MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) — The Boys and Girls Club of Dane County partnered with Wisconsin Martial Arts and Fitness Center to take an unconventional approach to helping kids get ready for school this summer.

Over eight weeks in summer, groups of students learned traditional martial arts and other techniques the group called “Bully Safe Jiu Jitsu.”

Instructors at Wisconsin Martial Arts also helped students with overall physical fitness.

However, the program goes just beyond physical activity. Head Instructor Charles Dean said he also incorporates other activities to teach kids different skills.

“We always have ‘mat chats’ where we discuss just key words, phrases, how to problem solve, how to deescalate situations, things along those lines,” Dean said.

Dean said the martial arts together with other lessons on character development can help the kids navigate any situation.

“One of the biggest things we emphasize is being comfortable being uncomfortable. So if you can put yourself in a situation and understand how to handle it, how to deal with it, you’ll typically come out on top,” he said.

At the students’ final lesson Tuesday, the kids had the chance to test to earn their orange belts and win a scholarship to the Wisconsin Martial Arts and Fitness Center.

NBC15 also honored Charles Dean in May with a Crystal Apple Honorable Mention for similar anti-bullying work with kids.

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