Meet the Fairfax Shotokan Karate Club in Northern Virginia

Karate Gharavi Master Camp PAKarate Gharavi w Master OjazakiKarate Gharavi Tyson Dojo Training

Picture 1) Karate Camp in Pennsylvania

Picture 2) Sensei Gharavi (right) next to Master Okazaki at a Dan Testing

Picture 3) Sensei Ghavarvi (center) leading class at The Tyson’s Dojo.

All pictured by Sensei Gharavi.

Meet the Fairfax Shotokan Karate Club !

By Hemil Garcia Linares

I recently trained at the Fairfax Shotokan Karate School ran by Sensei Gharavi who holds a Go-Dan (5th Dan) in Shotokan Karate. The experience was amazing: the way it happened, my arrival to the Dojo, and the training itself, which was a lesson for life.

Before I go on with my story I would like to share some background about Shotokan Karate.

Shotokan (松濤館 Shōtōkan?) is a style of karate developed from various martial arts by Gichin Funakoshi (1868–1957) and his son Gigo (Yoshitaka) Funakoshi (1906–1945). Gichin was born in Okinawa and is widely credited with popularizing “karate do” through a series of public demonstrations, and by promoting the development of university karate clubs, including those at Keio, Waseda, Hitotsubashi (Shodai), Takushoku, Chuo, Gakushuin, and Hosei.

Funakoshi had many students at the university clubs and outside dojos, which continued to teach karate after his death in 1957. However, internal disagreements (in particular the notion that competition is contrary to the essence of karate) led to the creation of different organizations—including an initial split between the Japan Karate Association (headed by Masatoshi Nakayama) and the Shotokan (headed by Motonobu Hironishi and Shigeru Egami), followed by many others—so that today there is no single “Shotokan school”, although they all bear Funakoshi’s influence.

As the most widely practiced style, Shotokan is considered a traditional and influential form of karate do.

(Please click the underlined names to find all the sources)

It’s worth to mention the effectiveness of Shotokan Karate in diverse scenarios such as International Karate Tournaments and in Mixed Martial Arts. UFC Champion Lyoto Machida is a Black Belt in Shotokan Karate and his father is Brazilian-Japanese Karate Master Yoshizo Machida.

About Fairfax Shotokan Karate Club

The dojo is ran by Sensei Gharavi who has a vast experience teaching martial arts. He kindly allowed me to visit his Dojo in McLean, VA and train with him.

Students can train two times before signing up and will have a great opportunity of practicing traditional karate that is focused on three essential parts:

  • Kihon (basics techniques)
  • Kata   (forms)
  • Kumite (sparring)

Classes are open to anyone above six years old and in some classes all groups can train together under one instructor.

Students below black belts can participate in kyu test every three or four months and the testing is supervised by Master Okazaki or by an ISKF certified from ISKF headquarters. Dan exams for black belts are held in Philadelphia under the supervision of Master Okazaki.

A little bit of history about Fairfax Shotokan Karate Club

“Fairfax Shotokan Karate Club” was officially established in 1990. However, for many years prior to our official establishment as a club, our students practiced karate at various locations such as recreational facilities, universities, high schools, sports facilities, etc. under no specific name. Around 1990 we decided to become an official karate club, adopted a name (Fairfax Shotokan Karate Club) and joined the reputable International Shotokan Karate Federation (ISKF) under the leadership of Master Teruyuki Okazaki, 10th Dan.

Our club started off with a hand full of serious and dedicated karate students at the Fairfax County Government Center located in Fairfax, Virginia. Today the Fairfax County Government Center dojo remains the headquarters of Fairfax Shotokan Karate Cub with additional dojo locations at Tyson’s Sport and Health Club in McLean, Virginia and the World Bank in Washington DC.

Since our official establishment in 1990, several karate practitioners reached the rank of black belt and a majority of them have continued training with Fairfax Shotokan Karate Club today.

How can I get in contact with Fairfax Shotokan Karate Club?

You can contact Sensei Gharavi directly at 703) 989-6300.

