The stereotype that Brooklyn kids are entitled brats who expect everyone from Nanny to the stranger they just scooter-plowed on 5th Avenue to hand them everything in life on a locally (and organically) produced platter, is about as old and tired as Donald Trump’s comb-over.
Children, no matter where they come from, are inherently good. With strong role models, both inside and outside the home, and the support to recognize and nurture their individual talents, today’s generation of kids has the potential to take on the world — and truly change it for the better.
Nobody sees this more than Sensei Ricardo Taylor.
Taylor — known as Sensei Ricky by kids across the borough — is the epitome of what a positive role model should be. As the instructor of Amerikick Park Slope’s Demo Team, he not only trains elite martial arts students, he makes it his mission to ensure that each and every one of his “warriors” soars to heights they never would have imagined for themselves.
We recently sat down with Sensei Ricky to talk more about martial arts, Demo Team, and how our community can help these incredible kids make it to the Amerikick Internationals.
CKC: First of all, tell us a bit about yourself.
Ricardo Taylor: My name is Ricardo Taylor, I’m 27 years old and a 3rd degree black belt. I’m also a diabetic of 23 years, hoping to attend med school this coming year so that I can help others dealing with such diseases and illness.
How did you find your way to martial arts?
My younger brother started at Amerikick in the spring of 2005. I observed classes and was offered specials and deals to take class, but to no avail. It wasn’t until I saw the change in my brother’s confidence, flexibility, and strength that I was convinced to try it out. Almost 11 years later and here I am, 3rd degree black belt and head instructor at Amerikick.
What is Demo Team at Amerikick Park Slope?
The Demo Team is a group consisting of the elite students of Amerikick. They excel in acrobatics, weapons, and open-hand form.
What are the expectations for a member of the Demo Team?
Demo Team members sign a contract which states they must train at least four days a week, keep a B average or higher in school, and demonstrate focus, discipline, and respect inside and outside of the dojo (parents, family, teachers etc). They must compete at all competitions, and perform at events and birthday parties.
How would you describe a Demo Team practice? How often do the kids practice?
The team practices every Friday for one hour. In that hour we go over acrobatic and gymnastics movements, as well as open-hand and weapon choreography for their demonstrations. The birthday parties and events they perform for are also used as practices to prep for competition.
What is your most memorable experience as the leader of Demo Team?
My most memorable experience as the team’s leader has to be two years ago. It was January and less than two weeks before competition. We had just made a new team, and had to make a demo for that competition! Not only were we able to make a demo, but we took first place, beating two other Amerikick schools! It was amazing to watch these young warriors pull together in such a short time, and accomplish such a feat.
What is The Amerikick Internationals?
The Amerikick Internationals is the biggest NASKA (North American Sport Karate Association) rated competition on the Amerikick League schedule. Amerikick schools from Jersey, Philadelphia, Kansas, and New York all gather here to show off their hard work and training! Not to mention since it’s a NASKA competition, schools outside of the Amerikick franchise and different styles also compete!
What does this competition mean for the kids on Demo Team?
It means being the best. Being acknowledged for all their hard work, sweat, and hours of training. It means redemption from our loss last year. But aside from the competition itself, it means networking and socializing with children of their age and rank outside of their dojo. Meeting world-champion black belts and aspiring to reach new goals and heights.
What is the AmeriKick Fund, and how will it help you get the kids to Internationals?
The Amerikick Fund is dedicated to helping the team make it to internationals. There are 20 members. Each member competes in 3-5 different divisions which is anywhere between $80-$120 per child. That’s not including the expense of travel and food. New uniforms will also be a necessity. This competition is a huge expense, and I would hate for any of my hard working warriors to miss out due to financial inability.
What do you want the world to know about the group of kids that make up Amerikick Park Slope’s Demo Team?
I want the world to watch out — the future is here. These are the brightest, most respectful, and motivated young men and women I’ve had the honor of coaching. They are at the top of their class scholastically. They are amazing examples of leaders at home and in the dojo. It would not surprise me to find out that we have a future mayor, governor, president, neurosurgeon, lawyer, chief of police, or professional athlete amongst this crowd of warriors! I have not yet had the grace of my own child, but have been blessed with 20 of the next best thing. They are family.
Let’s put these kids over the top, Brooklyn! If you would like to make a donation to Park Slope’s Demo Team, as they prepare for the upcoming Amerikick Internationals, please visit the group’s GoFundMe page.