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Joey Petrone

Joey Petrone

Our goal each month in featuring students and families is to help everyone understand what it takes to be successful in KARATE FOR KIDS.   It’s easy to see why we are featuring Joey Petrone and his parents, Chris and Stephanie.     Read on!!

Chris and Stephanie use KARATE FOR KIDS as a way to reinforce their teaching of basic values like discipline, respect, confidence, and enthusiasm.

Joey started KARATE FOR KIDS about a year and a half ago at an on- going after school program at Rancho Solano, his school.  He started there in August and in November earned his first belt.  From that point on, he has been unstoppable!!

“I wanted him to build some confidence and discipline,” his father, Chris says.  “I always doubted myself and he is an absolute clone of me.  I knew he could gain confidence through karate.  I’ve been happy with enrolling him since day one.”

Chris and Stephanie are business owners themselves, the local distributor of Boer’s Heads Meats, and Stephanie’s comments were very interesting: I want Joey to be able to take care of himself.  And as he gets older, karate looks good on a resume.  I interview people all the time and I always look for either military service or martial arts training on a resume.  That tells me that person will follow through on stuff and has discipline.”

What about Joey himself?     Chris says, “He is really into karate.  He’s always practicing, even in public.  I’m waiting to get some food and ask him what he wants, only to find that he’s doing his form.” And Stephanie adds, “I now see exactly what I wanted to see in Joey—confidence and pride.  When he talks to his friends, he is really proud of what he does here.  And he is in great shape.”

When creating a successful KARATE FOR KIDS experience, the philosophy of either “responsibility or blame” always comes into play.   Joey is very enthusiastic about competition and his parents support that through private lessons.    I asked Chris how Joey deals with disappointment:   “Of course he has to learn to deal with struggle and losses.  I don’t want to paint a pretty picture just to make him feel well.  If he was not on his game, then that is why he did not win.  It is what it is and he needs to understand that.” Again, Chris and Stephanie make a specific choice to teach Joey that he is responsible—not the judges or his teachers—for winning.   There is no value in placing blame on others for not winning.  Saying things like You had bad judges” or “The judges gave you bad scores” just to make him feel better would de-emphasize the importance of personal responsibility and the value of working hard.  Joey moves on, comes back to class, and keeps working on getting better.

Another critical element to a successful KARATE FOR KIDS experience is using the weekly homework sheet.   Stephanie says:  “The stars and Babin Bucks really mean something to him.  At home, he wants his progress report filled out positively so he can get his blue star and he always improves his behavior to get it.” And Chris says: We even use some of your terminology, like saying, ‘Is that ‘behaving like a black belt’?’    If I tell Joey, ‘I’m going to tell Mrs. Babin that you left your gear out’, he gets right to it and picks up everything.” Because being in class means so much to Joey, he has learned the simple lessons of discipline.   He comes right home and gets his homework done so he can get to class or have free time.

We’ve already seen how KARATE FOR KIDS training has built confidence, fitness, and discipline in Joey.  Chris and Stephanie tell this great story about how Karate for Kids lessons transfer to school:

“Joey won a special character award for displaying respect, courtesy, and responsibility at his school, Rancho Solano.   It’s a really special award and there is only one per grade level per quarter.   The award is presented at a school assembly in front of all the teachers, students, and parents.  All the children were sitting on the floor in groups.  Each time a winner was announced, that student would run straight from where he was sitting on the floor, through the crowd, tripping over and stepping on other students along the way.  When Joey’s name was called, instead of running straight to the front, he carefully stepped to the side of the crowd, ran to the back and then up the side to the front.  His display of respect was quickly noticed by all the teachers.  Of course, we knew he was doing what he was taught at Karate for Kids.  This behavior was a good example of how we feel Karate for Kids training separates Joey from the crowd. “

We often talk about the connection between structure and confidence.  When parents create structure in their children’s lives, the children quickly gain control over their environment and that develops confidence.    “For Joey, going places and doing new and different things sometimes presented anxiety.   Since coming to KARATE FOR KIDS, however, Joey has learned how everything works here and he knows exactly what is going to happen.   And that builds confidence,”Stephanie says.

Chris and Stephanie have this to say to other families considering getting started in KARATE FOR KIDS.  Chris said, I’m a fan.  I highly recommend it.  Even if lack of confidence or anxiety are not issues for your child, I recommend it for the lessons that are taught.  It’s not just a sport or about fitness.  It helps the mind.  Enrolling him in KARATE FOR KIDS is the best thing we ever did for Joey.”

Stephanie said:  “I look around and see the young people who teach here, like Mr. Birdwell, Ms. Birdwell, Mr. Babin, Mr. Meyer, Ms. Leckey and I think, wow, if Joey could be teaching here when he is 16, 17, or 18, that would be so much better for his resume than flipping burgers.”

As always, behind every successful, productive kid are supportive, involved parents.  Don’t make any mistake about it– Joey is training hard, listening to his instructors, and always gives 100% when ever he’s in class.  His parents create the structure, support and consistent participation that make it possible for Joey to excel!!




Jeff, Candice & Brandee Ebert


Jeff & Candice Ebert

Modeling The Right Attitude

Over the years, we have met many many families.  Some experience huge success in our Karate for Kids program and others not so much.    Regardless of a student’s personal ability or potential, it’s really the parents behind the scenes that truly make the difference. Lack of parental support is the #1 reason children do not achieve success.  This month we talked to Jeff and Candice Ebert, whose nine-year-old daughter, Brandee is now a blue belt.   Brandee’s potential and talent will be developed because of the commitment and foresight of her parents.

