A lot has changed in almost everything we do in this challenging year of 2020. And while the way in which martial arts has been taught over the past seven months has been altered, the message, lessons, values and importance are exactly the same.
When Keith Hafner took his first class in martial arts it was a much different introduction to what youngsters are offered today at the popular Keith Hafner’s Karate in Ann Arbor.
“I started in martial arts in the early 1970s and there was no such thing as introductory classes,” Hafner says. “You went and joined and they tossed you into a group class with everyone else and you sort of fended for yourself. By the time we got to the 1980s we started to develop the idea of introductory classes where if you were interested you would come in and do a couple private lessons with one of the teachers. We have stuck with that model ever since.”
Keith Hafner’s Karate “introduces” prospective students to two 15-minute lessons. They believe in setting each student up for life-long success while at the same time easing first-day jitters through a more a personal one-on-one class.
“We have the parents with us, just three or four feet away from where their son or daughter is taking the class,” Hafner says. “The idea isn’t to teach him or her any martial arts in that lesson but to show the parents the way the teachers work with the kids and the kinds of positive things we emphasize.”
And while the structure has stayed the same for a long time, what they are teaching has evolved and their skills in being able to make it work has developed over the years.
“Our program does teach self-defense and there is a tremendous amount of physical fitness, but the real goal is to develop real-life skills in kids and adults,” Hafner says. “Things that we feel are important like focus, courage, persistence and respect. Our first two lessons showcase these skills and more.
“While the teacher is teaching karate skills there also is context of why we are doing these moves and how that’s going to help them outside of the karate school. And once growth has occurred, they will own that growth and the teacher’s job here is to see where they apply that.”
Hafner says they often are introducing martial arts to kids who are a little timid and shy, and one of those goals with these type of kids is to show them and teach them how they can get up in front of their classmates and not be afraid.
“We don’t just toss them into a situation where they have to do it, but teach them how to stand, how to breathe, how to make eye contact, how to walk to the front of the class and build skills to empower them to do things that initially made them very nervous,” Hafner says. “This will all happen here at karate but the lessons and experiences are things they can take with them to school or church or somewhere else they have to get up in front of a group and talk.”
Keith Hafner’s Karate offers two introductory lessons and a karate uniform for $29.95. The student then will join of the many group lessons offered with an impressive student-teacher ratio of 8-1.
To sign up for a lesson, click HERE