Meeting challenges through Karate

By on November 4, 2019
Lennon Hare practicing a side kick as Dylan Mattice looks on.

Lennon Hare practicing a side kick as Dylan Mattice looks on.

Fifteen-year-old Hilton High School sophomore Lennon Hare is a member of the United States Karate Team and has qualified to compete in the prestigious World Karate Championships being held this year, November 2 through 8, in Niagara Falls. Lennon is a rookie competitor with a blue belt, and despite the challenge of being autistic, he will be competing alongside the rest of Team USA. There are no special needs divisions in the World Karate Championships and Lennon will not be given special considerations, he is simply one of the team members representing the USA in the competition. Lennon qualified for the United States Karate Team by bringing home a Silver Medal at Regionals in Ohio and a Bronze Medal at Nationals in Detroit.

Karate is an Asian system of unarmed combat using the hands and feet to deliver and block blows. It is widely practiced as a sport and was formalized in Japan in the 17th Century. Karate is performed barefoot in loose padded clothing with a colored belt indicating the level of skill. It involves mental as well as physical training. Lennon has been practicing Karate since he was seven years old. Lennon’s mother, Michelle Hare, said, “I took Lennon to Karate for the self esteem component and I found it helped him tremendously socially and physically. Some people with autism have poor balance and tend to fall a lot, Lennon was one of them and it has gotten much better.”

Lennon Hare wearing the medals he has earned.

Lennon Hare wearing the
medals he has earned.

Lennon started his practice of Karate at the YMCA in Greece. Through the program, he gained much knowledge and growth as a person. When it came time to move forward, his mother interviewed many other martial arts schools and Lennon took trial classes at several different schools before finding the right fit for him in September of 2016. Michelle Hare said, “After visiting many martial arts schools we cho se Everage World Championship Karate (EWCK) for Lennon. We found that it was the best fit. Their commitment to each and every student that walks in their door is unparalleled. When Lennon was asked to do push ups during a trial class, Sensei Chad Mattice got down on the floor with him and encouraged him while doing the same push ups right beside him. It was just one of the many moments when I knew this was the right school for him. It was a hard transition for Lennon at first. There were many days when not going to karate class would have been easier, but no one at EWCK gave up on him, even when he wanted to give up on himself, even when I was ready to give in, they didn’t give up on me and wouldn’t let me give up on him.”

Hanchi Richard Everage, a 9th degree black belt in Karate, is the founder and Master Instructor at EWCK. Hanchi Everage has been teaching Karate since 1982 and founded his school in 1988 in Westmar Plaza. Since 2004, EWCK has been located inside Total Sports Experience, 880 Elmgrove Road in Gates. Hanchi Everage said, “We welcome students of all ages and abilities. We can teach everyone. We will make you the best that you can be. We find an individual’s ability and nurture that ability. The study of Karate requires time, dedication, patience, self-discipline and humility. Part of the martial arts experience is self-discovery, if you make a commitment to yourself you will discover who you really are. Karate requires focus and commitment, it is time spent dedicated totally to yourself. It is the yin and yang of martial arts, I will not give up on you, and you cannot give up on yourself.” 

Michelle Hare recounts a special moment that she and Hanchi Everage experienced at a competition. “Lennon was on the floor with a group of competitors interacting within the group. It was something he doesn’t do. I was in the stands and Hanchi was on the floor. We both saw the same thing. It was a breakthrough. We were both so very proud,” she said.  

The World Karate Championships is known across the globe as one of the most prestigious martial arts competitions. Opening ceremonies will be held on November 4 at 9 a.m. The opening ceremony event rivals an Olympic opening and features competing countries from around the world entering with all teammates together. This year Team USA has over 300 members, 11 of which are from EWCK.   

Lennon is the middle child in a family of five siblings. Two of Lennon’s siblings also have autism. Lennon received early intervention services because he received his diagnosis early, at less than 18 months. His siblings were diagnosed at age six while in elementary school. With early benefits he was able to overcome more. Lennon consistently makes high honor roll and is in New York State Regents classes. He is also in an 8-1-1 classroom. Lennon recently took the PSAT exams along with his fellow classmates. He could have had special considerations, yet he chose to take the test in the same room along with his classmates. 

Lennon has many other interests and accomplishments. Michelle Hare said, “Lennon, like many other teen boys, loves video games. His favorite subject is math. He has won cosplay contests at local Comic Cons. He studies guitar at Hochstein School of Music and one of his new goals is to join the Rochester Yacht Club and be on the Hilton High School sailing team this spring. He is a great older brother and very helpful around the house with indoor and outdoor chores. He likes to be a peacemaker when he sees conflict, and tries to be a diplomat. I’m not sure if he ever would have been able to persevere in all these things, including his devotion to his studies at school, if it were not for Karate.”

To find out more about the World Karate Championships in Niagara Falls visit www.wkcworld.com.

Lennon demonstrating the ?? pose with Max Wade, Brooke Mattice, and Sensei Chad Mattice.

Lennon demonstrating the front stance with reverse punch pose with Max Wade, Brooke Mattice, and Sensei Chad Mattice.

Lennon with Hanchi Richard Everage.

Lennon with Hanchi Richard Everage.

Lennon certificates and medals.

Lennon certificates and medals.

Lennon and Group bending

(Left to right) Brianna Rush, Dylan Mattice, Lennon Hare, Brooke Mattice, Max Wade and Chad Mattice.