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Karate club uses martial arts to arm at-risk children



Who knew that karate, an ancient martial art that teaches self-defense, is based in peace? Its philosophy, which is to build a more peaceful world, begins with the student.

Daryl Arrowood, a fourth-degree black belt, started the Oklahoma Youth Karate Club Inc. to give at-risk and disadvantaged youth the opportunity to learn martial arts. The OYKC, which started last year, raises money for youth scholarships to pay for associated costs of the sport, including uniforms, tournament fees and class tuition. A child in the scholarship program may be disadvantaged physically, mentally, socially or economically. Through learning self-defense, the student obtains positive character qualities.

"What we teach is discipline, respect, hard work, integrity, responsibility " everything we want all kids to have," said Arrowood, who has been a student of martial arts for 17 years.

In karate, students learn the principles of physical fitness and health with non-violence being the key. Children are taught to avoid physical conflict unless involved in a life-threatening situation, with hopes that the discipline and self-confidence learned is transferred to their school environment and home life.

The classes emphasize keeping kids on a positive path in life, focusing on such virtues as self-confidence, motivation, discipline and restraint.

"We've had a boy who is 13 years old in the program for about one year," said Denise Springer, a second-degree black belt and seven-year martial arts student. "He's come to class very consistently and there has been a tremendous change in him. He has patience and respect."

Dragon Kim's Tae Kwon Do schools are part of the OYKC program with studios in Edmond, Enid and Shawnee. The OYKC's mission is to bring the five tenets of tae kwon do " courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit " to Oklahoma communities.

"We are all about families," Arrowood said. "Martial arts strengthens the family unit."

The scholarship money is vital because otherwise, at-risk youth more than likely would not be involved in the sport.

"Over the past year, we've sponsored 10 to 12 kids," said Arrowood, who is also a full-time project manager for United Mechanical Inc. "Last year was our first year. We consider that our start-up year."

Those in the community who work with youth, such as principals, teachers, judges and social workers, are encouraged to recommend an at-risk or disadvantaged child for the OYKC scholarship program, but any adult can nominate one.

"We plan and hope to do a few grants for money to help sponsor additional kids," Arrowood said.

For more information, call 409-3814.  "Gina Dabney


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