Consistent attendance is the most significant contributor to success in our program.  Thanks to her parents Brandee has averaged 15 classes per month over the last 3 months, not including her private lessons.  (more on that later)  The Eberts have managed to coordinate their busy lives, managing two careers, family time, private time, and karate.  There is no doubt that Karate for Kids is a priority for the entire family.

Soon after Brandee starting training, it was obvious to Mrs. Babin what her potential was.  But, she was on the quiet side, not confident in her ability, and tentative in her execution. Mrs. Babin knew that the key to unlocking Brandee’s talent was getting her parents on board and understanding it too.  The next step was getting Brandee in the leadership program and setting new goals.  Jeff Ebert says, “When she started, I didn’t expect her to be as good as she is, and to do so well at tournaments.   We really feel like she has accomplished a lot in such a short time.   And her confidence level has really gone up.”

In fact, she is now ranked 2nd in the Arizona Standings in her girls color belt division.  And the lessons in self – control, humility, and attitude that derive from the tournament experience are invaluable, especially when parents guide their children through these experiences, like Jeff and Candice have.  They also take full advantage of in-school tournaments and competition classes to help Brandee gain experience and develop her competitive strategies.

When I asked Jeff and Candice, “What is the most unexpected thing that has happened in Karate for Kids for you?”rapport building, public speaking, presentation skills and the elements of a winning attitude-humility, enthusiasm, respect and knowledge. “We’ve been so impressed seeing Brandee lead the stretch or the pledge.  At first she was quiet and hesitant, now she is very loud. She knows what to say and do and she’s loud.  All this happened in leadership.   Her participation level has quadrupled because of leadership.   She now raises her hand and answers questions.  She is not the quiet kid in the back anymore.” And at school, Karate for Kids has helped her focus and be more respectful toward her teacher and other kids.  Her academic teacher has confirmed this behavior.  And, that is what leadership is all about, taking those lessons and applying them outside of the academy. They were really clear:   LEADERSHIP.   Our leadership program is a completely separate class that teaches

Another important decision Brandee’s parents made on her behalf was private instruction.  “Brandee loves them,” Jeff said.  “She really enjoys it.   She likes the one on one time.   She enjoys asking questions and learning more about how to be good.” It is evident that the additional one on one time has accelerated her tournament performance.   Mom also said, “It has taken her ability to the next level and boosted her confidence immensely.     That confidence is what helped her set a goal to be girls color belt state champion in all three divisions, traditional forms, sparring and weapons! Parents should take full advantage of private lessons.  It has been so rewarding.”

Brandee’s parents play a key role in helping her face and move beyond disappointment, too.  At Karate for Kids, we consider being responsible for one’s self to be the most important lesson we can teach.    This skill will be valuable to anyone for success in life.  Again, competition is the greatest place to learn this lesson.    I asked Brandee’s parents how they felt about her learning to deal with struggle and disappointment.  Here’s what they said:  “We like to let her set her own goals and to not be afraid of failure.    We know (failure) will happen at some time.”

Jeff continues:  “Recently, she lost 5 to 1 in a regional sparring competition. On that day, she had already won 1st in weapons and 1st in forms.  So she was going for a third 1st place and she ended up really disappointed.  She left the ring crying.    I told her not to look at it like a failure.  She scored one point against the state champion.  She really did her best that day.   To become the best, you have to go against the best.  On that day she did and I told her she did do well.”

Jeff could have easily placed blame or shifted attention to others in order to make Brandee feel better.  He could have said, “The judges weren’t calling your points”, ”Those judges weren’t any good” “Boy, were you cheated today”.

By not saying that, Brandee’s parents helped her focus on what was really important, what she did well.  They helped her put into perspective what the facts of her performance were.  Every parent is faced with the same dilemma that the Eberts are.  There really is only ONE good choice:  to accept personal responsibility for what you did. Whichever choice the parent takes is the direction the child will grow:  either in the direction of personal responsibility or in the direction of everyone else is to blame for their disappointments.  Follow Jeff and Candice’s example on this if you want your child to be successful… all areas of their lives!!

Jeff and Candice have this to say to parents considering Karate for Kids training: “Come and see it and judge it for yourself.   See how much the kids in class enjoy it.   There is hardly a day that I don’t see a smile on every kids faces in class.  They enjoy themselves.”

Its parents like Jeff and Candice Ebert that create the opportunity and atmosphere for their daughter to achieve goals and learn important life lessons along the way.  That’s why we have chosen them as Parents of the Month for December 2010!!

Britt Leckey

Brittany Leckey

Brittany Leckey

October 2010 Student of the Month-Brittany Leckey

Brittany was just nine years old when her brother started at KARATE FOR KIDS and she really wanted to do it, too.   From that simple beginning, she has trained steadily for eleven years and accomplished much:

  • earned three levels of black belt
  • competed in more than 60 regional, national, and world events
  • won eighteen state titles
  • won two state triple crown titles
  • won a silver medal in the ATA world tournament of champions
  • won a bronze medal in ATA world tournament of champions
  • will test for 4th degree on October 23, 2010
  • and in spring 2011, she will complete her leadership requirements and become a certified instructor.

Is that a lot for a 20-year-old to accomplish?   Well, not for one of our black belts.   Rather than talk about what happened to Brittany over the last eleven years, let’s focus on the type of black belt she has become.

“I really like being active as an instructor.  It can be a chore to get here, but when I am here I love it.   I really like being in charge of the class even if before hand I get nervous and freak out a little.  I always had talented instructors who helped me.  Now I want to do that for others.   I feel like I know a lot and that I can help others.“

Brittany is no different than anyone else who has made a life long commitment to Karate for Kids.  She, too, has had struggles and difficulties along the way.  For Brittany, the biggest issue was sparring.   At age twelve, she still was small and lots of girls in her tournament divisions were really big.   I didn’t want to spar but my mom made me spar during my last year in the 11-13 year old group.   And then, after that, I didn’t spar for three whole years in tournaments.  As I got ready to enter the 17-29 year old division, I talked a lot with Senior Master Babin.  I was mad that he told me I had to spar.  But on tournament day, I remember, Mr. Nicholas Babin also insisted that I spar.  Well, I did it and I took 1st place after not sparring in competition for three years.”

Brittany was no different than anyone else when it comes to seeing “the whole picture”.  She could not see her potential but her instructors did.  Students need to listen to and trust their instructors because they DO have “the whole picture.”

Senior Master Babin says, Brittany was indeed very small at age thirteen and her muscles had not really developed.  However, by the time she reached age seventeen, she had grown into a really strong young woman who was demonstrating that power in class through her form and board breaking. As her instructor, I knew she had what it took to ‘hold her own’ in the adult women’s sparring group, but she did not know that yet for herself.  I knew if I insisted, she would succeed and then she would have a whole new level of confidence and personal growth.”

Then, in March 2009 at a tournament, she got challenged again when she had to face a rude, out-of-control partner.  In her own words. . .

I had a history of competition with this girl.   Over the last year, in competitions Kalinda and I would trade winning 1st in forms and weapons.  In Orlando, I beat her in forms and weapons. When we competed in Las Vegas in March she beat me in weapons and in forms as well.   We got ready for sparring and she was just rude in the ring.  She went at me really hard, but I was still ahead in points.  Then she lost her balance and as she fell, she pulled me to the ground with her.  She did that about 5 times.  The judges warned her.  She seemed out of control and I knew I had to keep my guard up. Her rude behavior really made me want to win.    I got up and I scored again even though I was hurting bad. And I won the match.”

The important point here is that Brittany shared all of this with Senior Master Babin.   “She was concerned that she had acted badly, that she had lost control.  But she also knew that the other girl was really out of control and that she (Brittany) had to protect herself.   When you are as physically strong a black belt as Brittany is, this is a real moral dilemma.   She didn’t want to get hurt, or hurt the girl, but she did understand the importance of standing up for herself.  The real victory here was not winning the match but Brittany’s new understanding of her ability.  This will transfer over into others areas of her life as she faces future life challenges. She did the right thing to tell me all about it and in doing so, has gained a whole new insight into her life as a black belt.   This incident gave Brittany clarity of purpose that she did not have before and complete confidence in her ability to defend herself and to think and perform under pressure.”

Her instructors helped Brittany see and achieve her physical and mental potential in free sparring.  If they had left it up to Brittany she may have never sparred again and never would have made this incredible personal breakthrough.

Brittany’s comments to anyone thinking about training at Babin’s Karate for Kids:

Give it all you’ve got.  It has been my life for 10 years and it has helped me in everything else I have done.  It’s given me lots of confidence in other things I do.  And it makes me more open, not shy.  In high school I played basketball, softball and lettered in badminton.  I got straight A’s and an honor seal on my diploma. I also was awarded a $1000 scholarship from the H.U. Lee foundation.”

7 Benefits of Karate for Kids Training

The Seven Benefits of  Karate for Kids Training

Have you ever stopped to wonder why martial arts training is fast becoming the leading activity for kids?  And why thousands of families enroll their children in martial arts across the country each year?  The answer is simple.  Unlike most sports (which emphasizes winning games), Karate for Kids focuses on personal development and life skills.  This provides many positive outcomes, but most of these benefits fit into seven main “categories”.  They are:

1.)  Confidence   2.)  Discipline   3.)  Respect and Courtesy   4.)  Goal-Setting   5.)  Perseverance    6.)  Physical Fitness   7.)  Leadership Skills

In this article, I’m going to discuss each one of these seven benefits and reveal how we, at Karate for Kids create each one.  We’ll start with…

Benefit #1: Confidence

It’s a fact: our training boosts a child’s self-confidence, self-esteem and feeling of self-worth.  In fact, many parents enroll their kids here for this reason alone.  Karate for Kids training helps increase a child’s confidence and self-esteem because it teaches kids…

  • To try their best, even though they don’t know if they can succeed or not…
  • How to perform under pressure and handle stress…
  • How to defuse bullying, stand up and protect themselves…
  • How to voice concerns, ask for what they want and address adults (and other authority figures) in a respectful manner.
  • How to recognize their own body’s potential.  For example, by being able to kick and punch things hard and push themselves beyond their own limits.
  • How to talk to an adult, stand and look them in the eye and be listened to.
  • To be proactive and take more initiative because they believe in their own abilities.
  • The feeling of pride.  For example, through belt promotions and by competing in tournaments or in class.

All of these factors add up to greater self-esteem and improved confidence.  As one parent put it: “I still can’t believe how my daughter has come out of her shell after just two months at Karate for Kids.  Before she started, she was shy, wouldn’t approach people or ask for what she wanted.  Now she’s a different person.  Her improved confidence is amazing”.

If your child is shy, having problems relating to other children or being picked on by others, our Karate for Kids training is your answer.

Benefit #2: Discipline, Focus and Self-Control

Karate for Kids training helps kids develop self-control, improves their powers of concentration and gets them to really focus.  It can even alleviate some of the negative behavior associated with ADD and ADHD.

A major scientific study on ADD / ADHD revealed martial arts training helps in just about every area.  Conducted in 2004 by Dr. Kenneth Moran, the study scientifically proved that martial arts training for kids boosted homework completion, academic performance and classroom participation. At the same time, martial arts training decreased the number of classroom rules broken, times leaving the seat and “call outs” in class.

Believe it or not,  martial arts training scored higher than exercise alone because it involves rhythmic breathing and relaxation, step-by-step repetitive movements, personal attention, positive reinforcement, adherence to etiquette and rules (structure), group reinforcement, and a sense of belonging.

Karate for Kids also instills discipline in students by requiring full attention in class, refraining from unruly behavior, teaching kids to arrive on time and prepared, following instructions, and not interrupting instructors.  Kids are also taught to keep uniforms and other items clean and organized.  Finally, they’re taught physical self-control: that when confronted, the first option is to get away and fighting is always the very last resort.  It’s a myth that martial arts makes kids “aggressive”.  In fact, it’s the exact opposite: instead, kids develop confidence, discipline, and self-control.

Benefit #3: Respect (and Courtesy)

If you want your kids to become more respectful and courteous to others, Karate for Kids is the ticket.  Nothing does a better job at teaching the “old school” values of respect and courtesy. Here at Karate for Kids we teach children to….

•     Answer in a respectful manner to instructors ( Yes, Sir” and “Yes, Ma’am” when speaking to senior ranks or other authority figures).

•     “Bow in” before entering the floor (workout area) and show respect to their academy…

•     Shake hands with sparring partners before a match and treat them with respect…

•     Accept a judge’s decision even if they don’t agree with it (respect for authority)…

•     Stand at attention “like a black belt” before class begins…

•     Make others feel noticed, honor other people’s feelings and respect their wishes…

•     Treat juniors (lower ranks) the way they were treated when they were the same rank…

Our  instructional staff also hammer home the importance of respect and courtesy in school and academics: the importance of paying attention in class, taking schoolwork  seriously, respecting school rules and teachers, and finally, focusing on academic goals and getting good grades (martial arts is BIG on this!)  We also teach students to treat their classmates with respect and never engage in teasing, mocking or bullying others.

Here at Karate for Kids, we are BIG on supporting you at home, too.  Kids are taught to help out with chores, respect and honor parents and their wishes, treat brothers and sisters with respect and courtesy, keep their room clean and respect family rules like curfews.

Yes, respect is one of the key cornerstones of a Karate Kid education and a big reason parents enroll their children in our programs all across the country!

Benefit #4: Goal-Setting

At a very early age, Karate Kid students are encouraged to set long term goals.  The most obvious goal is reaching the rank of black belt. But this is only one goal.  Other goals are encouraged, too.  In our academy, we teach kids the S.M.A.R.T. way to set and achieve goals:

S stands for specific

M stand for measurable

A stands for achievable

R stands for realistic

T stands for trackable

The goal-setting our students learn encompasses all  areas of their life – it’s NOT limited to our classes.  We show students how to apply the S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting strategy to personal relationships, school and academics, in the community as well as martial arts.

This early exposure to goal-setting and delayed gratification paves the way for lifelong achievement and success.

Benefit #5: Perseverance

Setting goals is one thing.  Actually reaching the target is another.  That’s why we teach the practical life skill of perseverance.   Let’s face it: martial arts is a real challenge for most people.  This is where perseverance comes in.   We show students how to develop follow-through and “stick-to-it-ness” to overcome challenges, break through fears, avoid negativity and stay focused on the path to their goals.  They are taught to never give up on themselves.

Our instructors also motivate children and reinforce a positive mental attitude – so important in today’s society.  When things get tough, students learn it’s just a test to “see how bad you want something” and that there is NO such thing as “failure”, only temporary setbacks.

I’m sure you’d agree: nothing good in life is accomplished without perseverance, follow-through, and staying true to the path.  We teach this life skill in abundance.

Benefit #6: Fitness

You know the stats:  Two out of every three Americans are either overweight or obese.  And over the last thirty years childhood obesity has tripled.  We hear about it all the time.  But did you know that in many cases, the bad lifestyle habits that lead to obesity start in childhood and can get worse over time?  It’s true. Fortunately, we help families avoid these statistics by teaching healthy lifestyle and fitness early on.

Look around our academy and you’ll see many success stories.  Students who were out of shape when they began, but have transformed themselves into stronger, leaner and fit kids!   Karate for Kids improves all these areas of a person’s fitness:

  • They become more flexible
  • Their endurance and cardio improves
  • Their balance improves
  • They become more agile and lighter on their feet
  • They build strength, explosiveness and power
  • They learn the “fitness mindset” and how to overcome physical challenges
  • They improve their fine and gross motor skills

Is it any wonder so many professional athletes study martial arts in their “off-season” to take their fitness to the next level?   Of course not.  Now imagine learning this type of training while growing up!  Incredible.  And get this: while gaining physical fitness, kids are learning something 100% practical and valuable: self-defense! These are life-long skills a child can count on to stay safe for years to come.   Finally, we have…

Benefit #7: Leadership

The first six benefits lay a solid foundation for this final benefit: leadership.  Think about it: Confidence…discipline and focus…respect and courtesy…goal-setting…perseverance…physical fitness.  Aren’t these all attributes of a leader? But it doesn’t stop there.  Through our program, your child will learn even more leadership skills.  Like how to…

  • Have integrity, be truthful and cultivate a good reputation among peers…
  • How to speak in front of a group and communicate effectively…
  • Set a good example for others….
  • Stand up for themselves and form their own opinions…
  • Help with class, teach lower ranks and guide others…
  • And finally – this could be the most important – how to resist negative peer pressure, avoid bad influences and risky behavior like smoking and drinking.  What could be more crucial?

Your Call to Action.  Karate for Kids offers so many benefits to child development, it was difficult to list them all.  You might be thinking of a few more – some your family has experienced.

So this month, I want you to do two things: Hand a copy (or forward this email) to one of your friends, family,  or work associates.  Help them see what Karate for Kids is truly all about.  It may be the biggest favor you do for them this whole year.

– Senior Master William Babin

The Dominguez Family

As a kid, I would look into the window of a karate school where I lived.   I knew I had no chance to do it when I was young.”

So dreams do come true, and that life long dream for Jesus Dominguez has produced a black belt for himself, and his two children, Jesus Jr. and Lesly,  are about to receive their black belts as well.

Jesus Jr. was only 5 and Lesly was 6 when they started with dad almost two years ago.  I have always liked martial arts and karate movies and I wanted the children to start early in life and learn to defend themselves at a young age.”

And the “family atmosphere” at Babin’s Karate for Kids made a big difference in the academy Jesus Sr. chose for his family.   I was treated good when I came here so I joined.”

BASIC #1:  Parents make decisions for their children and often insist they do things they might not want to do.

The Dominguez family, like all others, have experienced struggle and disappointment on the road to black belt.   Jesus explained:  My son was afraid of sparring at first. But I told him, ‘you need to go so you can learn what to do if you need to.’   I pushed him.”

And now here’s what Jesus Jr. has to say about sparring: I like sparring the best because I’m really good at it now.” If he would have gotten his way, he would have been allowed to quit just when the most learning and personal growth was about to happen for him.  Thank goodness his Dad was in charge and not Jesus Jr.

And Lesly has had disappointments at rank promotions; not breaking her boards has kept her from advancing in rank.  I ask Lesly to focus hard on breaking because I know she has the power.  She just needs some confidence.  It would be easy just to quit but that’s not the right way to go.  I ask her to stay positive because I know she can do it.  This discipline will help her all throughout her life” Dad says. With supportive parents and instructors, Lesly has learned the value of persistence and commitment.  With those life skills in place, she will achieve her black belt and numerous other important milestones in life.

It’s not uncommon for children to be afraid of sparring.  But it is a necessary and important part of martial arts training.  Now, Lesly, too, loves sparring:  “When I kick someone in the head at a tournament, I get two points. And I have learned how to block.”

BASIC #2:  Listen to your instructors.

Jesus Sr. talks about his personal experiences in Taekwondo:  I like trying to do my form perfect, with power in every move.  The instructors remind us to do it strong, and I remember at rank promotion that one student did not earn his new belt because his form looked weak.  So I am always working on power.”

And as for Lesly, she continues to come to class with a positive attitude and she always trains hard. She’ll be ready for the September rank promotion.  It will be a proud day when her black belt is tied around her.

I asked Jesus Sr. if there was anything unexpected that happened over the last two years.   I was not surprised to hear him mention competition.  I love competition.  Tournaments are fun.  I feel so excited when I win.  In the regional tournament in January 2010, I took 1st in sparring and 1st in forms.  That was fun.” His enthusiasm for winning actually understates the value of tournament participation.   For all students, we recommend our “in school” and regional events, and for those interested in the “total ATA experience, we encourage going to national events as well.

As instructors, we encourage tournament participation to develop the focus and confidence you need to perform in all situations, and the Dominguez family is following that advise.  (also see Leslee Eamiguel-August success story)

BASIC #3:  Use our life skill lessons at home to develop respect and courtesy.

I asked Jesus to talk about his children and what they have learned in Karate for Kids.   He said things similar to other success stories, like Lesly is more confident and disciplined.  She is focused at school too.” And, “Jesus, Jr. is always a good helper.   He used to avoid homework because he loves to play soccer, but now he does his homework first and he is even reading on his own.” And big sister, Lesly jumped in with this comment, Yah, and he respects my stuff, too!” Do your children talk that way about each other?

But the most important comment Jesus Sr. made is one that echoes through every SUCCESS STORY in our newsletters:  “When something goes wrong at home, we discuss the life skill we talk about in class and how it will apply to us at home.” The Dominguez family is proving that Karate for Kids life skill lessons are truly LIFE lessons.

Jesus Sr. himself credits Taekwondo with helping him grow mentally and physically, too: I like it and feel more confident.  I love the Saturday morning class (“High Intensity Training”).  I have not missed one!   I love to work hard and doing the WARRIOR XFIT moves.” (

The Dominquez family uses a simple three-part formula for success at home and at the academy and that is why they were chosen Family of the Month for September 2010.

