Glenview sensei offers karate for disabled students

September 23, 2012 7:00:42 AM PDT
A north suburban karate sensei was named the first Paralympic coach of the year for karate by the United States Olympic Committee.

Jeff Kohn created a karate program for children and adults with disabilities and started teaching karate to children with various disabilities 40 years ago. He was one of the first sensei to do this.

Kohn's next goal is to make karate a Paralympic sport by the 2016 Games.

North Shore Dojo Karate Can-D! program takes place in Glenview.

"My youngest student is 3 [years old], and my eldest is 76," Sensei Kohn said. "This school is 12-month program, and it's open six days a week. We teach year-round, and we're always taking new students. So, it's a great magical place here."

A number of his students are black belt athletes. Michael McCarthy, 15, is among the best.

"He's probably the hardest working kid I've ever had. He makes me proud, everything. It's humbling. Everything I see him perform -- and he's a great little athlete. When he first came in here, he could hardly walk, and when you see the stuff he does, its truly remarkable," said the sensai.

"I was born with no legs, and now I know how to walk because when I was born, I came to Sensei Jeff Kohn when I was 4 years old, and never know how to walk, but now you taught me how to walk," said McCarthy, who is a freshman at Notre Dame High School.

He is training for upcoming karate events.

"We're taking the team to Israel for the Maccablah Games and also the following year to Paris in the World Disabled Games," Kohn said. "There's about 25 countries around the world that will be participating in the world championships. We're really excited, and I think I have a world champion in my school with Michael McCarthy."

"My favorite thing about karate is learning new calls and learning new things about karate," McCarthy said.

The monthly fee for the karate program is $150. Karate is a serious structural program. For more information go to www.northshoredojo.net.


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