After four-and-a-half years taking Kenpo Karate classes at the Windsor Recreation Center, three 14-year-olds have received their junior black belts.
Trevor Overton, Wil Francis and Glenn Gibson attended class twice a week and eventually asked if they could begin helping to teach the younger age groups, instructor Leslie Schleiger said.
“They are the first three to go from start to finish,” Schleiger said. “I was very lucky to have them.”
She said the three students are friends and have gone through the process together, coming up with creative ideas for new games which Schleiger said she plans to continue using in future classes.
She said the form of karate taught in the classes is self-defense. Students learn different attack and defense techniques, as well as techniques with weapons such as bowstaffs and escrima sticks.
“These guys have used their imaginations and put stuff together to build on what they already know,” Schleiger said. “That’s rare. They’re creative, imaginative, and they are good leaders and listeners. I just can’t say enough good stuff about them.”
Now that the three have earned their junior black belts, they will continue working toward their adult black belts, which they will receive after about two more years of instruction, Schleiger said.
“Because they offered to teach — teaching ingrains the process in you so much stronger — it should stay with them for a really long time,” she said. “This martial art is based heavily on the physics of movement and these kids get that.”
Schleiger is a third-degree black belt and has taught for about 12 years.
“I love it because it’s physically challenging, but it’s also mentally challenging,” she said. “I just really like to teach.”
Schleiger teaches one class of 5-7 year olds and two classes of kids ages 8 and older. The classes average about 50 students each month. She said four more students will test for their junior black belts this summer and three more in late-fall.