How to Help your child overcome ADHD without medicating = karate lessons and life skill development.
Does your child struggle with ADHD? Check out what one of our young black belt wrote about her journey to black belt and how it helped her to take control of her ADHD.
My Black Belt Journey with ADHD.
By: Julieanna Luzunaris
My black belt journey began when I was 5 years old and I started training at Middleburg Martial Arts as a tiny tiger. As a tiny tiger, I learned many new things like counting in Korean, staying still and remaining focused. As I trained more and more my skills became better. I was able to test for my first belt right away. I was training 4 days a week in the AMP program. The extra training paid off because I became a better marital artist.
Once I finished with all of the tiny tiger belts, I moved up to the little dragon program. I moved up in belt ranks very fast. At this time I was able to train but I started having a hard time staying focused and my mind would wonder. I would learn the forms but I was not able to remember all of it. I was taught to be focused at all times but that was not easy for me to do anymore. I had to work really hard to maintain my focus during class, but I continued with my training. As my training continued and the material became harder with every new belt my struggle with remembering became bigger and bigger. I would get frustrated when I was not able to remember the info I had just learned. My parents also struggled trying to figure out why I was having issues remembering thing and being able to process new things.
My struggles with ADHD began when I was in the second grade. I had problems concentrating, focusing and with self-control. When you learn karate you have to have self-control and I was not physically or mentally able to. My parents took me to the doctor so that the doctor could tell me what was wrong. That is when he said that I had ADHD and I needed medicine to help with all of the issues that I was having. Once I started to take the medicine, I was able to focus and my karate became better again. I was able to learn the forms, grabs and how to spar. I felt very happy with myself.
Not many people at karate know that I struggle with ADHD. I have been able to train and learn what is required it just takes me a little bit longer to memorize and to do the forms. I have to think things out before I do them. My ADHD makes processing information more difficult unless I take my medication. I have to work on forms, grabs, kicks and hand techniques at home with my parents and sister in order to be able to remember on how to do them. I have been able to learn all of the material even though I have ADHD.
With every new belt that I have had to test for there has been a challenge. I have to study a little harder than most students and I have to practice at home too. I don’t think of myself as being different that anyone else. I see myself as having a different gift than someone without ADHD. Most people see kids with ADHD as being problem children and that is not true when it comes to me. I work really hard to get good grades and to be well behaved. My karate training has helped me in these areas that I sometimes struggle with. I keep the seven tenants of Tang Soo Do in my head so that it will help me in school, home and everywhere else I go.
Karate has helped me in many areas of my life. Karate has taught me that if you want something you have to work hard in order to get it. I have been able to teach with cit, I have participated in demos; I am able to speak in public without fear, completed black belt camp and went to worlds. All of these wonderful things that I have been able to learn to make me a better person would have never happen if my mom did not take me to the studio. Most kids with ADHD are unable to do sports because of not being able to stay focused and committed to something. Karate has shown me that no matter what you can do anything that you put your mind to.
Throughout the years I have been able to meet new friends while training at Middleburg Martial Arts. My sister trained at the same time I did. She got her black belt last year, so I have a good role model to look up to. I have had struggles with written test and being able to retain all of the info that is required with every new belt level that I have had to learn. My parents, sister and instructors have helped me along the way. They have made sure that I understand, and I am able to do what is required for whatever belt I am working on. I am thankful for all of the instructors and fellow students that have kept me motivated and have made work hard for this great accomplishment.
I hope that my story will encourage someone else with ADHD or a disability to try something new; whether it is karate or a sport. My mom has always told me that I could do or be whatever I wanted to be as long as I worked hard. My journey to becoming a black belt has not been an easy or a short one, but it is something that I will take with me for the rest of my life.
I would like to thank my instructors for investing their time and effort in my journey. I also would like to thank my parents for encouraging me to continue with karate even when I did not want to train. Without the support system of my family and my karate family I am pretty sure I would not be here today getting ready to take my black belt test. I am blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life, and to all of them from the bottom of my heart Thank you.
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