Martial arts have been a part of Sensei Thomas Arcuri’s life for more than 40 years, and there are two reasons why he got involved.

“My father was a boxer in the Navy, and I also became aware of Bruce Lee back in the '70s, so it kind of peaked my interest,” he said.

Arcuri said Lee was very unique, and his movies started a martial arts craze among adults.

What You Need To Know

  • Bailey’s Karate School in Herkimer offers classes for children through adults

  • Sensei Thomas Arcuri says they encourage positive traits such as focus, perseverance and discipline

  • Arcuri says movies and shows portraying martial arts can help generate interest, but he hopes the messages are positive

Then came a movie appealing to another age group.

“The Karate Kid started to get people thinking about martial arts as a positive outlet for children,” Arcuri said.

The Karate Kid’s story is continuing with the Netflix show, Cobra Kai. Currently, there are four seasons.

“It hasn’t been a massive influx because of that, but it’s definitely creating some buzz out there,” said Arcuri.

He is a fan of the first two seasons, and said there are some positive aspects of the show.

“One of the nice things about the series is they do show a wide variety of kids taking the martial arts, which is very nice,” he said.

However, he’s concerned about the combative behaviors shown among kids in the show.

“Kids are talking about it. I’m little worried that they’re watching that and thinking that that’s what we’re all about, and it couldn’t be further from the truth,” Arcuri said. “A reputable school would never teach that way or engage in those types of behaviors.”

Arcuri says contact is “permission-based” and controlled, and equipment is used.

“Defending yourself physically is a last resort, absolute last resort. If we can avoid it, we absolutely should avoid it,” he said.

He said martial arts should encourage focus, discipline and perseverance.

“We have a long track record of it over the years, of students from various backgrounds, aggressive, even bullying students, and students that were quite shy and introverted. And we like to say kind of meeting in the middle, becoming well-rounded, productive citizens, doing well in school, doing well in athletics. That’s what we like to see,” Arcuri said.