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Korean Karate Does A “Judo Chop” On Childhood Obesity In Northern Michigan

At the Seung-ni Martial Arts Academy in Traverse City, Michigan, young practioneers are not only learning an ancient traditional martial art they are also getting in great physical shape. At Seung-ni, the black belt instructors teach Taekwondo (also referred to as Korean Karate) to the young Traverse City martial artists. The students start as young as three in the fun Little Ninjas class. Korean Karate builds tremendous life skills (like focus, discipline, respect and bully defense) … including one of the more important -- fitness.

In Traverse City, like elsewhere across the United States, kids are in the worst physical shape ever. Statically the numbers are eye opening to the say the least. Almost one in five children are considered clinically obese. Their diets are poor and contains highly processed foods. Schools don’t have hour long gym class everyday like 30 years ago. With electronic entertainment everywhere, children are stationary for long periods of time and are getting softer.

The Traverse City children and teens training at the Seung-ni Martial Arts Academy, however, are building not just strong minds but strong bodies. Korean Karate helps kids in so many ways to be healthier for life:

1. The Karate class itself is physical. Every class begins with jumping jacks, squats, sit ups, push-ups and stretching. Following these rigorous calisthenics the young ninjas spend almost an hour in total working on demanding kicks, punches and blocks. The students leave the floor sweaty and smiling.

2. The Karate instructors (who are all in great shape and positive role models) talk to the kids regularly about importance of respecting their bodies and how that means exercising regularly and eating properly.

3. Breaking a board is real, kicking a bag is real, sparring with a friend is real, earning new Karate rank belts and martial arts trophies are real, working over several months to obtain the splits is real; these tangible activities and goals build real confidence and a positive body self-image that leads in turn to wanting to do more athletic endeavors. Instilling a strong affirmative self-image is essential for both young boys and girls.

4. Martial arts is a life long discipline and sport that students can continue to practice well into their 60s, 70s and beyond. Students of the Seung-ni Academy in Traverse City are in their seventies and training for their Korean Karate black belt.

5. The more time spent at Karate Class means less idle time to waste away on video games and computer time (the unreal world – where kids already not social enough become more withdrawn and solitary).

6. A Healthy competitive environment with supportive friends and peers pushes young martial artists to step outside their comfort zone and achieve sometimes seemingly impossible goals.

Martial arts teach so much more than kicking and punching. Hundreds of kids at Seung-ni over the years have turned from soft couch potatoes into strong peaceful warriors. In Traverse City, the young Karate students are learning at the Seung-ni Academy that a fit body and healthy lifestyle is important, obtainable and fun.

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