Family Martial Arts
Published 8:49 am Thursday, April 28, 2011
Family Martial Arts, on M-51 South in the former Heartland Chrysler dealership it shares with Michele Winchester’s dance studio and Grames Tire, returned from Marcellus, opened in November.
Owner Dave Stafford, of Niles (269-240-3249, email@example.com) is a third-degree black belt, as is his oldest son, Dan, 16, a junior at Niles High School with whom he shares instructional duties.
Dan started in taekwondo 10 years ago at 6.
Stafford is having an open house on Saturday, April 30, which incorporates a community bullying prevention seminar for 35 children at 11 a.m.
To register, call (269) 240-3249 before April 29.
The seminar is part of ATA Martial Arts’ worldwide initiative to help educate communities in preventing bullying behavior.
With more than 350,000 active members and 1,200 schools in the United States and abroad, ATA is flexing its muscles against bullying by teaching taekwondo seminars in its communities.
As part of its anti-bullying campaign, the ATA partnered with an international group largely recognized as the authority on bullying prevention, Olweus.
According to Stafford, education is key in preventing bullying.
“One in three kids is affected by bullying,” he says. “The impact is enormous. Consequences of bullying include anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, physical ailments and lower academic achievement. Through age-appropriate instruction, direct training and open houses such as this one, collectively ATA schools around the world hope to have a significant impact on reducing the extent of bullying and victimization.”
Additional events include a board-breaking seminar at 1 p.m. and a weapons seminar for striking and blocking with sticks at 3 p.m.
Stafford says bullying prevention through ATA’s Kidz’nPower program will teach kids what to do when picked on. Parents will learn what they need to do to help their child.
All will learn what to do if bullying turns to violence.
You and your child will leave with the confidence needed to help others who are victims of bullying behavior.
“Bullying used to be perceived as a one-on-one thing,” Stafford said in an interview Wednesday evening. “Now they’re finding out there’s a group of kids with one instigator and three or four other participants against one child.”
Stafford had been — still is — a heavy truck mechanic who works on semis. “This is getting to the point where I’m going to have to make a decision,” Stafford said.
“You see families in here,” Dan Leversen said. “They learn things together and share it at home. That’s nice to see. ATA is about lifestyle, it’s not about going out and fighting. Our son was quiet and shy when he started” and they moved here from Illinois, so Adrian enrolled in Stafford’s class in Niles.
He’s still quiet, but projects the confidence of a black belt.
Adrian’s mother, Stacy, serves on Dowagiac school board.
“Sports is a big deal to a lot of kids,” Leversen said. “This gives kids a chance who might not be the fastest or the biggest on the wrestling mat or the tallest in basketball to perform at unbelievable levels and challenge themselves — and other kids if they go to tournaments.
“But challenging themselves is what it’s all about. It teaches balance and coordination.”
“My son was similar to Dan’s son,” the father of three remembers. “We were looking for things and had tried rocket football, tee ball, just about everything. I was just a parent looking for something for my child to do to get him out of his shell and we got a flier through the school system to try it out at Oak Manor.
“He beat me to first-degree. We tested for second-degree and third-degree together. My wife did it for a while, then we had a couple more kids, so she hasn’t gotten back into it.”
Stafford instructed some of Richard Anderson’s grandchildren. The eighth-degree black belt based in Arkansas was a Fitch Camp counselor with Olympic wrestler Chris Taylor.
While parents bring their tweens to Stafford to introduce structure and discipline into their lives, “My adult class is actually bigger than my kids class right now,” he said.