MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WLNS) — Premier Martial Arts in Okemos has a busy week ahead.

After teachers reached out to him, Damon Stirling, program director at PMA, is headed to Red Cedar Elementary to share martial arts with young kids as part of their ABCs of Success program. 

He will be there three days this week and will be working with all of the students in their PE classes. He says this is a great opportunity for students to learn how they can be physically fit and develop their minds as well.

Stirling said the studio teaches ages 3-73, but currently, they have 115 kids that seem to be keeping them busy. The kids at his studio and at Red Cedar Elementary are being taught important lessons such as discipline and self-control.  

”I really believe that the mental development these kids get, the self-confidence, learning the self-control, self-discipline, focus; these words mean a lot to our students,” Stirling said.

Stirling noted that his kids are learning how to protect themselves and how to use their minds to walk away from trouble before they even have to get physical. 

“And then knowing that they can physically take care of themselves, we live in a world where unfortunately self-defense is a very necessary skill,” Stirling said. 

One of his students, 8-year-old Ricardo Carralero, has joined the black belt program at Premier Martial Arts, and is looking forward to graduating in roughly three years.

He learned a ‘jab, overhand right, uppercut, back leg roundhouse’ sequence in his last class. 

Carralero said he is excited so he can graduate and have lots of fun.

“And if people try to do stuff, like what we’ve learned here, then we can get out of it,” Carralero said.

Stirling believes that the mental development his students get, as well as the confidence they can get in knowing how to protect themselves, plays a huge part in the impact this practice has on them. 

He said he’s proud and it’s great to see his students grow and become more confident in themselves and how they treat other people. 

“They’re learning to love and respect themselves and be strong internally through what they’re learning here and that truly gets us in here as instructors and directors. We’re truly passionate to watch these kids grow and develop here. And were rewarded with that every single day it’s awesome,” Stirling said. 

He says working on those skill sets are going to make them not just better at the studio, but at school, at home and out in the general public.