Grosse Pointe News Article, February 19, 2009
Grosse Pointe Karate Club

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The following article appeared in the February 19, 2009 edition of the Grosse Pointe News. Reprinted with permission. Copyright © 2009, Grosse Pointe News.

Karate - a class for entire family

A family of four walked into the gym at Kerby Elementary School and removed their shoes and socks.

The boy and the girl joined a row of children. The parents stood in a line of adults.

After being "bowed in" by Master Michael Schaefer, the class began moving to warm their muscles in preparation for an hour of blocks, strikes, and kicks.

Schaefer, a sixth-degree black belt, teaches a form of karate called Isshin-Ryu which trains the upper and lower body equally. At the beginning of each class, students line up in front of Schaefer, with the new adults at the end of the adult line and the new juniors (ages 8-17) at the end of the junior line.

Basic Isshin-Ryu movements begin after warm-up. New students are separated from the class to learn the movements. The class reunites later to do more exercises, instruction, and practice.

The Grosse Pointe Karate Club attracts people from all walks of life to its traditional Okinawan karate class, offered through the Neighborhood Club.

Schaefer has taught the class for 12 years, and said that age and ability pose no obstacle because the class easily adapts to varying skill levels.

"The most important part of taking this class is just showing up, making it through the door to class," Schaefer said.

He recommends viewing a class before signing up for it.

Schaefer said, "This is a family-oriented activity. We often have a parent with a child or whole families in the class."

Kevin Zizio, Neighborhood Club assistant recreation director, said friends often take the class together. The class also presents an opportunity to meet new people, he added.

Schaefer said the benefits of learning and practicing karate go beyond strengthening the body and getting in shape.

"The focus you learn in the class can help you stay calm in a stressful situation. With kids, it helps them in school because it builds confidence and improves their ability to focus. The ability to remain calm can help adult relationships too," he said.

Children must show Schaefer their grades and once they've begun mastering the skills in the class he hasn't seen a C on a report card.

Military personnel who served in Okinawa in the 1950s learned karate and are credited with bringing it to the United States.

Additional pictures taken for this article may be found at this link.

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