Posted On:8/31/2006 8:40pm
KARATE SCHOOL IS MORE THAN KICKS
Paul Prendergast teaches "perfection of character"
Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 08/26/06
BY NAOMI MUELLER
TOMS RIVER BUREAU
BRICK For 40 minutes, students at Paul Prendergast Karate kick and punch and run. Yet as each class winds down, the students gather on the mat to talk about the lesson of the week. Studio owner Paul Prendergast calls the session "mat chat."
Last week, the lesson was about giving and receiving compliments; this week, it focuses on the fact that people don't have to follow the crowd to be popular.
"The whole idea of karate is perfection of character," said Prendergast, 41, who opened his Brick studio 17 years ago. "It's not about kicks and punches. Without some kind of philosophy, martial arts is street fighting. Karate translates to self-discovery. It can help people overcome the things they are afraid of and teach them to be confident."
A culinary graduate who worked as a chef for Hyatt hotels, Prendergast said he began taking karate lessons when he was 14 years old. Once he started, he said he was hooked. Eventually, his love of karate outweighed his love of cooking.
"I came to realize that I liked working with kids more than I liked making a souffle," he said.
At 24, Prendergast opened Paul Prendergast Karate in Brick's Kennedy Mall. At the time, he figured he could always return to the kitchen if things did not work out. The first few months of business were difficult, with Prendergast saying he had to "beg, borrow and steal" to get his business off the ground and then keep it running.
Yet he also said he has been fortunate. Despite having five competitors in a two-mile radius, Prendergast said he currently has about 325 active students a number, he said, that continues to grow.
Prendergast said he believes part of his desire to teach his students a lesson, along with the skills they need to master karate, comes from the fact that he wasn't a good student. In fact, Prendergast, who grew up in Jackson, said he considers himself lucky to have graduated from high school at all.
The academic difficulties he had and what he has learned since are things Prendergast talks about with his students every chance he gets. By discussing the mistakes he made in school, he hopes to inspire his students to do better. For example, Prendergast tells them he didn't like raising his hand in school and talks about why he believes they should.
Yet Prendergast doesn't only talk about the importance of students doing well in school and being productive members of their communities he requires it.
Before earning a new belt, each student must receive permission from both parents and teachers. Before receiving a black belt, students must complete 100 random acts of kindness. The school also does group community service projects and has donated more than $50,000 to various individuals and charities in the past three years, Prendergast said.
"I try to impress on my students that we have it pretty good," Prendergast said. "We have roofs over our heads and the sun is shining. There are always people who have it worse."
Students also receive rewards for good report cards.
"If kids don't learn to set short- and long-term goals, they are limited," Prendergast said. "They should have as many options as they can."
Prendergast said his students range in age from 3 to 60. Even his oldest students, he said, are not too old to learn a life lesson.
I'm not too sure what the other website listed on the article is, I don't clearly see Prendergast's name on it.
Posted On:8/31/2006 8:41pm
Paul's krotty academy.
WE ARE A BLACK BELT SCHOOL. WE ARE MOTIVATED. WE ARE DEDICATED. WERE ON A QUEST, TO BE OUR BEST!
http://www.paulprendergastkarate.com/ - Well designed website.
Heh, is that Dan Severn?
He has a 3rd degree black belt in Dillman's silliness.
All his instructors kinda look the say. It says he offers submission fighting as well but I don't see any mention of experience or rank in BJJ or anything else. JJJ does not count.
There were at NAGA, anyone heard of this guy before?
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