September Newsletter

Sensei in the Spotlight: Rodrigo Navarrete

The University Karate Center would like to spotlight an accomplished Martial Artist and business partner of Sensei Mason’s in the “Funkicks” program: Sensei Rodrigo Navarrete. Sensei Navarrete is a 4th Degree Black Belt in Karate with an undefeated record as a professional kickboxer. Growing up in New York he had the opportunity to achieve rank in over twenty styles of the Martial Arts. Additionally, since moving to Florida in 1985 he broadened his skills by learning to teach aerobics and fitness. Sensei Mason, considers him to be ”a fantastic teacher whose humorous and positive personality has led to his success as a professional instructor.”

Sensei Navarrete's unique style of teaching incorporates kinesiology, psychology and physiology as well as cardiovascular conditioning, flexibility and strength building exercises. His skills encompass both, the patience to instruct children, and the insight to teach adults.

A true renaissance man, Sensei Navarrete has made his mark in the Martial Arts as a Kickboxing Champion, while maintaining his involvement in the entertainment and music industries. He is a poet and philosopher, a musician and vocalist, and a martial artist who can entertain as well as fight. He has performed on stage as an entertainer, in a seminar format as an instructor and educator, and in the ring as a champion. In all of these endeavors Sensei Navarrete brings a sense of class and style to match his many talents. Whether choreographing a fight sequence for a demonstration or designing uniforms for students he is always particular about getting the details right.

Sensei Navarrete will be teaching on Saturdays for both the karate class at 10:00 am and the kickboxing class at 11:00 am . He will also be helping to create a program for Kiddie Ridge Academy, the after-care facility next door to the karate school, so that the kids will have an opportunity to train here.

Courtesy in the Karate School

Since the karate school has moved to our new location where the Reception Area is laid out quite differently some adjustments will be necessary. In the previous location a toilet was just inside the Reception Area doorway and offered filtered water. Our new location has restrooms and water for the students in the area where they wait for class beyond the Reception Desk.

Maintaining the internal flow of traffic is crucial to the overall smooth-running of the office and of the karate school. Within this different office space our focus must include handling potential new clients, staying in contact by phone with our students who may have missed class, producing our mailings, doing the paperwork for memberships and intros, setting up private lessons, helping students with their attendance cards and checking the cards after class, handling sempai folders, answering numerous daily phone calls from new people inquiring about our classes and from current students asking about our schedule of classes, managing the grading sheets, giving out stripes, and many other duties.

In order to accomplish all this we need down-time in between classes so that the office is a quiet atmosphere in which to think and organize. We need to have minimal distractions. Additionally, during office hours we need to have the Reception Area clear of extra people so that we have the room to help the students who are taking class, visitors looking to join up, people who are doing karate school business (private lessons, grading fees, purchasing retail items, making appointments, etc), in addition to the staff and instructors. We simply can not function properly if we do not have cooperation from everyone. It is especially hectic when the classes are changing over and the traffic flow is restricted inside the karate school.

Parents of Junior students are advised to drop off and pick up their children outside the office door and parents of Karate Tigers and Little Dragons will need to watch from outside if they are accompanied by additional children or guests. Please speak quietly when in the school and be sure to take cell phone calls outside. I appreciate your cooperation. Sensei Mason

"Cooperation is when everyone works together to solve problems before they become major issues.”

Christine Conroy, age 12, Seminole Middle School

The Karate Community

By Sensei Emily Snyder

Karate is good for the mind. It teaches discipline, self-control, and respect. Karate is good for the body. It increases strength, flexibility, and reflexes; but there is one aspect of Karate that tends to be overlooked—that of the community. Though Karate tends to be a solitary sport, and there is no required competition or teams, we do grow to know and depend on our fellow students, as well as our teachers. They become as important a part of our training experience as any other part.

Think about it. Part of our curriculum is based on the concept of two people working together. Ever pair we practice is about the necessary reaction to any action. In order to practice the pairs correctly both partners must be equally attentive and ready to help each other. In the kids’ classes I have seen students who repeat their techniques like robots. This training style only breeds frustration for the other partner, and eventually for the technique itself. It creates an unpleasant atmosphere for everyone involved. If a pair of more advanced students is participating in this behavior, it creates a bad example for the beginners. The beginners see the advanced students as an integral part of their martial arts community, and take on their habits, as would a younger sibling.

In sparring we depend on one another to be careful and courteous. We have all been in matches where our opponent has either lost control, or is sparring badly because of a lousy day or oversized dinner. We come away from the match feeling either unfulfilled, or completely aggravated. The opposite is true as well. We always know when someone is sparring better than they usually do, and are clearly improving. Personally, knowing that I may have had something to do with this improvement has always made me feel good. Other people directly affect our training, both positively and negatively.

I have learned that, even outside Karate, the community with which I train is a special part of my life. As a frequent visitor to the Chocolate Moose, I see people from the Dojo outside of class all the time. It feels good to know they think of me as something other than just another member of the school. I have loved getting to know many of them on a more personal level than chats between classes allow. We belong to a community full of great people of every age and background, and I urge everyone to take advantage of that community.

There is so much to learn from Karate. The chance to learn how to work and get along with other people is too rarely mentioned. Our fellow students can be our peers, our colleagues, our teachers, and our friends. The journey to Black Belt and beyond is long and difficult. No such journey should be made alone.

Sensei Snyder left Florida this month to begin her college career at The University of Rochester in New York where she plans to study writing. We wish her all the best and hope she will return soon and take class during her vacations.