PERU — Kayla Provencher, a 2013 graduate of Dirigo High School, brought her skills as a junior black belt champion in karate to an enthusiastic group of youngsters at Dirigo Elementary School last week. It was part of the Cougar Cub Camp after-school program.

Besides the physical discipline crucial to the sport, she said the mental discipline is just as important.

“It helped me in school to focus,” she said just before leading a group of third- through fifth-graders through basic blocks and defense moves Thursday afternoon.

Provencher began studying karate when she was 7 years old.

On the previous Tuesday, she led another group of kindergarten through second  grade students through similar exercises.

“They were rambunctious, but they paid good attention,” Provencher, known as Senpai Kayla, said.

Teacher Bethany Poulin said Provencher’s visits are good for the children in many ways, from getting some exercise to learning self-control.

Provencher said the sport teaches how to be responsible, respectful and safe, and how to focus and listen in class.

Karate requires focusing with the eyes, the mind and the body, she said.

Poulin said she plans to bring Provencher back in the spring to teach more lessons on focusing.

When Provencher isn’t teaching children how to focus, she teaches about 40 students at her karate studio, K.P.’s Focus Karate, at the Mexico Recreation Center.

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