For your convenience Shotokan Karate of Fairfax has three locations in Northern Virginia

Fairfax Dojo Headquarters: 12000 Government Center Pkwy. 
Fitness Center – Suite 114
Fairfax, VA 22035

Tysons Dojo: 
Tyson’s Sports and Health
8250 Greensboro Drive
McLean, Virginia 22102

St. Theresa Karate Club:
Ashburn, VA.

Contact Sensei Gharavi: 703) 989-6300.

My experience training with Sensei Gharavi

I planned id advance to arrive to the McLean Dojo and right before I left Centreville a heavy rain started. My Gi got wet right before I could get inside my car. I went inside and grab whatever clothes I could and tried to get on 66 West.

Traffic around 6.30 pm going east is typically normal, but the rain rain, 66 was a jammed. There was a car accident and people were driving at 10 miles per hour.

I was able to arrive at the Dojo at 7.45 pm.

When I got inside the Dojo, Sensei Gharavi gave the welcoming and I was impressed because at least twenty people (children and adults) were training even though typically when there is a heavy rain or snow, sometimes people prefer to stay at home.

It was a please experience to observe than the colored belts and black belts were training together. The colored belts did their forms first and then they sit and observe the black belts. The black belts then realized all the forms starting from the beginners and went all the way through the advance forms.

To me that was a sign of humbleness and also leadership by example. A Black belt to me is a continuous student and by doing colored belts katas is showing that he/she remembers his/her first months of training.

Sensei Gharavi kindly took time to train with me since my style I practice differs from Shotokan. Still the punches and the kicks looked familiar and of course the blocks.

He went easy on me since he notice I told him that I had injured my calf three weeks before visiting his Dojo and I was still recovering.

At some moment when we were practicing punches and blocks our arms collided which is very typical in Karate.

I consider my self to be a strong person and probably due that I can also sense when someone has strength and power. I put probably 50% of strength while doing the exercises and I could tell that Sensei Gharavi was going light on me because he was training with me, but also supervising his Dojo.

I felt nothing, but pure and solid strength on his upper body and arms.

Long time ago I learned while training with a Black belt that Karate practitioners develop a natural strength due to the core training: punches, blocks, push ups, and abs.

When my arm collided with Sensei Gharavi’s arm I remembered the time I was training with a high rank black belt who is an acquaintance of mine. I remember asking: Do you lift weights? Do you go to the gym? The Black belt said, “no. I just do Karate.”

Observing the colored belts and the black belts training with the same intensity gave me the clue to the success of a Karate Dojo: discipline and hard training.

At Fairfax Shotokan Karate Club, children and adults have the opportunity to mingle and learn from each other under the wing of a well-rounded instructor, Sensei Gharavi.

When I finished training a child who was six years old came to me and said, “So you are the new guy? Welcome!”

Sensei Gharavi also spoke to all his students after class stating that he felt proud of them because even though there was tremendous heavy rain, no matter what, the students showed up at the Dojo almost as it was the most beautiful night with a perfect summer breeze. That shows not only respect to their head instructor, but commitment and humility in the path of Karate-do.

If you are a resident of Northern Virginia, Maryland or DC, you should definitely visit Fairfax Shotokan Karate Club. You will not be disappointed.

You can learn more about Fairfax Shotokan Karate Club at their website: or by reaching Sensei Gharavi at 703-989-6300


A Review of My Training Experience with Ultimate Bo Learn Ultimate Bo with Master Instructor Michael Hodge

overhead front right angle_650right uppercut gaze_650



Picture by Sensei Hodges.

Picture 1: Sensei Hodge  demonstrating an Overhead front right angle strike

Picture 2: Right Uppercut strike

Picture 3: Official Patch for The Hodge-American Style Bo Bujutsu

A Review of My Training Experience with Ultimate Bo

Learn Ultimate Bo with Master Instructor Michael Hodge

By Hemil Garcia Linares

Probably you have seen a Bo in many martial arts movies without knowing the name of that weapon or maybe you have seen your Sensei and the advanced belts maneuvering a long weapon just called Bo. But, what is a Bo really? How do you master it? Is it a weapon that can only be maneuver and learn by high rank practitioners?

