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Karate In the park a great option in a COVID-19 world, says instructor (16 photos)

With precautions in place, Chris Troch continues karate lessons in Bellevue Park

After a long COVID-19 lockdown, Sensei Chris Troch took his karate lessons to the park where his students would benefit from the fresh air and open space.

Well into Troch's young adult life, he and about eight friends began karate lessons, joining a class of about 30 others. He said he is the only one to carry on with karate out of that entire class. He has been practicing now for 37 years as of this October.

'Sensei' is the Japanese term for teacher or instructor and Troch has achieved his 6th-degree black belt.

Shotokan is his traditional Japanese karate style. Troch teaches classes to those aged 4 and up with the oldest person he taught being 88.

Group classes are broken down into Tiny Tigers (ages 4 to 6), youth (ages 7 to 13), and adults. He also offers instruction to those with special needs, cardio karate kick classes, and birthday parties.

"I've been doing special needs classes in the park for the past three summers. This is the first time I've done the other classes in the park. I needed to keep things going in the karate world and with COVID the park seemed like the best alternative.

"When the government closed all the dojos because of COVID, I wanted to keep things going so I turned to zoom. It was better than nothing. It was hard for the kids to follow along – so many distractions at home.

"I started bringing everyone to the park once the weather started to get nice. It's working out great. Even though we can go in the dojo (training hall), everyone seems to like the park so I will continue as long as the weather holds up. The adults were OK with it."

"The park is good because of the open space. We can implement social distancing. The fresh air is awesome. The kids find it a little distracting with the grass and bugs and things but it's not as bad as being at home on Zoom," said Troch.

While most summers people take time off, this year Troch is finding a difference. The dojo has been fairly busy so he comes to Bellevue Park four times a week with his classes.

"All team sports are not running and with all the time off the kids have had with the closing of schools, they need a place to vent the energy. Karate is perfect.

"Karate is not about fighting like so many people think. It's about becoming the best person you can be. Sure, there's fighting involved but it's with control. In karate, we never start fights.

"There are so many benefits of karate – more focus, mental and physical fitness, self-defence, self-control, leadership skills, weight loss, muscle tone, stress relief, develop friendships at home and all around the world that last a lifetime, and many more. Karate is for all-round wellness.

"The karate family is a brotherhood and sisterhood that has a very strong bond. They're there to help you when you need it," said Troch

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