PHOENIXVILLE - Everybody was kung-fu fighting at Holy Family School as students are being taught day-long classes in self defense by instructor Neil Phelan of Phoenix Karate, 243 Bridge Street.

From Monday to Wednesday, Phelan has been teaching self-defense karate classes to students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

"The students expressed an interest in self-defense, so after meeting with school administration, we've decided to hold these classes this week," said Phelan. "During these three days, the students will be taught basic self-defense and stranger drills. So far, the students have been very attentive, upbeat and polite.

"The younger children will learn how to deal with strangers, while the older students will be instructed in the art of self defense."

Phelan said the classes at Holy Family is his way of giving back to the community.

"We are doing this for free so we can get out and help the community," he said. "We'll be getting in touch with other schools in the area for similar classes."

Some of the drills Phelan has taught the children are how to react when being approached by a stranger.

"When kids are approached by a stranger, we teach them to yell 'fire'," said Phelan. "People tend to react more when they hear 'fire' being yelled than 'help'. Should the children run from a stranger and make it to safety, they should tell their parents or responsible adult and call 911 immediately."

While taking advantage of the nice weather, Phelan showed some of the older students some basic punches and kicks to use during a confrontation.

"Holding these classes outside, this gave the students a chance to work out against some of the padded props I brought from my place," said Phelan. "A few of them didn't realize that it wasn't as easy as it looks sometimes."

During these classes, Phelan said he is trying to instill the same type of methods and discipline that he teaches his regular students.

"My students work out hard and have a good time," said Phelan. "The kids get to my place early and begin their workouts automatically. It is great for kids to interact and socialize along with learning some important skills."

One of Phelan's students at Phoenix Karate, Steven Stainbrook, 13, of Phoenixville, said he's learned a lot from Phelan.

"Mr. Phelan has been teaching me discipline and help build up my skills," said Stainbrook. "He's influenced me in so many ways and is always encouraging all of us to do good and become better people."

Stainbrook, who is a yellow belt, said he's been to other karate schools, but Phoenix Karate is the best.

"I was in another school prior to this one," said Stainbrook. "I came here because it was close to my home and how organized Mr. Phelan's program is. He is an excellent teacher."

Phoenix Karate is located at 243 Bridge Street, Phoenixville. For more information and times of classes, please call 610-935-3545.

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