Karate program thriving in Stewiacke

Published on December 21, 2013
Fourteen members of the Stewiacke Shotokan Karate club were recently graded and their new belts, along with certificates, were presented on Friday. Pictured with their new belts are, front, from left; Jeremy Gale, Alex Gale; second row; Tyler Sanford, Mitchell Hinton, Liam Swan, Brenton Sanford; back row, Jim Kennedy (sensei), William Wells, Sarah Kennedy, Emma Dye, Keegan Hood, Colten Mosher, Taylor Dixon and Jeannette Kennedy.

Several enthusiastic people are honing their karate skills in the Stewiacke Community Centre thanks to one man’s donation of his time and the town’s donation of space.

Jim Kennedy instructs about 30 students in Shotokan Karate twice a week and 14 of his students were recently graded and moved to the next level.

“We started meeting a year ago last March and I have more than 30 students now,” said Sensei Jim Kennedy. “Some of them are from other communities such as Wittenburg and Hilden and there are all ages. I’ve had four-year-old students but most aren’t ready to start until they’re six.”

There are a couple of adults taking part and Kennedy would like to get enough to add a separate adult class for those 16 and up.

“Some of the kids are very shy when they first show up but within two or three weeks they come out of their shell,” said Kennedy. “This group gets along really well and they’ll help one another.”

Kennedy has been involved in karate for 27 years and studies with Charles Surrette, of the Truro Shotokan Karate Club. He has taken part in the nationals three times and attended a seven-day camp in Philadelphia earlier this year that involved masters from around the world.

Kennedy has also studied Uechi Ryu karate and he said that while it starts by teaching the “hard shell” shotokan begins with relaxation to develop speed. 

“The katas are different but we’re working toward the same goal,” he explained. “This promotes fitness, concentration and focus, and it’s good exercise. It benefits the mind, body and spirit.”

He said it results in people becoming more aware of their surroundings and better able to defend themselves.

The International Shotokan Karate Federation (ISKF) is now active in more than 300 countries. Danny and Tony Tam, of Halifax, are the chief instructors for Nova Scotia.

Anyone interested in getting involved in karate is welcome to join at any time. The Stewiacke club meets Tuesday and Friday evenings from 6 to 7pm. The only costs are for the gi (karate outfit) , and those who want to get belts need to pay grading fees and a $35 annual fee to the ISKF. Jim Kennedy can be reached at 893-3664 for more information.

The Truro club, which meets Mondays and Thursdays, also welcomes new members. More information on that club can be obtained by calling Charles Surrette at 895-1840.