On Mondays and Fridays, youth gather in Duncan Elementary School to become disciplined and gain confidence by learning karate.

Karate instructor Christina Fletcher has been teaching karate on Fort Hood for about ten years.

“I love working with the kids and I love seeing the growth with the art,” Fletcher said. “It’s good for self-defense and it helps build their confidence.”

Karate is one of the longer-running after-school programs offered on post and offers a variety of competition levels. Brenda Brown, instructional program specialist with Child and Youth Services, believes this variety provides great opportunities for everyone.

 “The karate program, our instructor is really great. She does a lot of the tournaments in the area. If you’re looking to sign your child up for something that’s going to get you medals and tournaments and things like that, this is the class you want to do,” Brown said. “They have even been to internationals in Las Vegas – they go to the nationals every year. If the kids are interested in that kind of thing and participating, they do a lot of local tournaments here, so if you don’t want to put in all that money to travel, but if you’re really interested in seeing your child go further, she (Fletcher) does that.”

Fletcher believes this is a good sport for military kids to participate in because what they have learned on Fort Hood will translate well at another karate class in another location.

“It’s good for our military children that come in and they can take this with them to another duty station,” Fletcher said. “What they learn here, they can take to another duty station and they can also learn from other instructors as well when they move.”

Volunteer instructor Lee Aarhus has been volunteering his time to the karate classes on Fort Hood for about three years. He enjoys seeing the kids light up when things start making sense to them.

 “I like to share the sport. Share my knowledge – pass it on to the young ones, so hopefully we might have one get a black belt and carry it on,” he said.

He believes more people should take advantage of the classes offered by the CYS School of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills program. SKIES Unlimited is an extracurricular program that allows youth to participate in instructional activities.

“I wish more people knew about SKIES,” Aarhus said. “I don’t think there’s a lot of people that take advantage of it. I wish they would because there’s a lot of programs SKIES has that’s phenomenal for the kids. I was Navy and we didn’t have none of this on a Navy base. Nothing like this.”

Brown believes that karate can shape kid’s character while also being fun.

“Karate is a discipline that can last them a lifetime,” she said. “Kids are supposed to have 60 minutes of exercise every day and this is something that is fun for them and that they’re interested, they are into and they want to do it.”

A karate class is offered for 4-5 year olds on Mondays from 4:45-5:30 p.m. Classes on Monday and Friday from 5:30-6:15 p.m. are for children 6 and up.

“The classes once a week is only $55 the classes twice a week is only $60,” Brown said.

For more information, call 254-287-4592.