The influence of kenpo in the general development of a child with SEN (special educative needs)


The origin of teaching as a school for social formation is placed in the eastern countries with masters such as Confucius and Lao Tse, 400 bc. From them we have inherited the art of teaching and many essencial values to create an harmonious and peaceful society, all of these we can find in their doctrines.
Lao-Tse picked it up in his book "Tao Te King" with his theory about yin and yang. “The body is divided in yin and yang parts. The balance between the different parts is maintained by a constant flux of vital energy or ch’i through a meridians system containing the points used in acupuncture. The interrelation of yin and yang, the primordial pair of opposites, appears thereby, as a principle that guides every tao movement, though we can still refer to it as the leading principle that balances both opposites”.
Confucius keeps his thoughts and performances in a posthumous book compiled by his disciples, the Lun yü. In this work we find quotes as those regarding to "the value of example", "the practice of right"... and many others we would introduce along this article.

Even though their doctrines, taoism and confucianism, lost their political power long ago, the foundation still remains in many oriental origin schools, mainly martial arts schools.

Kenpo is one of them, and I would love to talk about the influence of it in the general development of children, mainly psychomotive, and approach the subject from the many characteristics that make this martial art a fantastic school to the balance between mind and body, as well as their development together, if it is imparted from childhood.
The development of physical capabilities from childhood is of real importance mainly for health, but also as foundation for a good mental development. As Saint Augustine would say "Mens sana in córpore sano". Mind and body are reciprocally influenced, so the key would be in looking for a balance between them.
In kenpo this is one of the goals to reach, the control of mind over body. It is also one of the aims every educator should outline for his/her pupils, specially if they have any kind of discapability, disfunction or problem.
We can part from the basis that any of these children with s.e.n. (special educative needs) need exploit to the maximum their posibilities to adapt as much as posible to a world created for and by "normal" people.

There's a multitude of extracurricular activities that refer to the development of physical capabilities to every kind of people, but half of them are limited to working certain ranges of children capabilities, or doesn't count the motivation aspect, and thus leave aside prioritary objectives; from one side, without motivation is difficult to reach high, and from another side, if the child is foiled by not achieving what its requested of him/her, usual thing having into account that the activity is directed to only one goal, that will probably be centered in the difficulties of the child.
If we analyze the quantity of possibilities kenpo has as foundation for kids with light s.e.n.'s capabilities, we would realize that it is a magnificent methodologic proposition to carry out.
We could begin with the fact that in this martial art the psychomotive development is made both in the right bain hemisphere and the left. This aspect is in fact very important in the development of any individual, and given the fact that western teaching leaves it aside we can highlight it as a very positive fact. In kids with s.e.n., depending on the magnitude of their needs, work with both brain hemispheres is much more difficult, which is why it needs to be worked restlessly. I.e. in dyslexic kids it will be the solution to their difficulties, and taking into account that this is a very common and hereditary problem, it'll be very interesting to work on eradicating it.
It also helps in the mental schemes formation, as in other two prominent facets: coordination and balance, where childre with Down Syndrome have many difficulties by the fact that their biological age don't correspond with their mental age, so they don't control their volume.

Kenpo doctrine will be perfect in the other side to teach concepts such as discipline, respect and order, in a serious but relaxed environment. Respets is imposed by the master or instructor with his/her degree and position in the class, and it's showed to all the students equally, this way this feeling is shared, specially because it doesn't create unfair differences and the ones the degree/belt creates are assumed as needed, for everyone has achieved theirs with hard work and dedication, which is where order and discipline are born from respect.

Mixed classes, bith in the coeducation meaning and in the age and degree one, help very much in the creation of positive perspectives everychild needs, and what is even more important, the motivation.
In the same way we have to highlight the favorable factors that are outlined as it is a prospective education; changing belt as certain objectives are achieved, provoke that feeling of goal that gives strenght to pass the next step with even more enthusiasm, and creates in the kids an intrinsical motivation very positive.
Here is where acceptance comes into place, either as self acceptance or the acceptance of others in the group, as well as integration, socialization and selfconcept. They're essential factors in the formation of a child and have a great repercussion in his/her future if they're not correctly treated. They're also the base upon which the kid accepts his/her targets as reachable and in the case of s.e.n., given that their difficulties are far greater, they acquire double strenght and influence in their continued fight and not to surrender after a failure.

As Maslow exposes, in his pyramid about the order in which the needs of an individual have to be covered, personal security occupies the second place, before there will only be physiological needs, therefore its great importance. In cases such as pshycological problems causes by abuses and maltreatment, can be considered the key in development; security, self-confidence and will be fully covered with this activity.

Into this school, the figure of a master acquires a strong influence over students, so it is very important the criteria used to teach, as s/he has in her/his hands the possibility of creating values in the kids. It's a matter of making them understand the importance of life and from there on, to focus the teachings towards right (Confucius). It's not a matter of pupils learning to puke eyes or breaking necks, it's a matter of understanding the magnitude of their doing thus creating a feeling of responsibility and stimulating self control the same way, i.e., it's interesting in children with Down Syndrome.
To the kids this activity would be a game, they watch it in the media and that motivates them more and so, the learning evolves with greater fluidity. Self-concept intervenes again as a factor, they create an unreachable idol from telly, and by leaving aside comparing themselves with other fellows, they forget the shame and the desire to participate grows. In the other side they learn how to lose and be in the side of the mate, which made their egocentrism lessen. Confucius says “Don't do others what you don't want others to do to you”.
In this sport individual and team work are both used, which is why individualization and globalization, two essential characteristics for a good teaching are also present.

By having so many of the goals proposed by multitude of psychopedagogues as base for a good education, kenpo will be considered as a very complete activity in which not every children with s.e.n. will have the possibility to reach all of the goals, or at least not in the desired magnitude.
This will surely be sufficient reason for many people to consider kenpo as an activity out of reach for them.

With my humble experience, I'd say to this people to look further; firstly, because that is the reason these children are excluded from most part of artistic activities. Secondly, because the real objective we want to reach isn't these children being masters (which could perfectly happen given these children's great fighting capabilities and dedication for what they like), but them using kenpo as a tool to a better development of their capabilities. Thirdly, and given the ample and many favorable aspects for that development, even though some facets will get more developed than others, this already is a big step in their long and winding road. Fourthly and lastly, we forget again, as it happens too often, the fact that in the environment of a special education are also included cases of abuse problems, cruelty..., that is, that there will be children able to reach all the objectives proposed in the activity in question. Into this subject we'll have to exclude certain cases, hyperactive kids as it will be very detrimental in their problem and not the contrary, as well as kids with no mobility in their extremities or a extreme deficiency, etc.

I would like to include a quote by Lao Tse that goes;
In the chinese vision it is better to have a little than to have too much, and better to leave things undone than do too much, for, even though you don't reach too far this way, it is sure you'll be going in the right direction”.


Internet sites: y_su_doctrina en+la+educaci%f


Tao Te King; Lao-Tse. Colec/Grandes autores. Ed/Libros Rio Nuevo.
Psicología General; Gabriela Grzib y Cristian Briales. Ed7, Centro de estudios Ramón Areces, S.A.
Crecer y pensar; Luis Delval.



Use of the contents of this website is allowed naming source and author. 
We would be glad, though, if you send us a notification to:
©2002  M. Rodríguez.