by Melissa Gute

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Photos by Melissa Gute

DENVER – About a dozen children swarmed like a school of fish around martial arts instructors Cassandra Kimmerly and Brent Lacy, eagerly waiting to see the next judo move they were going to learn.

Lacy pretended to attack Kimmerly, who swiftly dodged his strike, hugged his legs and pulled his feet out from underneath him, leaving Lacy on his back starring at the ceiling. The students gawked briefly in amazement before dancing with anticipation for their turn to try.

Kimmerly told the Tiny Tigers, who range from 4-6 years old, that judo means “gentle way,” and the moves they were learning were to disarm people, rather than hurt them.

“He was going to do something mean,” she told the class. “I said, ‘nope, I’m going to give you a hug.’ ”

The Tiny Tigers’ class was one of more than 20 that were offered during a Tang Soo Do clinic hosted by Causby Karate Academy Feb. 2 at Denver United Methodist Church.

Instructors from North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, D.C., and Virginia taught classes including judo throws and rolls, weapons and yoga. With students ranging in age from 4-74, there was something for all levels.

This is the second year that Causby Karate Academy has held the clinic. Chief Instructor Stephanie Causby said participation grew to more than 100 this year, allowing for more, but smaller classes.

The clinic provides students an opportunity to train with people from other schools, different instructors and make new connections in a noncompetitive environment, Causby said.

Twin Dragons Martial Arts and Fitness Master Instructor Wilson Smith brought 20 students and six instructors from his school in Aiken, S.C.

“One of the great things about our training today is that when you sweat together, you grow together,” he said.

The study of Tang Soo Do focuses on whole-person development, not just the physical health, he explained.

“If we just teach people how to fight, all we’ve got are brawlers,” he said. “We want to teach people to use the discipline of martial arts to be better students, to be better parents, to be better people.”