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Isaac started martial arts three years ago. He was 4 and active and his parents wanted to find a way to help him interact better in pre-school.

“Someone suggested karate as a great way to funnel aggression in a positive way,” said mom Ada. 

His first few classes were tenuous as he bounced around. He had to be redirected to sit still or wait his turn. At times, he was nervous to get on the mat without mom or dad. 

“He very quickly fell into the routine of class and really started working toward those stripes, belts, and patches,” mom Ada said. 

What really helped his progress is when mom and dad reiterated the lessons at home. 

“We saw what Ms. B was doing and we used a lot of her tools at home to add some focus, responsibility, chores. If she suggested something, we started using her language at home. Particularly that first year we saw a lot of progress in his behavior,” she said. 

The confidence he gained at martial arts was spilling over into his behavior at home and performance at school.

“It gives him something to look forward to that he’s excited about. I remember when we were doing the tournaments and getting those medals he’s been super proud of. It’s given him those benchmarks to say: this is the level I achieved,” said dad Craig.

Succeeding in his first few classes was just the beginning of a series of challenges along the way.  Virtual school started. The family adjusted to new routines. Isaac resisted Zoom classes because he was already online all the time and missing his friends and his typical little boy life.

Now Isaac is on to his next challenge: the basic class for older kids. Isaac can get frustrated because the moves are more difficult, the class goes faster, and he’s now one of the younger kids in class again.

For many of his classes on Zoom, mom or dad is standing next to him helping him as an onsite coach.

“I’ve seen him grow in confidence. … I love the way you guys are sticking together with him,” said instructor Mr. Tim.

Isaac’s parents see each roadblock as a stepping stone that got their son to a new level. What kept them motivated to keep going is the welcoming environment. “Instructors are taking the time to get to know the parents as much as the kids. Perseverance, working hard, I think those are wonderful goals to instill in young kids. There are so many positive benefits,” said dad, Craig.