Standing in a traditional karate outfit, black belt around his waist, Revelstoke’s Chic Sharp takes control of his class.
“Complete physical and mental control the whole time you are in here,” he says to his students, “Focus on what’s most important.”
As a “sensei,” meaning teacher, there’s a reason Chic puts his soft, compassionate demeanour to the side for the hour he is in command. What’s most important to the instructor is seeing his students learn an adequate level of self-defence.
“Violence is an inherent part of our make-up,” said Chic, “There’s no question we are born with violent tendencies, but it doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of our behaviour. We can learn to control that.”
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On a physical level, according to Chic, the movements in karate activate both hemispheres of the brain.
“That in itself increases your mental alertness,” said Chic.
On a more all-encompassing view, Chic explains how the sport increases confidence and preparedness. It also reinforces a sound set of morals. But, “It takes discipline.”
For instance, at the end of each class, Chic has his students recite the core values taught in karate: “Seek perfection of character, endeavour, be faithful, respect others and refrain from violent behaviour.”
“It’s just a really good message for the kids,” said Carly Smith, a mother to one of Chic’s nine-year-old students. “You protect yourself, but you don’t be violent yourself.”
“I feel like I can protect myself,” said Owen, her son.
While the sport, coming to North America from Japan in 1900s, has shifted from being a strict lifestyle approach to something now treated in a more “cursory” fashion, Chic says there’s one main reason to commit to a practice like karate.
“You know Pig Pen from Charlie Brown?” he asks, explaining how it’s the character from the children’s cartoon with “a big cloud of dirt around him,” as if he is walking in a cloud. “That’s how energy is for most people. It’s just going off in different directions for all people and they’re not even conscious of it.”
Karate, however, teaches one how to channel their energy into one, collected manner.
“When you see that in people, they’re ready to do anything,” said Chic. “Wouldn’t matter whether I was gardening, whether I was riding a horse or riding a bicycle, I think it gives you that tenacity to keep trying things.
“Karate is just one venue in making yourself a better person.”
While Chic says his friends comment on how karate keeps him looking young, and his posture the most exquisite, he finds the most joy in watching his students improve. Throughout his 35-years of coaching, he has watched some his students win national titles and compete in countries all over the world. He has also helped various students with physical and mental disabilities.
“Karate is for anybody and everybody,” said Chic, so long as you want to do it.”
For Chic, his call for karate happened almost instantly after observing a couple partake in the exercises in Northern B.C., where he was living “off the grid” in a completely sustainable manner.
“It’s just been something that I have always loved to do,” said Chic.
Now, 37-years later, as a fourth degree black belt, Chic says so long as there isn’t a weapon involved, he can defend himself from an attacker.
“I can go out onto the floor and train for two hours and be dripping sweat and not be thinking, ‘aw this is so much work, I hate this.'”
Chic hosts classes to people of all ages in both Revelstoke and Nakusp. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.