A clarifying experience
Kruz became interested in karate 18 years ago when her son signed a studio contract, eventually deciding he wasn't interested in completing it. Kruz attended the classes in his place, completed the contract and progressed from there. Two years ago she became a third degree black belt.
"When I first started, I had a lot of junk going on in my life," Kruz said about karate. "It helped me get things in focus and get on track. As I progressed, I made three trips to Okinawa (Japan) for training. It has just expanded my whole world."
Originally trained in a variety of karate styles, Kruz has focused on strict traditional gojuryo, which is being taught in her classes. A member of the Jundokan, an Okinawan organization, Kruz plans to take some of her students to Okinawa next year to be officially graded.
Kruz recently joined her student Cassidy Green when she participated in the XLI AAU Junior Olympic Games in Knoxville, TN.
"Last year, (Green) went to Virginia Beach and just competed in Kata," Kruz said. "This year, she went for all three and did a super job. She was ecstatic."
Green received second place in Kobudo (weapons) and third place in Kata (forms) and Kumite (sparring). She has been training for four years.
"She's a very serious student," Kruz said. "She started when she was five and has progressed fairly quickly."
Kruz added that Green's success is due to the 9-year-old's dedication and focus, adding that she is the type of student who not only practices in class, but also practices every evening at home.
"You have to keep doing the same thing over and over to perfect technique," Kruz said.
Before the fire, Kruz held classes every Monday through Saturday evening. She is currently holding classes Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings, but plans to expand hours in September. She will also offer a morning beginners' class and Kokyu Hou, a breathing class that uses yoga type stretches and poses and teaches breathing forms.