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Karate black belt teaches fisticuffs, faith at Fort Dale

FDA students received a lesson in the art of chopping wood blocks, courtesy of karate expert Jimmy Falbo.

FDA students received a lesson in the art of chopping wood blocks, courtesy of karate expert Jimmy Falbo.

Karate instructor and fifth-degree black belt Jimmy Falbo knows a thing or two about self-defense.

For more than 30 years, he has instructed families in the ways of fisticuffs as head of Falbo’s Family Karate in Gulf Breeze, Fla.

But for a few dozen Fort Dale Academy students Monday morning, Falbo taught that one’s attitude could be just as much of a defense as any flurry of punches or kicks.

“My objective of teaching is, first, to spread the gospel,” Falbo said.

“And then secondly, teach self-defense, whether that’s verbal or physical.  And for a lot of kids, mainly it’s pretty verbal.

“That’s what it’s about.  It’s how you carry yourself.  If you walk with a certain confidence and a certain humbleness, then you’ll probably thwart any kind of negative responses or negative actions.  But if you go out there with a brash, cocky attitude, then chances are you might have to practice your karate.”

Falbo, who has become a regular at Fort Dale Academy in recent years, revisited the school to impart lessons of self-defense to youngsters.

Self-defense lessons manifested in students (and teachers) attempting to break boards with punches and knee strikes.

Ultimately, though, Falbo’s biggest lessons of the day taught how students should understand the importance of not only respecting others, but themselves.

This means teaching students that it’s never OK to put one’s hands on someone else, and also not allowing others to place their hands on them.

But he also focused on how students can improve their relationships with teachers and classmates through respect as well as the importance of focus and discipline.

“Classes are separated by age.  We have 4-7, 8-12 and 13-and up,” Falbo said.

“The messages are all age-appropriate, but it’s all Bible-based.  The whole idea is that let those people know about exactly what’s going on out there. And how not to be conformed to a certain style or way to be.  Think and live outside the box—live for God before you live for the belt.”

But getting to teach outside of his own dojo proved a refreshing change of pace.

“I wish I got to do this more often,” Falbo said. “Mr. Brantley was visiting the school with his grandson, and he heard me speak.  He asked if I could come up here, and that’s how we got connected.

“If there’s a school that would like me to come out and speak—it’s free—I’d be more than happy to come in.  I’ll make arrangements, they’ll all get to break boards and it’s a lot of fun.”