Ever since my son learned to crawl, there have been a few things that were quite certain – he is FAST, agile and veeeery busy. I have spent the last six years trying to keep up with his ever-moving body. One can only holler, “Control your body!” so many times before realizing I. Need. Help.
Last fall when he turned 6, we began a quest for a martial arts studio in Eugene – hoping to find a fun, natural way for him to learn to discipline his body. No one in my family has trained in martial arts before so we were uncertain of what to look for. After visiting a few places, we still felt unsure. I’m seriously so glad we took a chance on one more place.
My son began training with the Little Champs (age 4-7) at McKenzie Martial Arts (on W. 11th across from Lowes) last September. During his complimentary visit I noticed a few things: the coaches called him by name, remembered his name throughout the duration of the class, and they asked the other students to help him out and show him how things are done. It was done in a very respectable, authentic manner.
The kids are quickly taught that they are teammates and are there to assist each other. There is an intentional balance of play, instruction and drills. I also noticed the coaches were grown adults rather than high school or junior students. It is abundantly clear that MMA’s coaches understand child development and how to work with each age level to help them succeed.
I later discovered that the two coaches of the Little Champs, Adam Roberts and Terry Britten, are the co-founders of MMA, which started in 2009. I am so grateful that they take the time to coach every age level – from age 4 to adult. Read more about their story here.
I knew in our first visit that we had found our place, and as I was thanking Coach Adam following class, my son ran up to me – as if on cue – and declared, “MOM! I pick this place!!”
After several months of watching my son develop his skills, grow in confidence and just have fun in his 2x week MMA regimen, I was a bit jealous. The office manager, Holly, encouraged me to try the women’s kickfit class – so I have officially been training at MMA too. You know the kind of exercise that hurts so good? This is women’s kickfit at MMA. Coach Shannon crafts a workout that balances strength and cardio all while learning self-defense skills.
There is truly something for every family member at MMA – even a specially designed play area where younger siblings hang while parents observe class. Also, Emily of GoMomGo will soon bring us another MMA story about her kids training in the Juniors’ class (age 8-12) and her husband training in the adult classes.
Q &A with Coach Adam
GoMomGo: What are some of the long-term benefits of a student training in Jeet Kune Do and Gracie Jiu Jitsu? What other training styles do students learn and how do they differ?
Coach Adam: McKenzie Martial Arts is a self-defense school. We are the only school teaching both Bruce Lee's contemporary Jeet Kune Do and Gracie Jiu Jitsu. Everything we teach is 100% intended for, and applicable to real life street defense and bully defense. We are grateful that there are traditional studios in our community that carry on the time-honored customs of Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Kung Fu, etc. but what we teach at MMA is fighting concepts. Everyone that leaves our school will be able to realistically defend themselves regardless of their age, size or ability.
GoMomGo: Your motto is "keep it playful." Can you explain that?
Coach Adam: This is an amazing motto that comes from our Gracie Jiu Jitsu family. It truly embodies the lifestyle and attitude at McKenzie Martial Arts. There is a certain level of intensity and seriousness that is inherent with self-defense and combat sports. Most people can easily match this intensity and "KeepitReal", but we want to instill in our students a training philosophy that will keep you on the mats for a lifetime. Life is serious, "KeepitPlayful" is a good reminder to us all to have fun and stay safe!
GoMomGo: MMA consistently has been voted top martial arts studio by the Register Guard...what do you suppose are some of the reasons MMA stands out?
Coach Adam: We are excited to announce that we were just again voted the 2016 top Martial Arts Studio in Lane County! We have been honored with this award every year since we have opened our doors and are humbled each time by this amazing community recognition. We believe that we stand out from other martial arts schools because of our realistic and contemporary approach. We truly have a unique system that appeals to much of our community.
GoMomGo: Anything else you'd want families who are new to martial arts to know?
Coach Adam: McKenzie Martial Arts is truly dedicated to empowering our community. We believe that the stronger we are as individuals, the stronger we are as a whole. We hope that everyone has a chance at some point to come "KeepitPlayful" with us!
Thanks, Adam! So great to hear all about McKenzie Martial Arts!
