My family and I have known Rocky DiRico for many years as a neighbor and friend. I decided to bring A, my son with Asperger’s, to Rocky’s karate class in Natick as we had heard that karate was a very good way to teach discipline in a fun way and to instill confidence in a child who has social difficulties. Rocky never discourages parents from sitting in and we have watched and enjoyed his teaching style now for 7 or so years. Rocky has a wonderful way of interacting with the kids and he maintains order in the dojo never by raising his voice but by encouraging a wayward child to do something productive. He teaches life lessons by regaling the children with stories and jokes and I think sometimes the parents are learning as much about life and handling children as the children are learning the forms and discipline of Kenpo Karate.
In terms of my own child, A, we watched an uncoordinated little boy learn how to kick, learn how to respect the dojo and the rules of behavior, learn how to make friends, and last but not least work his way form white belt to 3rd degree black belt. Rocky has encouraged A every step of the way as a mentor and friend. Many summers Rocky would give A a ride to summer camp in Arlington and during that hour-long drive would listen to A’s worries and concerns, joys and ideas and in every sense of the word became a friend and confidant to the little boy who needed to have his voice heard. A has taken the skills he has learned in the dojo and still continues to learn and brought them into his life outside the dojo. He has continued to grow emotionally and socially at school and at home in ways that amaze others. He is smart and has friends, is active in all facets of school life and I seriously doubt that this would have been possible without Rocky’s karate training and friendship.
Rocky DiRico most definitely deserves to be inducted into the Watertown High School Athletic Hall of Fame, not just because he is a wonderful karate teacher, which he is, but because he has been a positive influence and mentor in the lives of so many children and has enabled them to take the skills they have learned in the dojo into succeeding in school, college and on into adulthood.
Congratulations on this honor, Rocky!
R, R, and A