Teachers at Stanah Primary School have come up with a novel way of preparing pupils for class – Taekwondo.
Youngsters at the school, in Lambs Road, have been limbering up for lessons by taking part in martial arts sessions every Tuesday morning.
Headteacher Hamish Clough said: “It’s a wonderful and exciting opportunity for the children to exercise and be healthy in a different way.
“Taekwondo is a sport that supports and promotes life skills we teach in school, such as motivation and discipline.
“There’s 20-odd children who take part every week and they are ready to come into class and learn afterwards.
“Their minds and bodies are stimulated and they have already started to learn so they are perceptive and open.”
Lee Heyes, from Northern Taekwondo which runs sessions at schools across the Fylde coast, said the children are benefiting both mentally and physically from the early morning bouts, which start at 7.50am.
He said: “First thing in the morning, the children are full of energy and this burns some of that energy and puts them in really good stead. They are ready to learn.”
And rather than simply teaching youngsters the best way to beat each other up, Taekwondo instils five key tenets of the Korean martial art: Courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit.
Lee said: “There are rules that have to be followed like any other sport and the children are not allowed to use their moves at school or outside but there’s more to it than that. We do exercises like how to control their breath and how to focus their minds, so it’s not just about sparring.
“The children have to show respect as well. They have to bow for example.
“Their attitude is just as important as their technique when it comes to getting their next belt.
“It’s all connected. You can’t have one without the other.”
Pupils at the school have already proved a force to be reckoned with. Year 4 pupil Ella Heyes – Lee’s daughter – is a black belt and was one of the youngest in the world to receive such an honour.
Ella was just three-and-a-half-years old when she took up the discipline and was immersed in the world of Taekwondo from such an early age that she could count to ten in Korean before she mastered English numbers.
Proud mum Laura, who is also a martial arts instructor, said: “Taekwondo is a great discipline for children. It teaches them self-control and helps to keep them fit at the same time.”
For a free trial session, call Lee on 07779275207 or visit www.northerntaekwondo.co.uk and mention The Gazette.