Learning More Than Martial Arts

Shihan Shaun Koulias helps brown belt student Joseph Omilinsky prepare for his upcoming black belt test. Photo by Angela Sherman.

Children as young as five bow when entering the room for Karate class at the YMCA’s Northern Door facility with Shihan (master instructor) Shaun Koulias, a 6th degree black belt in Goju-Ryu Karate.

Goju-Ryu is a hard and soft style form that means hit hard and block soft. With the help of Sensei (teacher) Peter Smith, one of Koulias’ first students over 26 years ago, participants develop confidence, respect, discipline, self-defense, balance, and coordination. All belt levels are in one class and higher belts provide guidance and help to teach the lower belts. Each student is encouraged to perform Katas (a set of pre-arranged techniques or forms) at their own pace. If a student doesn’t know the Kata they are taught and at one time, five different groups may be learning and practicing separately.

Green belt student Christopher Mydra helps five-year-old, white belt student Braden Sitte learn a Kata. Photo by Angela Sherman.

Student Erik Smith, who will be getting ready for his black belt exam in the near future and son of Sensei Smith, is a senior at Gibraltar.

“Karate is my sport,” said Erik. He also mentioned that it has allowed him to meet new friends and gives him something to do, especially during the winter.

Erik and Peter Smith are one of the many parent-child participants in this program, which is designed for all ages and all skill levels. They both agreed it is a great source of family bonding, and there are also sibling participants.

For more information or to get involved in the class contact Michael Fearing at 920.868.3660 or stop into the YMCA in Fish Creek. Scholarships are available, so don’t let money deter you from joining this fun program.