Walking into the interview with Advent, the Founder of AWA Gymnasium, I was immediately met with humility, a calm voice and a very welcoming smile. I understood that this must be one of the traits of a martial arts guru. I was intrigued to learn more. And, as the mother of a three-year-old boy who I have been wanting to enrol in martial arts classes, I couldn’t wait to hear more.
And so, our conversation unfolded.
Let’s begin with a short background on yourself, your passions and when you started with your martial arts journey.
“I started with Karate around the age of seven, and then I moved to Judo. Which then took most of my time, up until now. I then went to school in America. That’s where I got my black belt in both Judo and Karate. And then I specialized in Judo and travelled the world competing.
I was actually in America for school, but my passion for martial arts took over. I ended up leaving America without finishing school to move to Japan, just to study Judo!”
Which classes do you teach children, here at AWA Gymnasium?
“With kids, we can’t really say that there is a self-defense system for kids because they are too young to understand being attacked. So, what we do is they specialize in one art.
First, it starts as fun, for example, they can do judo, taekwondo, kung-fu or karate and then as they get older, they get belts. Then without even realizing it, they are developing self-defense skills. However, depending on their age, it can start to be applied. When they are very young, say, under ten years old, we can’t really say that they are defending themselves on the streets. The only self-defense for kids under ten years is mental.”
Which age groups do you teach?
“Before, we used to start them at five years old, and then parents would come with a four-year-old, saying that they are mature and smart enough to start training. And then, reluctantly we would try them out, but then very shortly after, discover that they are actually mature enough to train.
Now we have students as young as two and a half years old. As long as they are able to follow instructions, then they can start training.”
What are the times and days of the week for children’s classes?
“We have afternoon classes, as early as 14:00 p.m. – 17:00 p.m every single day. We also have Saturday classes between 10:00 a.m. and 14:00 p.m.”
Why do you encourage children to learn martial arts and self-defense?
“Martial arts becomes a way of life and there is so much to learn and apply in real life, from school to the workplace. Children learn self-control, discipline and how to follow orders. They learn how to work in a team.
In terms of self-defense, you can know the skills and know-how to kick etc. but if you don’t know how to compose yourself and be calm, you won’t be able to apply those techniques.
So, with martial arts, when you do it for long enough, you learn how to stay calm under pressure and that is how it becomes a good self-defense system.”
What do children learn from self-defense?
“They learn not to panic and to have patience. But the best self-defense for them is really to scream very loud. We teach them to scream and not hold it in because that noise shocks the attacker, and it attracts help.
We also teach them to know their environment, their parents’ number in case of an emergency, where to hide, which numbers to call immediately etc. For young children, this is what we call self-defense. When they become teenagers, that is when they can learn how to fight.”
How would you say the attendance is, thus far? Are the classes gaining a lot of attention from parents and children?
“It’s definitely growing. We are trying to attract different types of martial arts, like our after-school kung-fu programme for kids. We have taekwondo, we have judo, yoganastics, which is fitness for children (a combination of yoga and gymnastics). We accept children from as young as two years old.”
Please share a few self-defense tips that children should know.
“Firstly, if you are turning into a dark corner, don’t turn against the corner but rather go around it. Also, don’t give all your attention to your phone when you are walking. Make sure you don’t wear earphones when you are walking. This is very dangerous because when one gets attacked, they do not see it coming, so you panic more. But if you see it coming, you are a little bit more aware and able to defend yourself better. So, even with children, it is important for them to learn not to walk holding gadgets, not to talk to strangers and to pay attention to their surroundings.”
You have really opened my eyes and taught me so much in this short space of time. Any last words that you would like to share?
“The younger children are, that is when it is important to teach them about strangers, how to scream and then as they get older, how to memorize numbers so that they can call when in danger.”
For more information on how you can enrol your children in self-defense and martial arts classes, contact: