By: Lorrie Ward Jackson | Category: Health & Fitness | Issue: March 2010
Chris Velez of Owasso Martial Arts Academy has been practicing martial arts since he was seven years old.
Confidence. Discipline. Respect. These are all qualities any parent would like to instill in their children – and they all are qualities that can be gained by participating in martial arts. “We are using martial arts training as the vehicle for leadership development,” says Chris Velez of Owasso Martial Arts Academy. "Every time a student comes to class, they are presented with a challenge, and when they do their absolute best they will be successful. This builds a student's confidence and discipline, so that when they are confronted with unhealthy peer pressures or dangerous situations, they are able to make the best choices when mom and dad are not around."
Even though they are learning how to deal with pressures away from the parental umbrella of protection, most kids who train at Owasso Martial Arts Academy do so as part of a family. “We are unique in that all our classes are family classes. We gear everything to accomodating today’s family and the speed of life parents have to deal with,” says Chris. “This makes it possible for families to train together, and for the younger members to model their behavior after more mature examples.” It also gives families a chance to have a good time together and learn to defend themselves at the same time.
Being a model for youngsters is very important to Chris and the staff at Owasso Martial Arts Academy. “We serve as walking, talking role models that reinforce what parents want to instill in their children at home,” says Chris. “All the lessons we go through here – goal setting, behavioral challenges, etc. – affect a child’s attitude in every other aspect of life, teaching them how to deal with real-life challenges during their journey to black belt, before they are grown."
Chris reports that often a child who has quit other sports or activities will surprise his or her parents by sticking with and excelling at the disciplines taught in martial arts. He believes it is because goals are broken down into shorter terms. The loftiest goal, of course, is the black belt, but along the way, students are earning stripes of varying colors and graduating to new ranks. At Owasso Martial Arts Academy, a student is typically highlighted and experiences visual progress five times in an eight-week period. “That's how we are able to maintain long-term interest and motivation,” Chris points out.
Children learn confidence, discipline and respect at Owasso Martial Arts Academy.
The instructors at Owasso Martial Arts Academy use learning techniques that are specifically designed to hold the attention of the student, and Chris reports that younger kids are making it through longer classes. “The younger ones are increasing mental stamina and overall control, and are learning not to give in to their current emotional state,” Chris says.
Chris Velez knows well the positive effect martial arts can have on a child – he started as one himself, at the age of 7, with his cousin Rick Gibson, who is now Owasso Martial Arts Academy’s program director.
Owasso Martial Arts Academy has been in business since 2003. “We started as a part-time business a couple of nights a week in the back of Owasso Fitness Zone,” says Chris. They grew quickly and became full time, changing locations with their growth until they reached their current home, where they have been for a little more than five years. This is where they hope to keep helping local families reach their goals for many years to come.