There was only one time that I was “untouchable” doing karate. That was when I was pregnant with my daughter 18 years ago. I vividly remember telling my sensei that I was expecting. He spun me around in front of the class and said, “No one touches Mary until she’s had her baby!”

I like to think that this marked the beginning of my daughter’s initiation to karate. She was in my belly when I passed my green belt, but it would take six more years before she was old enough to join me in the dojo and begin her own practice of the martial arts.

Since that time, we have shared 12 years of growing older and stronger together.

Since I started more than 20 years ago, I have introduced my entire family to karate. One son reached brown belt, my husband is now a practicing brown belt, but only my daughter has reached black belt status. At our NDG Monkland karate dojo, we are respectively the youngest and oldest female black belts.

It hasn’t always been easy to keep my daughter involved in a sport where the kicking and punching can sometimes leave bruises and battered egos, but over the years she has showed up at my side in competitions and camps, winning medals and eventually, getting her black belt. We aren’t the only mother-daughter duo at our dojo. Other young girls have convinced their mothers to give karate a try. “Fighting” with your daughter isn’t your typical manifestation of motherly love, but in a martial art’s setting the connection is palpable.

Karate is more that a sport, it’s a way of life. Respect and discipline are the mantra of the dojo setting — exactly what mothers are looking to develop in their children. Of course, learning to defend yourself comes with the territory and that can certainly bring peace of mind to any parent. I used to joke that I wouldn’t let my daughter go on a date until she had her black belt. My wish came true.

Watching my daughter grow up in karate has been such a treat, that her story is one of the many life lessons I share in my new book, The Black Belt Investor. Karate has helped her become the strong young woman she is today and along the way, we have had a lot of mother-daughter fun.

Mary Hagerman is the author of The Black Belt Investor: A Martial Arts Guide to Wealthness; How to Kick Butt and Feel Rich! (Lioncrest Publishing). Available on Amazon.com

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