JUNE 2003 Newsletter

Sempai of the Month

Ash Ouellette

Ash Ouellette wanted to be like Akane from Ranma 1/2, so in June 2001 she took her first lesson at the University Karate Center. Today she is a 3rd Kyu Brown Belt and attends class frequently, often as a Sempai to assist the beginner students.

Ash is a 10th grader who is home-schooled by Americana College Prep and her favorite subject is Psychology. She enjoys watching Animé (Japanese animation) and likes listening to music inspired by Animé cartoons. And like so many other high-schoolers, she also likes watching MTV and the WB with her friends and fellow karate school students, Tisha and Paige. She likes to eat at Kiko’s Japanese Restaurant at the Fountains.

Living with Ash are 5 dogs, a bird, a ferret and a rabbit, which she has disciplined herself to take care of. She feels that she has gained this self-discipline and confidence from taking karate.

Ash told us that the hardest technique she has learned so far is the Ushirogeri; but as we’ve seen her perform it in class, it appears she has practiced enough to execute the kick quite well. She also finds weapons training difficult, particularly training with Tonfas; but practices with the intention of improving.

Ash knows the value of continuing her Martial Arts education, and she can see herself receiving her Black Belt in the future. She believes her training will help her to defend herself, and her friends, if necessary.

One of the most important things Ash contributes to the karate school is her attitude. Ash rarely complains; she participates in class with the charisma of a future Black Belt student. She is already becoming an excellent teacher, and is popular with the beginner students. She has been trusted on occasion to lead a small class; she performs the task admirably. Ash turns 16 on June 6th; be sure to wish her a Happy Birthday!

by Sensei Kendra Smith


Turning Boredom into Achievement Through Discipline

Everyone in the Martial Arts is likely to meet with boredom. According to statistics, this generally occurs within the first three to six months of training, which is the period for learning only the fundamental techniques, when necessary repetition can present a challenge to the beginning student. Physical tiredness together with impatience and doubt with regard to progress can contribute to a sense of boredom and frustration, which can dampen the feeling of enthusiasm in a beginner to Martial Arts training. Nevertheless, from the seventh month on, physical tiredness is reduced gradually while power and technique are gained steadily. The sixth month is, therefore, an important stage at which to reaffirm the quest toward Black Belt achievement.

According to psychologists, learning happens in small steps, and sometimes it’s two steps forward and one step back. If you watch a baby trying to walk, you’ll notice that they stand up for a few moments and then fall down, over and over again, take a step or two, fall down again. Babies repeat their efforts unceasingly without external rewards or the approval of their peers. They just practice until they get it perfect, or near enough.

New material can often be challenging to our ability to stay in our comfort zone. Babies often have to choose between the safety and security of the arms of their caretaker and the lure of adventure in the world. When my daughter was five years old she was taken to a local park which housed a big slide with turns and twists that many of the older children were playing on. Excited she ran over to where I was sitting and announced to me that she had just discovered this slide but that it was only for the bigger kids who knew how to use it. I said nothing. She ran back to the slide and continued to observe the older children climbing up the steps and sliding down the slide. Eventually she returned to where I was sitting and remarked happily that she had climbed up a few of the steps herself.

This process of taking on the slide in small increments on her own initiative and returning to me to report her progress continued for the next half hour or so. Finally after much back and forth between me (safe place) and the slide (challenge place) she triumphantly stated that she had actually climbed up all of the steps and gone down the entire slide all by herself!

One of the best ways to overcome boredom is to attend classes regularly to familiarize yourself with the respect and discipline of training. Commit yourself to the program without reservation, and remember that all Sensei began as white belts; they just persevered through the mental difficulties and learned to extend their attention span, as you can, working steadily toward the goal of Black Belt achievement.


Solve the Karate Word Search, turn it in by June 23rd and be entered in a drawing for a Free T-Shirt or 1/2-hour Private Lesson with Sensei Kendra Smith. Look forward, backward, up, down, and diagonally.