Karate royalty was here over the weekend to give master classes to the students of Cayman Karate Academy, who thoroughly enjoyed their instructions from two world champions.
The mother and son duo of Christine Bannon-Rodrigues and Dante Rodrigues provided a wonderful experience for the students who took part in the sessions at the Best Life Training Centre in Industrial Park on Saturday.
There were also free classes for children who were not members of Cayman Karate Academy. It was all organized by Academy’s master instructor Bob Daigle, himself a former world karate champion.
Bannon-Rodrigues is a nine-time world karate champion, and not just renowned on the martial arts circuit, as she is also a celebrated stunt artist. She was the stunt double for Alicia Silverstone who played Bat Girl in the blockbuster “Batman and Robin.” Bannon-Rodrigues also doubled for Hilary Swank in “The Karate Kid” and has appeared in other Hollywood productions.
Bannon-Rodrigues expects to shoot a Web series in November where she plays an assassin in a horror movie. “I don’t gear my 100 percent effort to being a movie star,” she said. “If something comes along and it’s fun, I’ll take it.”
Most of the time the 47-year-old American teaches karate with husband Don in Rhode Island, where they run a successful school.
Bannon-Rodrigues said that the reception she got from the Academy students “was great.”
She added, “The kids were eager to learn, Bob’s taught them well and they have a lot of talent. To learn some things fancy like we taught, the extreme stuff, a lot of them are picking up pretty quickly.”
Bannon-Rodrigues said now that they have the basics, they just need to work on their jumping skills and being able to do multiple kicks while airborne. She said that they also have to work on perfecting their combinations.
She was last here around 15 years ago when Daigle used to organize annual tournaments, and she is impressed that Cayman has kept abreast of how karate has evolved. The tips she gave the students, she said, will hopefully put them in good stead when they start competing in tournaments.
Bannon-Rodrigues encourages all parents to introduce their children to karate. “It instills in them a winning attitude, and hopefully it will be something they’ll never have to use to protect themselves, but at least they will have that confidence and are less likely to either get bullied or bugged down the street.
“When you’re walking and timid and lack confidence, these are the types that bad people prey on.
“It can really set them higher levels, whether in work, school or different sports. It helps them learn self-discipline and how to train better and that they can achieve anything through martial arts. I think it’s good for everybody.”
Dante Rodrigues is only 17 but considering his pedigree, it is not difficult to understand how he is already a world champion.
His father Don was here a few months ago with Team Paul Mitchell to present Night of Champions, also organized by Daigle. Dante’s brother Niko, 13, is also a karate champ. Dante said that he too was really enthused by how receptive the students were and that he fed off their energy.
“Hopefully, I’ve inspired them and we’re talking about me coming back for maybe a month or two to next summer to upgrade them even more,” Rodrigues said.
He claimed that they are extremely fast learners. “They are very quick. You show them one thing and don’t even have to really explain it and they can do it. It’s crazy.”
Rodrigues said American kids have strengths in different ways, but they are not as quick to pick things up as Daigle’s students.
Rodrigues attributed that to how well Daigle teaches them the basics and his emphasis on concentration.