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Neighbor to Neighbor: Karate school brings discipline to area kids

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When I went in to get a flier, a gentleman wearing all white, except for a black belt, gave me his card. His name is Jeff Hunt. He is in law enforcement and is a traditional Shotokan Karate practitioner with the karate designation "sensei." He is married and he and his wife, Kimberly Denise, plan to introduce their daughter, Sidney Alana, to her new sibling in about four months.In the meantime, Hunt and four talented friends - Sensei Ozzi Melhado, Sempai Paul Richards, Sempai Brian Shaw and Sempai Karen Farnum - will be devoting a lot of time as senseis and sempais in the very popular and well-attended Shotokan Karate Dojo home-base mentioned above. Classes meet twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays. Prospective students should speak to Sensei Hunt about possible Sunday classes. The phone number is 718-977-l500.Hunt is a member of the Linden Seventh Day Adventist Church on 137th Avenue between 228th and 229th streets in Laurelton, where Pastor Glover officiates. Hunt teaches his students from a Christian perspective and, in fact, taught karate at his church for nine years.He has students say a prayer before and after each class and requires each student to learn and say the following two pledges: "By God's grace, I will seek perfection, be sincere and honest." "As a student of karate, I learn to listen, focus, pay attention practice courtesy and have self-control."Parents must agree to help build a better community, check report cards, and support the honor roll dinner. The Shotokan Karate Dojo will also check report cards regularly. Hunt strives for excellence in education. He studied (and still studies) karate under Shihan George Aschkar. He was a good friend of Curtis Battle, well-known in Laurelton karate circles, who died tragically in a motorcycle accident.In addition to his 15 years in law enforcement, Hunt has an associates degree from Queensboro College and a bachelor's degree in marketing management from Baruch. He feels one of the greatest gifts of karate is the kata (form). Memorizing the kata forces the student to remember the proper movements.Hunt, during his law enforcement career, was inspired to try to prevent people, particularly the young, from following unproductive and/or illegal paths. Teaching karate gives students an opportunity to build a bridge with humility and respect so that it will be possible to deal with confrontational situations without being injured and they will be held in higher respect by the community. He also emphasizes that karate improves metabolism and the mind.From Jan. 25 through Jan. 28, Shotokan Karate Dojo presented a valuable "Family and Friends Personal Safety Workshop" featuring David Washington who has been with the New York Police Department for 20 years; has 35 years of training in martial arts; is a Federal Bureau of Investigation certified defensive tactics instructor; was part of the United States Army "Red Beret" 82nd Airborne Division; and was adjunct professor (instructor) at the Long Island University Karate Instructor Certification Program.Washington teaches classic karate. His skills have obviously been honed to perfection, yet he is a gracious and humble man as are his students. But an attacker confronting him or his loved ones might only have a split-second warning - a shout that is loud and sharp - followed by what might look like a quick, simple move faster than the speed of light and/or one or more sharp, powerful blows.The faint of heart might need to get some inspiration from the brave students, who dare a bruise or more in order to be prepared rather than helpless when a warrior stance is necessary.Upcoming events include board breaking and the honor roll dinner in February. Also in the near future is an anti-obesity program. (Don't worry. If you'd like to join that program, go ahead. No Spandex is involved.) This program will also feature guidance from Allecia and Ernie Flowers. I, for one, thank all concerned for bringing hopefully positive changes to our area.

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