Ruth Hunter

Presentation + Questions & Answers
For ADD-Holistic Discussion Group

Date: Sun, 8 Nov 1998 22:24:23 -0700 (MST)
From: Mark Gold
Subject: ADD Introduction of Visiting Expert


I am honored to introduce our next Visiting Expert, Ruth Hunter, co-author of "Parents' Guide to Martial Arts."

Several months ago I read an article in a physician's office about significant positive changes in ADD children who take martial arts classes. There has been mention of positive results on this group as well. Because of her expertise on martial arts, selecting martial arts schools, and martial arts and ADD, I was very excited when Ruth Hunter agreed to be the Visiting Expert on ADD-Holistic.


Ruth Hunter is the co-author of two books: "Parents' Guide to Martial Arts" and "A Part of the Ribbon: A Time-Travel Action Adventure Through the History of Korea" (for ages 9 and above). She is a regular columnist for Taekwondo Reporter newspaper and has had article published in national trade magazines and national newsletters.

Ms. Hunter is the Interim Director of Communication and Media Relations at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis. St. Norbert College, a Catholic, liberal arts and sciences college, offers the only mainland Master of Science in Adaptive Education degree. (She quote people from that program in the book, as well as interviewed instructors across the United States who work with children with ADD/ADHD.

She has studied the martial arts (tae kwon do) for 9 years and is a second-degree black belt.

Please join me in welcoming Ruth Hunter to the ADD-Holistic Internet Discussion Group as the honored Visiting Expert! [clap, clap, clap!]

Best Wishes,
- Mark
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Date: Mon, 9 Nov 1998 08:16:45 -0700 (MST)
From: "Ruth S. Hunter"
Subject: martial arts and ADD/ADHD

Martial Arts and Children with ADD/ADHD

Children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD can successfully participate and benefit from martial arts classes.

One young man with ADD, now in his teens, began when he was five years old. When he was six, he wanted to compete in tournaments so he could win trophies.

And the trophies and titles added up. He has won over 215 trophies at national, regional and state tournaments. He ranked first in the nation in forms and weapons in 1992, and first in forms in 1993 and 1995.

Immediately before each competitive event, the young man prepares himself, using his own method. Right before I compete, I like to be by myself, concentrate and clear my mind, and listen to upbeat music to get my adrenaline going.

During the tournament season, he trains one-on-one with the instructor in addition to taking regular classes. He is not being singled out because he was diagnosed with ADD. Most of the serious competitors train with coaches.

Along the way, he found that karate, the martial art he studies, gives him more than trophies and titles. The biggest things karate has done has helped me with my concentration and discipline, he said.

As one martial arts instructor explained, AAttention deficit is like having 47 things coming into your mind at all times. They cannot complete the entire thought process before another comes in.

Since all sounds and movements have the same impact and nothing is filtered out, these children have a hard time staying focused.

For many affected youngsters, the martial arts has proven to be extremely successful in providing a structured, fast-paced framework which helps them learn to function and feel good about themselves. By its very format, martial arts classes help children stay on task.

In this article, I'm using the educational definition of modality which is audio/visual/kinesthetic. Martial arts are multi-sensory, combining all three modalities in classes. When introducing a new technique, the instructor will tell the class what to do, demonstrate it and often (especially in the beginning classes) perform the technique with the students. As they advance, students can be given a verbal command, such as performing their own combinations of kicks and punches across the floor. The students have to decide what to do. It's difficult for everyone, not just children with ADD/ADHD.

The structured class format helps students succeed. Instructors must keep classes focused and disciplined in order for children with ADD/ADHD to succeed.

Students stand in straight lines according to rank

There is a specific, detailed manner with which they address upper belts and instructors.

The instructor usually gives concise commands and directions. Children learn what to expect and find comfort and room to grow within the structure.

The instructor provides a focus point at the front and center of the room. Children with ADD/ADHD should be positioned directly in front of the instructor and away from mirrors.

Students are constantly moving and are constantly mentally challenged in classes and in the special tests that they take to promote to another belt level. A mother of a boy with ADD and very unexcitable found the classes stimulated him and helped him to respond to others.

Critiques. Instructors provide positive enforcement of what each child does well and gives each student something to work on. One mother of a child with ADHD, said, AThe martial arts stretched his level of concentration, and he responded very well to encouragement from the instructor. The instructor should always give constructive, positive feedback.

Students with ADD/ADHD should always be treated the same as other students. E.g., they will be assigned push-ups just like anyone else for not following certain expectations. They shouldn't be singled out or given special attention. Classes provide physical and mental learning.

Students are constantly given a variety of training drills.

Instructors must set individual goals for students. The goals will be kept simple, such as kicking higher or kicking faster, breaking a board, learning a new technique.

The martial arts motivates students to achieve their goals (such as attaining higher belt ranks and competing in tournaments).

Instructors will talk with parents on children's progress toward their goals.

The martial arts constantly builds confidence in students.

The children find they can succeed at something difficult.

Often, because of ADD or ADHD, the children are criticized or made fun of. In the martial arts, with the right school and instructor, children's self-confidence grows and transfers to arenas outside of martial arts class.

