MISAWA AIR BASE, JAPAN-- Military children have lots of unique opportunities available to them, and one such opportunity is the kajukenbo karate class offered at Misawa Air Base. A hybrid martial art that combines karate, judo, jujutsu, kenpo and kung-fu, kajukenbo is helping these military children stay fit.
One particpant of the class, Jarrell Abram, has lost 10 pounds while taking the class. Previously diagnosed as pre-diabetic, Jarrell says he's happy he's practicing kajukenbo.
"I was thinking about doing tae kwon do, but instead I did kajukenbo, and I'm glad that I chose it," Jarrell says.
Children ages 6 and up come Tuesdays and Thursdays to work with Russell Sparks, the class leader.
"It's a mixed-martial arts class," he says. "We have mostly kids in here, but we also have a few adults that are in the class, too."
Together, they work on different katas, or hand-to-hand defensive movements that have specific purposes. Kajukenbo is a defensive discipline, designed to aid students if they encounter a bad situation. The martial art traces its origins to 1940s Oahu, HI, where locals created the fighting style in order to defend themselves against drunken sailors.
"I think it's important parents and the military all realize we have a lot of kids here, and we need to have programs that help support them and help them to better their self-esteem and their own abilities they have," Sparks says.