By Stephen Petrick
Haliburton residents may get a kick out of what Kelly Outram is doing.
The young entrepreneur, who was raised in the Highlands, is trying to foster a martial arts culture in the county. He now offers tai chi and kickboxing classes through his business, K.O. Martial Arts. The programs are ramping up after two years of COVID-related health measures that prevented him from running anything with much consistency.
But with the snow melting, and people waking from a long period in which sports programs were limited, he sees this spring as an opportunity to get people energized and excited about new physical activities.
“Everyone gets bored of regular exercise,” Outram said, when asked to explain why martial arts are so special. “When you come out to martial arts, you have people to train with. It’s super interactive and it’s a tonne of fun, all the time.”
Outram offers a drop-in, outdoor tai chi class, every Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. from his location at 2354 South Lake Road in Minden. He describes tai chi as an exercise based on balance and fluid movement. The twisting movements it involves loosens joints and eases muscle tension. As part of the tai chi class, participants are also introduced to Qi Gong, a breathing practice that is intended to build energy and help people feel rejuvenated.
Outram’s kickboxing classes are now taking place regularly at the Haliburton Dance Academy at 135 Industrial Park Road in Haliburton on Fridays at 6:30 p.m.
He says when a student works on kickboxing, they’re combining karate, kung fu and Muay Thai movements. It’s a great workout, because there’s so much emphasis on footwork. It’s also very active; as one person practices punching or kicking, the other is learning blocking techniques.
Outram, who by day works as an arborist and runs Minden-based Outram Tree Solutions, who provides service to Haliburton County and area with his brother Jacob, is a life-long fan of the martial arts.
After learning karate as a child, he wanted to continue learning about martial arts as an adult and share his love for the various traditional system of self-defence movements, which provide mental and physical benefits and originate in the Far East.
He has high hopes for K.O. Martial Arts as it evolves. He said he’d like to soon teach jiu-jitsu in the area, but would need to find a bigger space.
He stressed that participants in his classes don’t have to be experienced in the martial artists.
“At this point, most of our students are beginners,” he said. “I want people to get interested in martial arts, to experience and see what it’s like.” And if they want to learn more and pursue competitive martial arts, “I’m willing to foster that.”
To learn more about K.O. Martial Arts visit, www.haliburtonmartialarts.com