The students punched, kicked and stuck punches in the air as they recently practiced martial arts in an Endwell basement.
They could have been part of any martial arts class – with a few exceptions, such as students starting the class with prayer.
Welcome to Curry’s Progressive Martial Arts, held twice a week in the basement of Endwell Church of Christ. Tamika Curry, a fourth degree black belt who is married to church pastor David Curry, teaches the classes, which incorporate several martial arts, including aikido, judo and jujitsu.
Classes are open to students aged 4 and over, including adults. This is her fifth year of teaching at Endwell Church, although she has practiced and taught martial arts for 28 years.
“Most martial arts teach philosophy,” including self-control, patience, and discipline, Curry, known as Miss Tamika, told students. Martial arts are similar to Christianity.
“Christianity improves our martial arts,” she said. “Martial arts improve our Christianity. They blend into each other.
Each class includes a “cat mat” where students pause, sit in a circle, and learn a moral from the Bible. In a recent class, Curry compared puzzles with the many elements that make up Christians.
“As Christians we must love God and love our neighbors,” she said. “We should read our Bibles. We should pray. We should help others. If you miss some of these things, doesn’t that make you a Christian? No, but you are missing some things.
As with all martial arts classes, students strive to obtain different colored belts by practicing martial arts techniques. But to earn a belt in the church curriculum, students must also memorize and explain verses from the Bible, Curry said.
Each belt level has a character trait based on the fruit of the Spirit, she said. For example, a white sash is based on the fruit of love, and the accompanying Bible verse is John 3:16.
JD Wojnar, 15, taking the course with his sister Josie; and mother, Julie; says he learned a lot from classes.
“I’m learning to respect my parents and be more diligent in my job,” he said. “Since becoming a member, I have been more diligent in helping the house and keeping it cleaner. “
Her mother, Julie, is currently the only adult in the class.
“It is sometimes difficult,” she said. “I have to work a little harder than the kids.”
Jared Hartwig, 14, who takes classes with his older brother, Caleb; and her younger sister, Kaelyn; said he was drawn to classes because he liked sports.
“It’s definitely good physical exercise,” he said. “But we are given things to think about. We also learn morals.
In August, the class celebrated their first black belt: 18-year-old Seth Whitbeck. He is absent at SUNY Morrisville, where he is in first year and was not available for an interview. But her mother, Michelle Whitbeck, said the program has benefited her in many ways.
“Learning body and mind control helped her grow,” she said. “It allowed him to concentrate. “
Seth keeps the black belt on a desk in his dorm, his mother said. The belt inspires him and reminds him of what he has learned from classes, including persistence, focus, and being a good Christian.
Endwell Church of Christ
Reverend David Curry is the pastor of the church at 3600 Country Club Road in Endwell. Sunday services take place at 10:30 am. For more information about the church, visit its website at https://endwellchurchofchrist.com/ Where find the church on Facebook.