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Martial arts school boss: ‘We won’t turn children away’

05 April, 2018 — By Charlie Corbett

Raphael Veras with sons Luan, Luca and Liam

SENSEI Raphael Veras says that his martial arts school, and others like it, are helping to take kids off the street and teaching them behavioural skills and respect.

Raphael runs the Veras Academy out of Ringcross Community Centre in Holloway. It is one of the most successful karate academies in the country.

At a time when there are endless headlines about the growing violence on the streets of London, Raphael says that the role of martial arts clubs and boxing clubs shouldn’t be underestimated as places that can offer youngsters a positive safe haven.

When faced with questions of whether teaching children how to fight would make them dangerous and more aggressive, the father-of-three simply replied: “No way, not a chance.”

He added: “The art of martial arts not only teaches you self-defence, it also teaches you to respect each other.

“The Veras Academy is at the heart of this community in Islington, and we are here for the community. We don’t make people more dangerous, we teach basic life skills, we teach respect and we teach self-discipline and how to be more focused.

“When people come to our academy, they learn these things, instead of being left on the streets. Young people are the future and we have a duty of care to them.”

Funding cuts to youth services is one of the major factors being linked to the rise in crime and violence.

There’s no doubt that finding more money to help support these services is vital.

Raphael says that, in the meantime, the clubs are doing their best with what they have available.

“There are youth clubs all across the country doing a great job under difficult and testing circumstances,” he said.

“One of our biggest aims in 2018 is that we are trying to get parents to bring their kids along.

“We know that it can be difficult because of money, but if someone turned up at our door and they couldn’t afford the classes, we wouldn’t turn our backs on them.”

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