Afterschool activities are integral to building character. Sports promote teamwork, art and theater bolster creativity, and extra focus on academia fosters self-sufficiency and perseverance.
At K.I.C.K. Karate, children develop attributes in all areas, finishing their journey by becoming more well-rounded than their kicks. In April, classes will resume in Charlestown thanks to a grant provided by the Eleutheros Endownment Fund of the Greater Tacoma Community Foundations.
Youngsters in tiny white karate uniforms will soon be lining up on the mat in front of head instructor Jeff Burger. For over 20 years, Burger has been teaching karate and competing in competitions that earned him several National and World Champions—the Emmys of the karate industry.
He has also trained extensively in Asia and studied with top trainers. Burger’s dedication to the martial arts skills he’s perfected is evident in his teaching style.
An important component to the K.I.C.K. Karate program is training students to compete in Sport Karate tournaments. According to Burger, students who train and participate in competition learn that their own hard work has rewards that translate into most other areas of their lives. Personal confidence helps younger students stay grounded, giving them the ability to make healthy decisions rationally and keep themselves impervious to peer pressure.
The program prides itself on building fitness, karate skill, discipline, confidence, respect for one’s self and others, team spirit and cooperation. Burger teaches his students the Japanese word “Doryoko,” meaning, “to give best effort.” And the different colored belts are a way to measure students’ efforts. Everyone starts out with the same blank uniform, and then as diligence and dedication show face, patches, belts and stripes form a more distinguished uniform and mentality.
“Whether it’s learning their kata, participating in a tournament, teaching another student, or volunteering at community events, there are many ways that we measure a students efforts,” notes the K.I.C.K. Karate website.
There are several different programs catering to different age groups. The Super Kids Program is intended for children ages seven and under, and is designed to break-down basic karate skills with an emphasis on developing listening skills, as well as ability to follow directions, improving strength, balance, coordination, and confidence. At such a young age, it’s difficult for children to focus for too long, but when sensei Burger enters a room full of squirming bare-footed kids who immediately quiet down, align their bodies and place their arms by their side, ready to learn, you know you’re child is being set on a productive path.
Ages seven and above are split into programs depending on level of skill. The Shito-Ryu Karate Program includes stances and footwork, safe falling, punching, kicking, and blocking, all while developing strong character traits. Basic Ju-Jitsu (a martial art from Japan consisting of grappling and striking techniques) skills are also taught.
Once those techniques are mastered, students move up to the coveted Black Belt Program. This is what “The Karate Kid,” is all about. It’s a special class dedicated to working on rank requirements, preparing motivated students for tournaments and sparring.
Burger has high standards for his students, and even greater ones for himself. Even if he never needed to use his self-defense skills, he still relies on what he’s learned to aid in other areas of life such as school and personal relationships. At K.I.C.K. Karate, the mission is a healthy mind and body.
For more information, or to sign up for two weeks at a cost of $19.99 (including a free uniform), visit www.kick-kids.com, or send an email to [email protected]