Children as young as two are being prepared for the dangers of the modern world by a unique new martial arts and self-defence class.
Mike Jones is teaching Wigan’s youngsters how to keep themselves safe by combining traditional martial arts methods with lessons on how to be remain vigilant at all times in public, and having more confidence when dealing with a threat.
The 38-year-old from Hawkley Hall runs Calicross, combing martial arts skills with the traditional lessons we teach youngsters, such as what to do if approached by a stranger.
And Mike, who has a two-year-old daughter himself, said the success of his lessons is down to the key age of his classes.
“Normally, kids start karate at seven or eight, but I even have kids about two years old!” he said.
“They are mainly four or five. If you start to teach them at that age, things stick in their heads. Through repetition, I get them to understand about bullies, and protecting yourself. They also learn simple things like ringing 999 if someone falls down the stairs, or is ill and needs help.”
He added: “I also teach basic self defence, like if someone tries to pull you into a car.”
Mike also gets the knowledge to sink in by making it easier to understand for the young children.
“I have role plays, like if a car pulls up at the side of them.”
“I try and make it relevant to what they know. I tell them: If somebody tries to grab you, you have to have the biggest temper tantrum. Fall on the floor, kick your feet and scream as loud as you can - so they associate it with things they already do.”
And Mike knows all about just important it can be have a good knowledge of self-defence in real-life situations.
As well as having 30 years of martial arts experienced, and a black belt in Goju-ryum Mike revealed: “When I was 18, I got attacked with a knife. I was at a party and someone went a bit crazy.
“I got stabbed in the hand and have a scar to prove it.
“Everything that you learn over time, it all kicks in. It’s a flight or fight situation.
“He came at me with knife and I parried it and got him in a wristlock, which is how my hand got caught. It’s better to be cut in your arm or leg than have it stuck in your body.
“If it wasn’t for my martial arts, that knife would have gone in my body rather than my hand.”
It was this moment in particular that Mike looked back on for inspiration to start Calicross, a term coined by taking calisthenics (a series of motor movement exercises such as grasping and pushing) and "crossing" it with self-defence training.
“If one kid picks up just a little bit, it’s been a job well done,” Mike said.
Anyone interested in attending a Calicross session can do so on Thursday evenings from 5pm at Gioco Play Centre in Marus Bridge. Sessions last 30 minutes. No booking is required and your first lesson is free.