An Academy for More than Just Karate
Four years on, Jennings’s has registered the Academy as a not-for-profit business and has moved on to larger premises in an abandoned mosque nearby. And with martial arts having helped to turn his life around, he set about helping other kids in the area. Jennings does not just instruct his students in martial arts skills. He also teaches Bushido Code, sometimes referred to as Warrior Code. Bushido code is the unwritten Samurai code of conduct, a framework of life values which all true samurais are expected to live by.
For kids living in deprived urban areas in big US cities, this code can be as transformational to the way they live their lives as it was in ancient Japan. Most of Jennings students live below the poverty line, many come from single parent homes, and a majority end up in trouble, just as Jennings himself did.
So, as well as martial arts classes, Jennings also runs other activities such as ‘Word of the Week’, where he gets his students to discuss key words from the Bushido Code, such as ‘honor’ and ‘motivation’.
But perhaps even more important is the time he spends with his students. “He takes time with them, not just teaching them karate,” said Davon Moultrie, the single-mother of one of his students. Recalling an occasion where her son walked away from a fight, he previously would have got involved with, she added: “I see positive strides in my son”.
“He does an incredible amount that is so much bigger than a karate class,” said another mother Rebecca Tien, who values his all-round guidance so much, that she actually commutes across the city with her son to attend Jennings’ classes.