Beals get kicks from martial arts
By CANDY REAGAN /
Abilene Families Editor
Martial arts started out as a simple day-care activity for young Daniel Beal but has since turned into a fun, extracurricular for the whole Beal family.
“We typically spend a bunch of family time in here,” Raymond Beal said of Universal Martial Arts, where he and his two children take classes. “This is something that the whole family can do. And all the stuff you learn here – balance, coordination, self-discipline – can help you in anything else you do.”
For instance Beal’s 10-year-old daughter, Tansy, started taking martial arts to help her with her first love – soccer.
“It really, really helped me with my balance for soccer,” Tansy said.
Beal has had an interest in martial arts since he was young, and when his son started taking classes, it gave him the opportunity to get back involved himself.
“I started out in high school and right after,” Beal said. “But I’ve always worked in the oil field, and I never had a set schedule, so I never was able to pursue it.”
When Daniel started taking Mike Nottingham’s Little Ninja’s program, Beal discovered that Nottingham also taught Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and started taking classes. Then when Daniel, now 7, entered school, both Daniel and Tansy took advantage of Nottingham’s after-school program. Beal said he wanted Tansy to take the program to help her with her coordination.
“She hit a growth spurt and shot up 2 or 3 inches,” Beal said. “It helped her with her coordination and her balance and her self-awareness. She started martial arts because we said she needed to do it, but then she realized that it was helping her balance.”
Now, the Beals are at Universal Martial Arts almost every day of the week. In addition to the after-school program, Daniel takes the Little Ninja program and Tae Kwon Do on Tuesday and Thursdays, and Beal himself takes Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes, usually four times a week.
Plus, Beal and Daniel are usually sparring and taking classes on Saturdays.
Beal said he likes the benefits martial arts offer his children.
First and foremost is discipline, he said, but close behind is balance, coordination and self-defense. He said he likes Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and American Kenpo because they are more practical for self-defense.
“I really wanted something for my family that was applicable to real life situations,” Beal said. “The American Kenpo is different than the olympic style Tae Kwon Do. With most Tae Kwon Do, you have a lot of kicks which is great, and it looks good. The American Kenpo teaches you to attack not only pressure points but the nervous system. It’s a more friendly way of knocking an opponent out. It’s built on speed with your hands and your feet – you’ll hit your opponent with 6-15 different strikes within a second.”
Also, martial arts have helped his children stay physically fit and have taught them leadership skills, particularly Daniel, who likes to assist with other classes.
“He likes to just hang out there and help out,” his father said. “The leadership benefit is very evident in him. He actually stays and helps out by holding the bag. And a different person leads the class each time. They are learning to be leaders.”
That in turn is good for their self-confidence.
Kimberly Beal said she has seen the difference in her daughter’s fitness since she has taken martial arts.
“She slimmed down,” Mrs. Beal said. “You could tell. She was toned. She could run and do everything in soccer.”
Although Mrs. Beal does not take any classes herself, she goes with her family and enjoys watching her son spar. Her husband said she knows so much about martial arts now that she can correct the children when they are making a mistake.
Mrs. Beal said she likes the fact that her children and her husband are having fun, learning self-defense and doing something together.
“He’ll come home and show Daniel, ‘This is what I learned,’” she said. “They practice at home. It’s something they enjoy – it’s not something we make them do.”
Daniel loves it so much that he has gone to several tournaments and is not afraid to take on kids who are bigger than him.
“He’s wrestling with kids that outweigh him by his body weight,” his dad said. “He holds his own and about half the time, he wins. It surprises everyone.”
Beal said it will be up to his son to decide if he wants to get serious enough about martial arts to continue to compete at tournaments and other events.
“If at some point, if he says, ‘this isn’t for me,’ then fine,” Beal said. “He might not want to compete at tournaments, but I don’t think he will ever quit doing martial arts.”
“It’s a good way to get some exercise, stay in shape and help your coordination. It’s just a plus all around.”