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Director - UCLA Martial Arts Program, Inosanto International Martial Arts Instructors Association

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Developing martial arts programs for not just schools, but for educational systems across the world.

After watching many of Sir Ken Robinson's talks on education and the decline of creative educational experiences in schools, I want to express my views on how to 'kill many birds with one stone' using martial arts as a tool to educate our children.

Many forms of martial arts can provide not only great physical activity, which is much needed for todays chubby youth. But also the ability to play, to learn from peers, develop focus/discipline & respect and work towards incremental goals that inspire them and teach them that working hard is the way to achieve success in this world.

Martial arts can teach you about culture, history, society, friendship, loyalty, dedication and so much more. Millions of individuals have been lucky enough to be inspired by their martial arts teachers and schools and if we can instill this inspiration back into children in school we could create a cross collaborative effort in making school about learning again and not about reaching standards dictated by numbers on a test.

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  • Jul 21 2013: Paul, I agree that the inclusion of martial arts in physical education classes could be a great asset to the education system. Even if practical self-defense goals are difficult to attain in such a setting, I think the other benefits of training that you've mentioned are far more important. I've watched students' self-confidence and self-esteem skyrocket as they learn new physical skills, even if they aren't combatively practical. Similarly, I love watching awkward and poorly coordinated students discover their own bodies and what they can do. I think that awareness of one's own body might be the most lasting and tangible effect of such training, which makes picking up other physical skills that much easier. From a physical education standpoint, increasing movement skills is directly in line with standard PE curriculum goals. If PE classes and campus recreation programs are supposed to engender lifelong participation, what better way to give kids a leg up than to introduce them to an open-minded and inclusive approach to martial arts at a young age? Finally, Dr. Jason Winkle makes a good point in his book (http://www.amazon.com/Teaching-Martial-Arts-Fitness-Fun/dp/0736033963/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1374424476&sr=8-4&keywords=jason+winkle) about the quality of martial arts instruction in elementary school PE classes. Although it's important to provide good instruction, it also helps to remember that we don't expect PE teachers to be experts in basketball, track and field, or any of the other sports that they teach. As long as they can convey the basics of the movement set, the kids can use that foundation to seek further instruction from a professional teacher. With this is mind, the barriers to introducing martial arts in an educational setting seem much less daunting.

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