Karate for 3-year-olds?
Kris Kademian, whose karate classes at Burbank's McCambridge Recreation Center have been open only to kids ages 6 to 12, thinks 3-year-olds are ready for karate.
"The work really needs to start that young," he says.
The new class is a response to parents who began asking if the center would provide karate training for their very young children. Kademian admitted some 4- and 5-year-olds to the class, and the results were excellent.
"Children," he observed, "can get their minds and bodies working together at that age. And because my classes require the parent [or guardian] to learn at the same time so karate practice can continue in the home, it can strengthen their relationship at a very important stage."
Kademian's new course for children 3 to 6 (accompanied by a parent or guardian) will be held Mondays through Aug. 17 at the McCambridge site. Reservations are required, and the deadline for enrolling in the session is Monday. Depending on demand, additional sessions may be organized.
"They'll be coming into a very structured environment," Kademian says of the kids. "Their general problem is lack of focus."
It's his objective, during the summerlong course, "first to stress physical coordination and concentration and also the value of continued physical fitness."
Self-defense is only one element of the sessions. Along the way, Kademian says kids learn about discipline.
In class, adults will use equipment provided by the center. Kids will have to purchase a karate outfit at the center or bring one.
Kademian wants parents to serve, along with him, as coach, working one-on-one with their children to motivate them.
"This should be continued outside the classroom," he says, "because the kid will have learned to respond to the parent's direction."
During class sessions there will be constant feedback in the form of tests of skill.
At the end, each child will receive a certificate of completion. For folks who are sticklers for karate tradition, it should be noted that kids will still wear a white belt at the end of the course. Youngsters will have to wait for a class at a higher level to start winning belts of other colors.
For those who might worry karate training could make their child "dangerous," Kademian says much of the course is oriented toward character-building.
For instance, Kademian will explain to the class his personal definition of "hip." For Kademian, who works for Los Angeles County as a fraud investigator, the letters of the word stand for "honesty, integrity and perseverance."
If students later enroll in Kademian's course for 6-to-12-year-olds, they will be required to bring in school report cards with Bs or better to get promoted to the "Master's Club," which awards special badges and equipment discounts.
"Kinder-Karate," for ages 3-6, starting Monday and running weekly through Aug. 17, 6:15-7 p.m., McCambridge Recreation Center, 1515 N. Glenoaks Blvd., Burbank. Course fee, $49, plus $59 for equipment (uniform) and supplies. (818) 238-5378.