OKLAHOMA CITY - During the school day at Harding Fine Arts Academy, sounds of strength are coming from the gym. Students at the public charter school in Oklahoma City are practicing ancient techniques, swinging powerful kicks and executing precise takedowns.

They're also earning school arts credit.

“We’re big believers in hands on education,” said Principal/Superintendent Barry Schmelzenbach,

But for many, martial arts class is so much more than that.

“It just made me feel better about myself,” student Leaija Dean said.

Instructor Jennifer Allman said she sees students gain confidence and discipline.

“People always say discipline and it sounds very rehearsed to say that, but it is a huge part of it,” Allman explained.

She also sees tremendous growth from beginner to advanced level classes. And in the end the teens are more willing to take on new challenges and tackle other areas of life.

“That really transferred into my academic career because I was like you know what, if I can do a jump spinning back kick, I can definitely go take this AP class or take this AP test because I definitely know I can put the work into it,” said student Vien Schmelzenbach.

The instructor and students also compete at a high level and have a lot of success.

“We have this year I think 18 state champions,” said Barry Schmelzenbach. “We have a number of national champions, even students that are in the program that have world titles.”

School officials believe Harding Fine Arts Academy is the only place in America offering martial arts as a credited high school program.