Leslee Eamiguel–Lots of Surprise Blessings 8-2010

Leslee Eamiguel

Over four years ago, Senior Master Babin did a demonstration at Queen of Peace school in Mesa.  It was like most other demos, except for a young 10-year-old girl watching, Leslee Eamiguel.  She was mesmerized.

Leslee held on to the wish of learning martial arts for two years, then it became obvious to her parents that she wasn’t going to let this wish go, her dad started looking for a place for her to take lessons.   Leslee was twelve when she started classes with us at Karate for Kids and says she wanted to learn self defense” and “set new goals.”

Her father started a diligent search for a teacher.  “I actually went to seven academies before I found Babin’s Karate for Kids.   When I walked in here, I loved the family atmosphere and that’s why we enrolled here.  It was clearly the right place.”

While talking with Mr and Mrs Eamiguel, it became obvious that the unexpected benefits of karate for kids training have far outweighed what they expected to happen.   For example, like most parents, they hoped for Leslee to become more confident.   And sure enough, that has happened.  She was quiet and shy and now is “bubbly and outgoing.” “She speaks with confidence to all her classmates and adults as well.  And she also has confidence to stand up for what she believes in,” Mrs Eamiguel said.

But the unexpected benefits have been overwhelming and exciting:

BEHAVIOR AT HOME:   Mrs Eamiguel says that Leslee is much more disciplined: “She knows how to reach goals every day, especially with household chores.  She is very responsible and focused on the things I assign her to do at home.”

GRADES“Her grades have dramatically improved.  She has gone from NO A’s to ALL A’s.  She is on the honor roll and now is in the honors program.  She is well respected by teachers and classmates. Karate for Kids has improved so much of her life.  We’re very excited!” her dad said.

NEW GOALS“We never expected her to compete, much less compete at the high levels she has and even win.  She went to World championships and took 3rd place in traditional forms.  And she has set the goal to be a state champion.”

THE ATA: “We never expected the organization (ATA) to be what it is.  We just went to World Championships and saw a huge, very impressive organization.”

NEW FRIENDS“We never expected Leslee to have this kind of social experience.   She has new friends here in Mesa but at World Championships, she also made friends from Chicago, New Orleans, Dallas, and on the East Coast.  They’ve even exchanged emails.” It’s obvious that Leslee and her friends will be helping their parents make plans to meet at future ATA events.    And this kind of social experience—both for kids and their parents—is an often-overlooked benefit of membership in the ATA.

I asked Leslee how she feels about the “struggle,” about wanting to win 1st place and NOT winning:  “ At World Championships, I was very excited to be in the ring with world champions.   I like competing with the best of the best even though I did not win 1st place.  If you don’t win, you can’t stop.   You need to keep going and work hard at it.” Her dad adds“You can only know what you can do by extending yourself and trying new things.  And you have to remain positive.  Leslee does that well.”

And Leslee’s mom said, You need to put it in your head that you can do it and do not be scared.  You can’t let fear make you miss opportunities.  Think positive.”

Mr. & Mrs Eamiguel have even taken on the role of encouraging Leslee’s classmates to compete and go to big events, like World Championships: I want them all to be active.   I tell them, ‘I’ll see you at the national tournament.’    This is what I find exciting.”

As you read about Leslee’s family, start setting goals for yourself.  Attend the in-school and regional tournaments and think about attending any of our National events around the country.  You, too, can experience some very pleasant results.   Let’s congratulate Leslee Eamiguel for all of her many personal and martial arts accomplishments.  Track her progress as she pursues a State and World Championship Title!!

Sam Seyler 5-2010

When you were eight years old, had you been doing any one thing for five years? Well, Sam Seylar, is among a small group of eight years old that can say, I’ve been doing KARATE FOR KIDS for five years!”

Fred and Kelly Seylar, Sam’s parents, were keenly watching him grow when they decided to enroll him at BABIN’S KARATE FOR KIDS.  “He started the terrible 2’s at age 3”, Kelly commented.    And Fred and Kelly had been thinking of using karate to help him control his behavior so when Sam turned 3, they enrolled him.

Fred and Kelly quickly learned how to use the TINY TIGER weekly homework sheet, the Babin Bucks, and the patch / star reward system.   “That homework sheet immediately nipped his behavior.   I simply told Sam that if he did not listen, he would have to stay after class and talk to Senior Master Babin.   Well, he was petrified and humiliated to do that and his behavior changed quickly.” Although Senior Master Babin’s bark is worse than his bite, Sam didn’t want Senior Master to know that he was misbehaving at home and quickly learned to meet his parents’ expectations.  He earned all his TINY TIGER patches and his KARATE KID ones, all the way up to black belt.

Like all successful KARATE FOR KIDS families, the Seylars have attended lots of tournaments.  As a TINY TIGER, Sam earned many trophies and hegained confidence and self-esteem “His friends would come over, see his trophies, and say ‘Wow, you’re in karate!’   That made him feel proud and good.” Mom said.   He gained coordination, too, and even rode his two-wheel bike with no training wheels at age 4. We often brought our friends to watch competitions, and they were always amazed at how these young children sat still ‘like a master.’”

But tournaments have also been a big motivator for Sam:  “We never left the event after the TINY TIGER competition.  Sam always has to stay to watch his idols compete throughout the day, people like Donald Garcia, John Meyer, Zac Birdwell, and Nick Babin.  He was always inspired after watching male black belts that were older than he was.  It has given him people to look up to and goals to strive for.”

