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Tufts University School of Medicine

Kids Give Cancer a Karate Chop

Two adults show a karate move to a young patient at a hospital
Wednesday, February 14, 2018 - 7:00pm

Young cancer patients don’t have too much control over their health, but studies have found that practicing martial arts can help alleviate the pain associated with their disease. An organization known as Kids Kicking Cancer has been promoting that concept at medical centers around the world for almost twenty years, and, driven by a Tufts alumnus, a karate program for pediatric oncology patients has recently been launched at the Floating Hospital for Children, a Tufts School of Medicine teaching hospital.

The power of Kids Kicking Cancer lies in more than learning punches or blocks, as much fun as those may be. It’s the mind-body techniques of meditation, breathing, and focus—an essential part of martial arts practice—that lets the children confront and conquer their pain, emphasized Rob Brockman, A84, the Boston program coordinator for the volunteer group.

“We let these kids know, before they ever learn a technique, that they are powerful martial artists,” Brockman said. “They are breathing in the light, and blowing out the darkness. They are letting pain know you do not have to listen to it.”

Kids Kicking Cancer has its genesis in Detroit, where it was the brainchild of Elimelech Goldberg, a rabbi and martial arts enthusiast who lost his young daughter to leukemia. It got its start in the Boston area in 2015. Boston Children’s Hospital began to refer patients to off-site classes at Esposito’s Karate Fitness Center in Newton, Massachusetts. 

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