A kind karate sensei knew that children would feel fear and anxiety as schools shut down due to the coronavirus. He also knew that martial arts would allow children to engage in physical activity and focus their minds.
Meet Del Rounds. He’s a Professor of Criminal Justice at the Edinboro University of Pennsylvania by day. In the evenings, he is the Sensei at Edinboro Family Martial Arts Center.
As he left the dojo to begin the mandatory closure of educational facilities on March 11, 2020, his heart was heavy. He knew the children he taught looked forward to their karate lessons. Furthermore, he was keenly aware that their daily routines were upended. He knew that abrupt change causes many children to experience feelings of loss, sadness, and even anxiety.
He knew he needed to help, and he wanted to make a difference during this time of great need. But how?
As he turned the key to lock up the building, an idea formed in his mind. He described his thought process, as follows:
“I would teach online karate classes. For anyone! For free!”
He had not formulated how he’d accomplish it precisely, but he knew he must do it.
Over the next five days, Del and a student and volunteer, Sensei Noah, set up the virtual dojo setting, preparing for their first students. They launched the program on Monday, March 16, 2020. They used nothing more than a smartphone and their WiFi to deliver the first online class. Much to their surprise (and delight), over 200 children joined in on that first session.
Karate alleviates anxiety for children
It turns out that Del was onto something.
Research published in 2019 in the American Journal of Men’s Health demonstrates that karate does provide many positive benefits–one of which is the easing of feelings of anxiety.
Karate empowers people to feel healthy and focused. It balances the mind even as it strengthens the body. The benefits identified by the same study include the following:
- Improves both anxiety and depression
- Provides participants with positive role models and mentors
- Breaks down social barriers
- Provides opportunities to socialize in a positive environment
- Offers a form of exercise in a fun class setting
- Increases feelings of mental and physical wellness.
Sensei Del summed up the benefits succinctly.
“The benefits of anyone learning karate is that you learn how to truly focus and concentrate in a safe, but challenging, environment. Students also develop an indomitable spirit and an “internal locus of control.”
Sensei Del offers advice to children who feel anxiety during the shelter in place orders
Our children are out of school. In some states, officials still call it an undetermined period. This makes our little ones feel displaced, nervous, and even depressed. When asked to share advice for the children of the Power of Positivity community, Del stated very simply,
“This will pass. We will get through this time and things will be normal again, but we will be stronger because of it. Guaranteed.” ~Del Rounds
Sensei Del Invites Your Children to Join in the Fun, Too!
Sensei Del is offering these free karate classes Monday through Friday at 11 am to help kids overcome the anxiety that stems from all the uncertainty. He wants to continue to help spread the positivity, so he wants to invite your children to attend the thirty-minute session, too!
Who knows, maybe your child will develop a new sport and release some pent-up energy.
You can join the class through their Facebook page. Just click the link for that day’s lesson, and you’ll join. No fees, no formal registration process, no fuss. Del genuinely just wants to use karate to do his part in helping families during these difficult days. And that’s the type of kindness that will get us all through this pandemic.