Categorized as: Exercise

Yoga and Warrior Martial Arts classes part of new kind of PE curriculum for kids in Frisco ISD

Elementary school kids training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

(Reprinted from Dallas Morning News) FRISCO — Soft piano music and dim lights set the mood in the kindergarten classroom.

Kristina Cappe, a health and wellness coach at Frisco ISD’s Pink Elementary School, stands in front of 22 children, each sitting on their own pink mat.

“Is everyone ready for yoga?” she asks. “We’re going to take our fingers and put them on our belly and we’re going to imagine our belly is a balloon.”

Cappe leads the children in a few deep breaths, then guides them through some basic stretches. She shows the kindergarteners all the classic poses: mountain, warrior, downward dog, tree pose.

When she has the kids arch their backs into cat pose, she tells them to meow as they exhale. They all giggle and join in.

When they sit on the floor to stretch their hamstrings, she tells them to “make a pizza” with sauce, cheese and extra toppings. They sprinkle handfuls of imaginary cheese on their mats as they stretch toward their toes.

“Who remembers our yoga code word?” she asks at the end of the lesson.

“Namaste,” the children say in breathy, kindergarten voices.

 The kids don’t know it, but this is not their parents’ health class.

Pink Elementary and the rest of Frisco ISD’s 42 elementary schools are finding new ways to get kids moving and keep them healthy. That means yoga classes, martial arts lessons, vegetable “try days” in the cafeteria and more.It all works in concert with expanded counseling and mental health services to provide education to the “whole child,” in the parlance of the district. The idea is that all of a student’s classes should work together to promote not just academic but social and emotional learning as well.

That’s where yoga comes in.

“It gives kids an opportunity to breathe and exhale, which sometimes we can’t do when we’re focused on academic rigor,” said Allison Ginn, the district’s K-12 PE and health coordinator. “We want to make sure we’re offering opportunities to all students and not limiting it to what we traditionally thought of in PE.”

Changing standards nationwide

Nationwide, more schools are moving away from the kind of physical education most grown-ups remember.

Christopher Hersl is vice president of programs and professional development for SHAPE America, a professional group for health and physical education teachers. Although every school’s PE curriculum is different, he said, many districts have begun to focus more on “physical literacy” rather than lessons on the rules of team sports.

Among adults, the most popular physical activities are often solitary. Think running, biking, tennis or golf. The logistics of putting together large sports teams is a barrier for many, so it’s better to teach kids the skills of healthy living, Hersl said.

“The reality is health is more than one thing,” Hersl said.

In Frisco ISD, lead elementary PE teacher JT Mistr said he has worked to improve PE alongside health and wellness curriculum with help from school nurses, cafeteria nutritionists and more.

The district makes a distinction between PE class, which focuses on student movement, and health and wellness, a rotation class like art or music that focuses on the classroom-learning side of emotional, physical and mental health.

Beyond yoga classes and other nontraditional lessons for elementary-schoolers, Pink Elementary has hosted community fun runs, ride-your-bike-to-school days, health fairs and “try days” in the cafeteria where students are encouraged to taste fruits and vegetables in all colors of the rainbow.

“For most adults, working out is not fun,” said Pink principal Danielle Record. “Now, we want to instill in our students a love for being physically active.”

The efforts have brought national praise and accolades to the school, including most recently the American Heart Association’s School of the Year Award for year-round heart-healthy programming.

“It’s not just PE; it’s not just kids coming in [to the nurse’s office] to get a Band Aid. We have to lean on the whole process,” Mistr said. “We’re always trying to find how we can meet our kids.”

Diverse opportunities

While a group of kindergarteners in Cappe’s classroom focused on mindfulness, a group in the gym on the other side of the school was a little more active.

Mistr had invited instructors from nearby Warrior Martial Arts Academy to give a basic martial arts lesson in PE class.

The kindergarteners stood in an evenly-spaced grid, punching and kicking on command. They ran in place, and dropped to a push-up when instructed to. A far cry from the calming yoga down the hall.

“From one extreme to another,” Mistr said.

Near the end of the lesson, the instructor told them to drop into a pushup position. Kindergarteners struggle with upper body strength, Mistr said, and few of the students can do a true pushup. Getting started early, however, will help them when fitness tests start in third grade.

“It’s hard, man,” Mistr said. “Core strength is everything.”

The MMA workout of a LEGEND

At Warrior Martial Arts Academy, we appreciate the legends of Mixed Martial Arts.  These are the people who train, fight, sweat, win and lose but never quit.  Bas Rutten is a GREAT example of the life-dedication to this sport that leaves us inspired.  Mr. Rutten’s awesome recommended MMA workout was posted in Men’s Health.  Check them out – get bigger, stronger and faster!!

