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Manlius: LaVallee's karate gives back to community

LaVallee's Karate wants to keep you safe. That's why each month owner Jeff Groesbeck holds a free seminar on specific topics at its Manlius Mart dojo (or training facility). This month, the topic is women's self defense.

"We do a community event every month," Groesbeck said. "I usually rotate between women's self defense, bully defense and predator awareness."

Amy Steele, a black belt in karate, teaches the women's one-hour course that mixes basic martial arts moves with general safety tips.

"The biggest thing is education and awareness," Groesbeck said.

Women are encouraged to wear comfortable, loose-fit clothing like sweats and T-shirts in order to move around more freely.

"We'll take two or three different moves that somebody could grab them with, and show them ways to get out of that," Groesbeck said. "We'll get them hitting some targets, get a little work out going, and then we'll talk about things such as when you park your car, are you parking underneath a streetlight?"

What every adult wants to know about martial arts

"Every adult has two questions in their mind when they first start training in martial arts," Groesbeck said.

The first question is "Is it safe?" The second question is "Can I do this without looking foolish?"

Groesbeck's answer to both is "yes."

"Safety is a must," he said. "We want to train as aggressively as we can but as safe as we possibly can at the same time."

As for looking foolish, he said the hardest part for an adult is taking that first step in doing something they have no idea how to do. At the beginning of a session, you may look or feel awkward, but it passes within the first few weeks.

"You start figuring out some of the basic skills," he said. "And then you look good."

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