Grayling karate student is working his way up through the ranks in the sport
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
A Grayling beginner in karate is kicking his way to having a strong mind and body as he starts competing in statewide bouts.
Calvin Dideriksen, age 8, is going into third grade at the Grayling Elementary School. He is the son of Melanie and Brent Dideriksen.
The family lived in Kalamazoo, were Calvin gained an interest in karate from watching the Karate Kid movies and working with a punching bag.
“When I watched the Karate Kid, I thought it would be cool to do those kind of tournaments and stuff,” Calvin said.
The family moved to Grayling, where Melanie grew up, three years ago.
Calvin enrolled in the New World Karate Program, which is led by Master Zack Burns, two years ago.
“We knew Zack was seven-time world champ and thought he would be a good teacher,” Brent said.
New World Karate focuses on Tang Soo Do, which is a karate-based Korean martial art incorporating hand-fighting principles as well as northern Chinese martial arts.
As a youngster, Calvin believes that karate is a good skill to be able to look out for himself.
“I like to learn how to be a champion,” he said. “I like to learn how to fight and I like to learn how to defend myself.”
He also enjoys other aspects of the sport.
“It helps me kind of relax, it helps me get stronger, and it helps me feel more confident,” Calvin said.
Calvin competed in his first regional tournament in Cheboygan last fall. Those tournaments are based on participants and coaches helping out.
“They kind of help get people ready for competition more than anything,” Burns said.
More recently, Calvin competed in the Richard Plowden’s Great Lakes Pro-Am Tournament, which was hosted in the Detroit area, where beginners up to black belts compete.
“All they do is go to win and they train all the time,” Burns said. “It’s stiff competition.”
Calvin earned a first place belt for doing Pyung Ahn Cho-Dan, which are different fighting movements based on attacks coming from every direction.
He also got a second place is sparring, and took part in a couple of bouts before falling to the defending statewide champion.
Those fighters are from a team that practices Mixed Marital Arts (MMA).
“I had to go against some MMA fighters and they were really good,” Calvin said.
There were 12 to 15 kids competing in Calvin’s division.
Brent said Calvin is gaining some attributes which help him in and outside of the dojo.
“He’s definitely learning respect and discipline and he’s learning to think before he acts, which are pretty important life lessons,” Brent said.
Burns senses that Calvin can be a bit hyperactive, but that does not show up when it’s time to practice karate.
“He’s awesome,” Burns said. “When he comes to class, he’s super focused and has lots of determination and he works hard. He’s hungry for more martial arts always.”
Burns said Calvin serves as an inspiration for the other students.
“I have not ever seen him come in once and not want to give 100 percent,” Burns said. “He comes in and helps motivate some of the other kids. They love to see him kick and punch.”
Between seven to eight kids are enrolled in New World Karate during the summer months since family are going on vacations.
“It’s hit or miss depending when classes are,” Burns said.
During the school year, the classes are held at the Grayling Elementary School.
Calvin is currently working on gaining his green belt with a black strip.
“It’s one step at a time,” Brent said.
Calvin has aspirations at topping out in karate, and acknowledged that will take a lot determination and time.
“It’s going to take a lot of hard work and me getting disciplined and coming a lot and practicing,” he said.