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Paul Anderson
Paul Anderson's picture
Modern day Itosu letter to schools?

We (www.karateglasgow.com) have been working with the 'active schools' part of the local council to try and bring Karate into the local 7-8 secondary schools.  We have proposed to have a taster session throughout one afternoon followed by 4 weeks of free after school classes on a rolling basis, one school at a time.

Stangely enough out of the 7 schools approached by the council non were interested !  We were advised this may be due to the time of year etc and the activtiies going on in the schools like exams etc, and we may be more successful at the start of the next term .. which is now.

On reflecting how to generate some interest I thought about Itosu's letter to the schools, and then maybe creating something similar to this, but from a modern perspective.  Something simple like 5 areas where we can add a little bit of value.  So far I have an intro to Karate, our club and then some basic points (basic headings, obviously these would be embelished):


Karate is a martial art developed in the Ryukyu Islands in what is now Okinawa, Japan. It was developed from indigenous fighting methods called te, meaning literally hand and Chinese Boxing (Kara).  Karate is a striking art using punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes, and open-handed techniques such as knife-hands. Grappling, locks, restraints and throws. 

(Then have a background to our club)

karate can offer a lot of benefits to school age children, the main ones being:

  1. Karate enables someone to avoid fights as much as it teaches someone to deal with them. 
  2. A focus on self defence enables those training in Karate to deal with physical and mental aspects of how to deal with a confrontation, and remove oneself from that confrontation as soon as possible
  3. Cultural significance of learning Kata hundreds of years old
  4. Exercise as part of the traininig increases focus and fitness, which has been proven to improve educational results.


Struggling to articulate other aspects.  (without going on about military service!!)  Anyone got any good ideas I can mercilessly steal?  Or better ways to entice Schools into allowing us to show them Karate?

Dave Moore
Dave Moore's picture

Karate is a striking art using punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes, and open-handed techniques such as knife-hands.

I would change the above  to Karate uses various parts of the body in order to defend against an attacker so that the defender can safely get away from the person attacking them.

Remove the word fighting and reword it with 'defend oneself'. Schools and parents don't like the word fighting Paul(i know sounds daft  but teachers think you will train them to  be like cage fighting machines rather than responsible people).

A friend has done this and gave little presentations to staff and pupils at the various schools where he has spoken to the head teachers in person and it has worked very well for him.He over empathsises the use of the word defend against an attack .

I would also over stress that it is very good exercise and is geared towards making the pupil more responsible and focussed on what they do and that they will be too tired to indulge in fighting each other after they have finished their Karate lesson.wink

Good luck and I hope you get them onside

Paul Anderson
Paul Anderson's picture

Thanks for that Dave that's very useful !

lcpljones_dontpanic's picture

Hi guys

last year i qualified with the ABAE (Amateur Boxing Association of England) as Boxing Leader. this enebles me to assist in the coaching at an ABAE boxing club and also to deliver the Contender AmBox programme in schools and youth clubs etc.

heres the relevance to this thread.

the Contender AmBox programme is basically a programme that has been put together by the ABAE, education specialists and the police and teches kids the basic skills of boxing but stresses that at no time is there any form of contact between those kids taking part (apparently this was a big selling point to the education sector in getting it ratified b them). as well as the boxing side of things the programme includes elements on personal safety and health and fitness education in line with key stage eduction objectives. The ABAE are making a real effort in getting this into schools so if karate wants to get in on the act in a similar vein we need to be very careful in how we put it across to the education sector and parents.

if you're offering a taster session followed by the four free after school lessons i would consider not including in any of that any form of contact between the kids no matter how light and emphasise this to the schools / parents. for this paticular programme it might be better to concentrate and emphasise the khion and kata elements of karate. then if any of the kids wish to take up karate on a permanent basis they will be introduced into the kumite side of things.

good luck with it Paul, hope it goes well. be sure to keep everyone posted on the outcome.

shoshinkanuk's picture

I personally can't see much place for martial arts in schools myself - I think the sports such as football, rugby, tennis, athletics all do a fine job.

Perhaps some kind of RBSD, or modern self protection program would make sense.

But then again im not big on Juniors training martial arts, if anyone asks me and they are under 16 I suggest Judo. If they are under 12 I suggest they don't do martial arts at all!

Theres a few local outfits that teach in schools and I have to say they are expensive, and from what I have seen and been told poor quality karate, in places fairly dangerous to youngsters!

Just my opinions, which im sure will be different from many on this subject.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

My take of this is that if you are going to teach martial arts to children, then whatever is taught needs to be suitable for children. I feel children can get lots of benefits out of the martial arts, but that does not mean that every single approach to the arts is suitable or will yield the same results.

shoshinkanuk wrote:
But then again I’m not big on Juniors training martial arts, if anyone asks me and they are under 16 I suggest Judo. If they are under 12 I suggest they don't do martial arts at all!

