“Sidekicks” leaping into action

The local Wado Kai’s “Sidekicks” program for young karate beginners returns in full form later this month.
Registration goes today from 5-6:30 p.m. at the St. Francis School gym, where regular classes will be run until April.
“This is a format to get kids interested in the real program with not quite the same discipline and structure,” said first-degree black belt Lew Kempf.
“They will learn all the dojo etiquette. It’s basically a way to tweak interest in the art,” he noted.
Kempf said registrations will be accepted after tonight but stressed only 20 spots are available. The first class will be held Jan. 29 and run every Tuesday between 5:15 and 6 p.m. until April 16.
The program is open to children aged five to nine. Parents are reminded to bring their child’s health card to registration. No on-floor activity will be held tonight, but children should wear necessary sweat pants and T-shirt for the first class.
“Sidekicks” began last year as a pre-karate course to involve the basics of the discipline—from proper punch form and elementary blocking motions to three defensive stances and an introduction to basic Japanese terminology.
Kempf guarantees, as in all their other programs, there will be no contact between “Sidekicks” students.
“That’s one of the things we stress. Wado Kai is a martial art and we teach defence,” he stressed. “We really emphasize this is a non-contact organization.”
Second-degree black belt Ross Keeler will be the main instructor while local Wado Kai sensei Chris Bazinet will serve as an advisor.
Kempf encourages any interested families to sit in on the Tuesday night classes—even if they aren’t registered.
“We’ve had quite a few families come out,” he said. “We want the adults to say, ‘That looks like a lot of fun.’”