For a 10-year-old boy, Lucas Gribble is very calm and well-behaved. There is a sense of impishness behind his expressive blue eyes, but controlled energy surrounds him as he sits cross-legged on a dojo mat.
A dojo is a training place used for Japanese martial arts. The one Lucas attends teaches aikido.
"I don't like karate because it's more aggressive than defensive," he says, drumming his fingers on the mat. "I'm not that violent. But I've learned a lot of different moves for when I was bullied at school."
Aikido is a Japanese martial art that is neither confrontational nor aggressive. It employs holds and locks and goes with the flow of the opponent's force to bring them down.
Rob Gribble, Lucas' father, feels the school system of dealing with bullying is a bit ineffective.
"As you can see from video clips on YouTube and the news articles of what goes on in schools, it's crazy," he adds. "Aikido allowed Lucas to deal with that sort of thing more confidently."
He says there have been a couple of incidents of bullying at school, but his son's new skills are proving effective.
"Lucas used a technique on one occasion to fend off the blow," he says. "It gives him a little edge against people like that in school."
Mr Gribble, who has done about six different styles of martial arts himself, says the main benefit he's seen in his son is that Lucas seems a lot calmer and spends less time on the computer and more with his mates.
Tanya Trower, Lucas' sensei or teacher, says Lucas has come a long way with his concentration.
"It's really good in terms of helping children with their concentration and focus. They could be quite skittish from watching TV and playing computer games.
"What aikido teaches them is to centre themselves, focus on their bodies and to be grounded."
Ms Trower explains aikido is a philosophy as well. The principle is using an attacker's energy against them.
"Many parents are drawn to it as a martial art for their children because it's not about kicking and punching," she says.
She says it empowers children without making them aggressive.
"We teach them to respond positively to people and emotionally charged situations, rather than responding with aggression."
Mr Gribble says aikido gives father and son a chance to spend time together as well, as they practise different techniques.
Lucas adds that he prefers meeting friends at the dojo than chatting online. "I'd rather come here than play computer games," he says.
Aikido Eden Terrace is holding a free workshop for children.
Date: Thursday, January 26
Venue: Upstairs 38 Monmouth St, Eden Terrace.
Contact: Tanya Trower 021 839804 0r email: email@example.com
See www.aikido.org.nz for details of adult classes and locations.
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