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DMW hosts kick-a-thon

SNOQUALMIE - Guttural yells emanated from dozens of kicking tae kwon do students at DMW Martial Arts and Fitness in Snoqualmie last Saturday. The students were attempting to set a new world record for the number of kicks in an hour as part of a national fund-raising effort for the Project Action Foundation, an award-winning children's charity based in Florida. The participants were trying to beat their world record of 8.3-million kicks from last year. At the end of a fast-paced hour, the students at DMW Martial Arts alone had kicked a grand total of 11,940 times.

The money raised will go back to the Snoqualmie Valley community and communities across the country to help provide disadvantaged and "at-risk" children the opportunity to get involved with after-school and extracurricular activities. Part of the money raised will go toward paying for scholarships and funds for physical and cultural arts programs.

As the event took place on the morning of Oct. 15 at DMW in the Snoqualmie Ridge neighborhood, it was occurring simultaneously at thousands of participating martial arts studios across the country as part of Project Action Foundation's sixth annual World Record Kick-a-thon.

Their efforts to fight juvenile crime was organized by the National Association of Professional Martial Artists (NAPMA) and supported by proclamations for a National Martial Arts Day from Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire and Snoqualmie Mayor Fuzzy Fletcher.

Marcia Paul, one of the three owners and instructors at DMW Martial Arts, had written the governor and mayor earlier in the year and was pleasantly surprised by their positive support. "I was really impressed, actually, and very proud of myself," said Paul.

Last year, with the help of 5,000 instructors and students, the national Kick-a-thon raised more than $250,000, with the proceeds helping pay for 600 children's after-school activities.

As of Saturday, $1,507 had been raised at DMW Martial Arts alone, with only about half of the participants' donations being counted so far. Organizers said that the event is on track to break last year's totals, with 80-100 students at DMW participating.

The event received enthusiastic backing and organizational support from the Snoqualmie Valley Youth Hub, a community-based, youth development organization that works as a partnership between the cities of North Bend, Snoqualmie, the King County government and Snoqualmie Valley School District.

DMW Martial Arts, which was founded in 2003, was honored to host this year's Kick-a-thon for the Valley, said Warren Spencer, one of the instructors (the name "DMW" is formed by the first letters of the three instructor/owner's names: Dan Cartan, Marcia Paul and Warren Spencer; it also stands for "Decisions Made Wisely").

The focus of the studio and events like National Martial Arts Day and the Kick-a-thon is on building self-esteem and self-confidence.

"The schools are asked to do everything, so we kind of try to help to supplement that, and we get to that within the physical environment," said Spencer, a second-degree black belt. "The kids, they're learning self-esteem, self-confidence," he said.

The flying sidekicks, multiple round kicks and butterfly kicks performed Saturday were accompanied by loud yells, called "ki hahp," which help students by tightening muscles.

"The social part of it is that when they first come in, if they don't have a lot of self-confidence, giving that loud yell, it's very, very soft," said Spencer. "So one of the ways we can tell the improvement in the development of that confidence is that those yells get louder, more full ... and then all of sudden it's like, 'wow' ... they got it now," he said.

"They carry themselves with that confidence, which studies have shown that that self-confidence is a major form of self-defense; that when you walk around confident, feeling good about yourself, you're much less likely to be a victim."

The Kick-a-thon should be making a reappearance next year based on how well Saturday's event went, said the DMW instructors.

"It was a great success actually because it was our first year doing it," said Paul. "Lots of people came out, [and] I thought that was great. Lots of people helped us in the community, that was wonderful. Great event, great cause ... couldn't ask for more, actually."

* For information, visit the Project Action Foundation's Web page at www.projectaction.com or call DMW Martial Arts and Fitness at (425) 443-6099.

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