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Greenpoint’s Borkowsky waxes on and off about Karate

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By Aaron Short

It has been 15 years since Mr. Miyagi made a sacred pact with Daniel-San to teach him karate, “I say, you do, no questions,” and for almost as long, Steve Borkowsky has been teaching children and adults karate in North Brooklyn.

“In the '70s, instructors were teaching mostly adults in a strict, military fashion,” said Borkowsky.“After the public saw 'The Karate Kid,' tons of children came in and instructs had to change their approach to teaching.”

Opened since 1990, Borkowsky’s Greenpoint Shotokan Karate, a widespread form of martial arts originating in Okinawa, has always maintained a family-friendly atmosphere for children of all ages. Formerly off McGuinness Boulevard and Meserole, Greenpoint Shotokan has moved into a brand new space on 546 Meeker Ave.

The sensei instructs children as young as four years old through high school, as well as adults interested in learning “how to punch, how to block, and how to kick.” According to Borkowsky, it takes four to six years to earn a coveted black belt if an individual trains on a regular basis, attending classes three times a week.

“They realize very soon this is a serious activity that requires tremendous commitment, and it can become a lifelong endeavor,” said Borkowsky. Still, “We try to keep classes fun and relaxing.”

Each class begins with a warm-up exercise focusing on stretching and callisthenics, which proceeds into a rehearsal of basic techniques, or “kihon”. This is followed by a drill called “kata,” a form of movement that stimulates fighting moves. The final phase of the class, “kumite,” is devoted to sparring, where two students face each other in a drill that resembles attacking.

“With martial arts, you are learning how to defend yourself: forward, backward sideways, low, high,” said Borkowsky. “We focus on fitness and well being.Flexibility increases stamina and endurance and overall body strength.This is a total body work out.”

Many of Borkowsky’s younger students come to the karate studio with the purpose of learning how to defend themselves, focus on tasks, and learn discipline necessary to succeed inside and outside of school.

“Repetition and precision of technique. That’s what we’re striving for. Everyone knows what is expected of them.In reality, there is no room for independence or creativity,” said Borkowsky.

Jason Majewski was one of those underdeveloped teenagers when he began taking lessons with Borkowsky. Ten years later, he is an assistant instructor with a black belt.

“I was being picked on, bullied in school,” said Majewski. “Karate has kept me healthy and fit.”

Majewski said even now he is still learning. He recounted a story where he was demonstrating a complicated maneuver to a roomful of young students and his foot got caught in the mat, causing him to flop awkwardly on his back.

“Even as a black belt you’re not perfect. Things happen,” said Majewski. “It is a level where you’re still learning new techniques.”

As Mr. Miyagi said, “Someone always know more.”

Greenpoint Shotokan Karate is located at 546 Meeker Ave. For information about classes and instruction, call (718) 389-6873 or visit

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