by Martha Quetsch
Karate a winning activity for Elburn youth, family
ELBURNâ€”Lorie and Matt Gale of Elburn have unwaveringly supported their son Alex’s passion for karate during the past six years, leading to his success in the martial arts and a lot of fun for the family.
Both were highlights of the Gales’ recent trip to Las Vegas, where Alex won a bronze medal at the USA Open Karate Championships.
Alex is 11 years old and has studied karate since he was 5. He is a 1st Kyu Brown Belt in Shotokan Karate, a Japanese form of karate. He is a member of the Illinois Shotokan Karate Clubs (ISKC).
The Gales flew to Nevada to see Alex compete in both the 2010 Junior Olympics and the USA Open Karate Championships, held April 2-4. The tournaments were huge international events with more than 1,400 competitors and took place at Caesar’s Palace.
Alex’s family, including his sister, Sandra, 10, cheered on the ISKC athletes and the USA karate teams, met competitors from around the world and watched â€œsome amazing world-class karate,â€ Lorie said.
For the Gales, the excitement surrounding the event was topped off by watching Alex reap the benefits of all his years of dedication to karate.
â€œHe had strong performances throughout both tournaments, and seeing him win the Bronze Medal in Advanced Kata at the USA Open was a thrill,â€ Lorie said.
Alex trains year round and practices an average of eight hours a week. His parents take him to ISKC karate classes three times a week, in Woodridge, Geneva and Batavia. Periodically, Alex has special training at the main dojo (training facility) in Palatine, Ill.
He likes karate so much that he has continued doing it despite a full schedule of other activities, including the cross country team, chess club, student council and the jazz band at Kaneland Harter Middle School.
â€œI just have a great time doing it,â€ Alex said.
He remembers becoming interested in karate when he was about 3 years old, watching people practicing at a local park district. What Alex enjoys most about karate is that it always challenges him to do his best, he said.
His next goal is to place in the ISKC state tournament in Palatine on Sunday. If he does, he will be eligible to compete at the USA National Karate Federation tournament this summer in Greenville, S.C.
Alex’s parents have seen their son take part in 28 tournaments over the years, Lorie said. Among those have been the four annual tournaments hosted by the ISKC, including the Illinois State Championships. He participated in the USA National Karate Championships in Houston in 2008 and in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. in 2009, and in the 2010 Junior Olympics and the USA Open Karate Championships in Las Vegas.
The Gales said they support Alex’s interest in karate because he enjoys it and because it provides excellent conditioning for both the mind and body.
â€œIt improves fitness, builds confidence, strengthens self-discipline and is fun,â€ Lorie said.
Photo: Alex Gale (right) challenges his opponent during a USA Open Karate Championship in Las Vegas. Courtey Photo