Summer Camps FAQ

Q. What ages do your summer camps serve?

A. Our summer camps are for kids 6-12.


Q. Can beginning kids who have never trained martial arts come to your camps?

A. YES! Our camps, much like the style we train, are focused on the individual. Your child will feel welcome and will be taught at the beginning level. Children who have been training a little longer will be taught at their level. We have lots of wonderful instructors in place at camps which allows us the flexibility to meet your child where he or she is.


Q. What hours are your camps?

A. We have half day (8:30-noon), full day (8:30-3:00) and extended care (3:00-5:30) options so you can pick what works best for you and your child.


Q. What are your camp dates this year?

A. Summer Camps are over for 2014 but we’ll post our dates for 2015 as soon as we have them available!


Q. Why do you only offer two camps?

A. We put a huge amount of effort into making our camps as fun and power packed as possible, for each and every camper. This takes a lot of time, energy and people power. All of us have family, friends, activities to do, and communities we like to give back to. In order to keep camps as special as they are, and in order to keep balance in our own lives, we offer only two camps per summer. Because of this, they are in high demand. Be sure to sign up early.


Q. What happens during a typical camp day?

A. Campers arrive by 9AM and then camp gets into full swing. The morning is spent learning martial arts and self-defense. Kids get an awesome workout (or two!) each morning. Sometimes we work out all together and sometimes we break apart by rank so we can work individually with the campers at their level/rank. Because we work out so hard, we like to have a small snack break in the morning. Lunch is around 12:00PM, when we head to one of the parks within walking distance from our school. We gather together to eat and relax in the shade, load up with sunscreen and then we play! We are back at Tulen Center by 3:00PM for pick up. Kids who are with us for extended care have some choices. They can join us for more work outs (usually in the form of fun games and challenges) or they can choose some quiet activities like playing with legos, art projects and games, to round out their big day! Pick up for extended care is 5:30PM. Kids ALWAYS sleep well during camps!


Q. What skills can I expect my child to learn?

A. Your child will learn some important life skills like discipline, self-control, respect and compassion. Your child will experience the pride that comes with honest achievement and the joy that comes from working together with teammates. S/he will learn effective self-defense skills that will last a lifetime. Specifics include use of the voice, striking and releases from grabs and holds. Your child will gain confidence that he or she will carry outward into the world. We create courageous leaders and upright citizens.


Q. This all sounds great, but will my child have fun?

A. YES!! Our style, Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen, is based on animal movement. The monkey, the tiger, the crane and the snake teach us cool moves, and from these animals, we have created some really fun games. We do fun stuff throughout the day like nail painting, face painting, push up and cruncher contests…we have “tattoo parlors”, nifty art projects and guests who come in to teach skills like theater games, card games and magic tricks. Our days are full of fun activities with a nice balance of “down time” to relax and just hang out with our friends.


Q. How do I register?

A. It’s easy. You can call us: 503-291-9333. Or you can register online here.

Kindling Kindness

A martial arts teacher explains how bullies grow—or don’t.

By Goeroe Louise Rafkin who runs Studio Naga, our sister school in Oakland, CA.

At the end of every one of my martial arts classes, the kids shake hands with each other. It’s my favorite moment, and one that not every child is comfortable with, initially. As I watch them pumping their arms—some, eventually, with the enthusiasm of puppies—I think, this is why I teach. The training is about learning to get along, about respecting each other, about being connected.

But in 25 years of teaching martial arts, I’ve noticed a gradual slippage in the ways kids relate to other kids—and to adults—a sad trend away from kindness.

The news is everywhere: Bullying is epidemic. In the current frenzy about bullying at school, fingers are pointing every which way. Mostly they’re aimed at school administrators, who toss cash at the situation, both out of genuine concern and to guard against lawsuits.

Mandates for safe schools mean action, and there’s interesting work being done. Yet remedies to bullying have generally focused on the victim—“Learn to fight back,” or “Just walk away,” or, more popular these days, “Stand up to the bully.” All of these strategies can work, at times, and I support—and teach—them all; I’m especially committed to self-defense.

