PELHAM, N.Y. Dennis Campo opened Wisdom Way Martial Arts in 2000 and today teaches three groups of students in evening classes throughout the week. He will move his business to 113 Wofls Lane after this week.
Campo works as an accountant during the day, but after 5 p.m. he dons his martial arts gear and instructs his students how to kick, punch and defend.
"It's a nice change of pace after work," Campo said.
Campo teaches 30 minute classes to the Little Ninjas, a class of 4 and 5-year-olds, who learn balance, focus and teamwork. His main class, Karate Kidz, contains approximately 50 students, ages 6 to 12. Campo teaches ages 13-and-up in his third class of teens and adults, which once contained a 60-year-old man.
Campo injects fun and light-heartedness into his lessons as he jokes with the students. After a lesson on Thursday with the Karate Kidz class, he treated the children to their favorite game of Ninja Dodgeball.
The Pelham resident, who lives mere blocks from Wisdom Way, is just the third fighter in history to earn black belts under both heavyweight champion Joe Lewis and middleweight champion Bill Wallace. Lewis teaches classes at Wisdom Way twice a year.
Campo tries to differentiate his lessons from other karate and martial arts courses. He said that instructors are a dime a dozen and that anyone can teach students how to kick and punch.
"What I hope is unique is that the kids walk out of here with self-confidence," Campo said.
The teacher said that other martial arts classes promote self-confidence but cannot actually explain it.
Campo requires during the course that his students fight three rounds with no head contact against a more seasoned opponent. He said that the true moment of self-confidence comes when the student stands at the end of the fight and realizes he lasted.
"Very few can teach confidence," Campo said.
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