1 (ichi), 2 (ni), 3 (san)… in case you were wondering, that’s how you would begin counting in Japanese. That was the sound coming from the rooftop at KREMANDALA’s Compound for the last four weeks. Over forty children, mainly from around Belize City took part in Kremandala’s Third Annual Karate Summer Program. The Karate program came to a close last week Friday August 6th, with a ceremony to congratulate those who came bright and early every morning in their work-out gear to YA! YA! Karate Chop!!!
Karate Instructor, or for those who may be familiar with Karate lingo, Sensei Mark Welch along with KREM Radio Manager, Michael Hyde handed out certificates to those elated children on the Rooftop but only after families saw an exhibition of the swift moves and tackles children learned over the past weeks.
Welch who is a second degree Black Belt in Karate says Karate is not entirely about self defense but also about discipline and respect for one’s self as well as others. With over 30 years invested into the practice and teachings of Karate, Welch stresses the art form of discipline. Through repeated practice of moves, steps, punches, and kicks, students developed grace, strength, and mental soundness.
For most of us, Karate really came on the scene with the popularity of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan movies. The roots of Karate, however go far beyond that; it can be traced to the 5th century BC. The word “Karate” which means the “empty hand” has been given this name because it involves a rapid use of hands and legs in an extreme close combat. Developed primarily as a form of fist combat, the teachings of Karate still focus on using the hand as weapons.
Karate not only keeps your body fit, it also strengthens your mind and enhances your concentration. Concentration is something that for many people has to be taught. This could clearly be seen in some “short attention spans” that were zipping in and out of poses.
Throughout the weeks, Welch related class lectures to lessons of everyday life. Aggression being an emotion too prevalent in this day and age, Welch taught the children how to turn aggression into ambition. Emotions such as anger and fear may never leave a person completely if not by practice; like anything else, Welch’s teaching shows how to control them. Control is a result of focus, concentration, and confidence. Being that youth are at the epicenter of many of today’s offenses and have lost the simple practice of common decency, Welch took it upon himself to stress the virtue of patience, tolerance and confidence. Sitting in on a few lessons, I heard Welch share with the kids some of his own experiences of losing friends and family to violence and uncontrollable tempers. From then on, it was no longer a matter of occupying the minds of those children for a few weeks of the summer, but more of creating lasting impressions with the hope of influencing their future decisions for the better.
With parents telling me they have to go purchase new furniture that was broken in a home rendition of the day’s Karate lesson and seeing kids practicing kicks and poses well after class is over, I think it would be safe to say, Mission Accomplished. Welch says he looks forward to next year and hopes that it will be as much of a success as this year.