Kids Martial Arts: The Focus of Australia’s Youth Self Defence Karate
Australia’s Youth Self Defence Karate was founded in 1994 by Kenpo Freestyle 6th Degree Black Belt, Matt Klein. It was the first club specialising in kids martial arts in Sydney. The classes became an instant hit, with their high-energy, fun, and non-intimidating atmosphere.
Our Chief Instructor–Sensei Matt Klein
Matt Klein has trained in the martial arts since high school. He has studied Judo, boxing, wrestling, and karate, finally achieving his black belt in American Kenpo Karate. He has trained in Kenpo since 1986. His study over the years include kickboxing, Jujitsu, MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), Kali, and martial arts weaponry. Matt combined this with American Kenpo Karate to form the Kenpo Freestyle Academy in Sydney, Australia in the year 2000. He began focusing on kids martial arts in 1992 after discovering a passion for it while teaching in the USA.
Kenpo Freestyle includes martial arts from all over the world. There’s rapid-fire hand techniques of American Kenpo. Also included are grappling, throwing, and joint lock techniques from Jujutsu, wrestling, MMA, and Judo. Weapons skills from Japan, China, Korea, and the Philippines are taught. It also includes the powerful punches and kicks of boxing and kickboxing and the flashy jumping and spinning kicks of the Korean martial arts. The simplicity of movements and the emphasis on self confidence that Matt Klein developed from his kids martial arts program were incorporated into Kenpo Freestyle. This makes it a very practical system for self defence.
This system gets results. The Kenpo Freestyle competition team has set the record for the number one ranked martial arts team in the International Sport Karate Association in Australia for six years in a row. There are over 50 teams competing in the ISKA.
Matt Klein has been voted the Outstanding Coach of the Year in ISKA. He also won awards for Lifetime Achievement and the Shogun Commitment to Martial Arts. As a competitor, Matt won many championships in sparring, forms, and weapons in Sydney, Australia and in the USA. He continues to train in American Kenpo Karate and currently holds a 6th Degree Black Belt. He also holds a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a brown belt in traditional Japanese Jujutsu. His kids karate schools in Sydney have enjoyed unparalleled success and he has become one of the acknowledged experts in the field of kids martial arts. His articles have been published on the prestigious eZine Articles website at http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=John_Matthew_Klein and GoArticles.com site.
When not teaching kids martial arts, Matt is a keen reader, cook (Mexican, Indian, Italian and Thai are his favourites), and skier. Matt is also an avid traveler, having visited over 30 countries. “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness,” said the great author Mark Twain. “I believe it is so important to see how other people live around the world,” says Sensei Matt.
Our Head Instructors–Trained Specifically to Teach Kids Martial Arts
Zoltan Levitt, 4th Degree Black Belt, is our Northern District Manager. He runs our Northern Sydney schools from the Northern Beaches all the way up through the Hornsby area. Zoltan was Sensei Matt’s assistant for over 13 years, starting as an Orange belt helper at Collaroy in the Northern Beaches of Sydney in 1994. He was the very first assistant instructor in our organization. Also our first 4th Degree Black Belt, Zoltan has achieved every single black belt specialist award available. He currently teaches at our Mona Vale karate, Seaforth, and Collaroy Plateau locations.
According to Sensei Matt, “His desire to learn new things in the martial arts is insatiable. He is constantly after me to teach him new techniques. He has even travelled to the U.S. and trained with my sensei, 8th Dan American Kenpo Black belt Todd McElhinney. He returned with several refinements to our Long 4 and 5 Katas, as well as expert self-defence techniques” .
Zoltan has also excelled in martial arts tournaments over the years, particularly in point sparring and forms. “In competiton, he has performed the American Kenpo Long 6 Kata. This is an unbelievably complex Kata, and probably no one else in Australia knows it, myself included. No one really has an appreciation for how difficult it is. Zoltan managed to teach it to himself with a DVD, which is remarkable”, said Matt. “In sparring classes we call him the “long arm of the law, because his backfist is so fast, if you don’t keep one hand glued to your head, you will get popped”, added Sensei Matt
“His true talent, however, is in teaching children’s martial arts. I have seen him take over a dozen black belts through very difficult grappling moves. And without any assistance, explain it in a super-easy-to-understand way, keeping their full attention and interest. I think there are only a handful of instructors in Australia that are able to do this”, said Matt. Zoltan, at 6’5″ is the closest thing to a gentle giant you will find. He often injects his sense of humour to get a laugh from the kids. In his spare time he has tutored many kids into becoming top martial artists.
Sinem Kileci, 3rd Degree Black Belt, runs our schools at Glendenning, Toongabbie, and North Ryde in Sydney. She has trained with Matt Klein since 1995 and has established herself as a topnotch martial arts instructor. She has excelled in tournament competition, ranking among the best in NSW in point sparring, full contact and forms.
Sinem studied Early Childhood Education at university, which she draws upon in her teaching duties. She is very popular with the kids. Sinem has been invaluable in establishing the Tiny Tigers Kids Program at the North Ryde, Glendenning and Wentworthville locations. “She is a natural at teaching kids martial arts, especially the little ones. She is able to build instant rapport with them and keep them interested. In addition, her efforts in motivating her kids to try tournaments has been inspirational for all of us. She is the best I have ever seen at this”, said Sensei Matt. You can find Sensei Sinem at the martial arts tournaments in Sydney where she is always on hand to support her students. She is also a talented musician in her spare time.
