Sixth-degree Kenpo black belt has traveled country teaching
by: Carole Archer, Tim Spellman, the new owner of First Street Kenpo Karate on First Street in downtown Gresham, says Kenpo helps children and adults with weight control, teaches street defense and helps build self-confidence and fulfillment.

Tim Spellman's destiny changed the day he got the tar kicked out of him.

'I was 16 at the time, and all I wanted to do was learn how to fight so I could go back and get revenge,' Spellman says.

Kenpo karate taught him how to fight, but the need for revenge went away.

By the age of 18, Spellman was helping other youngsters learn the art of Kenpo karate.

'In Kenpo you learn self-respect, self-discipline,' Spellman explains. 'We learn to love all of God's creatures and to live in peace and harmony with them.'

Kenpo is a combination of karate, judo, ju-jitsu and Chinese boxing (kung fu). The karate form has been adapted to fit modern needs - Spellman calls it street fighting - and is based on the theory that, if attacked, a student will be able to defend himself or herself and disarm an attacker.

'I am here to teach practical and effective self-defense,' Spellman says. 'I do train students how to compete in tournaments, but only after they have been trained to fight and defend themselves first.'

Spellman, 46, is a sixth-degree black belt in Kenpo karate.

He has traveled the United States teaching self-defense classes, heading anti-rape and assault tactics seminars and overseeing various Kenpo karate schools.

In the mid-1980s, Spellman met Tim Teausant of Sandy. Teausant, a 10th-degree black belt in Kenpo karate (the highest you can go), taught Spellman the Kosho Ryu system of Kenpo.

When Spellman learned last year that Teausant was retiring from his Gresham-based Kenpo karate school, the urge to settle down took over.

Spellman took over the reins at First Street Kenpo Karate, 17 N.W. First St., in historic downtown Gresham, last month and will teach private and group lessons.

What does Kenpo provide for students?

Spellman says Kenpo:

• Helps with overall health improvement and weight control.

• Builds self-confidence and brings self-fulfillment.

• Helps strengthen and tone a body.

• Teaches street defense and anti-rape tactics.

'Kenpo focuses on street self-defense and will teach you how to get out of every situation possible,' Spellman says.

Spellman starts students as young as 5 years, and his 11-year-old daughter, Timmarica, is a yellow belt. His wife, Belinda, is a first-degree black belt.

Spellman is already getting involved with the Gresham community and will teach basic Kenpo classes at East Gresham Elementary School's after-school Schools Uniting Neighborhoods program.

'I'd like to see this school gain more active students,' Spellman says. 'If I can get about 30 more students, to have the classes full, I'd be happy with that.'

Karate school

What: First Street Kenpo Karate School

Where: 17 N.W. First St., Gresham

Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays; closed Sundays.

Lessons: For ages 5 and older. No previous martial arts or training is necessary, and introductory private lesson packages are available.

For more information: Call owner Tim Spellman at 503-666-2333.

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