In a Santa Monica karate dojo, Adam takes aim at an orange-and-red foam pad that his teacher, sensei Bruce, has dressed up with electrical tape to look like a grimacing face. Adam, 7, emits a raucous “kiai!” and strikes the pad, sending it careening into the mirrored wall.
When Scot Mendelson was a kid in Brooklyn and Emil Farkas a youngster in Budapest and Toronto, some Jew-baiting neighborhood boys used to pick on them -- but not for long.
As Mendelson got bigger, the local bullies "showed some respect," and he kept right on growing until today he has been crowned by fellow weightlifters as the strongest man in the world.
What do you get when you cross Judaic philosophy with Chinese martial arts? Tora Dojo. The brainchild of Gandmaster H.I. Sober, Toro Dojo combines elements of traditional Karate and Kung Fu with Jewish spirituality. Tora Dojo, which started more than 30 years ago with 12 Yeshiva University students, is now taught to 30,000 people worldwide. There are no storefront studios; classes are held in synagogues, JCCs and at Jewish day schools and universities.
"Tora Dojo is a sport, but it's more of an art form," said Ben Andron, the head of Los Angeles' Tora Dojo West . "Students learn to defend themselves, fight, even break bricks, but the main goal is to improve their ability to focus and unlock unlimited potential."
Look for these young stars to grace the Maccabi Games and the karate world in the near future.