These kids are kicking cancer  literally! Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg meets with his class which teaches martial arts relaxation and meditation techniques to children facing cancer and other serious illnesses (AP photos)
These kids are kicking cancer literally!

The young people who learn martial arts at a studio north of Detroit are not considered students.

Their instructors use a different word.


That's because the techniques these children learn will be used not to take on an opponent from a rival studio but against the deadly diseases that ravage their young bodies and threaten their lives.

Called Kids Kicking Cancer, the Southfield, Michigan-based program helps sick kids learn to use martial arts-style breathing and relaxation techniques to manage stress, anxiety and pain stemming from their illnesses and medical treatments.

It was founded by Elimelech Goldberg, a rabbi and first-degree black belt in the art of Choi Kwang Do. Known to the children as "Rabbi G," Goldberg said he was motivated to start Kids Kicking Cancer by the memory of his daughter, Sara, who was diagnosed with leukemia just before her 1st birthday and succumbed to the disease a little more than a year later.

"My daughter, at 2 years old, contributed so much to this planet, because she brought in this light. And now that's the light that I'm privileged to help spread to the rest of the world," Goldberg said before leading a class of 16 preteens and teenagers suffering from cancer, sickle cell anemia and other ailments.

One child in the class of "little heroes," as Goldberg calls them, is Jayson Harris, a 9-year-old from Detroit whose cancer is in remission.

"Being in class is like a second family to me," Jayson said shortly before taking his spot on the mat and driving his fist into a striking pad held by instructor Michael Hunt.

The training also is designed to teach the kids to take control of their situations. Or as Goldberg says, to teach them to be victors instead of victims.

Hunt, 27, was the latter when he joined Goldberg's first class in 1999. He had already undergone a year of chemotherapy to treat a cancer of the muscles known as rhabdomyosarcoma, as well as having four ribs and a tumor removed from his side. Hunt later had two steel rods surgically implanted on either side of his spine.

Being a part of Kids Kicking Cancer allowed him to cut down on the medications he had been taking to manage the pain, and as a trainer he is an ever-present reminder to enrollees that the program can help.

"I'll tell them my story, and they're like, 'Oh, OK. Now, I know I can do it,'" Hunt said.

Critical thinking challenge: Which experiences made Michael Hunt both a victim and victor?

Assigned 6 times

  • NashMcComsey-Ste
    2/24/2015 - 10:08 a.m.

    One of the hardest jobs in the world is surely to inspire these kids to rise above their condition. Its nice to see people take a stand on such a daunting task, hopefully it works out for the best for these kids.

  • HakimaA3
    2/24/2015 - 10:21 a.m.

    Michael Hunt is a victim to the cancer known as rhabdomyosarcoma. He is a victor because he learns to control and make the pain less painful .

  • johanna.galloway34
    2/24/2015 - 12:52 p.m.

    Kicking cancer could be a difficult thing in life that you can get when your older or younger. Cancer starts in the body tissue. Over 1,500 people a day die from cancer. There is 5 million cancer deaths in total in a year. Some say that they survive cancer over a martial arts because it goes away faster. I think this is really interesting to make sports like this.

  • pp2000boa
    2/24/2015 - 01:13 p.m.

    I wonder if really getting physically active would help diseases. Shouldn't the program also include eating 'good' foods or those? I think this might help.

  • TaylorHartman-Ste
    2/24/2015 - 01:16 p.m.

    No one in the world deserves to go through the brutality of having cancer, but for young kids to participate in kick boxing and physical activity, they are truly role models.

  • KevinH7
    2/24/2015 - 02:55 p.m.

    If Cancer such a huge issue nowadays, why don't we hear about more programs like Kids Kicking Cancer?
    Yes, it's a big help now, but it would've been decades ago.

  • savannahe-And
    2/24/2015 - 03:43 p.m.

    Michael Hunt gets to learn how to do martial arts and he gets to teach other kids to do martial arts too! I think that he is truly a role model.

  • joshh-Lam
    2/24/2015 - 04:38 p.m.

    These kids are awesome. I wish I had the guts to actually do what they do. Actually I don't know if I do. I think I'm just lazy.

  • nickb-Lam
    2/24/2015 - 05:04 p.m.

    It is cool that kids have the opportunity to soothe their minds from this nasty disease. Especially when they can not choose if they have cancer or not. They are very unlucky human beings, and they deserve the best out of what they can receive.

  • coltons-Lam
    2/24/2015 - 05:07 p.m.

    It's cool that Rabbi G has made this program for kids that have a sickness or illness. It's really helpful for the kids. Also it helps for them to have less stress.

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