NEW/PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS -- MMA wants to invite you to come visit! Simply show up 10 minutes early for the class you want to visit and talk with a coach or staff at the front desk to get started. Mention GoMomGo referred you - if you join by May 21, you will get 50% off enrollment fee.
Current MMA Schedule.
Also, visit their FAQ page for more helpful info.
CURRENT STUDENTS – mention you read the GoMomGo article and get 10% off in the pro shop through May 21.
Be sure to check out MMA's awesome summer camps, too. They have an early bird discount through June 20. Such a perfect way to get your kids moving & learning this summer!
When you hear the camp instructor say, “Unfortunately we don’t have the technology to put lasers on our Speeders...although, that would be pretty cool,” you know it’s gonna be a good day at camp.
My kindergartner and I recently visited one of Bricks 4 Kidz many spring break camps. This one was themed Star Wars Lego and met at Willamalane Sports and Recreation Center.
My little guy hummed the Star Wars theme song the whole way there. He is the kid who uses the Force to open the automatic sliding doors at Target (moms of little boys -- you know what I'm talking about). So I was quite appreciative of the Star Wars-y ambience, complete with music and a video, upon arrival.
We were greeted by Joe, one of B4K instructors in Lane County. B4K is a franchised business with a local chapter in Lane County, recently started by Zach Smith and his mother.
Zach said, “I originally found Bricks 4 Kidz while looking for cool education programs for kids. I've always been very passionate about helping people improve their lives. Bricks 4 Kidz looked like the perfect opportunity to offer something fun and educational to make a positive impact in the community. I showed it to my mom and she fell in love with the idea too.”
B4K classes provide an extraordinary atmosphere for boys and girls, where they learn, build, and play with Lego bricks. Zach said, “I really wish I had something like this when I was a kid. It's very inspiring watching the fun and excitement among the kids while they build creativitiy and learn things that help get them ready for the real world. The kids and the teachers have a blast together which makes it very rewarding.”
Learn more here about B4K. In addition to spring break and summer camps, they also do a daily after-school program at a number of local schools. Check the list here.
B4K supplies tablets and project kits from which instructors can generate dozens of Lego creations. On the last day of the Star Wars Lego Camp, the students built a Speeder. They watched a two-minute video to become familiar with the concept of a Star Wars Speeder and then gathered around tables to build.
Joe said this was the most time-consuming and challenging project of the week but after a quick informal survey of the kids, it was also the most favorite project. Kids like a good challenge!
Students worked at different paces, those who finished first were encouraged by Joe to, “Partner with someone and help them finish, like a good Jedi.” Once the Speeders were complete, it was time to race!
Besides building models, students also do mosaics using single bricks and a Lego base board and 3D figures using classic bricks.
I appreciate how B4K does not use Lego themed sets (which are no small cost and are NEVER on sale) and teaches kids concepts to use their imagination with the basic, classic Lego bricks. I also appreciate Joe’s thoughtful, conscientious instruction. He emphasized play and kept encouraging kids they could do these challenging projects on their own – even when the kids were stumped. They perservered and made it through a very tough project!
B4K wants GoMomGo readers to know that the program is the perfect combination of fun and educational. The hands-on building helps engage kids. In the after school classes B4K teaches concepts of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) which gives kids valuable concepts and skills that will help them later in life. They work in teams and learn to share and work together.
Zach and B4K are happy to offer a summer camp discount to GoMomGo readers. Please call 541-600-6614, mention GoMomGo and receive $25 off a summer camp!
Summer is coming soon! Make sure you check our summer camp page to start planning and stay tuned for our next Summer Camp feature with Old School Eugene!
Do you ever drive by a business and think to yourself, "I wonder what on earth is in that place?" And then continue on your merry way, passing that aforementioned place for literally years, until finally one day you find yourself with a few minutes extra time and a couple of cranky kiddos, and decide on a whim to run inside to check it out? And then that place turns out to be pretty darn amazing? Well. This happened to me last month, and today we're going to talk about what I found.
Valley Restaurant Equipment!