 (棒: ぼう), bong (Korean term), kon (Chinese term), or kun (Okinawan dialect), is a very tall and long staff weapon used in Okinawa and feudal Japan.  are typically around 1.8 m (5.9 ft) long and used in Japanese martial arts, in particular bōjutsu. Other staff-related weapons are the , which is 1.2 m (47 in) long and the hanbō (half ) (tahn bongin Korea), which is 90 cm (35 in) long.

Having a background in Jujitsu and now Karate (in that order) I never had the chance to use a Bo. My background with weapons is mainly related to Nunchakus, so trying a new weapon was a bit of a challenge for me.

Due to my multiple obligation (I am college professor, a husband, a father, and a Karate practitioner) I cannot attend more classes in person.

I decided to try a home course and did some research until I was able to find Ultimate Bo, a home study guide created by Master Instructor Michael Hodge. Mr. Hodge holds a 4th Dan Black Chevron and Founder of Ultimate Bo.

What is Ultimate Bo?

Ultimate Bo is a martial arts style and it is considered the first full white to second black Bo rank program in the world. It is derived from ancient Japanese martial arts; the original world for Bo or staff is – rokushakubõ.

Ultimate Bo has adapted real traditional fighting techniques into a more realist approach; making them less of a fighting art and more a performing art. About 75% of the Ultimate Bo Style is all about free style, visually appealing techniques. 25% is about learning to use real combat oriented fight techniques with the Bo.

Can you earn a rank with Ultimate Bo?

Yes, earning a rank though the Ultimate Bo Home Study is possible and it is also a high honor. Rank can be earned through our home study course or a certified academy.

How real is the training with the Ultimate Bo?

The Ultimate Bo has a sparring portion designed to teach practitioners with real combat, self-defense oriented techniques. These fighting type techniques are then practiced in controlled sparring matches. You can spar again one competitor, or again two or three competitors at the time.

How does the Ultimate Bo Program Work?

The Distance Training Program has three simple steps to follow towards obtaining rank, certification, and completing the program. Read below for an overview of the three steps.

The steps ate simple:

  1. Watch the video
  2. Take the exam to reach to reach the next level
  3. Continue steps 1 and 2 at each level.

What are the requirements to advance to Black Belt?

Yellow Belts     (no waiting period for testing)

Green Chevron (no waiting period for testing)

Blue   Chevron (1 month period before advancing to the next level)

Brown Chevron (2 months period before advancing to the next level)

Red     Chevron (3 months period before advancing to the next level)

Black   Chevron (4 months period before advancing to the next level)

2nd Black Chevron (1 years before advancing to the next level)

Master Instructor Certification.

Once you pass a rank exam, you will receive a rank completion packet in he mail. For example, when you pass the first rank exam (Yellow Chevron) you will receive your graded performance test, certificate of rank, and the actual yellow Chevron.

My experience with the Ultimate Bo was challenging at the beginning, but rewarding also since the instructional really teach you step by step, what do, how to maneuver the Bo.

The Ultimate Bo techniques will teach how to sweep, strike, block, spin with your Bo.

Is it easier for a beginner to start practicing with the Ultimate Bo?

As a martial as practitioner myself I definitely think it’s possible.

I never had any previous experience with a Bo before and after watching the video one time and maybe rewinding the video twice at the most, I was able to put the forms together.

Master Instructor Michael Hodge give some advice to students, “ work hard, enjoy your training, show off a little bit, and earn your black chevron and your instructor certification-then help to spread the amazing art of Ultimate Bo to new students.

Definitely, Ultimate Bo is the right combination of traditional art with freestyle and appealing techniques. If you are looking for fun training and practicing martial arts at the same time, you will not be disappointed with Ultimate Bo.

Where can I join the Ultimate Bo Distance Training Course?

You can learn more about Ultimate Bo at their Facebook Page:

A Word from Sensei Michael, Founder of Ultimate Bo

Some laugh when they hear about a complete white to black chevron (not belt) style teaching the bo; others get really excited. It is really about you as the martial artist, and how interested you are in weapons training. The Bo is the most popular martial arts weapon within dojos in the USA (and possibly the rest of the world, too). It is accessible, it does not seem as dangerous to begin (sword cuts anyone?), and not as crazy (double nunchakus to the face).

