Gift a Child a Fighting Chance Programme

A life-changing scholarship programme that provides children and young people in poverty with access to fully-funded martial arts training.

Our Flagship Scholarship Programme

The Fighting Chance is prioritising helping children through the economic crisis. Born out of our research and club feedback, our instructors have exposed the urgent need for this essential support. We have responded by building a programme which will help empower and nurture children. Martial Arts provides self-discipline, fitness, confidence, empowerment, resilience and so many more life affirming benefits. For children living in poverty and often coming from unstable home lives, martial arts can be an anchor in an otherwise turbulent ocean.

Gift a Child a Fighting Chance programme provides access to martial arts training for those aged 4 to 18 years of age growing up in poverty. In addition to providing free training, the programme goes further and helps especially gifted students make the leap to teaching. This allows them to support the club that fostered their growth, and to make an honest living themselves teaching martial arts. This enables an on-going generational cycle of change. Our aim is to inspire future generations in their communities.

See The Change Martial Arts Can Provided To Children Growing Up In Poverty

Our Chief Executive Officer, Giovanni, grew up in poverty. Martial arts didn't just stop him from descending into a life of crime, it gave him the resilience, discipline and stamina to harness his entrepreneurial spirit and become a figure-head in martial arts, voted as Men's Health Coach Of The Year for his work with our Foundation.

Read His Inspirational Story

Why Martial Arts?

Often disenfranchised by authority and worried about where the next meal may come from, or when the electricity may go off, it's no wonder children growing up in poverty often don't have the resources to study like their peers. It's also no wonder parents - often fending off bailiffs and struggling to make ends meet - can't put aside sometimes costly bills for sports clubs, gym memberships, equipment, uniforms and so on.

Martial Arts provides a relatively inexpensive way to practice a sport that is truly transformational. It has the power to 'cut through the noise' in a way very few other sports can. It teaches respect and discipline for your fellow classmates, as well as for yourself.

There is a journey of development and progression in martial arts that takes years. It's one of the few sanctuaries in life that is not instantly obtainable 'on demand' or affordable via a shortcut. Everyone, of every background, creed, nationality and race is forced to walk the same narrow road. One of determination, resilience, grit and hard work.

The skills taught and learnt in martial arts have the ability to register a profound change to young people not just in the dojo (the name given to a martial arts place of practice) but also in their wider life. It offers the resilience needed to take control of often hectic life circumstances, and fight for a way out. That's why we believe martial arts is the perfect tool to help young people in poverty develop and transform.

How Bad Is Childhood Poverty In The UK?

> There were 4.3 million children living in poverty in the UK in 2019-20.1 That's 31 per cent of children, or nine in a classroom of 30.

> 49 per cent of children living in lone-parent families are in poverty.3 Lone parents face a higher risk of poverty due to the lack of an additional earner, low rates of maintenance payments, gender inequality in employment and pay, and childcare costs.

> Children from black and minority ethnic groups are more likely to be in poverty: 46 per cent are now in poverty, compared with 26 per cent of children in White British families.

> Work does not provide a guaranteed route out of poverty in the UK. 75 per cent of children growing up in poverty live in a household where at least one person works.

> Children in large families are at a far greater risk of living in poverty – 47 per cent of children living in families with 3 or more children live in poverty.

> Childcare and housing are two of the costs that take the biggest toll on families’ budgets.

(Credit: ECP)

How Does The Scholarship Programme Work?

Clubs Make Help Available, Discreetly, For Parents Of Children Living In Poverty

We assist our registered clubs in providing access to the advertising material needed to make help available and obvious, and we then process the applications or referrals.

Students Are Enrolled

When approved by the Foundation, we pass the approval to the club. They are then free to offer a place to the student(s) within their club.

The Student Trains Completely Free Of Charge

Students on the Scholarship Programme enjoy completely free training on a minimum of once-per-week basis. They must keep up a reasonable attendance and commit to training within the club fully to remain on the Scholarship. The cost of any other associated goods - such as uniforms and licences, is also absorbed, as is the insurance and licencing costs to an NGB.

Gifted Students Are Then Able To Progress To Instructor

For the most gifted students on the programme, they are afforded fully-funded training as an instructor with a year's insurance and licensing included. This enables the student to develop a reliable and self-sufficient income for their future, whilst also delivering life-changing training to the next generation of children in poverty.   

"I could never have afforded to compete at a national level in any other sport."

"Growing up, my family never had a penny to spare. It wasn't just tight, it was non-existent. I didn't get to do sports classes or gym classes like my girlfriends at the time. Even the most 'affordable' of uniforms would set you back £40 and that was far too much for my parents.

With Taekwondo, suddenly a door opened in which I could not only attend and train, but also compete, without any of the cost barriers. It enabled me to focus on developing a passion for my fighting rather than watching my parents struggle to pay the dues. As a young adult, it's given me an honest way to make a living, and I can't wait to pass on that same 'FOC' opportunity to the next young man or women to learn without cost too.

"I don't know what I would have done, or who I would have become, had it not been for martial arts."

"I spent years as a young man just kicking around the football at the park, not really doing much productive with my childhood. As I become a teenager I struggled with alot of the issues I was exposed to at home. Both my parents struggled with substance abuse, and there was always the threat of violence.

I first tried Kickboxing when the local club ran a free trial. I could never have afforded it myself, but the instructor took me in and helped me to train for free. It marked a turning point in my life. The path I was on wasn't for me, and the moment I had a safe place, away from the knives and the drugs, in which I had for the first time someone telling me I could rather than I wasn't capable, a step-change occured. It was a life-defining moment for sure."

Help Us Reach More Children In Poverty

We have developed one of the most affordable programmes of it's kind and have the ability to transform the lives of thousands of children and young adults growing up in poverty.

See How You Can Get Involved