As part of our #MySportyStory children and young people’s campaign, Kent Sport were invited to Chatham’s Shi Kon Martial Arts club, for their annual tournament on Saturday May 21st. The tournament gives the children who train at the club a chance to showcase their progress whilst competing for prizes in each grade and age category.

ShiKonMartialArts_MySportyStory1054_800Shi Kon is a thriving martial arts club in Chatham, training around 70 children between the ages of four and 12 at their main venue, whilst delivering after-school clubs at 11 schools across the Medway area for between 10 and 30 students, on a weekly basis. The Kung Fu Kids classes focus on being fun, lively and friendly, teaching children not just the skills to defend themselves, but also social skills, good manners, discipline and self-confidence, all through the principles of martial arts.

ShiKonMartialArts_MySportyStory1069_800The tournament was a hive of activity, with four different grades all performing and competing simultaneously – from beginners to seasoned competitors. No matter the experience or ability of the children involved, each and every one seemed to enjoy their moment in the spotlight – performing rehearsed routines followed by a “freestyle” section where they could display their ability to improvise with the skills they have acquired.

ShiKonMartialArts_MySportyStory1160_800The children were given the opportunity to tell us about their experience, using the #MySportyStory selfie frames and emojis. They loved selecting the emojis that represented how they felt about being part of the tournament, with an overwhelming majority of the selected emojis representing positive emotions! You can see the full library of #MySportyStory photos from the tournament by clicking here to visit our Flickr gallery.

ShiKonMartialArts_MySportyStory1089_800During the tournament, we were struck by the positive impact the club, and martial arts in general, appears to have had on the children involved. Many of the children involved with the club experience learning difficulties, including ADHD and autism. We spoke to one mum – Ann Strike, whose two sons were taking part in the tournament, about the positive effect it has had on their lives.

We asked Ann about the impact martial arts had made on her sons: “absolutely, 100 per cent positive,” she said. “When Timothy started, he had no coordination, no balance – he’s got ADHD and mild autism as well. The discipline and routine – it’s very structured. The kids know exactly what’s expected of them. It’s hard to put it into words, because I can see as their mum, how much they’ve grown. Without the club, they wouldn’t be the boys they are now.”

ShiKonMartialArts_MySportyStory1108_800Ann was also extremely positive about the way martial arts has helped her son’s learning difficulties. She said, “if he’s had a bad day at school, he’ll just go into the hall a completely different child and the coach would never know he’s had such a bad day. It gives them somewhere they feel they can belong. It’s a family – everybody’s there for everybody else.”

And that family culture has been felt very literally by Ann, who is now a fully-fledged member of the club herself! Ann said, “I’ve actually joined in – I train here now as well – so it really is a family! It helps me with the boys – it goes from the dojo right through to the family home!”

ShiKonMartialArts_MySportyStory1035_800Shi Kon hold Kung Fu Kids classes at their centre in Chatham, as well as classes in Swanley and Sidcup. For more information on the club, including how to get your child enrolled, visit shikon.com.

 

#MySportyStory is a new children’s campaign, to tell the story of how being active and sporty makes young people feel. Does it make them happy, euphoric, content, confident, or maybe even a little bit scared and frustrated?

Kent Sport are looking for opportunities to photograph, film and write about great sporty stories, in the hope of inspiring Kent’s next generation to get active. If you’re doing something fun, engaging or innovative to help get children and young people active and would like to get involved with the campaign, get in touch with the Kent Sport team by emailing info@kentsport.org, or visit www.kentsport.org/mysportystory for more information.