Sidekick Karate to launch after-school program

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 11, 2017

SALISBURY — At the time of year when many parents are considering after-school options for their children, Sidekick Karate has put together a program not previously offered here.

Owners Ricky and Edie Smith researched a successful karate after-school program in Columbia, South Carolina, offered by a friend and are set to kick off their own.

Ricky Smith is an eighth-degree black belt and has been teaching karate for 42 years, the last five at his dojo at 119 W. Innes St. A professional staff of black belts and event directors will provide leadership and help with student development. All staff members must pass a background check, be subject to random drug testing, and be certified in CPR and first aid.

Students will be picked up at their elementary or middle school on Sidekick buses and driven to the dojo. The Smiths plan to have a daily schedule depending on school dismissal times. Several twists will highlight that schedule, which will always begin with a healthy snack and then proceed to homework time.

Ricky Smith’s mother, Aldena, was a 34-year veteran high school English teacher. “My mom excelled at teaching, and every one of our students will get assistance to complete their homework assignments,” he said.

After homework time, most students will go into a one-hour session on the karate mat with four black-belt instructors. Next, the upstairs loft will be what Ricky calls the “chill or downtime area,” with movies, reading, games and other options, depending on parent preference. If the parent has limits on electronic devices, those requirements will be controlled.

Children can be picked up after karate class from the school but must be picked up by 6:15 p.m. Ricky says that at no time will the children be left unattended.

Both Smiths say the after-school program will be conducted in a caring, Christian atmosphere. Edie Smith said there will be plenty of positive reinforcement and building of confidence.

Ricky added, “In this era of bullying or other issues, martial arts teaches the child how to handle conflict. I have never had a student cause trouble in school and, in fact, the opposite is more often true, with the student becoming a problem solver.”

Sidekick Karate Dojo buses are easily identified.

“Our No. 1 priority is safety,” Ricky said. “Two black belts will ride each bus, with one handling exclusively the driving while the other is responsible for any issues while ensuring that the kids make the trip safely. No more than 13 kids will be on each bus.”

Current classes at Sidekick are split 50/50 between boys and girls.

Karate instruction has been shown to improve confidence, study habits and grades, physical fitness, mental awareness and control of emotions. Students learn discipline, coordination, respect and manners, focus, self-defense, anti-bullying techniques and the Art of Karatendo (way of life).

The Smiths say the program is not a day care or baby-sitting service but a martial arts school. The $75 registration includes a karate uniform and team patch. Uniforms and belts will be left at the school and laundered weekly. Weekly dues are $79 for the first child and $69 for each additional child. Any interested children can attend two classes for free to decide if the program is right for them.

The Smiths say today’s world is hectic, and often parents find it hard to get their kids to class without a rush. They consider this program a convenience for working parents.

Ricky and his twin brother, Randy, along with their deceased first instructor, Gary Basinger, were recently honored with induction into the Legends of Carolina Martial Arts.

“We started karate school in 1974,” Ricky said. “Basinger taught us the ‘Power of One’ and how one person can make a difference.”

Edie Smith said, “We don’t have kids of our own, but you can’t love martial arts and not love the kids. Our parents also love the instructors.”

“And we do it for the community,” Ricky added. “God gave me a talent to make a difference, and I don’t want to waste it. This isn’t a job for us, it’s a passion. It’s about doing it right.”

For more information, go to SideKickDojo.com or call 704-216-2258.

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