Training in the Park

“Congratulations!” “Hey, you’ve got a yellow belt now, good for you, Cameron!” “Cameron, I hear you got your yellow belt yesterday!”

Grownups and kids alike congratulated Cameron as the kickboxing/karate class assembled at Ambleside Park. Adults who I didn’t even recognize took the time to notice and encourage him – it’s one of the points that I appreciate at his dojo, the supportive team feeling.

“Line up,” called a Sensai, and in a rare gathering, kids and grownups lined up for class together.  This was Training in the Park, a special event, and it was mid-day on one of the hottest days of summer. Thankfully the normal lineup protocol wasn’t followed. Usually the lowest belts are at the back, but this time they had the kids in front in one long line.

They did their warm-up together, running in a big circle, then two long snakes playing follow-the-leader. Pushups, jumping jacks (which Cameron has finally figured out), and stretches were followed by one-on-one no contact sparring. Basically, shadow-boxing while facing a partner.

It’s harder for the instructors to tailor a class to suit all levels when they’ve got such a range, from the youngest and smallest to the most seasoned black belts. I didn’t pay much attention to what the adults got up to, as watching Cameron turned fascinating. As a white belt he was limited to practicing a front kick: knee up, fling out the flexed foot at a target, back to knee up, step back. On Sunday he got to try other kicks! A round kick, leading front, a front kick with a jump, and scissor kicks. That last one had me in stitches watching Cameron try to sort out which leg did what, when.

Classes are normally 45 minutes long, but since this was the only one of the day they worked out for over an hour with frequent water breaks. Cameron, who was still recovering from the jam-packed Saturday we’d had, was about ready to fall down by the end of it. Glazed eyes, red cheeks, he was done.

Done, yes. But happy. He’d had his first class as a yellow belt, outside, in fresh sea air and sunshine, surrounded by smiling friendly people.

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