Testimonials

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22 July 2011

Dear Sensei Wayne,
 

This is a letter of gratitude that has been a long time in coming. In late June, James graduated from high school. He is a happy and confident young man who will be attending the university of his choice in September.

James has come a long way, and John and I know he didn’t get there all by himself. Karate For All played an important part.

I remember the first time I spoke to you. I was writing a newsletter article about your karate class for CHOC patients. I remember you telling me how children with special needs are often bullied. I commented on how awful it must be for a child to survive a serious medical condition, like cancer, a congenital heart disorder a serious illness or accident — only to be bulled upon returning to school and what should be a normal childhood.

Then you told me how children with any difference or special needs are often bullied. You pointed out this program was also for kids with asthma, autism, ADHD, vision problems, developmental disorders, speech disorders, coordination — Karate for All was really for all kids. I also remember the passion in your voice as you talked about teaching children to defend themselves.

I tucked those words away in my heart.

We’d been dealing with periodic bullying since kindergarten. During elementary school, talking to the bully’s parents, teachers and, as needed, the principal had gotten satisfactory results.

But junior high was different. One weekend, about six months after I’d interviewed you for the article, we discovered bruises on James’ body. He reluctantly told us what had happened. We immediately contacted the school. The result: The principal assured us that the bully was really “a nice boy who was very good at sports.”

Needless to say, this was not at all satisfactory. We told James to do whatever he needed to do in order to defend himself. This was tough. James has always been a gentle, kind-hearted, sensitive person. He was also reluctant to defend himself because he’d been taught about “zero tolerance” ever since kindergarten. He was concerned that if he tried to fight back, he’d be expelled. (I told him if that happened, I’d take him to Disneyland. I don’t think he believed me, but I absolutely would have.)

Having lost faith in that school to help at all, my next call was to you, Sensei Wayne. You immediately invited James to attend the next karate class.

I remember on the drive up to Orange, James was reluctant about the idea. However, during the very first class you demonstrated self-defense moves and techniques, including how to get out of a neck hold. Imagine how John and I felt during the drive home that evening when we heard his voice pipe up from the backseat: “That so would have helped with D_____”

As James continued with the classes over the years and worked for his black belt, we saw him grow more confident. My friends noticed that he was carrying himself differently. The karate helped him build focus, concentration and physical strength.

The bullying became a thing of the past. As far as we know, James has not been bullied since starting the classes and learning how to defend himself.

I also remember how delighted I was that James was learning karate under the watchful eye of a licensed pediatric occupational therapist. Having had James professionally evaluated for just about everything else, this was like icing on the cake.

James met several wonderful new friends at Karate For All. These are truly nice kids forced to learn at a young age how to cope with some of life’s greatest challenges. It was wonderful to watch James develop his social skills within such a nurturing and positive environment.

You, Sensei Wayne, and your staff are wonderful role models, particularly for boys and young men.

As James transitions into adulthood and independence, I have to say it really does take a village to raise a child. John and I could not have taught James these essential skills on our own. As one parent to another, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Thank you, Sensei Wayne, for teaching James how to defend himself. He will have these skills for life.

Most sincerely,
Pamela Westcott