Considering martial arts stress courtesy, discipline and integrity, it only makes sense to have them in school.
That’s where N60 Combative Arts comes into the picture. The Whitehorse martial arts club is offering students at Elijah Smith Elementary School kickboxing classes before the morning bell.
“It’s something we really want to promote as a major part of what we do,” said N60 owner and instructor Graeme Campbell. “It teaches kids a lot about commitment, teaches the kids exercise and teamwork. So we’re trying to get involved in all the schools — schools and communities.”
Campbell is conducting drop-in classes three mornings a week at Elijah Smith. It’s part of Elijah Smith’s “open school” program that allows students to arrive early and take part in activities like table tennis, floor hockey — and now kickboxing.
“We put in an application for an attendance grant, it’s called, of how to get kids to school to inspire them, but at the same time we wanted something healthy and active. We try really hard at Elijah Smith to promote that,” said principal Melanie Bennett.
“I haven’t had anything other than a positive response from it — especially from the parents,” she added.
Martial arts are not new at Elijah Smith. Northern Lights Judo Club conducts judo classes at the school on Thursdays.
The principles of martial arts are in line with the school’s Circle of Courage, a code of conduct that emphasizes belonging, generosity, independence and mastery.
“When we put the grant in, that’s what we were thinking: what kind of activities will match that?” said Bennett.
Campbell leads 35-minute classes Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. They begin with a 10-minute warm up, followed by pad work and light sparring.
Students can drop in and try it with no commitment.
“They were interested in fitness kickboxing originally, but the kids do enough running around already,” said Campbell. “So then they asked me to do some sport kickboxing. Of course, I was more than happy to do that.
“We have a grading syllabus, so the kids can do their ranks. If they want to follow it on a deeper level, then they can join the club. As it stands, they come in, learn their basics, get their certificates and their belts, and I think they have a lot of fun doing it.”
The kickboxing classes have so far garnered about 10 regulars. This week three students passed tests for new belts — a yellow, an orange and a red.
“The belts we use in the school system are slightly different from the club,” said Campbell. “The belts we use down here (at the school) have a white stripe through them because they’re not committed to the full syllabus … so we’re going through less of how to compete in combat. With it being in school, we’re trying to tone that part down. We’re focusing more on technique and exercise.
“If anyone wants to join the (N60) club, then we’ll do a free crossover exam and then they’ll get a solid rank.”
N60 Combative Arts, which opened a year ago in the Yukon Inn Plaza, also offers classes in taekwondo, mixed martial arts, personal training, nutrition and more.
Campbell was originally approached by Elijah Smith vice-principal Jim Snider who, from the sounds of it, doesn’t always keep his eye on the road.
“Jim was driving along Fourth Avenue and saw Graeme flip a guy in his dojo,” said Bennett. “He saw that and said, ‘I want to do that.’ So that’s how he hooked up with Graeme.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org