by Shelley Byers
Soft spoken and slight, Kelly Allan ties a black belt around her waist, ready to demonstrate the art of Kenpo Karate. Lined with mirrors, mats and numerous kicking dummies, we stand inside the Diamond Martial Arts School located in the Tiger Lofts on Water Street in Galt. A third degree black belt in the art, Kelly is the only woman to own a martial arts school or teach the art of Kenpo in Canada. She may be quiet, but she kicks butt on many levels.
Before the demonstration, she easily explains the art of Kenpo Karate to this novice. “We combine the linear and circular movements with rhythmic timing patterns to move explosively.” These words will resonate later in my visit.
Training for 24 years and teaching this “logical and practical art” for17 years, Kelly opened Diamond Martial arts in 2001 bringing this unique style of Karate to Canada. “You have to work to achieve your goals,” says Kelly, blanketing her students in this statement.
Classes are kept small to fully teach each of the varied routines and moves of this specialized and ever-changing craft. Six students give the instructors a great deal of one-on-one time. Diamond offers many levels of instruction including Kenpo Karate, kick boxing and strength training. “You’re learning a skill while working out,” says Kelly.
Targeting different individual requirements, Diamond offers mixed classes as well as separate classes for men and women. Throughout the year, women’s self-defense courses teach students to “be aware of what to be aware of and how to react.” Children can begin their instruction at the age of four and are invited to attend a summer day camp that not only includes lessons but crafts and a pizza day. Birthday parties are a kick for all ages!
“Kenpo is not like traditional Karate in many ways,” Kelly explains. The moves are ever changing, and the logic behind each move is explained and understood by each student. As well, its roots can be traced like a family tree to the founder, Paul Mills, protégé of Master Ed Parker, and then to Kelly herself as members of the American Kenpo Karate International Association.
Rhonda Adams, Office Administrator and staunch supporter of Kelly and her school, has been training for seven years to earn her advanced green belt moving towards 1st and 2nd brown belt then to black.
“Kelly is very humble and modest,” comments Rhonda. “So, I’ll just say that all the parents love her style of teaching,”
For children, the teaching takes on a unique aspect. “We apply the black belt principles and focus on their whole life, not just here,” says Kelly. “It’s their journey.”
Using a “To Do” list, Kelly embraces the progress of her young students inside and outside of class. The list consists of Household, School and Family Contributions including “having black belt respect for the entire family and using black belt effort in class.” As well, each student must perform three Random Acts of Kindness per week.
“All the kids are positive with each other,” says Kelly.
Finally, it is time for the demonstration. They explain their moves as they slow down their motions. The logic of the art becomes clear and is another unique fact about this specific discipline.
“There is a purpose and reason for everything,” says Rhonda. She goes on to explain that other disciplines only teach the art, the craft of the moves but not the reasoning behind them. “In Kenpo, we teach them why they do certain things.”
“It has to be logical to make sense and it has to work,” adds Kelly.
The quick moves from both the ladies whirl and cut so fast that I have to ask for a second demonstration to catch what I missed the first time. Rhonda brings new meaning to “other duties as assigned” as Kelly demonstrates self-defense positions on her.
“You can kick someone’s butt, but you’re still nice,” Rhonda smiles, straightening up from her awkward position.
Later, while observing a lesson, I see the reason for the draw toward Kelly and her classes. Tiny children scramble across the matted floor, happy to demonstrate their blossoming talents to a stranger with a camera. Quietly, Kelly leads them through their moves. Each child is given her rapt attention. Each child is given her praise for a job well done. Each child beams.
“She’s an awesome teacher for all ages,” Rhonda comments. “It’s an art in itself.”
For more information visit www.diamondmartialarts.com or call 519-729-9025.