It is 10 am on Saturday and a group of children file one by one into a gym in one of the top hotels in Kericho town.
Moments later, the gym instructor calls the children between the age of 4-15 years to order to mark the beginning of the day’s training.
Like members of the disciplined forces, the children adorning black karate outfits tied at the waist with belts of various colours to distinguish their various levels in Kenpo karate ladder, stand to attention.
“I am learning karate because it will allow me to easily defend myself from bad people who might try to harm me,” said 13-year-old Sarah Muthoni, a standard seven pupil at ACK Grace Academy Kericho.
Kendra Jullia, 8, who aspires to stury theology when she grows up says besides making a living teaching the word of God, she would also want to be a karate expert.
“I have been learning karate since I was in standard two. My mother encouraged me to join the training,” she said.
The last born in a family of four said she also convinced her other siblings to enroll for Karate classes and they are happy to be taking part in it.
“I enjoy it so much” she said.
The gym instructor Elijah Chege, a second-degree black belt Kenpo holder said he began training the children in 2017.
“Kenpo is good since it is a category of modern martial art whereby minors learn self-defense skills, discipline and body fitness,” he said.
The rigorous weekend training session for the budding martial arts experts goes on for two hours.
The martial art is an updated system based on modern-day street fighting that applies logic and practicality.
Kenpo karate is characterised by quick and powerful strikes delivered from all of the body’s natural weapons, powered by rapid stance transitions called “shifting”.
The Kericho junior Kenpo karate team has participated in at least three karate tournaments where they bagged various awards.
“In the last Kenpo karate kid’s tournament held in Kajiado County last month, our team emerged second out of the 15 teams which participated in the competition. Eleven of our children bagged medals,” said Chege.
The karate instructor explained that before he enrolls a child for training, he first must determine whether the child is interested to learn karate by himself or herself or is being pushed by the parents.
“The step is very important since sometimes parents force their children to do things they don’t want or interested in,” said Chege.
If a child is found to be enthusiastic about the sport, Chege said the next step is to introduce the individual to the rules of the game.
“Afterwards, the beginner is introduced to basis attack responses which comprise larger system taught through scripted scenarios,” said Chege.
The Kenpo karate entry belt is white. A beginner will require at least 30 training sessions which takes at least four months before qualifying to move to the next belt (yellow stripe),” said Chege.
Orange, purple, blue stripe, green, brown, black belts are the next steps in the karate ranks.
“Before I can allow a trainee to graduate to the next level, I have to take a look at the school report card and only allow the child to ascend the ladder only if he or she is performing well in school. Karate skills and academic prowess must go together,” said Chege.
Besides training the children at the gym, Chege said he has been introducing Kenpo martial art and training to pupils at Montessori and Kericho primary school.
Do not miss out on the latest news. Join the Standard Digital Telegram channel HERE.