The karate kids


The karate kids

As a child Steve Drake’s only recourse against bullying was a course in martial arts. Now, equipped with all the self-defence skills, he’s making sure that shy children discover structure and focus

By Joyce Njeri

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Published: Tue 19 Aug 2008, 10:28 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 2:50 PM

A BULLYING incident in the early years of his schooling made a huge impact, albeit for the better, on young Steve Drake’s life.

And as they say, all the rest is history, as this is where the martial arts trainer got his calling. Steve told his parents about his intentions to join a professional martial arts school, but his parents flatly refused. “I used to carry golf bags as a caddy for players and I would get some quid to pay for my training,” he says.

Art and discipline

For a good number of years, Steve sought solace in the only thing that made him happy: martial arts. “At the age of 13 I studied karate, and for me it was more about winning tournaments than learning the art and discipline. After some years, the drive led me to join the Professional Karate Association as a successful fighter and instructor.”

I joined Steve at the Wellington International School where he’s imparting his combat skills to students.

The school is currently hosting summer camp for children drawn from schools across the UAE.

One of the activities the youngsters are engaging in is e-sport, where a number of sport motions are being offered. The summer vacation in the country lasts about ten weeks, and during this period, many parents enrol their children in summer camps for a variety of reasons.

Sometimes the child has watched a television show or movie that features different games like in the Olympics, and they think it would be a fun thing to try.

Young energetic

Sometimes parents bring in children looking for a place to burn off their excess energy. Many parents are also looking for a place to help children learn discipline and respect.

Regardless of the reason, the benefits and skills learnt are countless.

Since martial arts programmes tend to focus on defence techniques, many parents find the lessons useful in assisting children who may be victims of bullying at school.

Without teaching a child to become aggressive, martial arts can provide a child with the necessary tools to ward off the school bully through a powerful mind and body connection.

During the training, I realised how he managed to take command of a class of young energetic kids, effectively teaching them a new skill while maintaining control of their short attention span.

He knows just how to make learning fun, as youngsters who were just starting out giggly and shy, unsure of their budding talent.

But after a few hours, kids left the training room exuding strength with some self-assured attitude to boot. How does he do that?

“Well, when I look at these youngsters, it takes me back to when I started to take a keen interest in the game, and therefore I feel like I’m almost their age,” Steve says.

Rewarding experiences

The level one Mixed Martial Arts induction classes are both violent, and Steve instructs in a fun environment that is educational and entertaining. These classes focus on teaching students good manners, anger management, goal setting, team building and street awareness.

Isn’t he worried that whatever the youngsters are learning, they might use against their fellow students?.

“Martial arts is one of the most rewarding experiences for a child these days,” he says, adding the skills and techniques they learn they transfer to school, with focus and discipline being paramount. I have seen this phenomenon with many other children over the years, children who were previously receiving punishment on a regular basis. After a few months of martial arts training, they begin to channel their newfound inner strength during the school day in a positive manner.”

The young trainees, drawn from different schools across the country were all over joyous over their new-found confidence.

A recreational activity

For brothers Ramy and Karim Nached, the importance of learning martial arts skills cannot be emphasised enough. “The techniques boost not only physical health but also mental health,” Ramy says.

“Providing a health benefit, many young guys like us are turning to martial arts as not only a recreational activity but one that fosters an improvement in overall health,” Karim adds.

Kian Najmechi puts it best: “After some lessons on martial arts, there is a notable boost in selfesteem, because the skills are taught as a method for self defence, there’s that sudden shot in self-esteem and confidence as well.

This is especially true for kids who are generally considered to be unassertive.”

Keyan Sarreafzadeh echoes the same sentiments: “With lessons in martial arts techniques, shy and timid children soon become more assertive in varying aspects of life outside of the classroom,” he says.

Speaking like pros, students Sabir Ansari, Sacha Crighton, Samar Saif and Robert Findlay looked like they were already in the game. “Some of us might want to take the techniques learnt further, and who knows we might become professionals and participate in Olympics,” they say.

Ability to focus

Steve says in terms of physical and psychological help, martial arts has been shown to make a profound impact on children, and adults, with attention problems. “Because children who suffer from ADHD commonly lack the ability to focus and concentrate, martial arts, through repetition and structure, provide some structure and focus to the student’s life,” he says.


THE DUBAI Self Defence Company offers Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and Self Defence training all across the UAE.

The 10-lesson Self Defence programme is designed to prepare one for the worst possible situations. Chances are, your possible assailant will be armed, have intent to harm you and have accomplices.

He picks the time and the place.

This programme takes all the combat-effective methods of the martial arts and condences them in a programme that can be learned easily and applied to any situation imaginable. One learns how to use only a handful of selected, high impact, techniques with the proper strategy and attitude to ensure safety.

Interested people don’t have to be in awesome shape, incredibly strong or an elite athlete to do it. All one needs is the will to survive. For a free self-defence lesson, contact Steve Drake on 050 244 7590.

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