Martial Arts is not just about fighting (12 photos)Friday, January 18, 2013 by: Connie Carello
Forty-six years ago, John Gencarelli followed his ambition to become a Master in martial arts and has since provided instruction to thousands of local residents, several of whom have grown and developed their own martial arts classes.
A number of those have also competed on Team Canada and have gone on to compete at a national level in places like Rome, Portugal, and Spain.
In April, Gencarelli will host a regional tournament for Team Canada where the top three who place in a tournament in Ottawa will be invited to participate in the World Tournament in Italy.
But where did this Master, approaching age 60, begin his life-long passion?
His first basic training took place at the YMCA before attaining his black belt in Toronto under the instruction of the Grand Master, Inn Shuk Pak.
Gencarelli later went on to practice several different forms of martial arts, like Hap Ki Do and Kook Sol Won, as well as Don Mo Do under the supervision of Grand Master Hap Sak Lee.
Growing up in the west end, Gencarelli used martial arts as a means to stay physically fit and active in sports.
However, as he began to learn the techniques, it was the history of the practice that encouraged him to continue and expand his techniques to provide instruction to others.
“The history piqued my interest, I found it intriguing. It really is not like how it is portrayed in television, and I continued to get absorbed and never stopped. It became rewarding for me to teach others how and why these techniques are important,” Gencarelli said.
Although there is a competitive side to the practice of martial arts, several character-building traits like discipline, confidence, fairness and respect can be fostered.
According to Gencarelli, this development is more important than the perfection of technique.
“For me, the most rewarding experience was when a young student of mine participated in a tournament in North Bay,” he said. “He was about nine years old at the time, and had just finished competing, winning first in all four divisions. He offered his first place trophy to a fellow competitor who did not qualify in the divisions and for me that was a real, satisfying moment because he practiced fairness.”
Students who attend Gencarelli’s classes are also taught time management as they must be present at the start of class or may face the consequence of having to perform push-ups.
Instruction includes guidance in weapons training, sparring, open-handed forms, and self-defence techniques.
A young six-year old Nathan comments: “I really like doing kicks!”
Of course physical fitness becomes an added benefit to the practice of martial arts and has encouraged Gencarelli to offer Kettle Bell strength building classes for adults.
“You have to remember that martial arts is not just about learning how to fight, but learning how to stay physically fit in order to perform techniques properly, maintain your balance, speed, and strength. Kettle bell is a wonderful practice for martial artists to maintain that,” Gencarelli said.
For Gencarelli, the use of the kettle bell to build muscle is much more natural in comparison to conventional weight-lifting.
“You really have to learn how to use your auxiliary muscles to not only lift the weight but to maintain balance as well as momentum.”
The kettle bell workout provides participants with a unique opportunity to incorporate cardio into their strength building session.
In addition to a circuit of various kettle bell techniques practiced for a period of 40 seconds or longer followed by a rest period of 10 seconds, Gencarelli has added suspension training to the class.
Starting in the early 1800s, suspension training was designed to promote core stability.
This requires a lot of work as the angle of the position dictates how much weight your body can handle.
You become your own resistance as your muscles recognize the limitations of your own natural strength, which is t comparable to the practice of Yoga and Pilates.
For now, Gencarelli offers the class Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings at 5 p.m.
Martial arts classes are held Monday and Wednesday evening by Gencarelli and Tuesday and Thursday evenings by fellow instructor John Reid.
Those interested in enrolling their child into the marital arts classes or participating in a serious kettle bell workout are encouraged to call Gencarelli at (705) 253-3899 to book an appointment.