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      Building confident kids through karate

      It's not every day that a successful program offers free classes. But at the Art of Martial Arts dojo in Jefferson City, kids can receive years of free training. The "Kids for Free" program is an introduction into the world of martial arts.

      "They learn how to get involved with the communityâ?| they learn responsibility,â?? said Sensei Stacy Huffman. â??One thing led to another, and at one time I had 80 kids. So it just keeps growing.â??

      They're introduced to kata, which is mastering forms. Think of it as fighting invisible bad guys. Then there's bunkai, which is the application of self-defense. Students at the dojo also practice with weapons, such as nunchucks and fans.

      Then there's more practical self-defense. Sensei Huffman teaches children what they need to know in case they're ever attacked by another child or an adult.

      Along with providing great training, Sensei Huffman has helped at-risk kids turn their lives around.

      "I had one young man that'd been arrested three times at the age of ten and started the program,â?? said Huffman. â??We turned him around and now he is an Iraqi and Afghanistan vet."

      The "Kids for Free" program not only introduces children to karate, it helps them gain a greater insight to a brighter and happier future.

      The program is open to children ages 6 to 12. For more information, click here .