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Martial Arts – A Moms Perspective

When our son, Oliver, was 4 he played a season of his first organized sport: soccer.  Like many of the kids, he really had no concept of the game, and his real interest was talking to his friends.  By the end of the season it was obvious: he may have had fun, but soccer really wasn’t his “thing”.
Fast forward to the next year, and instead of playing a sport during the summer, our sweet boy was having surgery on both of his Achilles’ tendons and recovering with a lot of physical therapy.  He had been born with bilateral clubfoot and needed an additional surgery.  It was a hard time for all of us, but his happy demeanor kept him going. He started kindergarten and our focus was helping him learn to walk again.
Throughout kindergarten and as he entered first grade, it was obvious that he was having some struggles at school.  He was very impulsive.  He had always had a high level of energy and it was becoming increasingly harder for him to focus and behave at school.  And while he always liked being around kids, he had some social quirks that were unusual.
Oliver started talking again about wanting to do some kind of sport.  He mentioned karate, and in September 2015 he went to his first class.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Neither my husband or myself came from a background with martial arts, and while I thought it could be a good thing for Oliver, I also knew that if the sensei was too strict or harsh, it would crush Oliver’s spirits.  Thankfully, it was a perfect fit and after the first class Oliver was signed up.
Less than 2 weeks after starting karate, Oliver had some struggles at school that led us to begin looking more into his behaviors.  When Oliver missed a couple of classes as a result of appointments, his sensei reached out to us to ask if things were ok.  I explained that Oliver was beginning behavioral therapy for suspected ADHD.  His sensei was kind and encouraging, and it was exactly the support we needed as parents. It felt like we had a partner, someone willing to come alongside us during a difficult season.  Within a few months’ time we had a confirmed diagnosis of ADHD and autism.
Karate gave Oliver a structure where he thrived.  The expectations of him were high, but not unreasonable.  Respect, dedication, and responsibility were only a few of the life skills that were instilled in Oliver from the beginning.  As parents, we now had someone else who could support our child and who we could turn to when we needed extra help.
Did things change overnight? No.  There were misbehaviors and consequences, but instead of those being negative punishments they were learning opportunities.  In fact, I think the learning went both ways as Oliver and his sensei learned a lot about life from each other.   Five years almost to the day that he started karate, Oliver tested for his black belt and passed.  It was the hardest physical and mental test he had ever done, and at only 11 years old he achieved something many people will never do in their lifetime.
Oliver is now 12 and finishing his sixth grade year.  Starting middle school in 2020 was less than ideal and came with a lot of challenges.  During this time, the dojo continued to be a place of consistency for Oliver.   He has been able to help younger students and experience what it is like to be a leader.  He is accepted by adults and peers alike, not in spite of his challenges, but for who he is as a person.  The confidence I see in Oliver now compared to when he first started karate is truly amazing.  Oliver has “grown up” in the dojo and we can’t wait to see how karate continues to impact his life.
Additional Resources:
Dr. Matthew Dobbs, clubfoot specialist
9 Benefits of Martial Arts for Kids Who Learn and Think Differently
About the Guest Author: Lyndsey Gillespie graduated from Ball State University with a BS in US History and is married to Jay Gillespie with three wonderful children (Oliver, Lucy and Max.) Oliver and Max are both students at Premier Martial Arts. Lyndsey can be reached with any questions at

Premier Martial Arts has been in business for more than 20 years, and since our founding in 1998 we have helped thousands of students of all ages realize their full potential. Premier Martial Arts delivers a best-in-class martial arts experience that helps our students develop the personal skills that are necessary to build a successful life. Our mastery of teaching martial arts over the past two decades is evident in our structured and thorough curriculum, which is standardized across our 100+ locations across the United States, Canada and England.

Our curriculum focuses on character development far beyond the importance of self-defense. We teach our young students how to respect their elders, how to be accountable, how to focus and how to stay in shape in a fun and exciting atmosphere. We empower our adult students with the self-confidence to overcome anxieties and trauma, in an environment that fosters inclusion and social belonging.

Premier Martial Arts Fort Wayne founded in 2015 by 6th Degree Black Belt and Master Instructor Ron Kuhn. Master Kuhn had a distinguished management & engineering career working for such companies as Verizon, NIPSCO, Frontier Communications and Mediacom. In 2019 he made the decision to operate his Martial Arts School fulltime which has always been his lifelong dream. That one location has grown to three in the City of Fort Wayne.


Master Ron Kuhn is married to his wife Anita (retired Special Needs Teacher) of 27 years. They have three wonderful daughters, Jordan, Ally and Katie. Jordan is a nurse who lives in Indianapolis. Ally has a computer science and business background and works with her dad at Premier Martial Arts. Katie is Chemical Engineering graduate and works in the pharmaceutical industry in Indianapolis.


Premier Martial Arts of Fort Wayne operates three locations:

North – 10240 Coldwater Road, Fort Wayne, IN 46825 (Coldwater & DuPont)

East – 10154 Maysville Road, Fort Wayne, IN 46835 (Chapel Hill Area)

Southwest – 9906 Illinois Road Fort Wayne, IN 46804 (Scott & Illinois Road)




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