EWO Karate: Where A Big Kid’s Fight Club Meets After School Structure
Each day, children climb off the buses that bring them to Edwin’s World Champion Organization (EWO) in Lynchburg for the after school program. The moment they walk in the doors at 3813 Old Forest Road, a transformation takes place; each student greets his or her instructor, “Good afternoon, sir,” and “Good afternoon, ma’am.” This is just the beginning of the structured program that instills respect and builds a sense of accomplishment.
“This is an after school karate program, not a daycare,” Edwin Alejandros, owner and master instructor, explained. “There is a time for everything. Our kids have to be dressed in uniform and follow instruction because they are here to train, but we are also here for fun.”
As a part of the after school program, students are introduced to structure. When it is time to play, they are given the freedom to play hard, but when it is time for study and homework, a quiet rule is in effect. Then, after a quick snack, the real fun begins. Each student takes his or her place, eager and excited for karate class.
“I love to have fun with the kids,” Alejandros said. “I like to call it controlled chaos, but when it is time for class, I call out, ‘three, two, one, freeze,’ and not a peep. They stop in their tracks and we get to business.”
If you think this program sounds unique, that is because it is. EWO’s after school program is the only program of its kind in the Lynchburg area, according to Alejandros. Students receive confidence-building instruction where they learn respect, self-discipline and how to deal with bullies and peer-pressure. At EWO, even at a young age, they are considered champions and treated as such.
Students at EWO range from toddlers to adults and classes include Little Champions for those three to six years of age, Future Champions for 7- to 9-year-olds, Adult Martial Arts, Thai Kickboxing and competition classes. Unique to the karate school is this class structure that Alejandros chose for the one-on-one instruction it allows.
“We keep age groups together in most cases. Because of this, I can get down on a knee and talk to a 3-year-old in a way I can’t address my adult class,” he explained. “In some cases, our classes represent different levels, so it is more work for the instructors but it is worth it to spend that face time with each student on a level they can understand.”
This broad age range of student comes to EWO for the many types of training from fitness to competition or self-defense, and they often receive much more in return through the learned discipline of hard work.
“Work, work, work, whether you are here training to win, at home doing your homework, at your job, with your friends, it will all balance out,” Alejandros recapped what he tells his students. “We use martial arts as a guide to instill this core behavior because hard work will carry through into the rest of your life.”
Working hard has been a life-long discipline for Alejandros. Involved in martial arts since he was a 4-year-old in Puerto Rico, he remembers the beginning of his dream karate school.
“It was one of those late night phone calls to my parents where I was like, ‘I think I want to open a karate school.’ There was a little hesitation on their part, but sure enough, in ‘99, we kicked up just a few blocks from our current location,” Alejandros remembered.
Over the years, EWO has established itself as a family-oriented karate school with the capacity to offer multiple classes at a time and reach the community on a larger scale. Alejandros is passionate about the after-school program, proud of the competitive side of his business and is ready to see growth.
“We have close to 30 official world championships and competition champions as young as six and seven. There is a lot happening here and we are proud of it,” he said.
Alejandros’ chief instructor, Audrey Fitzgerald, has been teaching at EWO for about two years. A world champion black belt and competitor, she trains and/or teaches at EWO every day. Like Alejandros, Fitzgerald believes in pouring her time into students of all ages who train at the school.
“We have some kids in our class who began at age three, though most of them have turned four by now,” Fitzgerald said. “Watching these kids progress and do well is so rewarding. It is an awesome feeling to see them grow in confidence and to watch them realize their own accomplishments.”
One of these students, 7-year-old George, has trained at EWO weekly for three years. He loves to practice and compete, and does both often.
“I compete in sparring, weapons and open hand—I sometimes even do trick battles,” he said proudly. “I have competed more times than I can count, like a hundred I think. I learned how to have self-control and to be respectful.”
Another young competitor and 16-time champion, Ashlyn, has also trained for three years at EWO. At 8 years old, she has already trained in sword and loves to practice as much as she can.
No matter what the age, Alejandros’ vision to create a karate school that instills confidence and skills into children and adults is growing, and the future looks brighter not only for them, but for EWO as well.
For more information about EWO, call (434) 385-1440.