ENGLEWOOD, CO—After months of being taught to develop courage, inner strength, and other values of the martial arts, Daniel Finkelstein finally achieved the self-confidence necessary to stand up to his parents and quit taking karate lessons, the area sixth-grader reported Monday.
Finkelstein, 11, who was bullied into beginner's classes at Dragon Karate and Tae Kwon Do Academy by his father in July, reportedly drew on a number of recently acquired skills, including poise and self-assurance, when confronting his parents about how much he despised karate.
"Before karate, I used to let everyone—my mom, my dad, even my grandma—push me around," Finkelstein said. "They would tell me what to do and I would just roll over and do it, because they were bigger than me and I was scared."
"If it wasn't for the focus and determination I learned in karate, I would still be in karate right now," he added.
According to Finkelstein, having to punch, kick, and spar with boys twice his size gave him newfound resolve, which the once submissive child would use when he decided he no longer wanted to have to punch, kick, and spar with boys twice his size.
"I never thought I had it in me," said Finkelstein, who claimed he was prepared to use physical aggression only as a last resort to drop out of the martial arts class. "It was just like Sensei Steve used to say: 'Only by believing in yourself can you overcome the obstacles that lie ahead.'"
Added Finkelstein: "Thank God I don't have to listen to that crap anymore."
The white-belt also said the lessons he learned could prove valuable should he need to protect himself against any future involvement in swimming or violin lessons.
"It's like there's nothing I can't quit now if I just put my mind to it," Finkelstein said. "I bet one day I'll quit going to algebra class, just like my older cousin did."
"Sensei" Steve Guardino, Finkelstein's former instructor, said he had noticed a distinct difference in the boy since he began, and subsequently stopped, attending the karate course.
"When Daniel first showed up to class, he was like many of the other kids we see—timid, unsure of himself, and very insecure," Guardino said. "But look at him now: He's gone."
Finkelstein, who had little athletic inclination before taking karate, has now reported significantly increased energy to avoid taking part in activities he doesn't like.
"When someone suggests doing something lame, I'm the first one off my feet and headed out of that room," he said. "It feels amazing."
Daniel's parents, Samantha and Robert Finkelstein, said they were still shocked at the change in their son.
"Not only is Daniel more confident these days, but he's more assertive, better at expressing what he wants and doesn't want, and incredibly determined—it's like he's a whole new kid," Mr. Finkelstein said. "I knew we should've put him in soccer instead."