Life skills through martial arts

Olivia Roney Spahn, center, CEO and founder of Crouching Tigers, with two of her students. (submitted photo)

Olivia Roney Spahn, center, CEO and founder of Crouching Tigers, with two of her students. (submitted photo)

By Kristen Yates

Born from a love of ancient martial arts came the fun, affordable, kid-friendly program that is sweeping the north side of Indianapolis. Crouching Tigers’ president and founder, Olivia Roney Spahn has expanded on her 11 years of karate background to begin a business that explores story telling, life lessons, and traditional martial arts techniques.

“I started Crouching Tigers in 2007 while attending college at IUPUI as a fun way for children from ages two to seven to get involved in a kid-friendly, parent approved, no contact martial arts program. While building on the basic techniques something else started growing as well,” Spahn said.

Today, at several locations around Carmel and Zionsville, more than110 classes are taught on a weekly basis. Over the past seven years the program as grown into more than just a fun 30-to-45-minute class with your friends. Spahn has started incorporating stories, animal characters, life skills and awareness activities.

“The best part of my job is writing the curriculum,” Spahn said. “There is something really special about writing short stories and having that story read to thousands of children throughout the next week.”

The characters and stories that have been created for these kids is a crucial part of the teachings. One character Spahn has created called Recycling Ben, teaches children about recycling negative words and thoughts into positive ones. It’s the little details like this that make Couching Tigers unique in their approach to learning. Although these classes have traditionally been held within daycares and community centers Spahn wants to give the public a chance to experience them as well. She has teamed up with the Indianapolis Public Library to put on several free demos around the north side of Indianapolis.

“While Crouching Tigers started out as a fun, convenient and affordable martial arts option for families it has certainly evolved into something much more,” Spahn said. “While still using martial arts as a vehicle to teach our lessons, the program has become so much more about resilience than anything else.”

The next free classes with Crouching Tigers are:

-College Avenue Library on Oct. 22 at 10:30 a.m. (4180 N.

College Ave.)

-Fountain Square Library on Nov. 10 at 11:00 a.m. (1066

Virginia Ave.)

For more information, visit

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