The Road to Self-Improvement

How Northern Karate Schools build confidence and prepare students for the challenges of life.

Just before students of Northern Karate Schools are awarded their black belts, the instructors ask them to write an essay as a way to reflect on their journey to the esteemed rank. What’s amazing for the instructors, says Cos Vona, a director at Northern Karate, is that they learn about all the obstacles the students overcame along the way. Prior to starting karate, some students were bullied or struggled in school; others endured the hardship of illness or death in their family. But what’s often the common thread is how students credit the maturity and mental fortitude fostered through their martial arts training — traits that helped them persevere through the adversity. “It’s incredible the stories we hear,” says Vona.

For the past 43 years, Northern Karate has helped thousands of students develop the confidence, focus and strength to handle all challenges that life throws their way. By focusing on body, mind and spirit, this award-winning and internationally renowned institution has guided young and old with karate’s philosophy and teachings. “Karate, and martial arts in general, builds confidence and self-respect in students,” says Vona. “It’s about self-improvement as a person.”

Indeed, besides the obvious physical benefit — the great workout that hones strength along with balance and stamina — karate is more of a life skill than a sport or activity. It not only boosts self-esteem, but it also instils determination and a strong work ethic — skills that are easily transferable to everyday life.

“We want to prepare children for when their parents are not around, so that they can have the ability to take care of themselves,” Vona explains. “We approach it with the attitude of, ‘If you work hard, you can achieve your goal.’ If you can change the student’s mindset to think along these lines, then you’re developing an individual with the perseverance and the will to face difficult situations and not give up.”

Part of what makes this training so successful is Northern Karate’s curriculum. All students, regardless of age, are taught the same lessons. “We don’t teach children differently than we do to adults,” says Vona. “There’s not a kids’ curriculum and an adults’ curriculum. It’s the Northern Karate curriculum.”

And it’s hard to argue with the results. With 12 locations across the Greater Toronto Area, and recently winning the Top Choice Award for best martial arts school in Vaughan as well as the Vaughan Citizen’s Readers’ Choice Award for the seventh year in a row, Northern Karate is one of the premier martial arts schools in the country, continuously growing and educating students for the challenges of life. “Just like life, karate is a journey,” says Vona. “And we want to prepare our students for the road ahead.”

Northern Karate Schools — Woodbridge Location
3883 Rutherford Rd., Unit 8 & 9, Woodbridge, Ont.
For other school locations, visit

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