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Karate Students Receive Jedi Training

Oyster Bay Family Karate teaches

Star Wars-themed workshop

Recently, an eager group of young padawans (Jedi students) received a lesson in using their force wisely at Oyster Bay Family Karate. It was no surprise that the Star Wars training class was a hit amongst the kids, although owner Bobby Rekha says he wasn’t expecting the enthusiasm he received from the adults. “As soon as we put the sign up, I had adult kick boxers asking if they could come.”

Some had even hoped to wear costumes.

Many parents, dads in particular, consider a knowledge of Star Wars to be a necessary right of passage for their children. One dad expressed the concern he felt when, during a game of “Angry Birds Star Wars,” it became apparent his son had never heard of Darth Vader.

“I knew it was time,” he said.

The attraction to Star Wars is particularly poignant for dads who grew up role-playing with their friends using imaginary lightsabers to fight the ominous Darth Vader. On the heels of Father’s Day many relished an opportunity to bond with their sons and daughters as they learned about the Star Wars characters and how to use a lightsaber properly.

Additionally, the 75-minute workshop provided lessons in respect, self-control and body awareness, as well as a lightsaber to take home.

“When you give kids weapons,” said Rekha, “you need to teach them how to use them properly.” With power comes responsibility.

Sempai Adam Insogna learned the traditional art of shotokan from his Sensei, Rekha. This form of Japanese karate is known for its emphasis on a balance of strength, endurance and speed.

Gichin Funakoshi, who is credited with creating as well as popularizing shotokan, said, “The ultimate aim of karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the character of the participant.”

According to Rekha, the classes offered at Oyster Bay Family Karate, support the five maxims of karate: seek perfection of character, be faithful, endeavor to excel, respect others, refrain from violent behavior.

“Karate is actually the by-product,” says Rekha. “What we really strive to do here, is build character.”

Since weaponry is one aspect of shotokan, the instructors thought the lightsabers and Star Wars theme would bring an element of fun to their structured classes. Carlie Tietjen signed her son up because “he takes karate here and the Star Wars workshop seemed like a natural extension. I knew he would enjoy it,” she said.

Another reason Rekha chose to make the connection between karate and Star Wars was due to the philosophical nature of the story. “Some people call me Yoda,” he says. “Because I”m philosophical and at the same time, down to earth.”

Rekha has made it his business to keep his adult kick boxers as well as his younger karate students motivated and goal-oriented. Each week, he researches an inspirational quote that he shares to keep them focused. When Rekha needs motivation, he turns to a poster of Yoda which hangs in his office and reads, “There is do or don’t do, there is no try.”