You’ll be surprised by the weapon itself and our style. Not only do you learn practical combat-based philosophies at times, which can lead to fluidly-intense katas – but you will become one with the weapon. I don’t mean to sound fantastical, but a unique part of weapons training is learning to use the weapon as an extension of your body, almost as an elongated limb, rather than as a solitary object.

If it sounds fun to learn bo katas, techniques, combat, sparring, and even earn official rank in our style, we would love to have you on as a new student! We have students from all around the world learning and ranking; and you could even become a certified instructor someday. I look forward to meeting you soon! Sincerely, Sensei Michael Hodge

Note by Hemil Garcia. I want to express my special thanks for Sensei Hodge who provided us with pictures and vast training material that allowed Black Belt Review to write this article.

American Nunchaku Style When the Sensei goes to your home! Interview with GM Michael L. Burke


1. Picture one: GM Burke showing the importance of a proper stance

2. Picture two: GM performing the arm switch to the right.

3 Picture three: GM Burke performing the left arm switch.

4.Picture four: GM Burke and Hemil Garcia, Black Belt review writer.

By Hemil García

I have to be honest. Back in 2002 when I saw the advertisement I was a bit skeptical: learn the American Nunchaku Style on video!

I was unsure if Martial Arts Distance Learning was possible, but still I wanted to give it a try. The ad was posted in a very reputable martial arts magazine. Therefore, I decided to purchase the video despite some unconvinced comments made by my loving wife who always supported my passion for martial arts, “I know you want to learn how to use the chuckys, but how do you know if that guy Burke knows his stuff? Even if he knows about nunchakus, how can you tell it will be easy to learn just by watching a tape?”

I knew my wife had a point (she always does), but my honest replied was, “I want to learn Nunchakus, but there aren’t schools around. Sometimes a school may teach you martial arts weapons, but it’s not guaranteed.”

Back in 2002 I was training Brazilian jujitsu which (as your probably know) does not involve the use of any martial arts weapons whatsoever. Jujitsu like judo is a sort of “gentle art”. Jujitsu is the art of throwing, locking, and choking adversaries (which by the way is not very gentle as far as I know.)

To make the long story short: I bought the tape Nunchakus I and I also I got me a pair of nunchakus (I recommend the ones that are plastic made inside, covered with foam on the outside, and have a metal chain. They are harmless, but heavy enough to practice without hitting your elbows or even worst your head.)

When I saw the tape the first thing I noticed is that the instructor GM Burke was not trying to overpraise his art by doing flashy maneuvers like the ones we see on YouTube today. Many of the flashy moves such as flips and butterflies may be very good to the eye, but not effective in a real scenario.

GM Burke’s video lessons are provided with easiness and even a martial arts beginner can follow them. How many times does watching instructional videos that have unfeasible drills lose us? To make matters worst, some instructors speak as if they are not teaching martial arts, but giving an exaggerated speech intending to sound sophisticated.

Nunchakus I cuts the cheese and goes straight to business! The movements are basic and introductory, but effective. I have to confess. Initially I thought, “Hmmm, this is not what I want. I want Bruce Lee’s types of moves!”

Yes, I wanted to used the Nunchakus as seen on “The Return of the Dragon”. Yes, especially in that part where Lee beats a dozen people just with one pair of black nunchakus.

Nunchakus I has a structure that requires a bit of patience. Yet the drills are very dynamic and fun and that is what kept me interested and focused: first, it shows you how to hold and grasp the nunchakus. Then, your learn how to throw one end of the Nunchakus back at you without hurting your self and allowing you to catch them under your armpit. It’s important to have a good stance (see picture1.)

At the beginning when you practice with two pairs you do not catch the nunchakus at all times or sometimes you catch the one of your left arm, but not the other on your right. However, after a while you are able to.

Another key point and feature from Nunchakus I if that you will not get lost and confused because the instructional video shows the same movement multiple times. GM Burkes makes sure that you see the same movement from different angles.

Now, right after you learn how to grasp the nunchakus the fun part begins.