And Sam has learned from tournaments that he is not always  “the best.” Kelly says He has learned to accept evaluation by the judges and to commit to work harder in order to do better.” And because Sam is an only child and does not have any brothers to wrestle with, the personal self defense he has learned both in class and at tournaments has really been beneficial to him”, Mom said.

Experts agree that children thrive within structure; kids need boundaries.   The Seylars have learned how to use the structure of KARATE FOR KIDS to help with school work as well: “When we started KARATE FOR KIDS, we set the goal to become a black belt.  It has not been easy. So when Sam has a difficult assignment to deal with at school—like reading 10 books in a month–we just ask him to break the goal into smaller parts, just like we do in karate.  Sam likes to achieve, so he relates to this structure well.”

Sam is very confident, very social, and has lots of friends.  Mom and Dad have helped him organize his life by creating blocks of time for karate, school work, and free time with friends.  This approach helps Sam reach goals, develop self discipline, and have fun!

Mom says, I always tell people to get started now.    What an accomplishment to say Sam is eight years old and has earned a black belt.    I tell parents to stick with it; as a parent you will be so proud!”

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The Staeubles 4-2010

Four Black Belt in one family

Four Black Belts in one family

FOUR BLACK BELTS in one family!

One black belt in a family is a huge accomplishment… but FOUR?  In our 30 years of teaching there have been only five families to accomplish this.   So let’s learn more about Matt & Mary Staeuble and their children, Kayla and Matthew.

In April 2006, Matt and Mary were looking for an activity for the children.  A coupon came in the mail, and when they visited KARATE FOR KIDS, they liked not only the karate, but also the life skills lessons.

Kayla was nine at the time and was afraid of everything and we wanted her to gain confidence.  But she refused to go into class because it was full of boys.  Finally, Ms. Recker got Kayla to sit in the room during a Tiny Tiger class and later she joined that class.   The crazy thing is that within a year, Kayla became a state champ in sparring.  Once Ms. Simon told Kayla her kicks were good, she took off.  And KARATE FOR KIDS has helped her have more confidence when meeting people, and she is more able to resist peer pressure and stand up for herselfmom proudly says.

The very next month, Mary did a Mother’s Day Special, and then Matt joined in June on the Father’s Day special.

Mom, Dad and Kayla all earned their Black Belt on the same day.  Matthew, starting in the Tiny Tiger program moved at a slower pace. He earned his black belt on March 16, 2010.

I asked Matt and Mary about their special accomplishments and any surprises in their training, The camaraderie and friends we have made has been really unexpected, but really great.” Matt said.   “I lost pounds and gained a new confidence” Mary said. “I’m much more comfortable now getting out of my comfort zone.”

Matt said, My biggest accomplishment was earning my 2nd degree.   I worked on my board break for twelve weeks.  It was really hard.  I knew breaking it was not a sure thing so I worked really hard for that one moment and it paid off!”

Mary said quickly: “My big accomplishments were getting my black belt, losing weight, and breaking my boards on the first try.  I’m really proud of that.”

Kayla enjoys the social aspect of Karate for Kids, but she is not in class just to make friends.   In addition to earning her black belt and a state championship, Kayla has also earned a spot on our ELITE DEMO TEAM twice, most recently at the tournament on Feb 6, 2010.   These team members must audition for the team, be chosen by a panel of instructors, and also complete more than 100 hours of advanced training over a 5-6 month period in addition to their regular classes.

Young Matthew enjoys leadership training and has helped with rank promotions on a regular basis.  He’s developing important skills that will benefit him in all aspects of his life.  Impressive for a boy who just had his 9th birthday.

When asked what was the biggest impact Karate for Kids has had on the family this is what Mary had to say, “We have a common language to talk about things like life skills, like respect, and we have a real common tie.  We can talk about technique and we all can offer input to each other.

Matt says, “I’m also excited to bridge the gap between father and son.  Matthew is really pushing me to learn sword.  We work on it together; we have more together than just school, friends, and TV shows.”

This family loves to compete so I asked them why?  “Kayla was our first competitor.   We all got so excited watching her that we started competing and haven’t missed one tournament since. I like the fun of going and seeing how I stack up against other women,” Mary said.

I like competition because it is challenging, I like getting the instant feedback on how I’m doing,” Matt said. I also like the social aspect.  A tournament is the only time I get to see the guys in my ring.  I like seeing how I stack up with the other men and how that matches with my training.   And I like building relationships with other instructors.”

Clearly Matt and Mary Staeuble see how tournaments create a much broader life experience for themselves and the children.  And the Staeubles boast several State Championship Titles….

Matt:   2009 weapons, 2008 triple crown, 2007 weapons

Mary: 2008 weapons, currently leading state in sparring

Kayla: 2007 sparring, 2009 form / weapon

It is very interesting that one of the reasons families quit presented NO PROBLEM at all to the Staeubles.   “From the beginning, we were never in class together.  Not even the kids.  Kayla was a Karate Kid and Matthew was a Tiny Tiger.  Because of his work schedule, Matt took class in the morning and I took class at night.  But this crazy schedule actually meant that we got to meet ALL the instructorsWe have always had a broader experience because we have not been in class together.” Mary said.  And another obstacle for parents is making corrections.  Matt comments:  It’s the instructors’ job to make the corrections on the kids, not the parents.” That’s valuable advice for all karate parents.

