Self-discipline. Respect. Flexibility. Self-esteem. Admirable goals, and ones not often met through doing just one type of exercise program. But Shotokan karate is not just any form of physical fitness. This style of martial arts is just that – as much art as it is exercise, as much philosophy as it is physicality.
For anyone of any age, Shotokan karate can be the answer to fitness requirements, an outlet for stress reduction, an integration of the science of how the body functions and ways in which the mind works.
The St. Charles Park District partners with the expert instructors of Illinois Shotokan Karate Clubs to offer classes suitable for all age groups, from children as young as 4 years old to adults well into their retirement years.
“Shotokan karate helps people be better at everything, from the school room to the workplace to home,” said John DiPasquale, founder of the Illinois Shotokan Karate Clubs.
For the youngest students, Shotokan karate helps growing minds and bodies develop agility, strength and coordination, while also instilling values such as respect, patience and focus. For teens, Shotokan karate can enhance self-esteem and build confidence at a time in their lives when both seem to be in woefully short supply. And for adults, karate can help ensure flexibility and balance and serve as a great outlet for shaking off the stress that comes from daily pressures.
A four-time national champion and former U.S. team coach, DiPasquale is both an eloquent and enthusiastic proponent of the benefits of Shotokan karate.
“It’s something for everybody, and – by that – I do mean every body. You pretty much have to be tall to play basketball, and gymnasts are almost always petite. But there is no one body type for karate. It’s an inclusive sport and art,” DiPasquale said.
Classes start with a bow to the instructor, or sensei, as a way of both demonstrating respect for the trainer and for the lessons to be learned. Such dedication and deference are valuable concepts for young participants, and the concentration required to follow Shotokan karate’s moves and techniques can be of particular benefit to children and teens with ADHD. Setting goals begins early on, and students can progress through requirements to achieve belt levels from white at the beginner stage to black belt at the advanced level.
“Karate lets you work at your own level and measure progress not only by your own physical ability, but also by the goals you set for yourself,” DiPasquale said. “It’s a great practice for individual athletes who don’t find a home in team sports.”
For information on the Shotokan karate classes for youth, teen and adult levels, call Melissa Caine at 630-513-4336.