You are taught how to throw the nunchaku (a single pair) with your right hand above your shoulder so that you can catch it with the left hand, by putting the nunchaku underneath your right armpit (see picture2.) This is called the arm switch. Then, you will throw the nunchaku with your left hand above your shoulder and you will catch it with the right hand by putting the nunchaku underneath your left armpit (see picture 3.)

All this is learned in combination with basic stances applicable to other arts like karate: ready, front, back, and horse stances.

Once you pass that, you will be able to learn some other drills using one single pair of nunchakus such as simple up, the awesome figure eight (blocking and striking), and a very stylish move called around the neck.

How effective is the American Nunchaku Style, say in a real scenario or a Karate competition?

I have been training in Martial Arts since 1999 and since 2002 I practice with Nunchakus; luckily I never had to hit anyone and I hope I will never have to. I always practice hitting a dummy and also a MMA Heavy Bag. The Nunchakus (I use hardwood ones now) are very responsive and fast. Are they powerful? Ok, let put this way: a nunchaku is extremely fast if used properly and it’s like a small baseball bat since you can swing it in a similar fashion (for instance, when doing a front strike.)

I always had the desire to test the Nunchakus at a competition, but I never convinced myself that I wanted to do it. Since 2012 I started training more consistently in martial arts despite some injuries. After working out with the nunchakus for a while I noticed that I am more coordinated with my hands. In addition, my arms and shoulders did benefit with the exercise, which by the way is very amusing.

Maybe because of the consistency in training, my desire of performing with the nunchakus increased. In May of 2014 at age 43, I showed up at an important Karate competition in Virginia. I went by myself. There were schools with dozens of members and Sensei’s coaching them. I had to admit that I felt odd without someone in my corner.

I did my “No weapons Karate Kata” and ended on third place. “Not bad for a rookie, ”I told myself. Afterward, I did my “Nunchakus Kata” mixing it with what I learned by observing GM Burke’s tape, the Karate style I practice (Shori ken), and some moves I came up with.

How did I do?

It went well. Going back home to Northern Virginia was pleasurable. My lovely wife, my precious daughter, and I had a great day at the Karate competition. It was a rewarding experience and a joyful one too because it’s not everyday that I drive home with a big trophy (first place) in the trunk of my car!

I guess I already mentioned that I was skeptical about learning through videos, but now I am convinced that your can learn martial arts at home if you are a dedicated student and if guided by the right person, like I did. In the same way you study a career on line if the school you prefer is miles away, you can learn martial arts; and the best part is that the Sensei goes to your home.

Interview with GM Burke the founder of the American Nunchaku Style

On July of 2014 I went down to Richmond to meet GM Burke. I lived 100 miles away in Centreville (Northern Virginia) without knowing I was about to begin a student-Sensei relationship. Karma or coincidence, I just wanted to say thanks to GM Burke because I trained watching his videos. I needed to tell him face to face how some people would make comments such as: are you a black belt? Wow, I’ve never seen that move! Where did your learn to use the Nunchakus? You said you trained by yourself?

Initially, when I told GM Burke about how I trained “alone”, he corrected me, “you were never alone. You were watching a video, but you were always training with me.

Here is the interview with GM Burke, the founder of American Nunchaku Style.

Black Belt Review: Why and how did you create your style?

GM Burke: Well, you know I never tried to create a style. What I did is I made my own swinging techniques back in the 70’s so I could compete in tournaments competitions and I was very successful. I won in three state championships. When I retired from Karate by brother and I got together and we did our first video called Chakus Volume it and I was a huge seller at Asian World Martial Arts in Philadelphia.

What about the other videos that followed Chakus I?

Well, one thing led to the other. What happened is that when I did the Chakus Volume I in 1990 I was requested by some GM of Karate, Bryan Lee, out of New York, to do a DVD show some forms so students could do the techniques and foot work and start doing some katas. At that point I started doing form and putting them down on my tapes and did Chakus II and III at the same so I can get people three forms to do for single Nunchakus and one form to do for double nunchakus

BBR:Is your style recognized?

Over the years the Chakus Video Series emerged into a style and it just simply evolved and the US Martial Arts Association sanctioned it as a legitimate weapon style about 15 years ago.

BBR: How many videos have you produced?

