October Newsletter

Promotion from Karate Tigers to Junior Classes

Every Tuesday and Thursday, the Karate Tigers train with Sensei Smith and Sensei Restrepo to have fun, play games, and most importantly, learn the basics of karate. These four and five-year-old students look forward to their bi-weekly sessions of punching and kicking the pads and learning how to do the more difficult activities, like push-ups.

The Karate Tigers get blue stripes on their belts when they do well in class so that, unlike the Junior students, they are not limited to three stripes. They can earn as many blue stripes as their belts can hold. This method keeps the less experienced children motivated, as well as the students who have been in class longer, by providing a positive reinforcement process.

Eventually the opportunity arises to promote students from the Karate Tigers class to the Junior program. This will normally be when the student reaches six years of age, unless they are promoted sooner because the Sensei considers that they are ready to work within the more disciplined curriculum structure of the Junior program.

You may know some of our regular students that have been promoted from the Karate Tigers program, namely Maxim Hew, Gianna Brigida and Jonathan Barnes. Jonathan is currently a yellow belt, and Maxim and Gianna are now brown belts. They have progressed steadily since their transition from the Tigers program and have a depth of experience that reflects their years of training.

This month, the University Karate Center will be promoting Rikki Boldt into the Junior program. He has been attending the Tigers program for over a year and was awarded one red stripe this summer, to begin his transition and remind him of the great responsibility he holds as being a student of the martial arts. “Rikki has been a good role model for the younger Tigers during his time in the program, and I can see that his development will continue with this promotion,” says Sensei Kendra Smith, his instructor.

The Geese


If you ever have the opportunity to see geese flying along in V formation, you might consider what science has discovered as to why they fly that way: As each bird flaps its wings, it creates uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in V formation the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own. People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily because they are traveling on the thrust of one another..

When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front. If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are headed the same way we are.

When the Head Goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point. It is sensible to take turns doing demanding jobs with people or with geese flying south. Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. What do we say when we honk from behind?

Finally, and this is important, when a goose gets sick or is wounded and falls out of formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly, or until it dies; only then do they launch out on their own, or with another formation to catch up with their group.

If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other like that.

Annual PUMPKIN contest

This year’s Halloween pumpkin carving contest will be held on Thursday October 30th from 4:00 to 7:00 pm. All pumpkins must be real (not plastic/paper) and carved by the person entering (please, no parents entering for their kids). There will be four divisions: originally created pumpkins and pumpkins carved using stencils for both Children and Adults (including teens). A maximum of two pumpkin entries is allowed, so everyone may enter both divisions for their age. Last year’s winner was Kaitlyn Reichenbach. This year’s winners will all receive a Karate School T-Shirt!

Better Breathing Brings Peak Performance

Inhale and exhale, in and out. Breathing is one of the most natural functions of our bodies. Or is it? In spite of its importance, many people have developed shallow and uneven breathing habits. Effective breathing can make a measurable difference in Martial Arts performance and in many other endeavors we undertake. When you inhale, or breathe in, the air you take in goes through a multi-step filtering process before reaching your lungs. Specialized lung structures extract oxygen and leach it into your bloodstream, where it travels to various oxygen-hungry tissues, such as the brain and the large muscles. This cycle occurs tens of thousands of times each day, unnoticed, until you really push yourself in Martial Arts class and discover how much work breathing can be.

With additional exertion, the process picks up speed trying to accommodate the body’s increased demand for oxygen and blood. The heart pumps faster, attempting to meet the demands of muscles engaged in high activity for oxygenated blood and the removal of waste carbon dioxide. Regular deep breathing can allow the development of greater stamina, strength and mobility as well as greater mental focus, all of which are hallmarks of excellence in Martial Arts.

During practice, whether in class or at home, it is essential to breathe correctly. The exhalation (breathing out) must be emphasized in order to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system to slow the heartbeat, lower the blood pressure and lower the pulse rate. When focus is placed on the exhalation and the abs are contracted with the breath, a feeling of centeredness is developed which improves balance and coordination. Correct abdominal breathing of this kind also serves to reduce stress and clear the lungs to make room for more oxygen to be taken up on the subsequent inhalation (breathing in). Better breathing while exercising will burn more calories and encourage the development of a lean physique.

Many women learn the importance of breathing when they prepare for childbirth. Breathing is utilized during labor to allow more control during delivery, in much the same way that breathing is used in Martial Arts to control both the mind and the body during practice and performance. During Martial Arts sparring matches, for example, the adrenaline that enters the bloodstream can make us strong or turn our knees to jelly. It is called the “fight or flight” hormone and must be controlled by breathing and the subsequent emotional balance. In real self-defense situations “adrenaline shock” can totally incapacitate an otherwise competent individual if they allow the hormone to take control. Again the emphasis is always on strong exhalation. The breath is then allowed to flow back into the belly before being expelled again. If all of the attention of the Martial Artist is on their breathing their emotions will come into balance and their mind will be clear to focus on the opponent.

Just as women can learn to harness the power of the breath to deal with the enormous internal natural forces brought to bear on them during childbirth, so the Martial Artist can learn to breath for balance, emotional strength and mental clarity during the pressures of a sparring match or a real life self-defense situation. Deep connected abdominal breathing is also the healthy way to breathe during our everyday activities. Correct breathing encourages better balance and coordination. Even racing car drivers “breathe” around corners and tennis players can be heard to exhale on every strike of the ball. Abdominal breathing also encourages proper digestion and balances the metabolism. The goal is to practice better breathing for peak performance continuously.

Sensei Robert H. Mason © 2003