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‘Bus Stop Basics’ event to teach children self-defense skills Saturday

by Remington Miller | September 13, 2023 at 4:17 p.m.
Keegan Ireland (left) and instructors with the American Taekwondo Association (ATA) are shown in these file photos taken in Little Rock in 2017 and 2008, respectively. Ireland, a senior master ATA Martial Arts instructor and director of new school development, will lead a free self-defense class in Maumelle on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. (Left, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Helaine R. Williams; right, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Stephen B. Thornton)

ATA (American Taekwondo Association) Martial Arts is providing a free self-defense class to children in Maumelle on Saturday.

Keegan Ireland, a senior master ATA Martial Arts instructor and director of new school development, will lead the seminar at the Maumelle Community Center, 1100 Edgewood Drive, at 10 a.m. Saturday, according to a news release from ATA Martial Arts dated Sept. 9.

The seminar is set to cover awareness skills, bully defense tactics and stranger defense to students and their families, the release said. 

“Attendees can expect to learn valuable skills including how to enhance personal safety when alone and in groups at bus stops, situational awareness, confidence-building tips, and the skills and knowledge needed to handle school bullies,” the release said. 

The training is focused on students in elementary school and middle school, Ireland said Wednesday afternoon. 

“The reason this topic is so important is that we want our students to be equipped with the necessary skills to know how to react to a situation when it happens,” he said. “It’s similar to 911 safety and fire safety. We teach our kids that if they see smoke, they should try to get out of the building and call for help. This is just as essential.” 

Ireland said that trainings like the one planned for Saturday are even more important as technology becomes more of a distraction. 

“You drive past a school bus, and you see kids with their heads down on their cell phones, and that’s important because mom and dad want their student to have contact with them,” he said. “But that can inadvertently put them into danger. That’s why awareness is so important.” 

This is the first event of its kind since the covid-19 pandemic, Ireland said. 

“I’d recommend this training to families who have never put their student through any kind of self-defense course, or even families who have," he said. "The repetition is what makes the training stick.” 

The event is only on Saturday and is free to the public, but registration is required, the release said. 

Those interested in registering for the event can visit


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