But since when has the best solution to a problem been the correction of the victim? As if the bully is an immutable object, when, in fact, the bully is another kid (or adult) with hopes and fears and insecurities, seeking a way to belong and get by. The popular assumption that bullies are misfits with rotten self-images is challenged by major studies, at U.C.L.A. and elsewhere, showing that bullies are actually considered “cool.” Bullies are often popular, wield power in their peer groups, have friends, and even possess a fair shake of self-esteem. What they lack is impulse control, empathy for others, and respect for authority.

So what is our responsibility? What can we do as parents, teachers, and neighbors, to teach a more inclusive and compassionate way of relating?

Because anyone with a toddler knows behavior is monkey-see, monkey-do from the get-go, the first thing we all can do is look at our own behavior. When is the last time you cursed a bad driver (modeling poor impulse control)? Called a coworker or family member an idiot (exhibiting a lack of empathy)? Undermined your child’s teacher or coach (showing lack of respect for authority)?

Was any of this in front of kids, yours or others? We’ve all done it, and worse. And these days, our kids bear witness to a lot more of our questionable behavior than in yesteryear. The imaginary wall between kids and parents has been all but erased; they’re listening to our telephone conversations, watching us work at home. Monkeys are seeing and monkeys are doing.

Since the 16th century, when fight-to-the-death life skills were eclipsed by the age of weaponry, martial arts training has focused on teaching a way of life, about how to live without fear, gain confidence, and be better people. We’ve got centuries-old traditions shaping our community. Yet martial arts philosophy is adaptable to both home and school. Away from my studio, I (too often!) have a salty mouth and can be as catty and demanding as the best, or worst. But around my students, both in class and out, I know I’m the “highest rank” and both my kicks—and my behavior—will be copied.

Running a school with zero tolerance for bullying, I’ve had to think deeply about our community values. We have slogans: “Cliquey is icky”; “You can’t say you can’t play.” But the most central tenets of martial arts are civility and respect—not always culturally lauded these days. Last fall, when the president of the United States was called a liar by an elected representative during a congressional address, I felt we’d reached a new low. “You can disagree without being disagreeable” is a phrase easily understood by kids, though it takes guts to use it with adults.

As the head of my school, I am often on the receiving end of what I’ll politely call “disagreeable behavior” by parents. There are those that challenge my school policies (no, there is no exception, not even for you), and those who strongly question our rules (children must wear uniforms, even if they don’t feel like it that day). Last week, a parent was outraged that his child, underage for the school yet “gifted,” was not allowed in. In each of these cases, parents tried to verbally bully me into their way of thinking; in two instances, I was criticized personally.

In martial arts, our code of conduct doesn’t depend on context but is applicable to everyone—parents and kids—all the time. This challenges those who want special treatment or who think the rules shouldn’t apply to their kids, for whatever reason. But a single set of rules creates a safe container for everyone. We don’t put up with disrespectful behavior on the training floor, nor is it okay for kids to bow respectfully in class and then treat their parents like servants.

Decades of martial arts experience have shown me that compassion can be taught. Last year, at our Tilden overnight camp, a young boy new to our school brandished a pocketknife at another threateningly. We set up an apology session where each talked about what they felt. It went . . . okay. But that night, during the great game, “Five Minutes of Fame,” in which kids talk about their lives, the new boy spoke: 27 foster placements before a forever home. The next day the bully and the bullied became buddies; compassion and understanding won out over fear and anger.

When kids come to Studio Naga, they are taught to say hello, to ask about my day, and to respond when I ask them about theirs. They are required to mentor newer students, to clean bathrooms, to empty trash. And at the close of every class, the last thing we do is exchange the Indonesian phrase gotong-royong. Roughly translated, it means, “I learn from you, and you learn from me,” or, more formally, “We share a goal.”

In martial arts, we bow an awful lot, but it goes both ways: I to them, them to me. We share the responsibility of what we create. It comes back to all of us, really. Those fingers are pointing right at me.

Published in The Monthly, East Bay’s Premier Magazine of culture and Commerce

For information about our upcoming Anti-Bullying Training Seminars:

For information about summer camps with Goeroe Louise: