92 All Saints students take part in weekly martial arts classes
Greg Gideon assists one of his judo students during a class last week at All Saints Catholic School in Wichita. Greg and his brother, Mark, say the Japanese martial art helps with their physical, mental, and moral development. (Advance photos)
Mark Gideon assists a student as another practices a tumble.
The judo instructors at All Saints Catholic School in Wichita hope the mental discipline acquired by students in learning the “gentle way” transfers to their behavior – and spiritual lives.
Greg Gideon, one of the instructors, said they start classes by reviewing one of the five pillars of the class, the first one of which is faith in God.
“Today, for example, we went through “Always Giving Your Best” and related that to their schoolwork, to what they’re doing in class, how they interact with their parents, and how that’s an important life skill for them to learn,” he said.
Each class is broken into two parts: teaching the youth what they need to know in a “life sense;” and, then, judo.
Greg and his brother, Mark, began working last summer with All Saints Principal Joyce Frederiksen and teachers to develop a Catholic School Judo Program. Ninety-two fourth- through eighth-grade students are taking part in one of two 43-minute weekly classes this school year.
The Gideons and Carlos Beltran, who assists, are judo black belt holders whose stewardship and enthusiasm for the program has resulted in about $13,000 in donations to purchase a large number of mats, a two-piece white garment called a gi for each of the students, and racks for the judogis.
Because of the popularity of the class at All Saints, St. Patrick and Holy Savior schools have expressed interest in taking part in the Catholic School Judo Program, Greg said.
Frederiksen said the program helps students learn about their bodies, about balance, and how to develop a strong discipline, a behavior that ties to their faith.
The martial arts program began last year with an invitation for Catholic school students to attend Judo Jamborees at Newman University, but because of transportation challenges, the instruction this year was brought to the students.
“It’s been an amazing program,” Frederiksen said, adding that some of the students have already been promoted from white (beginner) belts to the next level, yellow.
Greg and Mark both taught judo for five years at Wichita State University and are now in their fourth year at Newman.
“As we began trying to see where our best fit was in the community and as we became more deeply involved in the Catholic community both with our own faith and service, we saw that there was an opportunity to work with the schools,” Greg said.
“It’s been a wonderful opportunity for us. We love what we’re doing and giving back to our community and the kids.”