Local karate athletes bring home the gold

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Special to The Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
Five athletes from the Dorchester Family YMCA’s youth karate program had a successful experience at the 2015 Winter Warriors Karate Tournament in Salisbury on Feb. 28. From the left, they are Lake Fletcher III, Lucas Vincent, Tyvon Washington, Isaiah Hughes and Zavion Spriggs.

CAMBRIDGE — A slew of trophies was the result Feb. 28, when five athletes from the Dorchester Family YMCA competed in the 2015 Winter Warriors Karate Tournament in Salisbury.

Lake Fletcher III won first place in sparring, Lucas Vincent won second place in sparring, Tyvon Washington earned first place in sparring and third in kata, Isaiah Hughes took first in sparring in two classes, and Zavion Spriggs took second in sparring.

The young men are students in Sensei Kevin Warner’s dojo, where he has taught Shaolin Kempo karate for 24 years. This is a street-style martial art, designed to keep the athletes in good physical condition, while teaching self-defense.

“It brings discipline, it keeps them out of trouble,” Mr. Warner said. “Once you learn how to fight, you don’t want to fight.”

The self-assurance gained by this tough training can lead to other successes – Mr. Warner said his athletes often see their grades in school improve after they begin learning karate in his program. “It gives them so much confidence, they feel like they can do anything,” he said.

The class accepts students ages 6 and older. They learn quickly that good behavior is expected in and out of the dojo.

They are required to bring their report cards for Mr. Warner’s review, and if he hears there are issues in class, “Sometimes, I go right to the school,” he said. “I don’t tell them I’m coming.”

There must be something special about having a stern, expert martial artist arriving unexpectedly in a child’s class, sitting down next to him and asking what the problem is. “I make sure they respect me and other people,” Mr. Warner said.

But there is more to the program than rules. A conversation with Mr. Warner leaves the impression that this is a man who cares deeply about the young people who come to him for guidance.

“It’s all about the kids,” he said.

Classes are offered year-round and students may start at any time. To learn more, call the Dorchester Family YMCA at 410-221-0505 or visit www.dorchesterymca.org.

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