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Press Release

Release Date: April 20, 2022
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

Chickasaw citizen Katie Welch of Rockwall, Texas, says the Chickasaw Nation Martial Arts Program proved an ideal way of getting her young sons active during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were at home during COVID-19 and doing online learning, and saw in the Chickasaw Times that the Chickasaw Nation Martial Arts Program was open to at-large citizens,” Mrs. Welch said.

Martial arts classes offered virtually incorporate Chickasaw language and culture into the lessons.

“I thought it would be a great way to get them moving.”

Begin moving, they did, to the point that after nine months the youngsters have graduated to yellow belts from their initial white belts.

Hunter Welch, 11, says he can tell a difference not just in his improving physical conditioning but his understanding of the Chickasaw language as well.

“It’s very fun,” Hunter said. “We’re learning how to speak Chickasaw, and we’re learning defensive skills and how to properly do karate. It’s got me better at a lot of things, like how strong I am, how fast and how to be more balanced.”

Archer Welch, 8, agrees with his older brother’s assessment and adds one more. “I’m getting more balanced. My legs are getting stronger from it, and I’m learning how to be more patient,” Archer said.

Mrs. Welch, a former professor, admits she is not very athletic but very much enjoys the classes for another reason.

“I taught linguistics, and I really love the language part of the program, because I know a lot about language acquisition,” she said.

Mrs. Welch says she has been impressed with the level of detail and individualized attention the karate teachers provide.

“You can tell the teachers really do care about the kids,” she said. “They did their belt test, and a few days later we got a large packet in the mail that not only had their belts and a duffle bag with the Chickasaw Nation seal, but also pages and pages of notes that each of the four instructors had written as they were observing.

“You could tell they were really paying very close attention to how they were doing. It was just extensive feedback from them.

“I don’t know how many other at-large citizens are taking advantage of the program, but it’s a great opportunity,” Mrs. Welch said.

Aiden Miller, 10, of Los Alamos, New Mexico, began his virtual karate lessons a couple months ago. Asked if he planned to stay with it until he earned his black belt, he replied with an emphatic, “Yep!”

Aiden said physical conditioning is a key component of each lesson.

“We exercise at the beginning,” he said. “We do jumping-jacks, sit ups, pushups and leg lifts. We also run in place and run in a circle.”

Allison Miller, Aiden’s mother, says the Chickasaw Nation’s virtual classes offered an opportunity to gauge Aiden’s true interest before investing a lot of money for in-person lessons.

Aiden traces his Chickasaw lineage through his father, Nick Miller, who is a special agent with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) working out of the Northern Pueblos Agency. “Nick recently celebrated his 12th anniversary with the BIA,” Mrs. Miller said. Mrs. Miller is a member of the Kiowa Indian Tribe of Oklahoma.

For Josh Woodruff of Hobbs, New Mexico, the Chickasaw Nation’s virtual martial arts training program is a family affair. He, wife Brandy and their 8-year-old son Nashoba, all participate.

“It is always a lot of fun,” Mr. Woodruff said. “The instructors make it entertaining. I’m really impressed by the amount that can be learned virtually. I know a lot of dojos tell you if it’s not in-person, you can’t learn, but you can at least get the fundamentals down.”

He said instructors are sensitive to specific circumstances and modify the program accordingly.

“My wife has a back issue and I have one with my shoulders,” he said. “They really work with you.”

Mr. Woodruff, a lifelong resident of Hobbs, traces his Chickasaw citizenship through his mother’s side of the family.

“I’m really happy with the program and think it’s really great to get exercise we need in this way,” he said.

Additional information regarding the Chickasaw Nation Martial Arts Program is available at Chickasaw.net, by emailing MartialArts@Chickasaw.net or by calling (580) 272-5504.