In the world of Mixed Martial Arts and Ultimate Fighting Championship, Bas Rutten is a bit of a legend. He traveled the globe and trained in Japan throughout the 1990’s. After retiring in 1999, he was inducted to the UFC Hall of Fame and continues to give back to the industry that made him a household name.

Since hanging up his grappling shorts, the Dutch fighter has gone on to appear in many television shows and movies. He also owns a gym in California where he developed an MMA training system. We traveled to his Westlake Village facility to find out what it takes to get the body of an MMA fighter. The 12-move circuit is decidedly difficult—even for seasoned pros like Rutten.

For the workout, perform each move for 50 seconds and rest for 10 seconds in between each move. Do the entire MMA workout circuit three times for an intense full-body workout worthy of the UFC Hall of Fame.


Slam Ball

Lift the ball above your head and slam it down to the ground. Catch it, lift it back up, and repeat as manytimes as you can for 50 seconds. This move will help develop your core for “ground and pound striking.”

Knee Kicks

Lift your arms overhead and pull them down to your side as your knee comes up to your chest. Do this alternating on each side. Build up to multiple kicks per side before switching.


Fall into the push up position and let your hips touch the ground and get back up. This move is great at preparing your for takedown defense and building your core. You can think of them as “MMA workoutburpees.”

Push Ups

Keep your arms against your body so you are using your triceps and extending your arms. This movement mirrors how you punch.

Jumps Over Bag or Shield

Jump over a bag or a shield laying on the floor without hopping or double jumping in between. Keep your feet together and immediately push off the ground each time.

Bicep Curls

Rutten likes to do his bicep curls holding a kettlebell, but says you can use any kind of weights accessible to you.

Japanese Situps

Lay on your back with your legs in a tabletop position. Use your core (and some momentum) to hop your back off of the floor. This is great for arm bars and triangle choke attempts for guard, plus it’s a tough ab exercise.

Ground and Pound on Bag or Shield

Straddle your bag and use your elbow to strike it. You can also perform knee strikes to target both the upper and lower body.


Set two markers on the ground about 30 feet apart. Run back and forth as many times as you can in 50 seconds. As you approach the marker each time, slow down to tap the ground. You’ll want to “put the brakes on” so you don’t run past your marker. This is a tough conditioning exercise that will really get your heart rate up.


Perform deep squats. For an extra challenge, make these jumping squats by bringing your knees to your chest.

Kettlebell Swings

Keep your arms straight as you swing the kettlebell. Make sure the movement comes from your hips, not from your shoulders. This helps develop powerful hips to stop takedowns.


Rutten developed this move himself to work the core muscles. Stand in a horse stance and cross your arms in front of you in an “X”. Start twisting your upper body side to side with explosive power and speed while keeping your head and lower body perfectly still.

WOMEN – Martial arts is the best workout you’re NOT doing!

Warrior Martial Arts Academy Seminar

Warrior Martial Arts Academy Seminar

From Shape Magazine:  

Q: What are the benefits of boxing workouts or mixed martial arts training for women?

A: I must give full disclosure: I’m a huge fan of mixed martial arts (MMA).  The techniques include striking (kicks, knees, and punches) and grappling (holds, sweeps, and throws).  I incorporate boxing and Jiu-Jitsu into my own weekly training plan.  I also work with MMA fighters on a regular basis.

That being said, I think that every woman, regardless of age or athletic ability, can benefit tremendously from incorporating some boxing and/or martial arts into her training program. Whether you want to improve overall health and fitness, lose weight (fat), or simply boost your mood, martial arts can help you reach your goals and more. In terms of physical qualities, some of the benefits include:

  1. Improved balance and coordination. You’ll also be better at quickly shifting your weight and changing directions, a key to excel in sports.
  2. Dynamic flexibility of joints, muscles, and ligaments. This not only promotes better posture, making you appear taller and leaner, but it will continue to improve your quality of life as you age, injury free.
  3. Power. The two components of power are strength and speed so you’ll improve your ability to perform explosive movements like jumping.
The benefits of MMA go beyond physical qualities. This type of training requires deep concentration and the ability to avoid distraction. Plus, it builds incredible confidence.
If you’re serious about learning from the best, I recommend checking out an actual MMA training facility. Contrary to what you may think, you’ll find that the athletes and instructors are extremely respectful of the women who train at their facility and will go to great lengths to make them feel comfortable.

Ready to Get Started?

If you’re new to MMA, try one of Warrior Martial Arts Academy’s Women’s Only Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes if you’d like, but it’s perfectly fine to jump right into a class setting if you prefer.  We offer plenty of AUTHENTIC Kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes at all of our locations in the DFW area.  Just go to our website check our Locations tab for the location closest to you, and then look for Schedules to find a time that fits your lifestyle.  Next, call us or send an email (info@warriormartialartsacademy.com) to schedule a FREE introductory lesson with one of our world-class instructors!