Cobra Kai? Nah, Next Generation Karate is more than a show
No, you want find Daniel Larusso, Johnny Lawrence or any other notable characters from the hit television show "Cobra Kai" at Forest Grove's Next Generation Karate — but you will find a dedicated coach, a commitment to martial arts, and a welcoming attitude to students of all ages and skill levels.
"My biggest goal with all of my students, above all else, is to develop their self-confidence and respect, and that comes through just sheer effort at my school," Next Generation Karate (NGK) co-founder and sensei Alex White said. "I push all of my students to do their absolute best so that they can to get the sense of reward from the work that they put in.
"There are three big pillars that we expect all of our students to get, which is confidence, respect and discipline. Our classes are very difficult, and our belt testing procedures are probably one of the hardest in the area, so I think our students really develop a sense of self-worth, and we take that seriously."
White loves karate — like, he really loves karate.
From the age of 11, the now-27-year-old has been learning, competing in and now teaching the martial art, which he says hooked him from the get-go.
White has competed up and down the West Coast, in the South, Midwest, East, and even has a world championship to his name in kata, traditional forms. But what White has learned since opening NGK with his mother, Kelly Lowry in 2017, is that he really enjoys teaching the sport that has given him so much.
"I couldn't have possibly asked for a better career or a better industry to be involved with," White said. "You get to see these people work their tails off, and you get to push them farther than they thought they ever could go, and you get to see that satisfaction and that boost in confidence that you would expect when somebody goes beyond their limits. I love it."
NGK offers programs and classes for families and individuals of all ages. They are divided into age divisions that allow every student an equal opportunity to succeed.
It's suggested that prospective new students participate in an introductory lesson, which White considers necessary in order to establish a rapport between the sensei and the student. The lesson is representative of an actual class and ensures the student will be able to engage fully in the class.
Classes include Generation X (ages 3.5 to 5), Generation Y (ages 5 to 8), and Generation Z for kids ages 8 and up, with all classes providing varying levels of both mental and physical skills.
NGK also offers private lessons for students looking not just to succeed, but to excel.
White said the level of desire and dedication differs student to student, and that NGK tries to cater to every aspiring martial artist's level of interest.
"I've got some students that are in every day of the week for up to an hour-and-a-half, and others that come in once or twice a week for 45 minutes," the sensei said. "We usually recommend at the bare minimum two or three classes a week, but it really just depends on what their goals are and what their ambitions are."
Memberships are also "unlimited," so students can attend as frequently or for as long as they'd like.
White himself trained extensively from the age of 16 to 23, even moving to Utah to train with his current coach Mike Tobin, who runs Tobin's Elite Academy of Martial Arts T.E.A.M. That's where White cut his competitive teeth, and where he learned much of what he's passing on to area kids looking to compete.
And what does he think about "Cobra Kai?" He mostly thinks it's fun. In fact, he said he recently suggested to his students that they all watch the original "Karate Kid" because many hadn't seen it.
"Certainly there are things about 'Cobra Kai' that are a little bit different," White said with a chuckle. "But I'm all for fun, entertaining shows and movies like that."
But when push comes to shove — figuratively, of course — the local sensei said for him, it's about the love for martial arts and giving back to the discipline that has and continues to give him so much.
"I could see myself doing this for the rest of my life," White said. "When I'm ready to retire a million years from now, I could see myself potentially handing the reins down to somebody else that's willing to carry on the legacy of Next Generation Karate, with the goal of creating that next generation of martial artists."
For questions about Next Generation Karate, see its website at nextgenerationkarate.com.
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