Teen/Adult Special Needs


Arizona Special People Involved in Recreation and Enlightenment

Martial art instruction for Teens and Adults facing special challenges

How Can Your Teen/Adult Child Benefit from Martial Arts?

Students with special needs, behavioral and/or learning difficulties – including autism, Down syndrome, ADD and AD/HD – can benefit from the structured learning environment that martial arts provide. Martial art training is:

  • Structural – training follows logical, sequential, and systematic curricula.
  • Sociological – students engage in peer learning, group activities, partnering, etc.
  • Auditory – techniques are explained and discussed verbally.
  • Visual – techniques are also visually demonstrated and simulated.
  • Kinesthetic – martial arts involves continuous movement and physical exercises.
  • Humorous – elective activities should be fun!

Martial arts help students to:

  • Improve self-control.
  • Enhance social skills.
  • Boost self-confidence/self-esteem.
  • Improve focus/concentration.
  • Increase stamina/physical strength.
  • Improve balance/coordination.

An individual within the autism spectrum may demonstrate repetitive behaviors, a trait that is employed within martial arts. Martial art forms or techniques must be performed many, many times, in order to achieve fluency and mastery. Stereotypy is the measure of how frequently someone in the autism spectrum exhibits repetitive motions, which may be utilized as a calming mechanism. A study by the University of Isfahan showed that students who learned karate kata or patterns, which require repetition, exhibited a significant reduction in stereotypy after one month of training. With lifelong learning, martial arts and autism create a lasting symbiotic relationship that greatly benefits students.

Regular training in martial arts tends to boost self-esteem as proficiency increases. As students become more confident, they feel more capable and effective, and may try new challenges. Increased self-esteem and consistent social interactions can help children come out of their shells and become more social.

Martial arts instructors tailor techniques to fit the student instead of molding the student to fit the technique. Individuals with Down syndrome can benefit from learning martial arts because training promotes physical development as well as coordination. Karate is unique from other sports or activities in that it is a physical exercise that requires individuals to focus during the activity utilizing their brain power. In the art of karate, repetitive movements are involved in the learning of kata (forms) and kumite (sparring) which can assist an individual with mental and physical development.

Students learn at their own pace and progress based on their specific levels of ability and effort. Karate welcomes individuality, and the Scottsdale Martial Arts Center has put systems in place to provide additional assistance for those students with unique needs. For instance, for students with various challenges, consistency and routine are essential. Unlike other sports programs, Scottsdale Martial Arts Center offers a consistent schedule of classes year-round – only closing for major holidays and special situations.


Individualized Teaching, Enhanced Learning and Life Skills Development

As a parent of a child who may have special needs, it can be challenging to find an after-school or work activity that meets your child’s physical, cognitive, social and emotional needs. At Scottsdale Martial Arts Center, we understand that each child is unique and learns in a different manner. That’s why we encourage you to speak with us about your child’s specific needs and goals. We listen and apply appropriate teaching techniques and strategies to help your child thrive in our program.

Our experienced instructors combine a variety of teaching techniques and strategies that enable students with different types of learning abilities to grasp and perform the fundamentals of karate. In many cases, progress made within our program has resulted in improvements in students’ overall learning abilities and behaviors.

Learning karate reinforces many principles and life skills – including respect, courtesy, accountability, responsibility and focus. Karate also adds physical discipline, which can be beneficial for many students with learning disorders.


Why Scottsdale Martial Arts?

Because we strive to be the best in the industry in all facets of our operation. Scottsdale Martial Arts Center, Inc. operates under the same philosophy that is taught to its students, “mediocrity is not acceptable.” We do not accept mediocrity with our staff, facility, curriculum or training equipment. We strive to be the best in the industry in all facets of our operation.

The Scottsdale Martial Arts Center works with students who have been diagnosed with:

  • ADD
  • AD/HD
  • Aspergers’ Syndrome
  • Autism
  • Down Syndrome
  • Speech/Learning/Development Conditions

Call us at (480) 951-2716 to schedule a private meeting to determine if our program is right for your child. You and your child can also “test drive” our program for an introductory week to determine if martial arts is a good fit for your family. If you want to preliminarily discuss this program and your child, please don’t hesitate to call Ray Hughes directly on his cell phone at (602)315-5011.


Experienced, Compassionate Facilitators and Instructors

Our Team

Chief Karate Instructor

Ray Hughes
Owner of Scottsdale Martial Arts Center
40 years of working with students of various special challenges
7th degree black belt

Assistant Instructors

Dr. Sam Sterk
Ph.D in Psychology, specializing and registered in Sport Psychology and Hypnosis.
Experienced in Sport Psychology and Motivation
Internship on Counseling Special Needs and Disabilities
27 years of training in martial arts
5th degree black belt

Paul Henry, RN
Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN)
Master’s in Business (MBA)
10 years martial art training
Mother of a special needs child



Safety is our number one objective. There is no physical contact between practitioners. Training consists of various drills and applications. If a student at some point can move into free sparring, it may be considered at a later date.


Class Times

Tuesday and Thursday
7:30 PM to 8:30 PM

Class times during the day may be considered based on interest.

Program starts Tuesday, September 5th, 2017



No student will be turned down because of finances. No student will go without a uniform. Scholarships are available based on individual needs.

Monthly Fee – non-contractual

Once a week participation     $90
Twice a week participation   $145

One time registration fee     $40
Uniform (gi) with belt          $50


What Our Parents Have to Say

“Our son, Michael, was diagnosed with autism at 18 months old. In addition to daily speech, occupational, developmental, vision and music therapy, Michael has participated in karate at the Scottsdale Martial Arts Center since he was a toddler. From day one, Michael was welcomed with open arms to this accepting, inspiring school – and has never been judged during his sometimes-frequent emotional outbursts. Combining Sensei Ray’s determination and humor with Sensei Tyler’s unwavering guidance and gentleness has enabled Michael to progress in karate and in life.

The Scottsdale Martial Arts Center has been instrumental in Michael’s physical and emotional development. Due to autism, Michael has ‘low muscle tone’. Karate improves his strength, balance and coordination. In addition to muscle core, karate helps improve Michael’s ‘mental core’ – increasing his focus, memory and self-discipline. Karate enhances Michael’s social and interpersonal skills as well. It has given him self-confidence and a sense of pride in his accomplishments. In addition to karate, Michael learns daily life lessons, enabling him to improve his social interaction skills with peers and teachers.”

– The Henry Family