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This article was published 18/1/2016 (2196 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
When it comes to Legion activities, shuffleboard, darts and cribbage come to mind. You can add karate to that list.
North Winnipeg Isshinryu Karate Club is located on the second floor of West Kildonan Legion Branch 30 at 1748 Main St.
Founded in 1984, the club was originally located at the old North End YMCA. After the Y’s closure, NWIKC operated out of school gymnasiums for a bit before moving into the Legion 13 years ago.
"We pay a fee to the Legion for renting, but it’s a nominal fee," said NWIKC sensei Rick Stephens, 54, a fourth degree dan.
"During the week it works out good for the Legion, they get some income coming in and we’ve got an excellent facility to train in."
Likewise, fees to train at the not-for-profit dojo are minimal, with a nine-week session costing $55 for adults and $40 for children, with discounted rates for families. The hour-long classes are held Monday and Thursday evenings, with family class starting at 6:30 p.m. and advanced class beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Stephens said because NWIKC is a not-for-profit and all of its instructors volunteer their time, the club has a comfortable, family vibe.
"I think it’s the camaraderie, the friendliness, the open atmosphere we have," Stephens said.
"We try not to run things like boot camp. I like to have an open, two-way door situation. If people have questions, they should feel free to ask them. They shouldn’t feel intimidated."
Stephens said the club is for all ages. He noted that NWIKC sensei Dennis Appler, a third degree dan, just turned 70, a full 65 years older than the club’s youngest student.
"Our youngest is five years old and she’s as sharp as a whip. She could lead you through a warm-up that would tire out most adults," Stephens said.
At NWIKC, you can follow in a child’s footsteps.
In fact, Stephens said three of NWIKC’s instructors joined the club because of their children, including sensei Bob Martin, 48, a first degree dan.
Martin joined the club about 10 years ago, a few months after his son Bryce.
"I always had an interest in it and Rick and the other senseis were so warm, open and welcoming that I decided to join," Martin said.
Teaching karate is a very rewarding experience according to Martin.
"I enjoy seeing some of the less fortunate kids and some of the kids who come in with some social problems thrive within what we do. It’s amazing how much I learn through them. Some days I‘d rather sit on the couch, but it seems after every class I always come away rewarded."
Stephens, who also teaches jiu-jitsu and aikido, said he started his martial arts training in 1980 with taekwondo. He said he started purely for exercise purposes, but it soon became much more than that.
"It becomes a lifestyle," Stephens said. "Your whole life changes and revolves around it and it becomes a lifestyle for almost anyone who puts the time into it."
For more information on North Winnipeg Isshinryu Karate Club, go to www.nwikc.ca
Community journalist — The Times
Jared Story was the community journalist for The Times until 2017.