I Am Local 6: Joshua Smith Teaches Karate to Kids and Adults with Autism

Karate is predominately a striking art that uses punching, kicking, knee strikes, elbow strikes and open hand techniques.  It places emphasis on self development in a positive way.  The back of a tanning salon is an unlikely place for a karate dojo.  Sensei Joshua Smith, owner of World Champion Karate Academy, teaches an unlikely group of students.

"It’s really not that much different than any of the other classes I teach," said Smith.

Students in the class all have some form of autism in the Josh’s Giants program.

"I have tailored it ever so slightly, but not in the huge amounts that you might think," said Smith.

The ages range from the young to the older to the furry.

"One of my students brings his little stuffed penguin with him.  I’ll let the student kick the bag.  Then, I’ll let the bird kick the bag," said Smith.

Karate not only helps these students physically, but emotionally and mentally.

"They were really nervous when they first started.  Now, they just come in here, and they have a good time, and the looks on their faces are just amazing," said Smith.

Everyone just received their yellow belts, and they will continue to train for their black belts.

"These kids and adults have probably been told their whole lives that they can’t do this and they can’t do that.  That’s not really the case," said Smith.

Karate takes heart, and, once a week, the dojo becomes full.

Smith didn’t know very much about autism before starting the program.  He thanks the parents for their support and help during classes.  For more information on the World Champion Karate Academy, click here.

If you know of a coach or instructor teaching an extraordinary group of students, you may contact Tori Shaw at tshaw@wpsdlocal6.com.  Shaw may be contacted via Facebook and Twitter.

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