What would you say to other families about getting started? Mary said, I’ve done gym class and jazzercise and always felt self conscious.  Not once have I ever been made to feel like that here.  No one has ever looked at me with that expression, ’what is she doing here?’  I’ve always felt comfortable.   I had an accident and for several years I have had chronic migraines.  After working out here, I lost a bunch of weight, and I still get migraines, but once every 6 months not every 6 weeks.”

And Matt said “All the excuses that prevent you from starting will go away after the first month.”

Demetris Coachman 8-09

Demonstrating Service to others and Great Perseverance to Reach His Goals!

Two simple words sum up Mr. Coachman’s life:

perseverance and service.

And what a set of accomplishments!  Here’s just a few:

  • 4th degree black belt
  • certified instructor
  • World Top Ten honors for 10 years in a row
  • Various state championships

Mr. “C” began his Taekwondo career in 1996 when Senior Master Babin started classes at the Boeing Helicopter plant in Mesa.  Over the last thirteen years, he has trained consistently, earned FOUR black belts, and a WORLD championship.  He eventually became the instructor of the classes in which he started!

His professional career in INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY also demonstrates perseverance.  He has been helping engineers at Boeing install, test, deploy, and support software for twenty-six years now!

Let’s take a closer look at his thoughts and philosophy.  He started training for much the same reasons as many of us: “I liked Bruce Lee, David Carradine, and Chuck Norris.  I thought karate was cool.  I liked the power of Bruce Lee, and the patience of David Carradine.  When SMBabin started classes at Boeing, it was really convenient for me and I wanted to get in shape.”

Looking back over thirteen years of regular exercise, Mr. Coachman says: “I accomplished my goal of staying in shape.  I realized that it was based on what I put into it.  I realized that the more I put into it, the more I got out of it.  And I got a lot out of it!”

Earning first degree black belt was a “real milestone” in his life.  He calls it one of his “main accomplishments in life.”st degree black belt—has led to so many great accomplishments in Mr. Coachman’s life.  What would he have missed—and certainly what would all of us have missed—if he had seen 1st degree black belt as the END and not as the BEGINNING? And looking back now, all of us can see how perseverance—continuing the discipline of training beyond 1

How did this commitment to service begin?  Mr. C remembers: “I was told to come to a meeting.  I had no idea why I was there or what I was doing, but I followed directions.  By the end of the night, I was invited to join leadership.”

After six years of service to others as an instructor, Mr. Coachman has these comments:  “I’m not sure I would have furthered my Taekwondo career if I had not been an instructor.  That role helped me in several ways:

  • It helped me break out of shyness
  • It helped me become a better public speaker
  • It gave me more confidence

“I can have a good day at work, and after teaching, I have had an even better day.  There’s no way I have ever had a down day after teaching.  It has always made me feel better about life in general.  I love working with the students, being able to give them something they did not have when they came in to class.  Achieving 4th degree does not compare with teaching, because achieving 4th degree only affects me, but teaching affects other people.” This is the Black Belt quality of service to others.

Over the last two years, Mr. Coachman has been “back at school”.  Yes, while working full-time AND teaching black belts twice a week, he has been taking intensive college courses in which ONE semester of material is condensed into FIVE WEEKS.  Every five weeks for the last two and a half years, he has started a new course.  That was a grueling pace and he did have to give up training and some competitions.  I asked him about that because he did continue to teach when he could easily have taken a break from that as well.  He said simply:  “Although I had to give up training for that time, I did not want my college program to interfere with teaching.”  So all of you who earned 2nd or 3rd degree in the last             

two years, should give him an extra note of gratitude.  Mr. Coachman received his B.S. Degree in Management  from University of Phoenix on July 17, 2009.

As I mentioned earlier, Mr. Coachman has earned WORLD TOP TEN honors for several years.  In 2003, after earning the NUMBER TWO spot in the world, he went to Little Rock with hopes of winning a gold medal in sparring.  He was eliminated in the first round.  “I was ranked number two in the world, and I was devastated by that loss.  I became determined to learn what I had done wrong and I committed to earning that number two spot again.”

And so he set out—not thinking so much of a gold medal, but taking it one week

and one tournament at a time, striving to regain that spot in the WORLD TOP TEN.  “I wanted to prove to myself that I was better than what I did in 2003.” He said that he actually did not think about the GOLD MEDAL until after he knew he had qualified for the 2004 Tournament of Champions.  That’s taking the goal one small step at a time and persevering!

You might also find it a little strange when he says this about winning a WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: “It was not about winning. It was about achieving.  I remember that journey.  I remember all the competitors.  Every one of my sparring partners was a part of my gold medal.  I said to many of them, ‘I could not have done it without you.’  There’s nothing malicious about competition.  I don’t want to win at all costs.  I want to win on my own terms and that means winning by skill, with respect and control. At that level, you compete with the same people all year.  You become friends.  Then you step into the ring and it’s all business, and then when it’s over, we congratulate each other and we are still friends.”

Mr. Coachman’s words prove that many of the next generation of black belt leaders truly do understand Eternal GrandMaster Lee’s philosophy:”to compete is to win.”

In closing, I asked Mr. Coachman what he would say to someone considering joining our program and his comment was brief and clear;  “The only bad choice you can make is NOT starting.  There’s something in it for everybody.”

Thank you, Mr. Coachman, for showing us what perservance and service are all about!

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