MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- The children of Lil’ Tigers take a bite into the basics of karate, meanwhile seizing discipline Tuesday and Thursday nights at the IronWorks Gym.
The karate lessons, which include moves similar to fundamentals in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, offer the elementary-aged children a constructive recreational option after school.
Mildred G. Garcia, native of San Diego, said the classes not only keep her son active, but are a positive influence on his behavior.
“It’s been helping a lot with his discipline and has brought his confidence level up,” explained Garcia. “Because he had taken karate in Camp Lejeune (N.C.,) he wanted to learn more. He gets ready right after school and asks if it’s time to go.”
Before class starts, there is nothing quiet or restrained about the children. After minutes of running around, the class begins with a series of exercises such as low-crawls, push-ups and crab-walks.
After warm-ups, the learning begins and intense yells echo as the children ‘roar’ after executing knife hands, punches, stomps and leg sweeps. The lessons are filled with moves teaching self-defense, not aggressiveness.
Duane J. Dougherty, Lil’ Tigers sensei and Newark, N.J., native said if his daughter ever used karate in a rightful situation, it would make him proud to know it was a skill he taught her.
“I was apprehensive about teaching my kids (karate),” said Dougherty. “Then I thought the world is a dangerous place and they are mature enough.”
Tanya L. Melton, native of Beaufort, S.C., is content with the focus her daughter has gained since starting her lessons and enjoys family bonding sessions it provides.
“She likes to practice with mommy and daddy at home for basically any new move,” said Melton.
Whether it be fitness, life-skills or self-defense Lil’ Tigers training carries home after the day’s final blow.