Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gulf Coast Academy students learn Japanese fencing, kayaking

A strike to the head was one point. The arms, legs and wrist, one-half point. Chest, throat and waist, one point.

Gulf Coast Academy field activity coordinator James Kaufmann wanted to make sure his eighth-graders understood the scoring before they commenced sparring.

Fully suited in protective gear, the students took turns facing their classmates with bamboo swords, or shinai, for a little kumite — Japanese fencing. They were on a field trip to Kaufmann's Karate studio in Spring Hill (an after-school business of Kaufmann's) with field activity teacher David Peitzman.

The two had been working with students on Japanese fencing for three weeks leading up to the sparring, showing them basic strikes, how to stand and how to hold the swords. Lessons included self-discipline, some Japanese terms, a different culture and a new sport.

During the sparring, students were observed for technique and self-control. The class as a whole was divided into two teams, each trying to amass the most points. They helped each other don the protective body gear, and each took a turn sparring with one member of the other team.

JoAnna McKinney, 13, said the sparring was fun, challenging and exciting.

"It was different from what you normally do in school," she said. "It helps kids get out there and learn different things. It could also be a form of self-defense."

Hailey Huffman, 13, sparred with JoAnna.

"It felt good," she said. "The armor was heavy. But once you got out, it was pretty fun."

She said that Kaufmann and Peitzman introduced them to Japanese fencing "to teach us things in life that are different, the different experiences you can have in life."

Philip Bambauer, 13, and Jason DeBello, 14, also faced off.

"It's a lot of energy," Philip said.

"It's a lot of team-building skill," he added, referring to the way the teams helped each individual put on the protective gear.

Jason said the exercise was "amazing. My adrenaline was going through my body."

When it was done, with Team 1 winning 11-8, Kaufmann praised all of the participants.

"We're trying to teach you guys teamwork," he said. "Everybody worked together really well."

• • •

During another recent — and unusual — field trip involving Gulf Coast students, 22 sixth-graders sat on folding chairs in the cool morning air in the woods bordering the boat ramp at Lake Townsend Regional Park. They were arranged in a semicircle to listen to Joe Gatti, the school's curriculum and instruction director, teach them about kayaking.

"We actually do a lot of activities that include kayaking over the next three years," said Peitzman. During this activity, he said, students would learn the parts a of kayak, the types of strokes and "safety, of course."

During their three years at the charter school, the students will have opportunities to visit the Rainbow River, the Springs Coast Environmental Center on the Weeki Wachee River and the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. Lake Townsend is just off the Withlacoochee River.

"A lot of times when we go out kayaking, we're water-quality testing," said Kaufmann.

Kayaking also gives students access to the natural world where they can study aquatic and marine life.

"Normally, what we're doing in the field coincides with what they're doing in the classroom," Kaufmann said. "These kids get to do in three years what some people don't do in their entire lives."

Kaitlyn Schultz, 11, said she understood why students need to learn about kayaking.

"Because we do a lot of water activities," she said. "So we should learn to do this because it's a good life skill."

The students headed down to the water's edge, and for some of them it was the first time they had stepped into a kayak.

Rose Leventhal, 11, was a little worried, but everything turned out okay.

"I thought this was going to be really scary," she said.

She said she could see the value in learning the skill.

"You could be stranded on an island, and there could be a kayak and a paddle, and you need survival so you would to get to a place where there are humans," she said.

Bryan Stafford, 12, saw another reason.

"So when we go on a family trip to kayak, we go the right way," he said.

Zoe Owen, 11, also saw the benefits.

It could be useful, she said, "if we want to do it in our own free time."

>>fast facts

About the school

For information about Gulf Coast Academy, visit gulfcoastacademy.org. The charter school is now accepting preapplications for the 2013-14 school year and is in the process of expanding with a second location.

Gulf Coast Academy students learn Japanese fencing, kayaking 11/28/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 8:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Me too': Alyssa Milano urged assault victims to tweet in solidarity. The response was massive.

    Human Interest

    Actor Alyssa Milano took to Twitter on Sunday with an idea, suggested by a friend, she said.

    Within hours of Alyssa Milano’s tweet, tweets with the words “me too” began appearing. By 3 a.m. Monday, almost 200,000 metoo tweets were published by Twitter’s count.
  2. Tampa tax shelter schemer too fat for his prison term, attorney says

    Criminal

    TAMPA — A federal judge sentenced two Bay area men to prison terms last week for peddling an offshore tax shelter scheme that cost the IRS an estimated $10 million.

    Duane Crithfield and Stephen Donaldson Sr. were sentenced to prison after marketing a fraudulent offshore tax strategy known as a "Business Protection Plan" to medical practices, offering doctors and others coverage against unlikely events such as a kidnapping.

  3. Weinstein Co., overwhelmed by backlash, may be up for sale

    Corporate

    NEW YORK — The Weinstein Co., besieged by sexual harassment allegations against its namesake and co-founder, may be putting itself up for sale.

    Weinstein
  4. Trial begins in 2014 death of 19-month-old Tampa girl

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Even before his trial officially began, Deandre Gilmore had planted his gaze on the floor of Judge Samantha Ward's courtroom Monday, taking a deep breath and shifting in his seat as a pool of 60 potential jurors learned of his charges.

    Gilmore
  5. Rick Pitino officially fired by Louisville amid federal corruption probe

    College

    In an expected move, the University of Louisville Athletic Association's Board of Directors on Monday voted unanimously to fire men's basketball coach Rick Pitino. The decision came 19 days after Louisville acknowledged that its men's basketball program was being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe and …

    In this Oct. 20, 2016, file photo, Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino reacts to a question during a press conference in Louisville, Ky. Louisville's Athletic Association on Monday officially fired Pitino, nearly three weeks after the school acknowledged that its men's basketball program is being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe. [AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File]