Focus, self-esteem, appreciation and a sense of self worth are just some of the benefits children with disabilities or additional needs get from practising karate.
Me Too & Co, an independent volunteer-led charity in Richmond, have offered these classes to children aged 8 and above since 2012.
Now, thanks to a grant from the Harlequins Foundation, these classes have been secured for another year.
Operations manager Fiona Morgan at MeToo&Co said: “A lot of children that come here have been excluded from schools and after school clubs and made to feel that they can’t join in and feel it difficult to join in large group activities.
“A lot of them come here with their confidence at rock bottom.
“Karate gives them the confidence that they can do things, and that there are things they can achieve that other mainstream children take for granted.
“Sometimes they reintegrate back in to mainstream karate classes after building up their self-belief here.”
Joy Beecham has two children who use the charity facilities and she admits she was sceptical about the karate lessons at first.
Ms Beecham said: “I didn’t think my son would manage karate, as he has ADHD which means he can’t keep his body still and he’s very easily distracted and finds it hard to listen and concentrate.
“But it’s the only place I see him following instructions and to actually get his body to do the things he wants them to do, to the point his teacher has suggested he might go for a belt.
“I think the skills he’s learned here are fantastic as they’re skills he can take in to other settings.
“I think they’ll assist with his school, because if he can do it in one setting and if he can understand and have that sense of quieting his body, he’ll be able to do it in other settings as well.
“I feel that it does a lot for self-esteem, because I think my boys are aware that they do not necessary fit the norm, or be quite the way others are.
“But I think that here, not only is it ok to be themselves, they can celebrate who they are.”
Ms Beecham also highlighted the benefits she gets from the classes and the charity as a whole.
“It’s good for me, because I can look at them and have that sense of real pride, it’s not that I don’t have it at other times, but I’m so busy firefighting and looking for hazards to put out, that I don’t have much time to sit back and appreciate and enjoy my boys and be proud, whereas here, I came and see them doing karate and I’m incredibly proud.”
Classes are taught by Sensei Tony Sakim of the Bu’sen Academy in Twickenham, and he says children and their siblings learn much more than just karate.
“Their confidence grows, what they learn here, they take with them for the rest of their life.”
Karate classes run every Tuesday at 4:45pm at The Crossway Centre in East Twickenham.