A free karate training programme run by an off-duty policeman has helped to reduce anti-social behaviour involving youngsters in Leeds. The core philosophy of karate is to develop the mental, physical, spiritual and social well being of students and KICK has helped to divert young people from crime and provide them with skills to make a successful contribution to society.
Dave Brooks set up KICK, a Gang Resistance Education And Training (GREAT) programme, which combines the respect and discipline of martial arts with a structured curriculum of citizenship and life skills. He uses the pull of martial arts as a hook to engage young people and then talks to them about a range of other issues – gang culture and weapons awareness; first aid, sex, health and drugs awareness; anti-bullying and conflict resolution.
The course has been developed to tackle very real issues facing young people including sexual health, drug and alcohol abuse and bullying. It gives the course participants the chance to discuss their worries and concerns in a safe and supportive environment and then, all-importantly, it gives them the skills and techniques to learn how to tackle the issues. The control that they learn to develop through karate is used to teach them how to resolve conflict productively, how to avoid taking part in gangs.
Dave is still a serving Police Officer but now runs KICK sessions 5 nights a week and at weekends, free of charge to over 250 young people a week from some of the most deprived areas of Leeds, thanks to support from Leeds Community Foundation.
The clearest accolade is from the young people themselves. To date Dave has worked with over 2,500 young people and more and more keep on turning up for help. In the past three months, seven young people have handed in a weapon, totally voluntarily, at the start of a session and have pledged not to carry them any more. Dave says “if that has helped to save just one life, by someone not carrying a knife or gun, my work has been worthwhile.”
Dave’s personal passion and conviction has led to KICK being used as a model of best practice and it is hoped that this will lead to the programme being delivered in a number of cities with a full time centre of excellence in Leeds.