Spring City Karate celebrates 40 years

Students train at Spring City Karate School, which is celebrating its 40th year, making it the oldest continuously operated martial arts center in the area.

SPRING CITY >> The Spring City Karate School is celebrating 40 years of teaching students the art of Karate, and looking forward to many more.

Owner Wayne Benfield opened the school in the summer of 1974, at the age of 20, and had three years’ experience with the art.

“Now 40 years later I’m still teaching the same 10 to 12 classes a week,” said Benfield. “I’m now teaching kids, and grandkids of kids I taught back in the ’70s. We are the oldest continuously operated Martial Arts center in the Spring City, Royersford, Limerick, Phoenixville, Collegeville area. What makes us different from most other schools is we focus on the art. Most karate clubs are martial sport centers.”

Benfield notes the difference between his school and other local schools is that the other schools focus on the business and basic karate, such as balance, punching, blocking, kicking and free fighting. Martial Arts clubs start with the basics, but have two other phases to make them complete. Phase 1 takes about three years of study.

“Our second phase is called the soft style. In this phase we teach joint locks, pressure point training and how to use the attackers force against themselves,” said Benfield. “In our third phase we teach complete weapons training known as kobudo. In this phase, we teach all the ancient weapons of Okinawa, such as the bo, tonfa, sai, kama, sword and many others. The name of our style is Koryu Okinawa Te (ancient large island hand).”

This system was developed about 400 years ago on an island south of mainland Japan from a blending of the island’s fighting style and Chinese martial arts that came to the island in the 1600s. Most systems today find their roots from this style.

Spring City Karate has operated in a 650-square foot building in the rear of 601 Vincent Street in Spring City for the past 28 years and has limited its membership to 50.

“We keep the membership low so we will better know our students,” Benfield said. “So as you see, it’s not about the business but the art. Most of our black belts have been with us for many years, some as far back as 30 years.”

Benfield notes that you never complete this style — it takes more than a lifetime to learn. It takes about four and a half to five years to earn your first degree black belt and about 10 more years to become a master at fourth degree black belt. Fifth degree through 10th degree black belts are different types of Masters.

“Our style molds the student through ancient physical and mental drills,” Benfield said. “An example would be, in a sport karate club you will be taught punching, kicking and blocking, and sent out on the floor to fight and learn. In an art style you will learn the same, but you will also have to learn mental drills, and study from advanced students, on how to lead your opponent to their demise like in chess.”

For more information about the Spring City Karate School, visit the website at www.springcitykarate.com.

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