One mother watched her son's self-confidence improve when he took the forms learned in tae kwon do, put them to music and performed them in his elementary school's talent shows.

Before starting their children in the martial arts, parents should interview the owner/instructors at several martial arts schools to discover which school is more prepared to work with their children and is willing to do so. Some schools have studied ADHD, prepared appropriate teaching methods and taught all of the instructors in the school to work with these children.

Martial arts is another venue through which children can build their self-confidence and concentration skills. It supplements what parents are already doing through diet and medication.

I'd like to particularly thank Penny Duggan, master instructor at Kim's Tae Kwon Do, and Barbara Natelle, Ph.D., associate director of the Adaptive Education program at St. Norbert College.

Subject: Re: martial arts and ADD/ADHD

Date: Tue, 10 Nov 1998 00:13:28 EST

> From: "Ruth S. Hunter"
> Subject: martial arts and ADD/ADHD
> Martial Arts and Children with ADD/ADHD
> Children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD can successfully participate
> and benefit from martial arts classes.
> ....

Martial Arts is great for ADD issues mainly because it balances the left and right hemispheres through the corpus colosum by providing a clear supply route of neurotransmitters to each side of the brain. The BRAIN GYM technique explores this well
Mark Ungar

Date: Tue, 17 Nov 1998 09:43:00 -0700 (MST)
From: Mark Gold
Subject: ADD Martial Arts Visiting Expert


I want to thank Ruth Hunter for being the Visiting Expert on the ADD-Holistic mailing list. I hope that she gets a chance to answer the followup questions which were sent.

I do recommend her book, "Parents' Guide to Martial Arts" which can be purchased from or from Turtle Press at:

Here is a quote from a Feb. 1998 article about martial arts and children:

    "Karate school is so structured that it's a stabilizing influence on ADD kids -- sometimes dramatically so," says Elisa Hendrey, a third-degree black belt in shotokan karate who teaches on Long Island, New York. "Kids come in looking out the window, wiggling, staring into space, and in a couple months you forget they ever had a problem."
Best Wishes,
- Mark
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From: "Ruth S. Hunter"
Subject: Re: Martial Arts & ADD (Questions for Ruth Hunter)
Date: Mon, 23 Nov 1998 10:52:49 -0600

Dear Mark

I apologize for being unable to get back to you - quickly! In my opinion, the martial arts can help almost everybody. One challenge for adults with ADD is that over time they've developed ways to compensate. These ways may or may not get in the way of learning the martial arts. At the same time, it's theorized many adults with ADD aren't diagnosed. And it's a good chance many of these adults are already in the martial arts. But as the martial arts help children focus and concentrate, the martial arts can help adults do the same.

You seem to have found Turtle Press' web site. Let me know if you still need it. I don't have my own site. I know the book can be ordered through Turtle Press and any book store. In addition, it's been picked up by Barnes & Noble as well as Borders.

There's a group here who would like to develop a brochure on this issue. It will take a long time - based on our schedules. Have you thought about who is going to design and pay for it - layout, printing, etc., and who would distribute it?

One more thing I found.

There's been a web site set up for the book. Do you have this address?

Take care. Thanks again for the opportunity to "speak" with your group.


Ruth Hunter

Date: Fri, 27 Nov 1998 14:04:09 -0700 (MST)
From: "bgmoore3"
Subject: Re: Martial Arts & ADD (Questions for Ruth Hunter)

WHAT IS THE NAME OF THE BOOK? And what about us ADD'ers who have no coordination and hate exercise? (I'm not sure the latter isn't the result of always being the least athletic person in my class--I'm not one to stick to things that I can't do well--poor character, I guess.) My daughter, whose son we suspect has ADD, has been considering martial arts classes simply to improve his self-confidence (He's only six), but this would be an added benefit. I'd appreciate information concerning any resources in this area. SANDRA

Date: Fri, 27 Nov 1998 14:27:13 -0700 (MST)
Subject: Re: Martial Arts & ADD (Questions for Ruth Hunter)

>Date: Fri, 27 Nov 1998 14:04:09 -0700 (MST)
>From: "bgmoore3"
>Subject: Re: Martial Arts & ADD (Questions for Ruth Hunter)


"Parents' Guide to Martial Arts" by Ruth Hunter & Debra Fritsch. Please click on the book cover at the following web page address:

> And what about us ADD'ers who have no coordination and hate
> exercise?

Unfortunately, Ruth Hunter has left the list. She was only scheduled to be on the list for one week as a Visiting Expert. So, you may want to email her with your followup question.

From my limited experience with martial arts (taekwon do, kung fu, qigong, aikido), I know that classes can vary enormously. My taekwon do class was some exercise intensive and competitive. The aikido class was intense and highly competitive -- which is unusual for aikido classes as far as I understand (and which is probably why I didn't stay long). The Kung Fu class was focused on forms and had only a moderate amount of exercise and was not competitive. The qigong classes I have had involved little or no exercise. Tai chi, is one aspect of qigong which can be practiced by those who don't like heavy aerobic exercise and aren't particularly coodinated.

Ms. Hunter's book goes into more detail about the different types of modalities and classes.

Best Wishes,
- Mark
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