1000 Maxwell Road
Eugene, OR 97404
This intriguing little gem is set far back off Maxwell, near the Prairie Road end of the road. It's got a big gravel parking lot in front, and there are often big semi trucks parked there (bonus for the littles!).
So this place is a business that caters to restaurants: they buy, sell, and trade everything you would need to own and run an eatery: chairs, microwaves, pitchers, silverware, pop dispensers, neon signs...EVERYTHING. Now maybe you're wondering why on earth you would need to visit a restaurant supply store when you already spent most of your everloving life in your kitchen preparing food for the people who live with you and expect you to feed their insatiable appetites. Here's why:
1. Just walking around the place is seriously impressive. Free entertainment right here. They have rows and rows of unusual things for kiddos to feast their eyes on. You can walk by a cooler and brainstorm what sorts of yummy desserts were once sold in there. You can check out the giant gas powered six burner stoves and discuss how many hamburgers you could fry up with it. Lots of very cool stuff.
2. There are two cats wandering around, so that's fun.
3. There are several work areas where employees repair equipment and machines. This is a dream come true for any little who is fascinated with tools.
4. Everyone who works there is so friendly! They were all very tolerant of my grumpy yet super interested kiddos.
5. They are open at 9 am, which is an hour earlier than most businesses. Need to get out of the house? Valley is your answer.
6. There are some seriously awesome things for sale that you just might need to take home with you. Looking for sensory, hands on, manipulative type tools? Valley's got them! And they're at better prices than you'll find at thrift stores. They've got high quality stuff that will stand up to rough and tumble kiddos. Here are some goodies that my boys and I discovered on a few recent trips:
The big blue trays are for my big boy's Legos. The awesome old school lunch trays are for separating Legos, sorting craft supplies, playing with beans/rice/whatever, or maybe even eating! Those black tongs are expensive on kid websites, and are super great for practicing fine motor skills.
On a return visit, we scored all of these wonderful restaurant tools for pretend play. We have already taken out the printed pages from the menus and put in our own choice offerings. This would be a perfect chance to work on so many skills with your kiddos:
- Math - figuring out prices
- Writing, spelling, word choice
- Fine motor skills - you could give them an old magazine or the ads from the Sunday paper and let them cut out pictures of food to glue into the menu.
We have played many games of restaurant already and are loving taking turns being the customer, server, and chef. Since we also found the order notepad and the check holder thing (is there a name for that?!) it all feels very official.
The spoons and scoops and bowl and syrup decanter are just for fun. :)
Here's a picture of how we've been using some of the stuff to keep mama from going crazy - I mean the boys busy - on gray days:
A little water, a few ice cubes, whatever random stuff I manage to pull out of the recycling cupboard (see THIS post) and voila - they are occupied for long enough to allow me to heat up the frozen pizza we're having for supper. I mean cook a super healthy meal with actual vegetables. Obvs.
Another day I was getting ready to throw out a whole pot of rice that I had apparently REALLY overcooked (Who messes up rice? Honestly!) when I thought about letting the boys play with it first. Might as well get some use out of it right? So we pulled out some bowls and other kitchen goodies and they went to town. See that pitcher my big boy is using? Valley Restaurant Supply sells those, and they are wonderful.
Can we talk for one quick minute about how to manage messy play like this? After a lot of trial and error, I've figured out a pretty good system. So take yourself to the Dollar Tree and buy about half a dozen of the plastic tablecloths. Cut them in half. Then when you're ready to use one, just grab it and go. Once the play is done, strain all the water down the drain, dump all the solid stuff on the tablecloth, throw all the dishes in the sink for the magical dish fairy to deal with, and carefully roll up the tablecloth and throw it away. I realize this is sort of wasteful, but for me, knowing an easy clean up is coming makes me much more willing to say yes when my kiddos ask to "cook" or "make a messy meal" or whatever. :)
Also. It goes without saying that managing your mess will be much more simple if your littles are stripped down to their underoos or diapers.
Anywho, please stop by Valley Restaurant Equipment. I promise they're not paying me to say that! They were just so friendly and local and offered so much great stuff. Well priced high quality manipulative toys for ALL THE CHILDREN! So go already. For reals. And tell them Megan sent you.
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