There are now nine DVD’s available.

GM Burke: Can a beginner learn the style? Is it difficult to maneuver a pair of Nunchakus?

I say this because I see Black Belt working with Nunchakus so fast. We also see it in movies. The beginner may think it’s impossible to learn how to use the Nunchakus…

No. It’s not that hard to do. You start off with plastic or foam covered nunchakus and your work your way up. And the key is that if you master the first Chakus Volume I, a 47 minutes DVD, you are well on your way to do a wonderful job with the nunchakus and it’s not going that hard.

BBR: Students would like to see some improvement. Is there system of ranking like you see in Karate or any other martial arts?

GM Burke: Yes. We have our own ranking system. We have the American Style Nunchakus Federation and on the website we have a ranking system. You start up with yellow and then your go to purple and green and grow. The ASN is its own style. You don’t have to have previous karate experience to start in our style and gain rank. You can visit the ASNF at

BBR: When was the ASNF created?

GM Burke: About 4 years ago.

BBR: What opportunities are available for Black Belt under the ASNF? Can they get certified or teach this art at their own schools?

Yes. We want to spread the style to the total martial arts community through out the world. Once you are a black belt in our style you are able to teach others and promote others in our style.

BBR: What advise can you provide to new beginners? How long does it take to master your style?

GM Burke: It takes quite a while. Just to master the first DVD will take several months. Two, three, or four months. You’ve got to get that mastered first. And then you will work on volume two and volume three. It will take time and effort and you must be persistent if you want to go through the ranks and get the belts. It’s not easy, but it’s not difficult, plus it can take a lot of hard work.

BBR: GM Burke, thank you very much for taking time to meet with me.

GM Burke: … Thank you very much for the interview






































Bujinkan Workshop in Northern Virginia with Shodishi David Moorefield focusing on Shinden Fudo Ryu Jutaijutsu Shoden

Bujinkan Workshop in Northern Virginia with Shodishi David Moorefield focusing on Shinden Fudo Ryu Jutaijutsu Shoden

We’ll be exploring the important principles of Budo Taijutsu found within the fist level techniques of Shinden Fudo Ryu Jutaijutsu. Bring water / snacks and training swords, bo staff, and inert training pistols in case we work on any other topics.
Shidoshi David Moorefield has trained in Budo Taijutsu / Ninjutsu for almost 25 years and regularly travels to train with leading instructors including visiting Japan annually for the last several years.
When: Sunday July 27th, noon to 5pm-ish
Where: Premier Martial Arts, 4487 Cheshire Station Plaza Woodbridge,VA 22192
Cost: $30 or $20 for part-time (Instructors free with 3 paying students)

Axe Kick by Infinity Martial Arts !

This is a an excellent video about the Axe Kick.

The steps are pretty clear and easy to follow. I understand the execution might not happen fast if you are a beginner. Do not get discourage. Big Foot Wallace has some nice tips to kick high. It’s all on you tube.

How can improve your kicks?

I believe perseverance is the key. I like this quote by Bruce Lee:

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.

Karate do




Why do I practice Martial Arts?




My first belt signed by Royce Gracie

( This is my first belt. It was signed by Royce Gracie, the legendary  UFC champion)

Why do I practice Martial Arts?

I know this is a question WE martial arts practitioners ask ourselves.

I guess the blessing of martial arts is that it finds you before your find it.

It happened to me twice in my life and some how, even though I stopped doing martial arts, I went back. It’s almost as if martial arts can speak to you: train. This is your sport. You cannot run way away from it. Karate, Jujitsu, you name it; it’s who you are.

My first experience occurred back in 1993-1994 when I saw Royce Gracie on TV. He won the first UFC championship fighting again huge opponent who were brawlers, kick boxers, boxer, wrestlers, etc., who didn’t know anything about Jujitsu.

Of course I didn’t know anything either. Practicing Jujitsu in 1993 in Peru and even in the US was not easy to do. You could not find schools the way you can find them today in every corner and even on line.

A friend of mind who was very religious and some how mystic (he was a vegetarian, believed in reincarnation, and his head was fully shaved) introduced me to Tae Won Do).

