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Special Feature June 4th, 2009

San Elijo Hills Residents Make a Presence at San Diego Grand International Martial Arts
By Ken Hayashi


Ken Hayashi
with daughters, Alexis (l) and Ashley (r)

There were over 800 competitors that had shown up for the San Diego Grand International Martial Arts Competition held at San Diego Sports Arena on May 17, 2009. Different styles of Karate including Kung Fu, Taekwondo, Polynesian Karate, Fencing, Kempo, and Wushu came from all over the US, including some representatives from Mexico. They came to demonstrate their skills in either forms, sparring, weapons and/or breaking.
My daughters were competitors and I felt the sense of wonder if all the long hours of training were enough? Should we have scheduled more training? Was this a bad idea? And as they finished scoring the previous competitor, it was going to be any second now…. "Next!" the judges call out.

So my seven year old daughter, with pony tail, standing at 3' 7" and weighing 37 pounds enters into the ring walks up five feet in front of the four judges and announces her school, her Sensei and permission to present her form. She then bows confidently and presents the form that she had been practicing in the karate studio and garage for the past three months. She completes her form, thanks the judges and bows out.

After 20+ competitors finish they begin announcing the ranking from 20th place all the way down to 1st place. Ashley's name was announced and she came up to receive her 2nd place trophy in forms and 5th for sparring. Her fraternal twin sister Alexis also placed 5th in forms.

Why I Started My Daughters in Martial Arts

My daughters, Alexis and Ashley, had been studying karate ever since they were three years old. We had started them off in karate, because they were actually born 3 months premature, weighing 1.5 lbs each at birth. Remaining in the hospital for three months after their birth, and we were told that there was a 90% possibility that they were going in encounter developmental issues. They needed constant physical and mental therapy in order to keep up with others in their age group. Even by the time they were three years old, they were still extremely underweight and had overall very low strength. Karate classes seemed to fit the bill.

Initially, I had started them at the Bushikan Budo Kyokai located on 1665 S. Rancho Santa Fe Rd. #A, headed by Sensei Franco Sanguinetti a Okinawan Goju Ryu style or a hard style of karate. Their physical training in karate definitely made dramatic improvements in coordination, strength and mental stimulation all rolled into one. We transferred to San Elijo Hills Elementary before their first day of 1st grade, as well as their karate school to the International Institute of Martial Arts located on 456 Mission Drive, San Marcos; headed by Sensei Jeff Brown, with a Wado Ryu style, which is a contrasting softer style of karate.

If you are a parent that is considering having your child enroll in martial arts, I would like to pass on what I went though when selecting a good school. There are many benefits that you and your child will experience besides the obvious, learning how to defend themselves.

#1. Discipline
This one factor alone that children get inside of any structured martial arts program outweighs all other activities. Many parents have expressed after several lessons that their child's attention and listening skills have increased dramatically.

#2. Focus
Martial arts encourages an extremely positive expression of children, preteen, and teenenergies. If their child's energy can be focused in on any type of positive activity the life benefits are beyond measure. Martial Arts also has many other benefits, including building leadership skills normally not taught in general academic school systems, simple positive endorphins released during the physical exertions, the competitive stimulation, the feeling pride for their incremental improvements, setting goals for themselves, etc.

#3. Structured Activity
This is an obvious benefit that sometimes as responsible parents we take for granted, where unfortunately other parents do not.

What do you do, when choosing a martial arts studio? For all you parents that are looking for a good karate school or martial arts school within San Elijo Hills area there are several. I hold four separate black belts in Hapkido, Tae Kwon Do, Ho Shin Moo Do and Wado Ryu Karate. My daughters have trained in two styles of karate which philosophies differ greatly. Initially it does not matter what form of martial arts it is, especially at an early age. It matters that they are acquiring the benefits listed above as well as just having fun.

Make sure that the school's schedule is convenient to you. Make sure that they have classes for the age group of your child. Ask questions. Ask some of the parents if they like the instructors, if there is a good instructor to student ratio, do they actually see improvements in their child because of martial arts, including academically, physically, discipline, etc.

Then have your child actually try out the class vs asking them if they would like try it out. As a parent, take the lead and have your child try it out. Usually most schools offer a complementary or a trial set of classes for under $20. Do it. If they hate it consider having them actually try something else. But again, have them actually try it.

Finally something completely unrelated. Something about volunteering. My advice to any parent or anyone reading this article, is that if they are presented with an opportunity to pass on the knowledge that they know or to be able to give back to the community in any way, I seriously encourage you to do so. My wife, Somruthai, had been volunteering teaching Art for the past two years. I had in the recent months begun to volunteer my knowledge of martial arts to the IIMA school.

I initially thought, "OK, I will come in and help out once a month". But, now I am helping teach the 5-9 year old beginner classes, pre teen and the teen age, and sometimes the black belt classes every week. It has been the most rewarding experience I have had a in very long time.

What martial arts has done for my children is that it has given them such a healthy outlet for their abundant energy. Their listening skills, discipline, pride of something that they are excited about and able to present themselves confidently to others is extremely valuable for their future. I cannot see a more rewarding physical activity for my daughters.

/s/Ken Hayashi
San Elijo Hill Resident





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