Akili’s enrichment program is full of opportunities for scholars in every grade to explore their interests. The variety ranges from visual, dramatic, and performing arts, to drumline, student council, and team sports. This year, Akili has added something new to the program, Karate-do Kenpo. Developed in the early 1940’s, Karate-do Kenpo is a form of Martial Arts, designed to increase coordination and continuity with linear and circular motion. Each basic movement when executed correctly transitions into the next move. Under the direction of 5th Degree Black Belt Master Kazell B. Williams, scholars in grades 5th-8th are learning this art four days a week during a 45-minute class.
Master Williams, who started studying karate at the age of nine, believes the opportunity to teach Akili scholars is his chance to expand their minds to art that could change their lives.
“I found a role model for myself in karate,” said Williams. “You not only gain physical strength from studying karate, but you also strengthen your mind. It takes a lot of discipline and focus to work through each movement.”
The desire to strengthen his scholars’ minds can be seen at the end of each class through what Master Williams calls the “soul circle”. While in the soul circle, scholars are seated with Master Williams as they reflect, not only on the lessons they learned in class, but also on the positive ways these lessons can be used outside of the classroom.
“It is important to me that I teach my scholars about the positive ingredients to succeed in life, and that I empower them with confidence,” said Williams.
Scholars recently completed their first belt test, which was their opportunity to display what they have learned for their families. Each scholar starts at the beginner level with a traditional white belt. Through the first belt test, scholars are tested on their stance, hand-drills, blocks, and foot-drills. Once they have mastered the beginner’s level, they are promoted to the next level belt.
Master Williams is extremely proud of the progress he has seen from his scholars, many of whom are just learning about karate, and he is looking forward to their continued development.
“We are planning another belt test for the end of the school year,” said Williams. “I am excited for our scholars to have this opportunity, helping them grow through this class is something very special, and I am proud to be part of it.”
Photos courtesy of Harold Enclarde, Akili Coach and Student Support Coordinator