A passion for Japanese martial arts is what drove Ninja Kids sensei Chris de Feijter to develop a large children’s program during the last several years.
Hosted Mondays at Pre-Cam Community School, Ninja Kids started in 2014 after de Feijter said local parents urged him to start a club for young people in La Ronge. At the time, de Feijter taught only adults but he was convinced to offer his classes to minors and the program grew ever since. At an average session, he noted between 30-50 kids attend before they’re split up in different age groups.
“I teach [Nihon Jūjutsu] the way it’s taught in Japan, so very strict and formal focusing on keeping the tradition alive,” de Feijter said. “Many schools have a discipline system going on as is run in the army. That’s really not how traditional martial arts are taught. Those are taught in more of a friendly environment where people help each other and grow skills together.”
Children as young as three are encouraged to join Ninja Kids, although the youngest students require a parents to assist them through the sessions. At 14 years old, de Feijter said students can start training with the adults every Friday. At that age, members are also allowed to start training in Meifu Shinkage Ryu (MSR) which originates in the warrior arts of the samurai.
“The MSR program is taught twice per month and it’s not at Pre-Cam, it’s at another location,” he said. “It involves the use of weapons and I don’t really want that to be visibly open.”
De Feijter said he studied martial arts for 35 years and noted it’s especially beneficial for children. It teaches them how to focus, regulate themselves and enhance their emotional, physical and social well-being.