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wpe21.jpg (3310 bytes) Pete Voto has been training in the martial arts at University Karate Center for eight years and really enjoys it. He is currently a 1st Kyu Brown Belt. Though, he wishes he had started martial arts at a younger age, he is progressing well and takes his training seriously.

Pete was born in 1966 in New Jersey. At the age of five, he moved to South Florida where he has lived ever since. He had no brothers or sisters but still managed to keep himself busy as a child. Some of his hobbies as a child were watching movies, biking and basically anything outdoors. After attending Cooper City High School, Pete moved on to college at the University of Florida. He also attended the culinary school in North Miami five years ago.

Pete grew up in an Italian family and was always around food as a child, which lead him to becoming a chef. He specializes in pastries, desserts and catering. He’s been in the food business all of his adult life and has only had a different job twice. But, if he could have any other job, he would like to be a Film Director. He works a lot and enjoys his job. He likes to be creative with what he makes and says it’s a way for him to show off. Even though Pete enjoys his job a lot, it does keep him very busy. Although he would like more time for himself, he still manages to find some time for recreation. Some of the things he likes to do in his spare time are roller blading, cycling, going to the beach, watching classic movies, and reading. He especially likes to read comic books, of which he has about 6000. He has been collecting them ever since he was seventeen.

Pete is now a 1st Kyu Brown Belt here at the karate school, and is working hard towards his test for Black Belt. With his winning attitude and ability to train hard in every class he takes, he hopes to receive his promotion by the end of this year. After achieving Black Belt he expects to continue his training towards mastery in the Martial Arts.

Martial Arts Motivation

Studying Martial Arts is one of the most challenging and rewarding pursuits that you will ever encounter. Martial Arts proficiency requires many hours of hard work spent practicing form and technique. However, as you progress through the ranks, you will achieve a satisfaction that makes all of your hard work and dedication worth while.

At times as we undertake tasks associated with our many pursuits we might begin to feel discouraged. We need to step back and assess our situations so that we can find something that will help us remain motivated and better able to reach the great peaks of success.

Here are some mental steps that you can take:

1. Maintain a Positive Outlook

A positive outlook can greatly increase motivation and will help you to stick with your endeavors to their completion. Instead of focusing on setbacks try to consider the many benefits that you will gain with a "can do" attitude.

2. Keep your "Eye on the Prize"

Few things inspire as much as really great reward. Set a realistic goal for yourself (such as your next belt level) and work toward that goal. If your goals are realistic and attainable within a reasonable amount of time, they will better help to motivate you than unrealistic or distant goals.

3. Look at the big picture

While you are working each day to learn a new set of movements or forms, remember that the martial arts is a system that cannot work without each of its component parts. Each time you learn something new, try to see how it fits into the big picture.

4. Keep things in perspective

Maintaining perspective will greatly assist you in all of your endeavors. A small set back is not the end of the world. Remember that you are only limited by your own perceptions of reality. Inch by inch, it’s a cinch but yard by yard it’s hard.

5. Stay self-disciplined

One great way to stay motivated is to attend class regularly and participate fully in class activities. This will lead to an increased rate of learning and give you the tools that you will need for Martial Arts success.

Staying motivated is one of the keys to success in the Martial Arts and in your life. If you approach each of life’s endeavors with a high level of motivation and commitment, you are sure to succeed.

Karate and Everyday Life

Students have often heard that Karate training should affect them in a positive manner in regard to their day-to-day activities. They are prompted to ask, "How will training in Mu-Do-Kai help me to do my job, to understand my parents, to drive my car, etc.?" Since there are several levels of discussion involved in answering such a question, I will try my best to offer some concrete examples to illustrate otherwise abstract principles.

Let us first consider awareness. Are you AWAKE? In a tournament, a lazy or casual attitude can cause you to lose. In a self-defense situation, losing could mean being hurt or even worse. In class, we work hard to develop an "awake" attitude, a state of awareness which allows us to see, hear, and understand more. When the consequences of a "sleepy" attitude are being scored upon in a sparring match, the motivation to sharpen up our attention is intrinsic to the process. To maintain this attitude in action, students should concentrate on the activity at hand. Each action can be "breathed through," just as every movement in a Karate class is "breathed through."

Pre-arranged partner practice and Karate sparring are very real activities; that is, if you make a mistake, the consequences are immediate and obvious. In this sense, practice is a very true process. When a partner scores on you cleanly, there is no doubt that you made an error of technique or strategy. Similarly, when you score on a partner, you enjoy the experience of everything going right. By identifying the feelings involved in this process, you can recognize touchstones for other situations. Here we have the foundation of the Martial Arts philosophy of Right Action and Right Conduct. We cultivate a sensitivity, through practice, of what feels right.

A developed feeling of courage and an attitude of confident alertness can be carried by the students from the Dojo into everyday activities. This attitude is a success formula for any endeavor. It is an energized state for harmonious action from inspired perception, a moment-by-moment experience of Right Living. As human beings, we are like musical instruments which must be kept in tune, regardless of what melody or harmony we play. Karate training is a way of learning how to tune these instruments we were born into. Being in tune within ourselves allows us to enjoy playing the game of life, and allows us to learn about being in tune with others.

Sensei Robert H. Mason c 1990

What Does Martial Arts Teach?

In talking recently to parents of new students some issues have come to my attention. Many parents are initially fearful of enrolling their children into our program. Usually this is because they have never had any experience themselves of a karate school before. Sometimes it is because they have had a previously negative experience with another school. Some karate schools at the present time, and many in the past, were set up on a para-military basis, with the goal of teaching students "blood and guts" fighting skills. Since I began teaching in Plantation in 1980 my goal has always been to make personal growth the major focus of our program. This is based in my belief that if students acquire their martial skills within a context of healthy physical, emotional and psychological development, they will derive the greatest all-round benefit.

In the last few years in particular, martial arts studios around the country have finally begun to adopt the language of approaching martial arts in this fashion. However, the University Karate Center remains, as far as I know, the long term pioneer in this method of teaching martial arts to students of all ages.

I believe that my thesis has been proven many times over. We have produced an excellent standard of students at all belt levels, we have also produced a competition team that has included, state and national champions. At the same time we have been able to satisfy the needs of police and military personnel seeking additional training, beyond what they have received in their profession; all within an encouraging educational atmosphere. Many times parents want to enroll their children in our program but have fears regarding the practice of martial arts. It is often a good idea for them to come and watch a class first to see how we train. I appreciate the efforts that all the students make to refer clients to the school, and would encourage you to take this approach of invitation. Your friends may have reservations based either in their ideas of what martial arts is all about or some previous negative experience. Although it is normal for potential students or parents to have reservations prior to entering our program, we hope that "the proof of the pudding is in the eating" and that by seeing what we are doing, and by experiencing our program first hand, they will be convinced of its merit by the results.

Sensei Robert H Mason c 1999