Martial arts is not extensively available as part of the school extra-curriculum in the Cayman Islands, but it soon could be thanks to the passion to spread his love of the sport by former world karate champion Bob Daigle.
More than 20 children from the Prospect Primary Martial Arts Club, aged 6-11, were promoted to their next belt at a recent graduation.
The students were taught by Daigle and assistant instructor Troy O’Neil Kenpo karate, freestyle kickboxing and practical self defence using the award-winning FAST Defence programme.
Daigle ran the internationally renowned Cayman Karate Academy from 1987 to 2001. Now some of his students from that era have children attending his classes.
Last September, he met with Prospect Primary’s principal Gloria Bell about starting an after-school martial arts club.
The following month, the programme was launched and the results were rapid. “Martial arts is more than just kicking and punching,” said Daigle. “Parents want their children to get involved in martial arts because of the mental benefits.
“We focus on character building in our classes. Our goal is to help students develop self-discipline, focus, confidence, a positive attitude and a winning mindset when it comes to school and life. Children love martial arts because it’s fun, challenging and makes them feel good about themselves.”
Mrs. Bell said: “During the last academic year, so successful was the martial arts programme, it was added to the plethora of after-school clubs at Prospect Primary. The teachers realised that students in the club have become more disciplined and more attentive to their academic work.
“The instructors work in collaboration with the school’s class teachers to ensure that students’ behaviour exceed the basic expectations. Parents have been most appreciative that this club is available at the school as it provides them with an additional option. This has certainly been a welcome addition to our school.”
Daigle said: “We are very fortunate to have a high calibre assistant instructor in Troy O’Neil. Troy is not only an experienced boxing coach, he is also a certified FAST Defence instructor and has been training with me in kickboxing and karate for over four years. The kids love him.”
Michelle Knight is one of the parents delighted with the all-round improvement in academic and sporting achievements of her daughter Kiara Ebanks.
“Thank you to Bob Daigle and Mr. Troy for working along with my daughter Kiara,” she said. “I must say she has improved tremendously in class and at home when it comes to self-discipline and behaviour.
“She has shown increased confidence in herself and in her school work. I feel privileged that Kiara had the opportunity to work with Bob and Troy and look forward to her continuing working with the team for the upcoming school year.”
Daigle is also offering children’s classes for the general public starting in September in George Town. Classes will be broken up into three age groups; Little Champions ages 4-5 years and children’s classes ages 6-8 and 9 and up.
“When a child has confidence in themselves, there is no limit to what they can achieve,” said Daigle.
Actor Armie Hammer, who co-stars in the Disney movie the Lone Ranger, Frankie Flowers, the award-winning movie producer and local film star Brian Braggs all have in common the fact that they studied martial arts with Daigle.
For more information about the classes, call Bob Daigle at 925-6946 or email: [email protected]