Karate kids at the Kings Sports Centre are set to launch into international competition by next year and are preparing for it through a series of intense seminars.
The recent Cayman Associated School of Karate’s first high-performance seminar of the year at Kings Sports Centre was well attended.
This competition-style seminar had young boys and girls there eager to challenge and improve their skills.
The seminars, hosted by CASK, are based on the World Karate Federation rules, which are recognized by the International Olympic Committee.
They also incorporate World United Karate Organization rules and regulations and style of competition, and the intention is that by 2015 Caymanians will be ready to take on the world’s best, entering junior and cadet competitions before progressing to adult level.
“Our group spans from 4 to 16 years old,” said Sensei Greg Reid, the head instructor. “We have seven classes for the kids and the older ones do cross-training with the adults to get their forms and sparring up to a higher level.”
Reid, a Canadian who competed at the highest level and has coached in Japan and instructed the Canadian national team, founded CASK nearly eight years ago.
“It takes a certain amount of time because we’re competing against big countries and not just a school,” he said. “In places like the U.S. and China they have hundreds of millions of people, whereas we’re a small country.”
Now he feels the best CASK juniors are ready for the challenge. “Karate is doing well here. We have in our program over 100 children training and it’s growing all the time.
“I would say there is possibly 45 percent girls in the program and probably 90 percent Caymanian kids training, which is great because they can represent the country in the future.”
Reid singles out Tameka Cox, a second degree black belt, as one of the likeliest to represent Cayman in the future. “We have a few Americans, so if we go with the WUKO they don’t have to be Caymanian, but if we go with WKF they have to be.”
He also mentioned American sisters Alexis and Olivia Frey, plus the Caymanian Anna Scott, who has just turned black belt, and Robbie Rutkowski, the star boy.
“Robbie is followed by a huge group of kids who are using him as their mentor,” Reid said. “They want to get to his level and better.”
The intensive seminars are based on the science of how young people progress physically and mentally.
In January’s session, the juniors participated in team work/team building drills, various jumping and plyometric style exercises, agility and speed drills, as well as code of conduct instruction.
All junior athletes participated in fitness tests and practiced high-end pad drills to develop accuracy and maneuverability when performing kumite (sparring).
Emphasis was also placed on kata (forms) performance. Throughout the seminar, both team and individual competitive performance was evaluated, analyzed and corrected by Sensei Reid, Shodan Arun Abraham (strength and fitness coach) and Shodan Patricia Rutkowski (team manager).
These high-performance seminars were introduced locally last year to prepare future national teams to compete at competitions such as the Pan American Games and world championships.
CASK is the only martial arts school in Cayman that offers this style of training.
Reid said, “Beginners are welcome to start at any time, and CASK is always looking to expand its ever growing youth program as it develops the Cayman Islands national team in coming years.”
He added: “I teach karate first and foremost as an art. There are a lot of sports available in Cayman and that’s fantastic. One of the things that karate and martial arts generally can give to the kids is an insight into the arts. Not so much competition against other teams but competition against themselves.
“What I’m working on mainly now is the physical fitness of the kids and their discipline, respect, etiquette and so on. All that is built into karate training.
“At the international level, everyone has to have total respect, they have to bow and show excellent sportsmanship. There is no bickering or fighting back and forth and they must comport themselves in an orderly manner.
“This is what I emphasize to the children. They must respect karate first as an art and then as a sport – and hopefully do very well at the sport level.
For more information about the World Karate Federation and World United Karate Organization, visit them online at www.wkf.net, and www.wukokarate.org. For more information about karate at CASK and its many benefits, call 925-3367 or visit www.caskcayman.com.