LUBBOCK, Texas – In a small facility on 34th street in Lubbock, an ancient form of art is being taught.
Klay Pittman’s newest students are eight-year-old Aayden Andrews, and his father, Kenyon.
“When we are tackling giants, for example, I’m that giant that he is not having to imagine,” said Kenyon. “He’s actually seeing it.”
It’s becoming less uncommon to see young children like Aayden, who has ADHD, learn jiu-jitsu. Many believe the martial art can help with focusing more in school and impulse control, which is one of the main reasons Kenyon, and his wife, Hanna, signed their son up for classes at Pittman’s Academy of Martial Arts.
“He was officially diagnosed when he was in kindergarten,” said Hanna. “You know, it’s a lot to have a child with ADHD, so we’ve been looking for a while to find something that would help kind of rein that in some.”
Pittman admits, he probably understands Aayden a lot better than most. He too, has ADHD.
“Being a young kid, and having ADHD, you look around the room and you realize, people are smarter than me, they can answer questions faster than me, they can write better than me,” said Pittman. “But my martial arts training gave me a different message about myself and a different understanding of who I am, how the world works, and my place in it”
So what exactly is ADHD?
According to Ben Walker, director of the Lubbock ADHD Clinic, five to 11 percent of the world’s population have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
“Their pre-frontal cortex is under developed so behaviors requiring executive functions are often a real struggle for them, and that includes things like sitting still, talking, remembering things,” said Walker.
Walker confirms that for those who suffer from ADHD, martial arts can improve focus and behavior.
“They’re exercising, which activates their brain and get rid of some of their excess energy,” said Walker. “They’re also both in an individual and group aspect, which can provide positive social interaction, achievement of goals, and increase self confidence.”
“In jiu-jitsu, you learn to wait your turn and move second, so you’re always processing the indicators and because of that, you’re able to look at yourself and respond,” said Pittman. “Because you’re able to do it in one environment and have some success, you start to internalize what you’re learning through martial arts and apply it to different areas of life.”
Hanna and Kenyon agree that their son learning martial arts has led to an improvement in behavior at both home and school.
“It’s also just given him an outlet where he feels seen, heard, and feels that he has something special not just for him, but for him and daddy.”