I can understand those sensibilities. I personally don’t teach people under the age of 14 because what I do and how I teach would not be suitable for younger children. However, when I am asked by parents about their children training with me, I explain that we would not be suitable and give them the phone numbers of good groups that I know teach and train in an appropriate fashion.

Children can be active, make friends, gain a sense of achievement, learn the value of setting goals and working towards them, develop self-discipline, etc through the practise of appropriate martial arts. The other thing is that martial arts are a solo pursuit and hence can give a personal challenge in the way that team games can’t (they don’t encourage teamwork in the same way though).

Parents and schools are likely to be far more interested in these aspects that the ability to deliver a knock-out right cross. It would therefore be these elements that would be best to emphasise.

From a wider martial arts perspective, I would say that whatever the children learn should also lay the foundation for their adult study. Children should do the martial arts in a way that is suitable for children; Adults in away that is suitable for adults (i.e. adults should not be doing children’s karate anymore than children should be doing adults’ karate).

All the best,


BRITON55's picture

Hi all..we at Pyung Ahn Services International teach children and young adults with special needs so extra care with wording and syllabus is needed.

We work closely with Disability Sport England and foundations that cater for these groups. Emphasis was put on cognitive skills and focus as many learners have Autism...also it brought together issues of contact as the learners were big on personal space. The syllabus became organic as classes expanded and brought in new learners with a variety of issues. NAKMAS are now branching into this field of education and have lots of advice for groups heading that way.

My main piece of advice is be willing to alter teaching methods that you may have inherited from tradition and be inclusive rather than exclusive...I would keep the children aspect seperate from the adult section but include a filter system where the transition from childrens training to adult is less of a shock as the children grow up and move into adult classes. On a point of fact we have had learners move into mainstream classes from special needs classes unbeknownsed to mainstrem learners and no-one knew those learners had issues, so anything is possible....TOP TIP....Keep your Insurance cover up to date and police check any new adult if you have mixed sex and age classes [advice from police].

Pyung Ahn Peace and Harmony

Yours in Budo

Steve cool

Stan Meador
Stan Meador's picture

Great advice from Dave Moore on the wording. I hate to say it, but you'll need to be very "politically correct" when addressing schools and training in the venue for children.

I don't really think stressing the "combat" nature of the art is what a school is looking for. The word "knife" even when used as an adjective describing the noun "hand" could be alarming to teachers who may not understand the terminology.

I would stress concepts such as honor, respect, self-discipline, focus, improved grades, higher self-esteem, better interpersonal relationships and the like as the probable benefits of the program. You might even enter the "do" aspect of the arts - it is a way of life.

Perhaps the best source of information is to find a martial arts school in the US that caters to the school age. Look at the points of benefit they emphasize. They are usually selling to the parents, but look at the benefits they claim. I don't know about their martial skills, but some of these guys are masters at marketing.

I know parents who have chosen a school largely because it would teach their children respect, manners, self - discipline and self - respect.

As far as program content goes, the previous posts address that well and seemingly from within your own context.

Just my two cents worth.


Paul Anderson
Paul Anderson's picture

Thanks everyone !

All very valid comments and I'll take them away and have a wee ponder !


Paul Anderson
Paul Anderson's picture

Right.  Here is what I have as a decent draft bar checking for typos/grammer... what do you guys think?

Dear Sir/Madam,

My name is Paul Anderson and I currently train with Zanshin Kai Shotokan Karate (www.karateglasgow.com) which has classes in Kirkintilloch, Lenzie and Bishopbriggs.  Our club is affiliated with the Japan Shotokan Karate International and all senior instructors all have enhanced disclosure.

Our head Instructor, Kenny Davis 7th Dan, is an Art Teacher at XXXXX School and has been teaching Karate in the East Dunbartonshire area for the last 30 years.  The club started initially as a school club and over the years Kenny has had a number of his Karate students gone on to teach under the same ethos of enthusiasm and not for profit in locations from Aberfoyle to Dubai, and in some cases, taught a second generation from the same family.

Karate uses various parts of the body in order to defend against an attacker so that the defender can safely get away from the person attacking them.  We think it’s a good sport to take up because this as well as crucial fitness aspects and how it helps to instil discipline, promotes balance, co-ordination and flexibility.

My personal experience of starting Karate in my teens is that of making friends, gaining a sense of achievement, learning the value of setting goals and working towards them, and developing a quiet sense of self-discipline & confidence

We are looking to broaden access to the club and create relationships with community bodies to be able to offer the same experience to anyone who is interested in trying Karate, and as such have been in contact with Active Schools within the local Council.  We were looking to offer an afternoon taster session for multiple years followed by 4 weeks of after school classes with Kenny.  All of this would be free of charge.

We have not been successful in gaining interest from XXXXXXXSchool through Active Schools and thought it may be better to contact you directly to see if we might be able to meet and present our ideas and the value we can add.

You can contact me directly on 07876 717 463 or through our club email karateglasgow@hotmail.co.ukfor any additional information.  We hope to hear from you soon,

Best Regards

Paul Anderson

Zanshin Kai Karate