Inly students Alexandra (LE3) and Abigail (LE2) competed with the Norwell karate team and won first place for the white belts at the karate competition in Marshfield on November 15. Their karate training began here at Inly with the Yuan Yen Do Karate Center.
According to Nancy St. John, Inly’s After-School Programs Director, 83 Inly students participate in the karate program run by Yuan Yen Do founder Grand Master Michael Brown. The program takes place in the Meehan Family Artsbarn on Friday afternoons when three instructors from the Center teach children in levels from orange belt (Discovery) through white, blue, and black belts (up to 8th grade). The program is available for all Inly students and is part of the regular curriculum for Kindergartners.
“At its core, a Montessori education is designed to adapt to and fit a student’s needs, interests, and development while still teaching fundamental skills. The karate program supports Inly’s goals to teach self-discipline, respect, character, and independence,” says Inly Assistant Head of School Annika Voynow. “The benefits of this program are many: health, longevity, positive body image, improved overall self-esteem, and increased energy and concentration in all areas.”
As with most Inly programs, the karate curriculum is multi-age, and designed to appeal to children at varying stages of development.
“The Yuan Yen Do orange belt level (designed for children in the Discovery program) is a new and very successful program at Inly,” writes Grand Master Brown. “Students learn the fundamentals of karate through the exploration of key animals: the agility of a monkey, the balance of a crane, the adaptability of a dragon and the speed of a tiger.”
Kindergartners begin at the purple belt level, learning the basics of strikes, blocks, kicks, flexibility, and strength, “learning individual skills in…a safe and fun environment,” says Brown. “Members begin to follow directions, increase attention, effort and memory along with listening and adapting in a socially appropriate way in preparation for their transition into the white belt karate class.”
From there, students who wish to continue may take karate as part of the Inly After-School Program, and may test for admission to first the white belt and then the blue and black belt levels.
“Attributes like respect, etiquette, and effort all contribute to the culture within a center,” says Brown. “By providing a structured environment and a uniform curriculum inside of a fun and enjoyable class, we create the desire to progress in the martial arts.”
Allison (UE1), a blue belt in Inly’s program, says, “The best part is sparring, I have learned control.”
Her blue belt classmate Jake (LE3) likes the tiger tactics, and his brother Sam (UE1) says, “I like forms better than movements that have so many levels.”
This year’s annual Yuan Yen Do Center tournament was held Sunday, November 15, at Marshfield High School. There were over 50 divisions, ages 4 through adult.
Purple belts (ages 4 and 5) participated in a giant obstacle course, and at the end each was presented with a participation trophy.
White belts (ages 6-12) were in a team competition for best blocks, strikes, kicks and footwork. The winning school took home a trophy and each competitor received a participation trophy.
Blue, brown, and black belts had individual competitions in weapon forms, fighting forms and/or sparring.
It was at this competition that Alexandra and Abi competed with Norwell’s white belt team, which won first place. “Inly’s karate program is excellent,” says Abigail’s dad, Adrian. “It teaches children confidence, discipline, respect and self-esteem. It’s also a great workout!”