With Lesley Dawson
MARTIAL arts for children is growing in popularity in Toowoomba with positive outcomes for children and their parents.
The ancient Asian fighting arts enable youngsters to burn off excess energy and increase their fitness levels, while the traditional routines and rituals teach them respect for themselves and others.
Bullying issues are put to rest when children are taught these ancient skills which improve their self-discipline and self-confidence.
Eleven-year old Travis Tysoe has been attending Ron and Karen Donnelly's Zen Do Kai martial arts classes for just over a year and is excited about moving from a green belt to a brown one.
Travis' mum, Kylie, says the main reason she brought her son along to classes was because of his temper and anger management problems.
She said she sees a big difference at home now.
"He doesn't take his anger out on me like he used to.
And if I say something he doesn't back answer me. It has controlled his temper, and it has controlled his anger."
Mrs Tysoe says for Travis and eight-year-old younger brother Phillip, it is also good for their fitness and self-defence skills.
"If anyone comes up towards them, someone at school, to fight them, they know what to do if they're in that type of situationa.
Mr Donnelly, 6th Dan Black Belt and chief instructor, says, "I've had parents approach me and said how their sons do not get into any more fights at school. They don't need to show people that they can stand up for themselves because they know they can and they walk away from problems."
Travis says, "It's fun and good exercisea.
He says it has helped him to defend himself as well as giving him confidence.
Seven-year old Seth McGilvray also says, "It's funa.
He comes to training with his grandfather Ken. Mr McGilvray says, aI just find it a really good sport, and it teaches my little grandson respect, and techniques, hand and foot coordination. He's really starting to pick it all up now."
Mr McGilvray comments on the integrated style of the Donnelly's Zen Do Kai classes.
"It's like a little family here, and it's so nice."
Mr Donnelly finds that an integrated class works well for everyone, with family members sharing a sport together.
Mrs Donnelly, 3rd Dan Black Belt, says, "We've had three generations, father, son, grandson training together. We've had families training together. I think that is what appeals to peoplea[degrees]from a practical and logistical point of view."
She adds, "It's fantastic for these kids' sense of personal development and self-esteem to be considered part of the group and part of the adult group."
As each martial arts student enters and leaves the training floor space, they make a reverent bow, following the traditional ritual of showing respect to the organisation, the founder and the instructors.
Mr Donnelly says, "In today's society we don't have respect for each other, it's not reinforced the way it was once."
Mrs Donnelly says, "The colours and the formal ceremonial garba[degrees] so formal, so ritualised, people love it. I think it really gives them a sense that we belong to this organisation." She says for children it's aa belonging thing."
Mr Donnelly says that the classes are structured and once the children have their GI's (uniform) and belts on they realise they have to concentrate.
"They love the structure and the routine. We keep the enthusiasm as high as we can. They love learning new katas (techniques)a he says.
He also says that the children progress at their own pace, with the more athletic children progressing faster. "Some kids have got slight disabilities, maybe learning disabilities, they'll take longer."
"But a lot of these children do love the martial arts and try and become as good as they can at it, and it makes them achieve it. …