How should I approach explaining sports like boxing to my children?

Dear Troubleshooter:

I am an office worker in my 40s with two children, ages 8 and 6. Now that I am a father, I feel anew that no matter what, we should not hit or hurt living things, including humans. I teach this to my children as well.

One day, one of my children changed the TV channel and saw a boxing match. Watching, my child asked me, “Dad, they’re hitting people. Is that OK?” I didn’t know how to respond, so I just said, “That looks painful.”

Boxing is a sport where you hit people. I’m sorry to those who like boxing and other martial arts and to those involved in the sports, but I don’t like them. Even if there are rules, I don’t want them to hurt living beings.

How should I teach my children about martial arts?

—N, Osaka Prefecture

Dear Mr. N:

I understand your concern. However, children are separate from their parents.

In the future, your children will likely frequently see scenes of violence in video games and dramas that cannot be compared to boxing. The news is full of terrible incidents nowadays, too. There is no guarantee that this will not happen to us in school or in society.

Strength does not come from turning a blind eye. I am not talking about physical strength. You can gradually become more resilient after you are beaten and knocked down by learning from and accepting what has happened, without looking away.

When you see extraordinary violence reported in the newspaper or on TV, don’t just say, “That looks painful” or “That’s scary,” but think about why it happened. Children will learn from their father’s actions on their own.

You are a coach for your children. I want you to stand in front of your children and face the game of life with the spirit of looking at the world.

From my experience, I can say there are not many people in this world who are as good as boxers. It’s a sport of protection rather than hitting.

If you are interested, why not visit a boxing gym? I’m sure you’ll be welcomed with a smile.

—Shinji Ishii, writer