Standing Tall: How Karate Helps Kids Build Confidence

Moms know best. That’s what they say. So when Monica Samora signed her son Dareyan up for martial arts training, she was banking on maternal instinct.

“We came up up from Trinidad [Colorado] to Longmont,” she recalls, “because Dareyan needed a change of environment.” The schools and society were different. “Longmont offers a lot for him,” she says. A plentitude of teachers and counselors. School enrichment programs. A more diverse social culture.

It also proved a bit overwhelming for a small-town kid in the big city. Dareyan had a hard time, at first, making friends and keeping up with school.

Enter karate.

Dareyan’s a high-blue belt now. And mom says the progress from white belt has been enormous.

“When he started his fifth-grade year, it was still a little hard, social-wise,” says Monica. “He’d ask ‘Mom, please walk with me. Stay by me.’ After six months in karate, he’s like ‘Mom, thank you. You don’t have to stand with me. I’ll see you at the gate.’”

His teachers recognized the change, too. Including his horseback riding instructor. “He does horseback riding, one day a week. They say he’s advanced, he’s already advanced with his balance. And that’s because of karate.”

Training at Ripple Effect Martial Arts puts kids under pressure. This has been especially helpful to Dareyan.

“[Head Instructors] Mr. Wagoner and Mr. Hunter don’t give him slack,” says Monica. “They push him. But they say ‘You can do it Dareyan.’ They take him to the side. ‘You can do this. You’ve come this far. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be discouraged.’”

He’ll still have tough days, of course. “One day the teacher watched him being bullied, but she didn’t step in,” says Monica. “Before he would’ve cried. This time he just said ‘You’re in my bubble. Step out.’ The teacher told us about this, about his confidence.”

Monica attributes this stand-up to the karate curriculum, instruction and environment. “The tests,” she says, “at green, purple, green belt, they’re serious. Sparring, taking punches from [Mr.] Musselmann, he would have never done anything like that. Who knew. Make contact. Don’t run away. It’s amazing.”

“‘They believe in me, they think I can do it,’” he says. “They say ‘believe in yourself.’ And he does.”

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