Boy Won’t Give Up on Breaking Board in Class and Teaches Us All About Resilience

RachelKiser_200TallRachel Kiser
Blogger | Mom of Two


One of the things I most want to teach our children (and, shoot, myself for that matter!) is resilience. There’s no doubt about it: Life is hard. It throws you curve balls and can change at the drop of a hat in ways you can’t anticipate. If we can help our kids learn how to navigate these challenges with strength and grace, I would consider my job as a parent a success in so many ways.

That’s why this viral video of a young boy in karate class has me feeling all sorts of things.

Claudia Swonger posted a video of her son, Phoenix, in front of his whole martial arts class at Bobby Dixon’s American Martial Arts Academy in Orlando, Florida. In front of Phoenix is his sensei, Erik, who is sitting on the ground holding out a board for him to break with his heel. It’s all part of Phoenix’s quest to get his yellow belt. With his fellow students watching, Phoenix attempts several times to break the board.

When it doesn’t crack, he becomes visibly upset and begins to cry. Boy, do we know that feeling. The frustration, the feelings of defeat. It’s understandable. He falls down and gets back up.

But then the most beautiful thing happens. Not only does his sensei passionately motivate him (“Yes, you can do it!”), the rest of his classmates around him start yelling out encouragement, cheering him on.

Still unable to break the board, the other students begin chanting his name. Phoenix, Phoenix, Phoenix.

With all the effort in his little body, Phoenix gives a few more tries, and breaks the board with his heel. His teacher throws up his hands screaming, and every student seated around him rushes him, making a big, smiling dog pile right on top of him.

If only all of our successes could be met with such unbridled support, am I right?

“Phoenix did not have to break the board to advance but he wanted to,” his mom Claudia wrote on YouTube. “While it may have been a struggle, with encouragement, instruction, and lots of love, he overcame and advanced.”

This story goes to show that often, all we need to accomplish our goals is a little bit of love, encouragement, and support from those around us. As Claudia wrote, “My boy learned one of the most important lessons in his life today! NEVER… EVER GIVE UP!!!”

Way to go, Phoenix!


RachelKiser_200TallAbout Rachel Kiser

Rachel is a wife and mother living in Raleigh, North Carolina. She’s a fan of good coffee, wearer of gray t-shirts, and is constantly starting books she will never finish. Her family is her joy, and she loves to engage with other moms and dads on matters of parenting. Her blog posts have also been featured on the Today Show Parenting Blog and Scary Mommy.

View all posts by Rachel Kiser here.

16 Comments on “Boy Won’t Give Up on Breaking Board in Class and Teaches Us All About Resilience”

  1. Martial Arts is great for kids and teaches many things, my bff son is taking away so much from his classes.

  2. It’s very heart felt! It teaches us all a beautiful lesson, keep trying and don’t give up! Push Harder!

  3. I am feeling inspired to share my goals with other adults and provide them with encouragement to keep going and try, try again. Great message for all ages. :)

  4. This post warmed my heart so much. I’m going to read this to my foster son (or read it with him) as a testament to the rewards of perseverance. He will adore this! Thank you so much for sharing it.

  5. How nice to see a young child be so determined and not give up after the first try! Great also along the same lines is the sensei who added encouragement each try the child made. Way to go Mom, Son and Teacher.

  6. my son did this in his class he was so proud and so was I as i sat way back and watched ……until i found out there doard it hinged cut …. to break away !

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