Bedford Martial Arts Academy is a Member of the Adaptive Martial Arts Association.
Mr. Stewart is a Consultant on the Adaptive Martial Arts Association Board.
Classes are Offered on
Tuesdays @ 5:30 p.m.
Wednesdays @ 5:20 p.m.
Saturdays @ 8:00 a.m.
Try out a FREE Class
ADAPTIVE MARTIAL ARTS PROGRAM
Bedford Martial Arts Academy, a premier institution for the instruction of Martial Arts in Southern New Hampshire, offers an Adaptive Martial Arts Program. Bedford Martial Arts Academy is committed to providing children with a well-rounded education which includes tolerance, respect, self-control, discipline, and coordination.
Bedford Martial Arts Academy understands that there are many families in the community struggling with Autism, ADD, ADHD, Aspergers, as well as other cognitive disorders, auditory, sensory, physical disorders, and other special needs. Bedford Martial Arts Academy has always provided children of all ages, an ability to learn how to function with these challenges, and improve through all aspects of martial arts.
Bedford Martial Arts Academy also understands that families who struggle with these challenges everyday can feel isolated from others. This can have negative effects on all of the family members, and family friends.
Our Adaptive Martial Arts Program provides children with the above-mentioned challenges, a class in which to learn focus, self-control, discipline, coordination and respect in a fun and UNDERSTANDING atmosphere. Children in the Adaptive Classes will learn self-defense techniques in an environment that promotes tolerance. Our Instructors have plenty of patience. During the Adaptive Program Class, parents will have the ability to interact with other families facing the same challenges every day, providing a great community for the entire family.
Our Instructors and Staff are constantly trained by professionals from organizations specializing in cognitive and social disorders. Mr. Stewart is on the Board of Consultants with the Adaptive Martial Arts Association. In order to understand the different needs that children have, our Instructors have become immersed in the local community, such as working with Easter Seals, and other professional organizations to better understand how to bring martial arts to students with many kinds of disorders. Our staff understands that there are no "experts" in the field of cognitive disorders, only people willing to understand. You will find no other program, quite like the Bedford Martial Arts Academy Adaptive Martial Arts Program, because we constantly train our instructors and staff, as well as constantly develop the program, while maintaining consistency and structure to benefit the students.
A TESTIMONY - by Karen Fisher
The Gift of a Martial Arts Community: Improving Fitness and Mental Health
Ryley with Instructors Mr. John Stewart, Miss Valerie Boles & Mr. Heath Hooper
The Gift of a Martial Arts Community: Improving Fitness and Mental Health
After exhausting typical therapies and not making a lot of progress with medication, I decided to look for a program that would help channel our son’s aggression and where he could work on impulse control. Doctor’s in the past suggested martial arts, however, we did not want to encourage more kicking and punching. After a particularly challenging period, I revisited the idea of karate and started researching programs in our area. I quickly found that most karate schools hesitantly said they would give it a try; however, I was concerned with the class size, the format of the program, and the process in which the kids advanced through the belts. Our son had already had so many false starts, I did not want to put him in a program, have him struggle, and not feel successful once again. I then searched for adaptive martial arts programs and found only one in our state and luckily it was within 30 miles of our home.
I called Bedford Martial Arts and spoke with the owner and head instructor, John Stewart, about their adaptive program. We talked about the mix of kids and how they support different learning styles and needs. Mr. Stewart assured me that the program was structured to support the success and growth of all kids, including those who benefited from one-to-one instruction. I finally brought Ryley to a class and I watched with such emotion. We left the karate school with a new gi (karate uniform) and his first karate belt. More importantly, I left with a child who was proud, confident, and full of dreams in becoming a black belt, the highest earned rank.
This is not a story about our journey in finding Bedford Martial Arts. Instead, this is a testimony of a leader who truly understands how to build a community which values and respects all students regardless of how they learn and communicate, or their degree of athleticism. Through leadership, education, and peer mentoring, Bedford Martial Arts has created a truly inclusive environment in which all the students experience success.
The adaptive program is led by a team of senior instructors who are committed to the emotional and physical well-being of the students. They immerse themselves in learning about Autism and other disabilities and participate in regular training opportunities in order to provide the best instruction to the students. They understand how to modify the curriculum and create a safe and fun learning environment. This commitment to learning is directly and indirectly transferred to the rest of the instructors, students, and parents through formal discussions, informal modeling, and daily conversations about empathy and tolerance.