I always knew I was good using my legs when playing soccer and also in a very primitive way to defend myself at school or in my neighborhood back home (I was raised a very rough place), but I didn’t know I could practice martial arts.

My friend R. was very strong and naturally aggressive. He fought at the first Vale Tudo in Peru. He won’t a couple of fights, but he also lost with a Jujitsu fighter. Then he started cross training. I was an ignorant in MMA. , So I started at the beginning: learning a traditional martial art.

I learned from R that the key in a battle is aggressiveness, but also how to be calm in a fight. He made us run inside an improvised Dojo (t was really a religious place and we used its space during morning hours); we will do push-ups, and abs until I almost felt like throwing up. We did squads until we could barely walk normally.

I complained a little a bit due to my ignorance. When will I learn martial arts? What does all these have to do with learning the kicks, the punches, and the flashy moves?

We will only do shadow boxing, shadow kicking, and shadow everything, but we never did sparring.

Maybe after two months finally he said: let’s do sparring. He put us in pairs and a fond friend of mine was in front of me and I felt that I should go easy on him assuming that he should go easy on me. Oh, boy, I was wrong. When the “fight” started my friend came with blows and kicks almost like he wanted to destroy me and I backed up. At least I did keep my balance with a nice horse stance. I saw my self-surprised by the aggressiveness of my “attacker.” My friend R. shouted at me and said, “ don’t back up. Fight!” Then, like a song I am very fond of says, “I knew it was now or never.” I did my kiai and throw a solid kick to the center of his stomach and the fight ended. My friend was sitting on the floor for at least ten minutes. I was scared and I apologized. My friend said it was all right. My friend and sensei told me not to worry about. After the class, we went to showers. My Sensei came to me and smiled and he said, “Good. That is what you have to do in a fight. End it.”

I had a chance to do sparring again with another friend who was bigger than me. He was very muscular and had tattoos, which gave him an intimidating look. This time, when the fight started, I moved in circles avoiding his kicks waiting for the right time. I could not get on his game of getting closer. One of his punches could probably put me to sleep for a week. So I waited until I saw an opening and landed a front kick to the stomach. My friend could not stand up. When he did he really did not find for he rest of the round. I saw in him, he was already “paralyzed” and mentally blocked because of the solid kick to the stomach.

After those first sparring, I learned how important was to be calm, to be prepared, to know when to attach. Also, I valued the importance of conditioning. Every Saturday, I went to train Tae Won Do riding my bicycle just to warm and get more strength on my legs.

Royce Gracie, the first UF champion would tell me similar tips as my first Sensei did. In 2003 I interviewed Royce Gracie. Yes, I met him!!! And that probably will a good reason to put another post.

This post was intended to explain why we practice martial arts. My reason after all this digression is simple: martial taught me about not surrendering, about fighting with bravery, about the importance of being healthy. It does not matter to me if I was not the best practitioner back then, or if I am not a black belt who one day will make it to the Hall of Fame. What matters to me is that today I am in a journey to understand the philosophy of ancient martial arts and that my daughter who is seven is very focus in learning Karate and its meaning: self disciple, respect, and honor. I was not blessed like her as far as having the opportunity to train with my parents, but God give the opportunity and the blessing to find my sport and to be a guide for her despite of my limitations


Domo Arigatou どうも有難う

Karate Competition. 1st place !

It was an awesome day. That’s all I can say. First place with Nunchakus and third place performing Katas !
It was a wonderful day, almost perfect, but my daughter did not get a a trophy and started crying.  Daddy had to tell her that a trophy means nothing at the end of the day and that it takes months, maybe years to learn a discipline. I told her that the path to “win” is persistency and also humility to accept when you lose in any competition. My Karate Sensei told me once: A Black belt is a White belt who never quits.
I will never forget that Saturday when my lovely wife, my beautiful daughter, and I went to King George to make a dream come true: compete just for the sake of it. It was just wonderful to watch all the children performing their katas and also sparring.  Some Black belts performed very impressive Katas maybe as way to remind us that practice makes perfect. One last comment: The King George Karate Isshinryu competition is a great place to compete and spend the day with the family. Karate do !

First place at the 2014 King George Isshin Ryu Competition !