Karate instructor brings Japan to Franklin

Published 8:01 am Friday, July 17, 2009

FRANKLIN­—Franklin isn’t known for its great martial artists. But that could change if Kenny Buffaloe has his way.

For one week, Buffaloe is teaching a group of children at the James L. Camp Jr. YMCA traditional Japanese Kyokushin Karate techniques. It’s the karate camp’s second year in Franklin.

“It’s a unique camp because I was trained in Japan all of those years, so I teach it the traditional Japanese way,” Buffaloe said. “They also learn Japanese language and different aspects of Japanese culture.”

Buffaloe studied Kyokushin Karate in Japan under Grandmaster Oyama for nearly 13 years. Buffaloe is one of only a handful of certified International Karate Organization instructors in the United States.

Kyokushin Karate is full-contact, unlike the points-system karate that is popular in the United States. To win a Kyokushin tournament a fighter has to win by knockout, knockdown or use a technique powerful enough to stun or stop the opponent.

“My style is very strict; it’s not like other styles,” Buffaloe said. “I don’t have to yell or get on them or preach to them. The atmosphere is so disciplined that they naturally fall right into order.”

Buffaloe’s 9-year-old son and student, Christian, is helping to teach the camp. Christian is a Kyokushin Karate children’s champion and is training to participate in the Children’s Karate Olympics in August.

“He’s a good role model,” Buffaloe said. He said that seeing someone their own age doing these techniques helps give the children confidence.

Buffaloe, who lives in Warrenton, N.C., commuted to Franklin every day for the camp.

“I drive almost three hours one way to come here to do this camp,” Buffaloe said. “But it’s cool, I really enjoy it and the kids are really great.”

The YMCA staff has also been accommodating, according to Buffaloe.

“The staff here is great. They’re really making sure that I have everything that I need,” he said.

Buffaloe said that the skills the children learn from the weeklong camp stay with them and are helpful in everyday life.

“The kids actually learn things that can help them in life,” he said. “They learn responsibility, patience, respect and courtesy in addition to martial arts.”