in preschool with, and at the time Logan was probably three, three‑and‑a‑half. And the little boy would push him and take his toys every day. And Logan would never stand up to the kid. He would walk away. He’d come home, “I don’t want to go to school anymore. Please don’t make me go, please don’t make me go.” And we met with the teachers and tried to work it out that way. Logan just has no desire to fight. He would give up anything he had to avoid any kind of confrontation.
Q: So how would you characterize the school’s response?
Jessica: That school really just kind of informed us and then moved on. It wasn’t their place…
Q: So they didn’t have anything in place?
Jessica: …to encourage Logan to stand up for himself.
Q: How did he feel about it when you talked to him about it, when you talked to him about the whole bullying situation?
Jessica: He wouldn’t talk to us about it.
Q: He wouldn’t talk to you?
Jessica: No, he wouldn’t tell us anything that was going on. We would ask him, “So what happened with this little kid today?” “Nothing.”
Q: Why do you think that he wouldn’t tell you?
Jessica: I don’t think he knew how to handle it. He didn’t want it to be an issue and he didn’t want…I don’t know if he was aware that he didn’t want us to fight his fights. But I think that it was just non‑confrontational. Not telling us, it didn’t exist.
Q: Was he embarrassed or afraid to talk to you guys about it?
Jessica: I wouldn’t say afraid. I hope he’s not embarrassed, but really I think that it would have just brought it to light more, and he didn’t want to deal with it.
Q: So, now we’re years later, obviously. He’s been training for a while. What kind of changes have you seen in the way he deals with this bullying, or just in general?
Jessica: I’ve got to tell you my favorite story of all time. Logan starts Kindergarten. Day two our babysitter takes him to Kindergarten. The little boy that bullied him in preschool landed in his Kindergarten class. So Logan at that point had been training for over a year, and the little boy goes to push Logan. And Logan stepped back, looked the kid square in the eye, blocked the push and put his hand down, and the kid turned around and walked away from him. So right there, that was huge success.
Q: And how do you feel about the fact that he actually had to use…he was confident enough to defend himself, but the fact that he actually would physically defend himself? As a parent, how do you look at those abilities and the fact that he had to use that?
Jessica: We were totally proud of him. He came home that day and we got the call from the babysitter that said, hey, this is what went down. And we told Logan when he got home that, way to go. Stand up for you. We’re still to this day, we back him up. If he has to defend himself we expect that he can and will.
Q: That’s pretty amazing.
Jessica: That’s my favorite story.
Q: So how would you look at how Logan’s changed since he started training here?
Jessica: Logan carries himself, and he’s not the weak, mild little boy that he was. And I’m sure part of it is that he’s four years older now than he was. But a lot of it too is that he knows that if push comes to shove he can hold his own. We tested his abilities, because we’re like, OK, you know we’re forking out some money for karate. Are we seeing results? I had a guy that Logan doesn’t know come up behind him and grab him, unbeknownst to Logan. And Logan dropped the man to the earth. You know, and I don’t really want Logan to ever have to be in that position, but I do know that Logan can drop a 6’4″ man to the earth.
Q: Yes, that’s got to be a good feeling.
Jessica: And my friend won’t do that again. He didn’t like the outcome.
Q: So what do you value most about this school, being in this school?
Jessica: OK, I’m going to sound like I’m going for suck‑up points. Everything. We’ve always said the whole “it takes a village to raise a child.” This is our village. From all the other parents to all the instructors, this is the village we’ve chosen to have raise our children.
Q: So what would you say to somebody who was thinking about looking for a martial arts school for their kid?
Jessica: The same thing I always say. There’s a cheaper martial arts school in town but you’re going to get what you pay for. And nothing is ever going to come close to this.