Although important, this is only part of the equation of what makes the adaptive program at Bedford Martial Arts so successful. In addition to the senior instructors leading the classes, each student is partnered with a junior instructor. The junior instructors range in age from 12 to 15 and are on track to earn their black belts. The junior instructors not only model the karate techniques, they also model behavior, language, and humor. These young instructors demonstrate tremendous leadership, patience, and are role models for all the students enrolled at Bedford Martial Arts. They teach, they motivate, they listen, they laugh, and most importantly, they create a sense of normalcy for the students in the adaptive program. This pairing of students, beginner with a more experienced, is what creates a special community in which all are responsible for learning and teaching, not just about karate, but about each other. I can’t help but think that when these junior instructors walk the halls of their middle or high school, they continue to be friends of, role models, and advocates for their classmates who need an extra voice of support, and for this I am grateful.
Regardless of Ryley’s day, when he walks through the door at Bedford Martial Arts he is confident and just another student amongst many who have similar goals. Like all the other students, he is treated with respect and held accountable to follow the student creed. What I value most is that success in not measured by belt color alone. Instead, success is defined by how you support, encourage, and teach others. What Ryley is proudest of since starting karate was being asked to work with a little boy on his kicks. This boy was in a “typical” class and having an especially difficult time focusing that day. He felt valued and honored and for the first time realized that he could be a junior instructor if he continued to practice his techniques and work on regulating his emotions. These ten minutes of helping another child did more for his confidence and self-esteem than any other therapeutic program. Ryley recently shared that he feels “normal” when he is at karate and commented on the fact that “the other kids and instructors also have a hard time remembering their techniques, just like me”.
What amazes me the most is how much the students in the adaptive program learn, retain, and can demonstrate on demand with limited coaching. Most of the students in this program have a difficult time following two-step instructions, maintaining a regulated state, and recalling information. And yet when the students participate in class they are focused and willing to step out of their comfort zone. The students learn and demonstrate new techniques weekly, each of which included multiple sequences and a degree of motor coordination. I recently sat and watched with a smile on my face and tears in my eyes as Ryley responded with determination when his instructors asked him to demonstrate twelve different techniques. By his side was Mr. Josh, a junior instructor, providing encouragement. The one-to-one instruction and the relationships Ryley has with the instructors gave him the confidence to successfully participate in a “typical” class. Depending on how he is feeling, Ryley now has the choice to participate in either class.
Bedford Martial Arts is truly a special place and we are thankful to be a part of this safe, supportive, and inclusive community. I believe that the success of the adaptive program does not lie with the accommodations and modifications for each student alone. Instead, under the leadership of John Stewart, Bedford Martial Arts understands how to create a community that fosters acceptance, respect, and friendships by creating opportunities for all the students and staff to learn from each other and celebrate accomplishments.
By: Karen Fisher
Local writer Carrie Cariello brings her five children to Bedford Martial Arts Academy for classes. Her 8-year old son, Jack, has Autism, and has great success at his family class! Read all about their experience in her weekly blog: www.WhatColorIsMonday.com.
We are looking forward to Carrie's new Book ~ What Color is Monday ~
~ EXPLORING THE COLORFUL WORLD OF AUTISM ~
What Color Is Monday?
A Beautiful and Inspiring Letter as to What Jack Would Ask the Presidential Candidates if He Could!
My name is Jack and I am eight years old. I love cars, license plates, and radios. My mother says I’m obsessed with these things. All I know is I like to ask every single person I meet what kind of car they drive and how many radios they have.
I hear my mother and father and doctors and teachers talk about things called cognitive flexibility and socialskills and speech delay. I hear them say the word autism.
But I really don’t understand what any of these words mean. I just know that when there are too many people around, I feel weird and scared because I don’t know how to talk to them. That’s why I ask questions like when isyour birthday and do you like Toyotas. These subjects make me feel safe.
I remember every single thing I read and hear and see. I can tell you what the capital of the Philippines is and how last Monday I saw a California license plate on a blue Dodge Dakota. But I can’t figure out if my mom is angry or happy.
