Hudson Valley Parent

HVP - January 2014

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KARATE KIDS (Continued from Page 23) Taylor. "Violet is a very hyperactive kid and this is the most focused I have ever seen her," says Taylor. "When Vivian does something well in class, she just shines. It's amazing to see the level of confidence they have gained. Neither of them is particularly athletic, and yet both of them are able to be successful and feel good about themselves in this sport. It is awesome to see how proud they are of their achieve- Photo by Kit DeFever years. "Karate gives different things to different people, depending on their needs. For some, it's confidence and the ability to speak up. For others it's to learn when to be quiet. We play skills games that teach kids to focus and listen." Indeed, in a study published in 2004 at Hofstra University, children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder ments." (ADHD) who also studied Ivan Acoskarate showed a marked ta's three increase in academic perfordaughters mance, homework comple— Briana, tion and class preparation 11, Cassanover those with ADHD who dra, 8, and did not practice karate. Gabriella, Why? According to the 6 — have study's author, the mental discibeen studypline, structure and consistency ing karate of a martial arts environment is at Levitz's ideally suited for these children. New PalExperts say it's the respect tz school kids learn — whether from bowabout three ing to their Sensei (teacher) or times a simply standing still to wait for week for the next command — that can be years. The the most important benefit, carolder kids rying over to school and helping started beto improve behavior and grades. cause their Nine-year old Vivian and dad was doing 5-year-old Violet have been Hudson Valley Parent cover kid Jesse practices her attending Traditional Okinawan Karate of Pleasant side kick at Iron Dragon Fitness & Self Defense in Valley with their mom, Tami Middletown. 24 Hudson Valley Parent n January 2014 it, and Gabriella couldn't wait to join when she was old enough (New Paltz and Pleasant Valley accept students after they turn five). Acosta says his girls are gaining confidence and the ability to protect themselves, and each has grown in her own way. "Brie has gained more balance and physical strength, Cassie has learned to focus more on detail and be more aware of her surroundings, and Gabby has become more outgoing," he says. "The girls say they are getting stronger and know how to protect themselves against bad people and how to deal with bullies." For many like the Taylors and the Acostas, karate is a family affair. Seven-year-old Connor attends Pleasant Valley Karate with his dad, George Thomas. "On days when I'm not feeling motivated to practice, Connor inspires me," says Thomas. "When Connor is tired and doesn't feel like going, I remind him of the karate goals he has set for himself and reaffirm how far he has gotten through hard work and dedication. Now I'm a yellow belt and Connor often reminds me that as an orange belt he currently outranks me." You might not be able to protect your children forever, but with karate they'll get the life and character-building skills, as well as the ability to protect themselves. Linda Freeman is a freelance writer, yoga instructor and swing dance teacher who lives in Marlboro.

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