Granby’s new karate instructor looks to provide service to community

Shihan Ken Crossman, who teaches kids and adult karate classes in Granby starting Nov. 22, poses next to a trophy he won for placing first in Kumite karate at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships.
Ken Crossman/Courtesy photo

Ken Crossman moved to Grand County 10 years ago, and ever since, he has been hoping for an opportunity to do what he started doing this Saturday, Oct. 22: teaching karate in the county. Crossman spoke with Granby Recreation Director Julie Martin last year about offering classes through the recreation department, and now it’s happening.

This will be far from Crossman’s first time teaching martial arts. The 74-year-old earned his sixth-degree black belt two years ago, making him a shihan, or “teacher of teachers.” He first learned karate after moving to Richmond, Virginia, which had a much larger karate presence than New Hampshire, where he went to college. 

The former college football player took well to the forms of karate he studied in Richmond, becoming a first-degree black belt, competing as an amateur in competitions, winning the Virginia state championship twice, winning his regional championship once and becoming ranked as one of the top three competitors in the nation.

Now, Crossman teaches his own style of karate called Rocky Mountain American Karate, which has been sanctioned by the American Karate Academies National Association.

“I’m head of that style, which is a gathering, a variety of different styles that I’ve studied over time,” Crossman said. “I also want a black belt in Korean taekwondo, and I’ve also studied the art of jiujitsu and a couple of other, more foreign, types of styles.”

Crossman will offer two classes in two sessions running Oct. 22 to Dec. 17 and Jan. 21 to March 11: a kids class for 7-12 year olds and an adult class for 13-year-olds and older. All the classes will be on Saturdays, with the kids class from 10-11 a.m. and adults from 11 a.m. to noon. The eight-week sessions cost $89 per person, and all classes will meet at the Granby Community Center at 129 N. Third St.

Preregistration was required by Oct. 17 for the first session, but preregistration is open until Jan. 16 for the second session.

Crossman said he structured both classes as true beginner courses to introduce the art and physical benefits of training in karate, but the kids and adult classes will be a bit different.

“The approach to teaching children is a little bit different than an adult class,” Crossman said. “You’re looking to include the aspect of fun and keeping enthusiasm and interest very high.”

Kids build basic karate skills and develop respect for each other and the art of karate, Crossman said. The adult class will also provide plenty of physical benefits.

“A part of every class includes some warm-up exercises and some stretching, all of which benefits adults in a big way,” Crossman said. “Adults will progress in a beginner class somewhat the same way (as kids), learning and developing skills and proper stances work, the fundamentals of blocking and striking and kicking.”

With his students young and old, Crossman said he hopes to inspire a desire to continue to higher levels of karate. He wants to have a year-round program in Granby someday, where students can progress through the belt ranks.

Crossman said he is excited to have the opportunity to provide the community with a karate program because of his connection to the martial art and the lack of karate in Grand County.

“This has been a lifestyle for me most of — at least half of — my life,” Crossman said. “I’m a firm believer in it and in all the benefits that are derived from it. And the fact that it’s never been offered here in the community excites me even more.”

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