We are now in our second year with Team Kowkabany’s public speaking class!! After looking at the various options and requirements to start a club sanctioned by Toastmasters International, (the lead organization in public speaking) we decided to start a “Gavel Club,” an affiliate of Toastmasters International! We have a fully sanctioned and operational club, and we even have a Toastmasters Leadership Advisor already on our Instruction Staff. In case you are wondering how public speaking and the ability to effectively communicate applies to martial artists, here is a brief outline of why we started this club, the benefits of joining us for the classes, what you can expect, and when they will be held. For years we have worked to develop our martial arts students mentally as well as physically, and to develop our students not only into accomplished Black Belts, but also to develop them into Leaders!! Our Leadership Program and our Certified Instructor Training are excellent programs for developing our students who wish to become Instructors, or simply to develop leadership skills. Being able to effectively communicate your ideas and to share your passion with others is a necessity for anyone who wants to lead, and is certainly a necessity for anyone who wishes to teach others. Even for those who aren’t in leadership positions, being able to effectively speak to others is an important skill to have (asking for a raise, presenting a project at work, giving presentations in school, or even meeting others in a social setting). Team Kowkabany has a number of students who are not quite ready for our Leadership or Certified Instructor programs, yet they still could benefit from developing their ability to speak in public. We also have students who simply don’t have the time to commit to our Advanced Programs, but they would be able to add in one or two extra classes per month for self-improvement. As we believe that everyone can benefit from these skills, from White Belts through Masters, we have made this program available to ALL of our active students! We originally looked into starting a traditional Toastmasters Club; however, there is a minimum age requirement for members as well as the need for each member to pay regular dues. After speaking with the staff at Toastmasters International, they suggested we start a Gavel Club instead. By doing so, we now have access to the same support materials, (the Gavel Club is an affiliate of Toastmasters International), our members will not be required to pay monthly dues, and we can allow our Karate Kids to participate alongside the Adults. The only limiting factor for our junior students will be their maturity level and their willingness to participate in the meetings. At this time, our Gavel Club meets twice a month, on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month at 6:45 p.m. This is a time that is still early enough for our Karate Kids to attend, and yet late enough for our Adult Students to arrive after work. For those who are interested, it is not required that you attend every meeting, however, we do ask that your attendance be consistent. We enjoyed a very strong first year, with most of our members having already completed two to three speeches and learning to provide evaluations to their fellow speakers. When new members first join us, they are welcome to simply sit and watch, or they can begin participating from the start depending on their level of comfort. We will provide you with the support materials and guidance you need to begin making your speeches; previous experience is not expected or required. Whether your desire is to be more at ease in social settings, more confident when dealing with your peers at work or in school, or should you be required in your profession to give presentations, this may be just the training that you need. Should you wish to join us, or should you have any questions, please see Sr. Master David Kowkabany.