JKA Martial Arts Center Offers Happy Place for Local Autistic Teen

By Melissa Moore-Randall

About a year ago, Jaydee DeAngelo’s mom, Dawn, contacted JKA Martial Arts Center looking for classes for him.  Jaydee is a 14-year-old who was diagnosed with Autism when he was a year old.

Dawn has been longing and searching for a place he would feel comfortable. After many years of trying different things, nothing seemed to stick for Jaydee, and he would quickly lose interest.

However, one day Dawn noticed JKA Revere Martial Arts Center on Squire Road in Revere. Dawn decided to pop in hopeful to find her son an extracurricular activity he could happily be part of. Dawn was greeted by the owner Walid Karaf. After explaining Jaydee to Walid, he was beyond welcoming and determined to get Jaydee started right away on a trial basis to see if it’s something he likes.

“It turns out that Jaydee has now found his happy place being welcomed with open arms by the owner, the martial art teachers, and the fellow children enrolled in the program. I never expected it to go so well for Jaydee. He has now found something he enjoys doing and being part of. I am so grateful for Walid and his amazingly patient staff. I felt I needed to shine some light on JKA Revere Martial Arts Center and what a great program it is. It welcomes all abilities while realizing there may be some challenging days and much needed patience. They never let that deter them from bringing in new members. They were determined to make Jaydee part of their team and part of the JKA Revere Martial Arts Center.

According to Karaf, “Our doors have always been open to anyone who wants to learn and grow. So I was excited to have Jaydee visit the dojo. When he came for a trial, I found a program that was appropriate for him and that would fit his needs. He immediately started to engage with students and respond positively to the instructions. The students adore him, and he soon discovered that he was safe and accepted and that he could be himself. When he does not come to class, or misses a class, the students ask for him. You can sense that his energy is missing from the place. It is a joy to be around him.”

Located at 318 Squire Road in Revere, JKA Martial Arts Center has been operating for the past 7 years and offers a variety of classes. They specialize in traditional Shotokan karate, as well as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Aikido and MuThai classes. In addition, they are members of the Japanese Karate Association.  The BJJ program is affiliated with the Brazilian Top Team. The classes are open to children ages 5 and up as well as adults, both men and women. All instructors have credentials from their respective organizations.

Owner, Walid Karaf, is a native of Syria. “I left Syria in 1986 for Athens, Greece, where I continued my training in traditional Shotokan Karate. I also owned and operated a dojo until 1994, when I decided to migrate to the USA. I have been in the Greater Boston area since then, and in Revere for over 15 years. My love of karate began when he was a young boy in 1975 with the first generation of Shotokan karate masters in Syria. Karate has always been a part of my life. I participated in regional and national championships in Syria and Europe.”

The main principles of Traditional Karate:

1. Seek perfection of character; this means being a courteous person, having respect for yourself, and showing respect to others.

2. Be faithful. For us, this means seeking peace and defending justice with honor and integrity.

3. Endeavor. Put the maximum effort into everything you do, and with great effort, cultivate and maintain the mind, body, and spirit.

4. Respect others. This means that you listen respectfully, help one another, take care of each other, and respect the dojo.

5. Refrain from violent behavior.

The emphasis is to stay away from all things that could create harm and violence. The way of the martial artist is to go beyond pettiness by embracing compassion and kindness. Traditional karate, as you can see, is more than just kicking and punching or technical practice. It is a way of life where the students, if they are willing, can learn how to improve and become resilient to changes and outside pressures.

“Martial Arts is a philosophy about how to live with the highest principles: respect, discipline, compassion, and service. It is about being gracious when interacting with friends, family, and loved ones. Over the course of my 45-year teaching career, I have had many successful students, and I have kept in touch with them and their families.”

In addition to the Revere studio, there is also a second location at 14 Mount Vernon Street in Lynn. You can also visit them online on Facebook @ Revere Martial Arts Center or by email at [email protected].

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