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People in the Bedford area got a new opportunity to get their kicks with martial arts when Sidney Burns opened Super Kicks Karate in Bedford’s Centertown last fall.
The karate school opened its doors on Sept. 1 in a historic building at the corner of South Bridge Street and Main Street. The interior of the 19th century building’s ground floor has been renovated. One interior wall has been stripped down so the original brickwork, which has been sealed, is visible.
“I like that part of it, too,” said Burns. “It has some age behind it, some history behind it.”
Burns wonders what the upstairs rooms were originally used for. He said they all have fireplaces.
However, the downstairs is perfect for his karate school, which is open from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
“It works real well for us because streets clear out [by that time],” Burns said. This means that parking is not a problem.
The school is growing and Burns said that he may add an additional evening.
“Maybe we will be going to Wednesday soon because we are getting so busy we don’t have room on the floor,” Burns said.
Burns teaches two karate styles. One is American Freestyle. He said that American Freestyle was put together 40 years ago and is a blend of multiple martial arts.
Along with the physical side, it seeks to promote self confidence.
“They [the students] learn they can accomplish anything,” he said.
Burns accepts American Freestyle students as young as 4. One of the attributes he teaches children is personal responsibility and positive behavior with chore sheets. These are chores that their parents want them to do. It’s a 31-day chore sheet and the youth must do seven chores a day for 25 days. Chores include areas such as “making my bed,” “brushing my teeth,” “completing homework,” and “cleaning up after snacks and meals.” Children who do this get a citizenship star to wear on their uniform. There are also medals and trophies for children who earn large numbers of these stars.
Burns also teaches Combat Hapkido and students must be at least 13 to enroll in this.
“We do not teach it to children,” he said.
Burns said Combat Hapkido, which has existed in its present form since 1990, is taught world-wide to police forces and the military.
“It is a complete, com-prehensive self-defense sys-tem,” Burns said.
According to Burns, one of the features of Combat Hapkido is that all kicks are below the waist. Unlike higher kicks, aimed at upper areas of the body, the low kicks don’t carry the risk of throwing you off balance. There are plenty of targets below the waist that provide targets, including the knees and ankles, for a kick that would stop an attacker.
Combat Hapkido also includes taking advantage of pressure points to incapacitate an attacker. Burns said that it’s designed to be effective if an attacker already has his hands on you.
“The greatest thing martial arts does, (is) it gives people the confidence to tackle any situation,” he said.
There is another positive feature about confidence.
“If you are confident, you don’t have to put anybody down,” Burns said.
Burns has been involved in Karate for 37 years.
“I started when I was 8 and I’m 45 now,” he said.
He has a third degree black belt in American Freestyle and first degree black belts in Combat Hapkido and Shorin Ryu, an Okinawan style.
Burns is certified through the American Freestyle Karate Association. To get this certification a person must be at least a 1st degree black belt, there are 10 degrees, and complete instructor training. To keep the certification, they must retest every eight weeks. To do this he has to perform before the style’s grand master, Lawrence Arthur.
He’s also certified by the International Combat Hapkido Federation. Keeping that certification requires that he perform before an instructor of higher rank once each year.
“It keep us on our toes,” Burns said.
While there is a minimum age for learning these martial arts, there in no maximum age. Burns said that his oldest Combat Hapkido student is 62.
“The martial arts is a great way to stay flexible,” Burns commented.
Burns said that he can adapt his instruction to a person’s ability and even work with disabilities.
“We can help them reach their potential,” he said. “As long as they give us 100 percent is all we ask for.”
For more information about Super Kicks Karate, call Burns at (434) 420-7384.