Karate kids go up a notch

The Cayman Islands Karate Club held its first graduation class of the year for its youngest members and no kid left disappointed.

The hour long test at the King’s Sports Centre on Saturday under the supervision of Sensei Greg Reid, was the toughest one yet because the standard is improving annually. Children as young as five were trying to go up a grade and Reid was pleased with the overall standard.

‘The grading went extremely well,’ he said. ‘We had 42 kids go up for grading. They went from white to yellow, yellow to orange and orange to green. We had a good turn out with the parents as well which was nice to see.’

Reid has advanced the curriculum for the children in terms of technical difficulty. He’s added jiu-jitsu and they are doing back arches, handstands, tumbling, rolling, cartwheels and balance drills.

‘I saw the kids needed more challenge because they’re training three days a week whereas in Canada and the United States they train only twice. The Cayman kids are advancing much faster.’

The classes are bigger than ever before yet Reid still asked the parents to ensure that they come regularly. ‘I like to reiterate to the parents that a lot of times the child may not want to come because he or she’s tired, or whatever. But the only real excuse is when they are away or sick. The parents are paying the fees so I expect them to come to class because I do care about them and I want them to learn.

‘It’s at times when you don’t feel like coming and you do come, that’s when you really build your character and your discipline. The sacrifice of coming is what makes the difference in the end when we train these kids to be national champions in the future.

‘When I was a kid I sometimes didn’t want to come and my mum and father made me. It’s like any athletic pursuit, you hit rocks and sticking points and karate is no different from anything else. Those times, your mental fortitude and what you’ve done in the past is what comes into play.

‘We can all be Olympic champions but the difference is the desire to be one. That’s what we’re trying to instill in the kids; you can have all the natural ability in the world but if you don’t have that desire, that fire inside of you, to be the best you can be, you will not make it to that level.’

Reid is hoping to organize two more graduations for the youths this year and is planning to have a fitness championship amongst all the martial arts clubs and schools on the island. ‘There’ll be a competition with sit-ups, press-ups and splits and they’ll be awarded accordingly. Say to get a gold, you have to do 60 sit ups or more in a minute, a full split and 10 absolutely perfect push-ups. For the kids, the strength is the hardest part.’

He hasn’t been able to set a date because he’s just started the Bodden Town school karate class every Monday lunchtime which is incredibly popular. It runs for an hour from 12.15pm and in the couple of weeks it’s been running, 40 children have attended. Cost is $20 a month.

‘We’re giving them the tools so that they can learn about karate and study its discipline. That’s what the teachers wanted. If it goes well in 2008 I’d like to expand it to West Bay. Our school is central but a lot of the Bodden Town and West Bay kids can’t come because it’s too far.’