Originally created as an after-school program by Hidy Ochiai in the spring of 1984, the Educational Karate Program (EKP) focuses on helping children to learn at an early age the principles of self-respect, respect for others, self-control, and violence prevention strategies. EKP encourages students to realize the importance of both physical and mental health by promoting the idea of peace with one’s self and with others: a true attitude against violence.
During EKP classes, children frequently work together (in pairs and groups) to master specific skills. These sessions help promote group unity and a classroom atmosphere that is conducive to mutual assessment, self-competition, and skill building. The program blends the comprehension of concepts with experiences of participation and conflict resolution and is taught during the children’s regular physical education classes by their own teachers.
Teachers, as well as students, benefit from EKP. EKP trained and certified teachers have expressed a sense of empowerment, improved positive self-esteem, satisfaction with the balance of physical and mental self-defense techniques of the program, and a feeling of being “recharged” in their teaching efforts. The grade specific (Kindergarten through Grade 12) curriculum covers the important essentials of:
- Physical and mental self-defense techniques,
- Attitudinal practices toward self and others,
- Violence prevention strategies and
- Abduction prevention skills for children.
EKP has trained over nine hundred teachers throughout New York State and the state of Massachusetts. While the ideal teacher for EKP is a certified physical education teacher, the program encourages teachers of health, family life, and special education to be trained in EKP also. No special facilities or equipment are necessary to implement the program.
The program has a two-way approach: the in-school EKP, taught by the children’s own teachers, and Community EKP, which encourages parents, guardians or significant adults to participate with their child in an after school/evening setting. Because of its active-learning components, Community EKP is attractive to adults and children alike.