By Robert Alan Richardson, Sports Editor
The Morgan County Recreation Department offers all kinds of activities like baseball, basketball, football, and soccer. However, most of our readers may not know that there are plenty of other sports offered like gymnastics, tumbling, karate, and self-defense/martial arts class that are also out there for the taking. These activities offer something for everyone of most any age.
Let’s start with gymnastics and tumbling. The monthly gymnastics classes begin on Monday with hourly classes beginning at 4:30 for ages 3-18 at Rockdale Gymnastics next door to Goody’s. Tumbling/Cheerleading classes occur each Tuesday at five, six and seven o’clock at the same location teaching skills mostly used in competition cheeraleading. Owner, operator, and coach of Rockdale Gymnastics, Joe Ashley, weighed in on what’s happening, “I’ve been working with kids for 40 years and simply love it. We have a long relationship with the MCRD dating back to the early 1990’s and cranked back up with them again about 10 years ago. We cater to any young person from beginners to the most advanced tumblers and gymnasts.” Employee and gymnast coach, Allie Betterton, told us this, “We have cut back to only Mondays and Tuesdays and work a lot with high school and middle school kids and Joe is a great guy to work with. He was one of my coaches when I was competing from 7-18 years old and it’s a great situation for me. We teach the gymnasts every Olympic event like vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and spring floor techniques.”
Another offering is karate taught to ages five to adult on Wednesday from 4:30 to 6 p.m. by Bobby Bailey which is a belt progression class. Martial arts and self-defense classes are taught by Patrick Alligood, but his classes have been moved to Brownwood Baptist Church from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Monday only . These classes are offered to youth up to adult age groups. Patrick told the Citizen about the program saying, “We offer similar techniques that are taught to MMA fighters, but it’s mostly about self-defense. In the MMA you have a referee that will not allow things like head butting, groin kicks, biting, and gouging the eyes of the opponent. In real life if you encounter someone, it’s all fair game, but we have to be very careful to let our students know how far you can go legally. For example, if a person comes up to you without a weapon and says to give me your purse or cell phone or slaps you in your face, you can’t hit them in the esophagus and kill them. It all depends on the situation.” According to Mr. Alligood the class teaches both youth and adults tactical and sound techniques to help them escape situations like someone grabbing or choking you from behind and coming at you with some sort of weapon like a stick or knife.
Patrick said, “There are lots of benefits to taking the class. We’ve found that the person being attacked that has no training tends to panic and that’s the worst thing that can happen. It’s not magic. We teach people to put their mind on things happening around them like looking and being aware of the situation when you are coming out of Walmart, a restaurant, or movie theater so you can take care of yourself without being surprised by it. We also had the opportunity to work with the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department through their Junior Deputy Camp last summer at Morgan County Middle School to teach self-defense to the kids. It was great.” If you want to know more about the self-defense/martial arts classes you can contact Patrick at email@example.com, on Facebook at Chinese Kajukenbo Madison, or by phone 706-818-2503. You can also contact the MCRD for more information on these programs.