Monthly Archives: October 2014

JK Martial Arts Helps Students Improve Social Skills

Karate requires discipline. It is a very old tradition that is honored by many dedicated instructors. It demands respect and requires humility. These are the values students learn while taking karate at JK Martial Arts: Discipline, Honor, Respect and Humility.

These values serve as the foundation of all our karate classes. With time and practice, students learn to apply the same values outside the dojo and go on to experience success in other areas of their lives.

A mother of a JKMA student was pleasantly surprised when her normally defiant son said to her, “yes ma’am!” She was so grateful for his increasingly respectful behavior at home and school. (Karate students are required to reply, “Yes ma’am!” or “Yes sir!” when given a command.)

A 12-year-old Black Belt student also has improved his social skills after taking karate at JKMA.   He wrote, “Because I learned dignity from karate, I have learned to hold my head high and be proud of myself. Honor has helped me to accept other people’s opinions and be kind to the people in my life.”

A 13-year-old Black Belt student echoes this sentiment, saying, “Karate has taught me how to make friends outside of school.”

It is extremely gratifying to help people gain more confidence and experience greater success in life through karate. But JKMA isn’t the only place one can learn to improve social skills. Indeed, Jane Steinhagen, a mother of a JKMA student, offers special classes in this area. Just visit to learn more.

Author: Joyce Brekke, BA, RRT, Black Belt Shorei-Ryu Karate, Director, JK Martial Arts

Mixed-Age Karate Classes Foster Students’ Success

In our society, school is the only place where people are segregated by age. In the “real world,” we interact with people of all ages and walks of life. We learn from each other, build friendships, develop unique experiences and gain greater insight into the world.

This fact was brought to my attention in 2008 by Ann Rooney, M.E.D. of Concerning Learning, an organization that helps students identify the tools they need to achieve academic success. Ann had asked JKMA to teach karate at The Academy of Whole Learning, formerly The Whole Learning School, a private school for children with learning challenges.

It was through this experience that I realized how valuable it could be to create a more realistic, or “normal” setting in our dojo, where kids of all ages could interact.

And that’s exactly what you’ll find at JKMA. Classes are organized by belt level and each includes kids of all ages.

When I started karate at age 52, I made friends with a 9-year-old boy, Charlie.  He had ADD and as many children with ADD, it is hard to make friends. When his aunt asked him if he had made any new friends, he said “Yes! A lady named Joyce.”  Wow, that warmed my heart. I’ll be going to his high school graduation party soon.

The mother of a student said she appreciates that we have classes with kids of different ages. Her son now looks forward to going to class to see his dojo friends.

And a father is delighted that he can take the same karate class as his daughter.

A 14 year old boy who has Autism Spectrum Disorder is enjoying 8 year old boys looking up to him with respect.

A 48-year-old student and mother of a student summed up the value of our approach when she said: “I have a karate family of people I care about and who care about me.”

That’s exactly what we strive for at JKMA: an environment in which everyone feels comfortable and in his or her element.

If you haven’t tried a class yet, or would like to observe one, please call 763-253-9016 send an email.

For other examples of how the JKMA curriculum benefits special learners, check out my previous blogs.


Author: Joyce Brekke, BA, RRT, Black Belt Shorei-Ryu Karate, Director, JK Martial Arts

Customized Teaching Methods for Each Student

Customized Teaching Methods for Each Student

Everyone processes information differently.  That is one of the most exciting aspects of being human. Nobody is the same. Even an individual’s mood and the way he or she learns can vary day to  day.  This is true of those with known learning challenges and those without a “diagnois.” In my previous blog, I posed the question: “How does the JK Martial Arts curriculum help special learners?”  Typical learners, as well as those with challenges, use one or a combination of three learning styles: visual, audible or kinesthetic.  During the first free trial lesson given by Sensei Katherine, she discovers how the new student learns. Then she uses the appropriate cue to teach the student. Visual learners will watch Sensei’s moves first and then follow them. Audible learners will listen to Sensei repeat the same cues, and then execute them. Kinesthetic learners learn by doing the move over and over again using pads so they have sensory stimulation. You can learn more about how Sensei customizes learning for each student in this short video.

Author: Joyce Brekke, BA, RRT, Blackbelt Shorei-Ryu Karate, Director, JK Martial Arts