St. Patrick, Wichita, students learning judo

Greg Gideon teaches judo to students of St. Patrick Catholic School in Wichita.

Martial arts class also focuses on faith and on discipline

Greg Gideon, above, and Carlos Beltran, left, teach judo to students of St. Patrick Catholic School in Wichita. They and Greg’s brother, Mark, began teaching judo last school year to students at All Saints Catholic School in Wichita. Although the youth learn a martial art, they also learn about their faith, about respect, giving their best, and discipline. (Advance photos)

Students at St. Patrick Catholic School in Wichita are likely more captivated by the novelty and the physicality of judo than they are by how the martial arts build character.

Brothers Greg and Mark Gideon and Carlos Beltran, all of whom have black belts in judo, are teaching judo to third through eighth grade students in two weekly classes at the inner-city school.

Blackbelt Carlos Beltran assists two St. Patrick students.

But teaching the Japanese martial art, which means “gentle way,” is about 50 percent of their tasks, Greg said.

“The first 50 percent is the formation of the student. And to that, we go back to our program pillars: faith in God, respecting yourself and others, understanding and believing in your gifts, always giving your best, and the value of discipline.”

The pillars are the foundations that help the trio of black belts structure their learning environment.

It’s not that the children aren’t also receiving that formation in other classes, Greg said, “but if we do our job with that 50 percent of the formation, then we can get to the judo. And in doing that we form the young people in a broader way than just learning a martial art or a sports activity.”

The Gideons said they have received tremendous support from Principals Joyce Frederiksen at All Saints and Brandon Relph at St. Patrick’s, in addition to Superintendent of Catholic Schools Janet Eaton.

“We do not do this without their vigorous support,” Greg said. “For me, personally, Father James Weldon has been instrumental in our spiritual formation that made this entire effort possible.”

Mark added that the judo instructors and Janet Eaton have been discussing a possible expansion of the classes to Holy Savior and St. Margaret Mary schools.

They started teaching judo last school year at All Saints School in Wichita and have instructed for many years at Wichita State University and Newman University.

(The article about All Saints’ judo classes is available here.)