A local dojo is simultaneously racking up new pupils and doing an act of charity.
Charleswood Karate, located at 5924 Roblin Blvd., is in the midst of a membership drive, with temporarily lowered membership fees being donated towards Typhoon Haiyan relief.
Head instructor and owner Ron Porath said the usual rate for anybody, regardless of age, is $70 per month. However, for this membership drive, new members can pay $40 a month, and that money goes directly to the Canadian Red Cross to give to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.
Prior to this membership drive, Porath said he and his students were collecting food donations to send to the Philippines.
"We were just collecting food that didn’t need to be cooked so they can have something to send out," Porath, 59, said.
Porath said he reduced the fees because he wanted people to take advantage of the promotion to learn some new athletic skills, and to help the victims of the disaster. The promotion will be valid from January to March, but he encourages people to sign up early so the money can go towards Typhoon Haiyan relief sooner.
"But I’ve said if anybody wants to do it later in the year, then I’ll do it all year," Porath said. "The main thing was to get more funds for typhoon relief."
Porath started teaching shotokan karate, which he describes as the most popular style of karate in the world, 20 years ago. He started teaching it out of Westdale Community Centre, but many people were having other functions there, which cut into the classes.
"We needed to find a place, so I built the place on Roblin Boulevard," Porath said. "We live upstairs. My wife reminds me of that all the time."
Porath completed the two-year construction process of the dojo in 1999. He received a lot of help from his past students, paying them for their work.
Porath got into karate at a later age, joining his children in 1986 after having signed them up for classes earlier.
"It’s exactly what we wanted for the kids — to give them discipline, to teach them confidence. It was a good physical release for stress, and that’s what really caught me," Porath said.
Since then, Porath has taught over 1,000 students.
"Occasionally, I go to the graduation ceremonies at Oak Park or Shaftesbury, and I run down the list of all the students I have taught," Porath said.
For more information about Charleswood Karate, including how to sign up and donate to Typhoon Haiyan relief, visit charleswoodkarate.com or call 204-896-3354.