The feeling of yogurt on my tongue makes me crazy. It’s way too slimy. If my mother even asks me if I want yogurt, I clap my hands over my ears and start screaming. I scream until I know that she understands me, that she’ll get me something else to eat.
I clap my hands over my ears a lot because certain sounds bother me, sounds like airplanes in the sky and static on the radio. When we’re in the car and the radio gets static on it, I put my hands over my ears and chant turn it static turn it static turn it static. My mom or dad usually changes it right away for me.
Sometimes I get very, very angry and I lose my good words. I say terrible things like I hate everyone here and I want to kill my friends. But deep inside, where my heart is beat-beat-beating fast, I’m saying I am so sad and I feel very alone. When I feel so mad my mother tells me I’ve hit the red zone and I have to use my breathing to stay calm.
I live in New Hampshire. I think people like you—people in politics—call our state the swing state. Whenever I hear that, I picture our state swinging like I do on the playground and I laugh out loud. I like New Hampshire, but I really, really want to see Wyoming. I talk about it all the time, how when I’m a grown-up I’m going to Wyoming. I plan how long it will take me to drive there. But unless my parents take me, I’ll probably never go. I hear people say I may never be independent.
The world looks and sounds and feels so very differently to me than it does for most people. Maybe you could take a minute and try to see it through my eyes and hear it through my ears.
Imagine a world where the sights and sounds and smells don’t make any sense to you. Where people look at you with their different faces but you still can’t tell if they’re happy or mad or frustrated. Where watching their eyeballs flicker back and forth gives you a headache, but all day long people tell you look in my eyes Jack look in my eyes look at me.
Picture a world where the days of the week look like colors in your mind. When someone says spelling is on Friday, I think of an orange so bright it’s like the sun setting in the summer sky. And Thursday is a dark purple like an eggplant.
Imagine the feeling of a thousand ants crawling up and down your body, all over your legs and your arms and your tummy. I have that feeling many times a day, and I have to jump and bounce to make it go away. I think this is called self-stimulation. But in my family we call it my zoomies.
I tried to watch the debates but it was very confusing—you both talked too fast and you were smiling, even though your voices sounded mad. So I was hoping you could answer a few of my questions in this letter.
Sometimes I get very, very nervous. I can’t sleep and things like the wind chill factor and blue water in the toilet scare me. The doctor says I’m anxious. I take one tiny white pill at night to help me with being anxious, medicine my parents pay for with insurance. How will we pay for my medicine if healthcare changes? I really need it.
I heard the doctor tell my mother that one in eighty-eight kids have autism. That seems like a lot of people. How will you make sure that teachers and bus drivers and parents learn about kids like me, kids with autism who hit their red zones and shout out I want to light the school on fire when we really mean math feels hard today. Because we deserve to be understood.
And will you try to find out why so many more of us have autism now?
I may not use a wheelchair to move or sign language to speak, but I still need certain things to help me get through my day, to help me do what my therapists call integrate and learn like everybody else does. Will my school still be able to afford people like my paraprofessional, Miss Anne? And therapists for speech and occupational therapy? They’ve helped me come so far.
What’s going to happen to me when my parents die?
Now, close your eyes and think about Tuesday, the day our country will decide if you will be our next President of the States. Do you see yellow?
If you do, then maybe you do understand me just the tiniest bit, maybe you will make decisions to help me lead a full, productive life. Decisions to help those around me know me and my beautiful autism even better.
Maybe you’ll help me see Wyoming.
P.S. What kind of car do you drive?
Voted BEST KARATE SCHOOL in the Manchester Region BEST OF THE BEST 8 Years Running!
Winner of THE BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARD, 2013 ! BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU TORCH AWARDS - Finalist 2014
Winner of the BEDFORD PATCH READERS' CHOICE AWARD, 2012 UNION LEADER READER'S CHOICE AWARD 5 Years Running
Winner of BEST OF BEDFORD for Martial Arts Training - 6 Years Running
Winner of Outstanding Achievement Award by Governor's Council on Physical Activity & Health
Recipient of COMMENDATION from Governor Lynch for Extraordinary Commitment to the Community
Voted a FAMILY FAVORITE, 5 Years Running by NH Parenting Magazine
Bedford Martial Arts Academy is an A+ Rated Business with the Better Business Bureau.