Jason’s First Real Martial Arts Lesson?

Steven Barnes
8 min readDec 5, 2021

It is possible, JUST possible, that another little opening has presented itself with my son Jason. As you may know, I’ve been frustrated to have skills I’ve been paid absurd amounts of money per hour to teach, and Jason won’t let me in to teach them. They have to do with body-mind techniques from all over the planet, things I had to learn to save myself as a fatherless boy in a hostile world.

He fought me on judo and jiu jitsu, until I finally had to make a choice between the martial arts and his academics. I didn’t have the energy to nail him down on both. But I know that I agree with Thom Hartman’s book “The Edison Gene” in that there are different sorts of people, and learning styles, and those who are primarily kinesthetic are not served by classrooms that are primarily digital — -and that means “reading” as well as “computer screens.”

He is, I believe, a hunter in a world increasingly controlled by farmers.

Jason was supposed to live a life of a hunter/warrior: running, jumping, fighting, burning off all that adrenaline BEFORE he sits quietly to study a book. But for whatever reason, perhaps social anxiety, unless he has a “buddy” with him, he’s never entered the athletic arena. When he has, he is freaky strong and fast. But for whatever reason he won’t if alone.


Combine this with the fact that western civilization continues to move toward a Wall-E world of people able to sit on their butts and stare at screens or through VR goggles instead of interacting with the Real World. Dunning-Kruger is kicking in: they are so separated from their physical being that VR interactions seem realer than the real world. For someone whose primary learning strategy is kinesthetic, this is HORRIBLE. They literally don’t know that they don’t know.

Add to that Covid. Being sealed in his house for almost two years now. This is a recipe for disaster. But by demanding to be home schooled, he’s placed himself in a situation where he cannot avoid the physical training IF I am wise and strong enough to defeat his aversion and evasion patterns. That’s my job.

Two days ago he asked for Tai Chi as a substitute for weights, and I granted it. And yesterday, there was a little spark.

I started by reminding him at 7pm that it was time, and he tried to blow me off: he was in the middle of some kind of VR thingie. Of course. So I informed him I was going to turn his…



Steven Barnes

Steven Barnes is a NY Times bestselling author, ecstatic husband and father, and holder of black belts in three martial arts. www.lifewritingpodcast.com.