Paul Picciano has studied martial arts and the workings of the human body and mind for 40 years. He has a PhD in biological science and he loves watching people grow into healthy, happy versions of themselves who can achieve their goals.
He uses martial arts to get them there.
Picciano is the founder and instructor of Institute of Self Defense at 1055 Farmington Ave., Farmington. He teaches mostly the Korean martial arts Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido and has recently started offering Tai Chi.
But when he explains what it is he does, he talks about the kids.
“We have children with ADD, who’ve had a stroke, who have anxiety disorder. We help them overcome it – not just for martial arts but for their day-to-day life,” Picciano said.
“I have a boy who might have severe ADD and after a month he’ll come up and shake my hand and say ‘thank you for the class, Mr. Paul’ and his parents say he’s started to help at home.”
Picciano teaches both children and adult classes and leads them in a large group, smaller groups or supervising as children teach each other. That not only reinforces what they’ve learned, but gives them a sense of accomplishment, Picciano said.
“You can use it for self-defense, if someone were truly to physically attack you, but beyond that we teach the lessons of all that for use in school – to develop leadership in communities and society and how to develop a real calm personality,” Picciano said. “It brings an understanding of how to live not just as martial artist but in everyday activity and in scholastic achievement.”
He does it by helping kids to focus not on the end product but on themselves perfecting individual movements.
Mom Tara O’Sullivan has enrolled all her children in the Institute of Self Defense and has watched them mature as a result, she said. O’Sullivan also studies there, as well.
“I’m a mom. I’ve got two children. To stay calm and apply what you’ve learned in class - it makes the biggest difference in the world,” O’Sullivan said. “You can freak out, you learn it’s a process, not just the end point. And you go through each piece without trying to make it happen.”
In addition, O’Sullivan said the school has a warm, gentle and loving atmosphere.
“I’m only there for one purpose, that is, to demonstrate their worth and ability to learn these things. And for children with learning difficulties, when they do, their world opens up. For a child with ADD, just to be silent for a moment, the world opens up and they have a new way of seeing themselves. they continue to improve in that,” Picciano said.
For more information on Institute of Self Defense, click here.