Daniel Jancek, 4th Degree Black Belt, is our most highly decorated martial arts tournament competitor. During the period between 2001 and 2006, he won the Kenpo Freestyle Competitor of the Year every single year. He also won the ISKA Competitor of the Year in 2006, and has also won ISKA Coach of the Year. According to Sensei Matt, “I have seen a lot of competitors in my life, but he is one of the best. His speed, technique, intensity, and power are unmatched. He excelled in every single event he entered, including point sparring, full contact, forms, extreme and musical forms, self defence, the list goes on. I can show him a technique one time and he’ll know it so well he’ll use it against me next time we spar. I have to be careful what I show him”.
At 6′ 0″, 100 kilograms, Daniel, like Zoltan above, is a gentle giant. The kids really take to him. Daniel has contributed greatly to our Black Belt Club program with new ideas for specialists and many new techniques. He has achieved every single Black Belt Specialist award we have. He is now making a big impact as a tournament coach. Many of the kids he has coached are now champions. Daniel runs many of our kids martial arts classes in Western Sydney, including Dundas, Kings Langley, Baulkham Hills, Greystanes, and Penrith. He also teaches the parents and teens at Wentworthville. Daniel also trains in Mixed Martial Arts and is brown belt level in Muay Thai. He has trained with Sensei Matt since 1996, and has assisted in running the kids martial arts classes for years before running his own schools.
Nathan Jeffrey, 2nd Dan, is running our kids martial arts school at Epping Heights. Nathan, like Sinem above, is passionate about working with children. He is currently studying a Bachelor of Education at University. He has produced many excellent ideas about running classes for children and knows how to bring out their best.
Nathan has trained with us since 1998 and has achieved specialist training in just about every area of martial arts; weapons, grappling, kata, you name it. He was also part of the World Cup championship sparring team.
Grant Hogan, 3rd Dan, is our instructor at the Forestville location after having trained with us since 1998. “Grant has excelled in competitions over the years. He is one of the rare individuals who have achieved championship-level in both kata and point sparring on a national scale. His flexibility and explosiveness make him a natural for a martial artist. He also lets his personality come out when teaching kids martial arts and makes the classes really fun. Sometimes during the games we play in class, I’ll hear a loud roar. I’ll turn around, and there is Grant. The kids go crazy and feed off his energy”, according to Sensei Matt.
Grant likes to spend time around cars in his spare time.
Ben Mauger, 3rd Dan, is now running our school at Bellevue Hill after assisting Sensei Matt as second in command for over three years. “Ben has the unique qualification of assisting at just about every school we have. He has helped run the kids martial arts classes for the last five years at Bellevue Hill, Mona Vale, Seaforth, Collaroy, and North Ryde. Ben has even travelled all the way out west to Wentworthville and Doonside to help. He is truly dedicated to helping others in the martial arts and always in search of new skills”, said Sensei Matt.
In Ben’s other life he likes to work with animals, running his own pet services business, and has spent time at Taronga Zoo as an assistant.
Daniel Vergano, 2nd Dan, runs our school at East Granville. Daniel started his training over ten years ago under the direction of Sensei Daniel Jancek at our Baulkham Hills school. Daniel Vergano was inspired to get his black belt by the great Bruce Lee, like many of us.
Upon grading to black belt, Daniel felt there was so much more missing in his journey, so he began to help Sensei Daniel Jancek as an assistant in order to help the kids, and to give back something. Although taking his HSC, Daniel knew a long time ago that he wanted to be a martial arts
teacher, and so focused his energies on that goal. He has found much joy in teaching young kids, inspiring them to take on their own martial arts journey.
Sensei Daniel Vergano has studied Tai Chi as well, which complements Kenpo in that it is an internal art, with Kenpo being an external one.
Ben Lagan, 3rd Degree Black Belt, is head instructor at our Mosman School and also second in charge at our Mona Vale location. Ben Started learning Karate in the year 2000 in Collaroy (Now Mona Vale School).
Ben started while in kindergarten inspired by the “Power Ranges” TV show, with a group of friends from school. He enjoyed it so much so that he knew it was a great fit for his life. Karate helped his confidence and social skills as he made new friends while discovering his potential.
Studying under Sensei Matt to achieve his Black Belt, then afterwards with Sensei Zoltan, “Ben is a great Karate teacher, his dedication is unmatched. He helps the organisation on every level by running his own school, being second in command at Mona Vale also assisting teaching students, adults and black belts at Collaroy Plateau, Seaforth and occasionally Forestville. Ben’s super friendly nature and “can do” attitude really shines in the work he does and through his students” – says Sensei Zoltan.
Ben spends his spare time tutoring kids though their levels very successfully and has a passion for music (live bands in particular) and Pro Wrestling. Ben loves the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) traveling to the states nearly every year to see their main event. Ben also carries their level of enthusiasm into his classes.
All of our instructors have been trained specifically for the purpose of teaching kids martial arts. That is our specialty.