Finding their own Power

Austin and Rainey practicing a series of punches and tiger claw techniques

Thanks to a collaboration between Kids Kicking Cancer and UF Health Shands Arts in Medicine, Integrative Medicine practitioners Rainey Lund and Andrew Hix teach evidence-based martial arts skills to children and young adults admitted to UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital with chronic illness and pain. Martial arts lessons are offered free of charge and are individualized to explore patients’ evolving interests and needs.

Through these bedside lessons, patients learn breathing, movement, and mindfulness techniques to help them manage their emotions and lessen discomfort as it arises.

“People tell me I’m such a nice and calm guy,” one patient said, “but inside I feel very angry.”

Rainey told him to “breathe in to feel your emotions; breathe out to release them.” They practiced together and talked about how to use these martial arts breathing techniques to help calm down at home.

He nodded and said, “ “I feel better.”

Daniel and Andrew practicing the Tai Chi movement “Grasping the Sparrow’s Tail”

Another patient saw his martial arts practitioner enter the playroom and immediately set down his video game controller. “It’s time for my exercises,” he said. After working through a series of Tai Chi stances, he said, “I feel real power. Also, I am incredibly relaxed.”

Practicing these skills between sessions empowers patients to manage their distress while connecting them through the Kids Kicking Cancer organization to a broader community of powerful martial artists learning and teaching these tools around the world.

“Kids Kicking Cancer is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is “to ease the pain of very sick children while empowering them to heal physically, spiritually and emotionally.”

For more information about Kids Kicking Cancer, visit

For more information about Integrative Medicine bedside service, visit