On Thursday afternoons, the Langdon Activity Center racquetball court transforms into a Dojo for Dustin Wagner and Michelle Chock to teach Shotokan Karate to their two students, Darrell Fox and William Robles.
By Melissa Anderson
Wagner and Chock began teaching Shotokan Karate last October, and, in just six months, their students have already moved up the belt ranking during a testing seminar held in Bemidji in late April.
“A few weekends ago, we four were able to head down to Bemidji for seminar, testing, and an educational tournament,” Wagner said.
The Dojo that the group traveled to hosts testing and seminars twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. People from across the region travel there to participate and learn.
Shotokan Karate is a self-defense form of martial arts in which violence is used as a last resort. Wagner explained the teachings of Shotokan Karate stress avoiding violence at all costs and only using it as self-defense in a last resort effort to protect one’s self from harm.
“We are not a sport. This is a way of life and not at all like the martial arts or mixed martial arts usually seen on TV,” Chock said.
At the beginning of training in Shotokan Karate, the students learn the Dojo Kun, or philosophy, that is “Seek perfection of character. Be faithful. Endeavor to excel. Respect others. Refrain from impulsive behavior.”
The physical aspect of training has students starting at the 10th kyu, otherwise known and recognized as a white belt. From there the student trains and tests, showing their skills in a standard format in front of black belt examiners.
“Assuming you pass, you gain a rank and usually a new belt,” Wagner explained.
The two students that Wagner and Chock teach completed their exams and moved from 10th kyu (white belt) to 8th kyu which allowed them to gain new yellow belts.
During the belt ceremony held on April 28, Fox and Robles showed a little bit of what they had learned over the past six months to friends and family.
Fox and Robles displayed their ability to perform the art of Kata, which Wagner explained is like Shotokan’s flag.
“It is what unites us, and it should be the same no matter where we train,” Wagner said.
The two students completed the series of movements, which is a detailed choreographed pattern that incorporates basic techniques which are appropriate for the individuals rank.
“Their Kata that they performed is called Heian Shodan,” Wagner said.
The second display of technique performed by Fox and Robles was called Kumite, which means sparring.
“Will and Darrell had to learn the most basic form of Kumite, which is a three step sparring series of defense followed by an attack by the defender,” Chock shared.
The students performed a third technique called Kihon, which stands for “basic technique”. Kihon uses various combinations of movements that are taught and practiced as a foundation in martial arts.
“Michelle and I are very proud of Will and Darrell,” Wagner said,”They did a wonderful job and have great potential.”
For Wagner and Chock, the training of Fox and Robles has opened up great potential for the club to increase as they are able to become a nationally recognized Dojo as part of the International Shotokan Karate Federation (ISKF). The ISKF was started in 1977 by a group of high ranking members of the Japan Karate Association as a means of spreading the study of Shotokan Karate around the world. The ISKF split from the Japan Karate Association in 2007 and is now an independent organization in its own right.
Wagner and Chock both began learning Shotokan Karate in 2011 at a Dojo located in Grand Forks. Both Wagner and Chock also tested and moved up in ranking during the testing in Bemidji. They are also looking forward to continuing to teach Shotokan Karate to anyone who is interested.
“We have an age requirement of 13 years or older just because we have limited time and space to work with,” Chock said.
The club meets Thursday from 4 p.m. till 5 p.m. at the Langdon Activity Center in the racquetball court. They do not charge any fees other than the required activity center fees.
“We don’t have fees except for use of the facility which can be covered under a membership or daily pass,” Chock said.
Both Wagner and Chock expressed interest in expanding time or adding a day to the training schedule should interest and members make it possible.
“We are open to additional training time if enough interest is expressed,” the two said.
If you are interested and would like to join Wagner and Chock in learning and training in the art of Shotokan Karate, please call Dustin Wagner at 701-370-5003.