IRSD adult education kicks off new year

Karate and self-defense keep people agile

Date Published: 
August 22, 2014

Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert : Instructor Gemez Norwood, right, and Walt Knapp practice drills that help them to react quickly in real-life situations.Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert : Instructor Gemez Norwood, right, and Walt Knapp practice drills that help them to react quickly in real-life situations.The Indian River School District is teaching at all hours of the day, having announced its Adult Education offerings for the fall of 2014, which include everything from babysitting certification to aerobics.

This year, Self-Defense and Karate returns to the lineup on Tuesday nights, Sept. 9 to Dec. 16, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at John M. Clayton Elementary. People can join to get a few self-defense basics that might come in handy in a dark parking lot, or they can begin long-term training, so the person who dreams of a black belt can continue taking these sessions in winter or spring.

Classes are flexible, so people can skip a semester or work side-by-side with people at vastly different skill levels.

“You cannot walk around with attitude that ‘It’s not gonna happen to me.’ Just be aware of your situation and your surroundings,” said instructor Gemez Norwood.

“Seventy-five percent of self-defense is awareness,” said former instructor Walt Knapp. “If you’re aware of what’s going on around you, you can avoid potential problems.”

But he doesn’t want people to be over-concerned that something might happen.

“You don’t have to walk around scared, either,” Knapp said. “We want you to be comfortable enough that if something were to occur … and you were put in a position to defend yourself, you can.”

The first step, Knapp said, is to calm down the antagonist, because words cannot physically hurt you. But, after that, the martial arts class teaches people how to use their abilities and surroundings to foil an attacker.

So what keeps these guys coming back to class?

“Camaraderie, for one thing,” said longtime member Chuck Levine.

“You build a friendship with people in class. You enjoy learning, expanding your knowledge,” Knapp added.

“There is not one thing … that an average person can’t come in and learn. It’s just a matter of training your muscles to do things you haven’t done,” Knapp encouraged.

Anyone 14 or older is welcome to join. Some are well into retirement age, but they stay active, balanced and flexible with weekly classes.

Of course, “The younger you start it, the more you’re going to retain it in your older use,” Knapp said.

Plus, he noted, hand-to-hand combat can provide a good background for people looking to enlist in the armed services.

At a little more than $20 per month ($65 total), Norwood said the class costs much less than most self-defense academies, which can require a longer time commitment.

“We want to make it affordable to anyone that wants to take it,” Knapp said.

“It’s the best bargain in town,” Levine added, so missing one class doesn’t become a huge financial loss.

The Winged Dragon Karate Club began in 1977 but expanded locally in 2005. To keep costs affordable, members often teach through adult education or parks-and-recreation programs.

People attending the classes should dress comfortably and wear loose clothing.

For more information or to obtain a registration form, visit and click on “Adult Education” under the Discover IRSD tab, or call the Adult Education office at (302) 732-1343.