Prove Her Wrong

By Maria Lattanze
October 8, 2019

Over the years, karate has helped develop my character and mindset through difficult times.
Photo captured by DeStolfo's Premier Martial Arts
Over the years, karate has helped develop my character and mindset through difficult times. Photo captured by DeStolfo's Premier Martial Arts

For the longest time, I always wondered why I was so hesitant to present or teach a class or be around young kids.  It was not until my karate instructor made an analogy in class one night.

This is the karate school where I practice and instruct, located in Conshohocken, PA. Photo courtesy of DeStolfo’s Premier Martial Arts

“Ever wonder why there are some things you just don’t like about karate,” said Master Dennis Koenig, a 6th-degree black belt at DeStolfo’s Premier Martial Arts.  “For example, I bet some of you hate to spar (fight). It’s probably because you had a bad experience in sparring, whether it be you had a bad partner or you lost a match or you got beat up. Chances are you had a bad experience and that changed your perspective on sparring entirely.”

Oh my God. That’s why I refuse to be around kids or teach, all because of that stupid child development class in 10th grade.

Growing up, I always wanted to be a teacher. I loved kids and presenting or teaching to a class. In my sophomore year of high school, I took a child development class where we, as students, would teach kids who came for daycare at the school.  I was kicked out of the class because the teacher, Mrs. Z., thought that working with kids was not the way to go, that I should try something different.  

I was heartbroken.

To this day, I am hesitant to be around kids.

To this day, I am hesitant to teach.

To this day, that experience has scarred me.

I knew in my heart that I had to prove her wrong. I knew I had to change and create a better memory to suppress that nightmare.

For the past three years, I have been a karate instructor for all ages and belt ranks at DeStolfo’s Premier Martial Arts.
Photo captured by Sarah Lattanze

In my senior year of high school, I was mentored by another karate instructor for my senior project and assisted him in teaching classes. He would explain things about how to teach a karate class and as the project progressed, I started teaching segments of classes on my own. Needless to say, I made mistakes along the way but the best part was that I was never scolded; my instructor worked with me and helped me improve. I also made new friends and watched how they instructed classes and they were always opened to talk and helped me progress as well. I always felt welcomed and never judged.

As the project came to an end, I was asked to stay as an instructor. I remember being hesitant at first but I agreed. I was so excited to be doing something I loved and was passionate about doing. I have been an instructor for the past three years and now instruct my own classes but I still feel hesitant to teach and be around kids. But that all was about to change.

Oct. 3, 2019 I left for Orlando, Florida for an official instructor/leadership training. I was told I will learn how to teach a karate class based on the curriculum and how to be a strong leader in any teaching scenario. Without hesitation, I took the opportunity. I have been to many leadership training sessions in the past–again, in hopes to prove Mrs. Z. wrong–and they all sucked. I hated the lessons and I did not get anything out of them; I was half expecting that for this training.

Boy was I mistaken. Instructors from all over the world came to train and I met people from England, Australia, Texas, Canada, all here for the sole purpose of becoming a leader.

The first day of training was great. We were first taught a small lesson on how to properly run a class then we would go back to our groups. In our groups, we would role play that lesson by being the instructor and our group was the class.  We would repeat this process over the course of the training. I learned a lot on the first day.

Then I was hit with a bombshell.

The next day, the final day of training, we had to test. We each would teach a 10-minute class, from lining up to bowing out, implementing everything we learned over the course of two days, which was a lot.  I instantly had a panic attack.

I called my mom and dad after training practically in tears. I explained what happened, what we had to do and proceeded to tell them I shouldn’t be here, that this was not the place for me.

Over the years, karate has helped develop my character and mindset through difficult times.
Photo by DeStolfo’s Premier Martial Arts

“Maria, this is Mrs. Z. all over again,” my mother said.  “Do you want a repeat of child development? Look at how far you have come. You are an instructor and have your own classes, you are more than capable of teaching a 10-minute class.”

My boyfriend, who is also an instructor, came for the training as well and I told him how I felt.

“You know, you are setting yourself up to fail,” he said. “That’s not healthy. I’ve seen you instruct, you can absolutely do this. And for the record, forget about Mrs. Z., you already proved her wrong.”

Testing day.

The test was set for after lunch and I could hardly focus. I kept asking myself: if I am so nervous to test does that mean being an instructor–or a leader–is not meant for me? I had a lesson plan prepared but I was still nervous.

As I watched three people in my group test, I took a deep breath and volunteered to go next. Our group leader nodded at me and began the clock, and the rest is history. I wish I can say exactly what happened, but to be honest I don’t remember. I was so focused and felt at home in my heart. I felt at ease, that I am born to be a karate instructor; this IS my calling. When I finished my test, I looked at the group leader and he gave me a satisfying smile, nod and thumbs up.

After two intensive days of training, I received my certificate and am now a certified instructor.
Photo  by Maria Lattanze

Did I just pass?

Once all the tests ended, I was given a certificate with my name and signatures of the leaders who ran the training and I couldn’t contain my excitement.

Mrs. Z. who?

Maria Lattanze

Scroll to Top
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap