By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — Many people feel threatened in today’s society, whether it be from a bully at school or work, a kidnapping or an active shooting. Some kids at Newkirk Elementary School (NES) and Newkirk Middle School (NMS) are taking their safety into their own hands, however, as they are learning martial arts and self-defense concepts to keep themselves, and others, safe.
The program is part of the NASA (Newkirk After School Academy) program, which takes place after school from 3:15 to 5 p.m. for NES and NMS students. The NASA program began with the fall 2018 semester, and has proven popular with students who wish to be immersed in learning new concepts outside of school.
The self-defense program was inaugurated with the spring 2020 NASA semester, with a martial arts instructor from Ponca City. The program was brought to NASA at the suggestion of Kim Shanks, whose children already take part in a partial parts program in Ponca City.
“My son takes karate, and I know how beneficial this has been for him, so I want that for these kids,” she said.
As with all martial arts, the goal of the class is not to teach combat or fighting skills, but to instill discipline and self-defense in the students. Among the lessons the students learn are self respect, self discipline, coordination, flexibility and motor skills increase.
Self defense is a leading factor in the program.
“If someone is trying to grab you, you learn what to do, how loud to be and learn the movements of how to break free and escape,” said NASA Coordinator Tonya Mott.
They also learn to assess the situation and determine if they may be in danger.
“They learn what to do if someone is following them, is suspicious,” Shanks said. “They have that feeling that they’re not safe, so they learn how to defend themselves, what to do if that person attacked them.”
There are currently 15 students taking part in the program, but as the NASA activities rotate each month, the number of participants is expected to increase.
“There are 50 kids that want in there,” Mott said. “The kids that don’t want to come to school, will not miss NASA, because they don’t want to miss that class.”