Second Dan Achieved

Congratulations to Sensei Dean Katon and Sensei Brenda Mayer who were awarded the rank of Nidan, second degree Black Belt, on August 7th. Twelve other Black Belts came to help test them on their sparring skills, which included a six against one match and six rounds of light continuous sparring. Both students have been training for many years and did an excellent job on both the skills segment of the test and the final sparring segment

Just as Black Belt is the goal for Kyu ranked students, so the achievement of “Mastery of the Martial Arts”, denoted by the rank of Godan (Fifth Degree Black Belt) is the goal for Black Belts to strive for. Beyond the rank of Sixth Degree Black Belt an instructor may be referred to as Shihan, which means that they are examples of the Martial Arts in all aspects of their lives. Shihan can be loosely translated as Professor.

Part of the process of achieving rank in the Martial Arts involves the testing process. The grading test, like any other real challenge, involves two different opportunities to learn on a deep level. On the one hand the student is required to demonstrate all of the material that has been practiced for the grading in question. This allows the student to realize how much they have learned. The second opportunity involves the somewhat humbling experience of recognizing all of the small mistakes that they made during the test, and all of the areas in which their performance was imperfect. This allows them to realize how much more there is to learn, and how much more they need to train. Success is therefore balanced by humility. A good test is one that stretches the students and inspires them to excel, but does not over-challenge them to the point that they would be defeated and fail. While failure is always possible, the students are trained to succeed and the Sensei will always try to be sure that they are fully prepared before allowing them to go ahead and test. At the same time, a good test is hard enough that no one can anticipate performing every element perfectly. This leaves the student with the sense that improvement is the way ahead, towards an ever higher level of competence.

One of our new white belts recently commented after leaving his first class that he felt like he knew nothing. This is a good beginning. After many years of training he may one day realize that “the farther we go, the less we know“.

Sensei Robert H. Mason © 2002

Sempai of the Month

Paige Becks

The September Sempai of the Month is Paige Becks who is thirteen years old and attends Parkway Middle School and is in the eighth grade. She started karate here two and a half years ago having just moved into the area and looking for something fun to do. Paige has been a Sempai since February of this year and is currently a 4th kyu.

According to Mr. Bergstresser, Paige follows directions well, takes charge of class, and is a leader. She is patient, sets a good example, stays with the student and does what she is told to do. One of the reasons why Paige likes to sempai is that she gets to be the boss and also help younger students. She likes karate because it is an opportunity to get fit and also to learn discipline. She finds that the Friday 4:30 p.m. grappling class is fun and also sparring on Wednesdays at 5:15 p.m.

Her favorite actor is Adam Sandler and her hobbies are drawing, macramé, weaving bracelets and “doing hair”. In the future she is interested in becoming a professional artist and possibly a chef. Her favorite food is chocolate and she bakes cakes and desserts. She also likes to watch the cooking network.

The Sutra of Loving Kindness

This is how one who strives for happiness

and wants to reach that quiet place should act.

One should be able, upright,

free from pride and thoughtful;

likewise be so in speech


Peace (‘pees): n.

The absence of war or other hostilities

An agreement or a treaty to end hostilities

Freedom from quarrels and disagreement

Harmonious relations

Public security and order

Inner contentment; serenity


American Heritage Dictionary

Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowing eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.

John F. Kennedy

When you’re finally up on the moon, looking back at the earth, all these differences and nationalistic traits are pretty well going to blend and you’re going to get a concept that maybe this is really one world and why can’t we learn to live together like decent people.

Frank Borman


Peace is an environment where conflicts are resolved without violence, where people are free, not exploited, living so they can grow to their full potential.

Gerard Vanderhaar


Peace is not the absence of conflict; but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict; alternatives to passive or aggressive responses, alternatives to violence.

Dorothy Thompson

U.S. foreign correspondent

Peace, rather than violence, is a choice we can make in many situations where it is necessary to assert ourselves. When we are sure of our competence to deal with whatever might happen, we can choose peace with confidence. Peace is ultimately an inner experience we can enjoy, regardless of what turmoil surrounds us.

Sensei Robert H Mason