Bethea's Karate Studio

119 West Sycamore Street
Kokomo, IN 46901


 Bethea's Karate Studio

Sensei Speaks

Volume 1, Issue 1      October 2015


Sensei Speaks- What’s Happening

First, I want to thank all of you for your support in all of the activities  in which we have been involved. That is, some of you have been very involved on the tournament scene and done very well. When I have been available you have been eager to go out on the courthouse lawn for our public display of your talents. Many will want to give me credit but it has all been you and your talent and abilities.

Bethea’s Karate Studio is filled with students who are special. That is, all of you can do anything you want as long as you are ready and willing to accept the challenge. Generally all who have enrolled in a karate class are ready and willing. Coupled with that is their acceptance of rules, discipline, and leadership of the Dojo. Our Dojo has the basic guidelines published in the Training Manual/Record. You should always refer to it if there is something that you are questioning.

Karate is the military art of self defense to protect and preserve your life and never to attack others on your own initiative. To do this an individual should be mentally, physically, and spiritually fit. Many of the old masters seemed to be sickly individuals who overcame there  problems through their training in the martial arts.

From L’il Dragons to the senior most student you have demonstrated that you can be the best at anything that you do. It is a matter of just getting in there and doing it. So, I will push for just that. Your best!


Special points of interest:

  • Dojo Coverage
  • Karate Terminology
  • What is Kata
  • Student of the Month
  • Graduates
  • Precious Life
  • Promotions
  • Karate History—Nakazato, Shugoro Sensei

Dojo Coverage

This is a special thanks to all of the senior students who covered classes while I was on Okinawa. First, Ms. Cole was special in everything coming together.  She is familiar with all of the Dojo operations and provided answers for whatever was wrong.

Mr. Lee was in to cover a classes with  the beginner kids. I know that he maintains a rather busy academic schedule at IUK.

Finally, Mr. Sylvester was the glue that brought it all together with the Li’l Dragons and other classes. I am traveling quite frequently and I truly appreciate the students steeping up and lending a hand. There is just not enough words to express my true and sincere appreciations to all of you.


Karate Terminology You Should Know

When you come into a karate school you begin hearing terms you’ve never heard. In our case the language most heard is Japanese. Following are some terms that you’ll hear:

  • Dojo - way hall/karate gym
  • Sensei - teacher
  • Uke - to receive/block
  • Zuki - punch
  • Rei - to bow
  • Dachi - stance
  • Seiza no kamae - kneeling poature
  • Kamae - posture
  • Geri - kick
  • Gyaku zuki - reverse punch
  • Seiken zuki - forefist punch
  • Uraken - backfist
  • Mae Geri - front kick
  • Yoko Geri - sidekick
  • Mawashi Geri - roundhouse kick
  • Hiza - Knee
  • Empi - elbow
  • Jodan - upper level
  • Chudan - middle level
  • Gedan - lower level
  • Domo arigato - thank you
  • Do Itashi Mas Te - you’re welcome
  • Konban wa - good evening
  • Konichi wa - good afternoon
  • Sayonara - goodbye
  • Sumi mas sen - excuse me
  • Matte - stop
  • Owari - finish


What Kata Is

Kata has always been very interesting to me. This is especially so when I look back ay my days as a beginner in the Dojo when I first began my study of karate. During those days I could learn the movements in a kata during one class. I remember reading in the Dojo that it took the Okinawans 3 to 4 years to learn one kata. Reading that I immediately began to question the intelligence of the Okinawans. Yes, I thought that I was a genius because I could learn the kata in one night.

Now, 49 years later I have learned that I was the dunce in the Dojo. Learning the movements in the kata is simple. There is very little time required for learning the movements in the kata. The inner workings of the kata requires some intense study. It is extremely difficult to go into the kata and extract the defenses.

Kata consists  of sweeps, throws, grappling, choking, and striking techniques. Rarely does a student of karate begin to understand what the kata is doing as they begin learning it. Karate is the military art of self defense to protect and preserve your life. That’s kata!


Student Of The Month

Well, it is that time again to select the Student Of The Month and it was tough. I have quite a few who were contenders but just did not have the attendance.

So, I have selected Ms. Emma LaMons as Student Of The Month for this issue. Ms. LaMons continually distinguishes herself through constant training to improve herself and to help others to improve themselves in growing their karate. She remains very competitive and does extremely well in that arena. She is constantly in class and does not neglect to follow those standards that have been set. There are instances in which I have had her work with lower ranked students and she has done well in working with them on the assigned material.

It is with great pride that I have chosen Ms. LaMons as Student Of The Month. Along with this selection I am confident that she will become an outstanding Black Belt and a great asset to Shorinkan Karate. Congratulations on your selection as S. O.M.


Congratulations To Our Graduates

Many will note that we have begun doing our graduations on a bi-monthly basis. This came about at the beginning of the year after some deep thought in the manner in which we were measuring progress of students. The results have been very good and the students are far more prepared than in the past. The measuring process is similar to what takes place at school.

September’s graduation included our first Kobudo testing. I must say that I was well pleases with the results of the testing. There was only one student for Karate testing and three for Kobudo testing.

  • Molly Sipes - Ku-Kyu - Karate
  • Collin Earl - Rok-Kyu - Kobudo
  • Emma LaMons - Rok-Kyu - Kobudo
  • Wyatt LaMons - Rok-Kyu - Kobudo

I must say that I am well pleased with the progress of all of these individuals. They showed their true spirit in training.

New is that Kobudo ranking will be the designated belt color with a black stripe through the middle of it. That is 6th kyu = yellow; 5th kyu = green; 4th kyu = purple; and the remaining ranks = brown. The black belt will not at this time carry any significant markings. 

My special congratulations to all of you and I encourage you set your goal and go for it. The sky is the limit.


Precious Life

I was sitting on the airplane in Detroit waiting for the flight to block from the airport and head for Japan. I was getting ready to shut my phone off when it rang and I got the dreaded news. It was Mrs. Bridges calling to tell me that Paul had passed.

Mr. Bridges was a brave and courageous man who knew what was ahead. He also knew that there was nothing that he could do about it but accept it and be prepared for the outcome. The outcome was what is inevitable for all of us.

Life is such a precious commodity being devalued by a ruthless segment of society. However, most of us still love this precious life and want to hold on to it for as long as we can. Paul talked to me numerous times about things that he did that may have played a part in his demise. The good is that he knew God and was ready and willing to accept the date of September 25, 2015.
Today he would say only that we should get ready because as good as life is it has to end somewhere. I love you all and I’ll see you when you get there.


Brading Promoted to Godan on Okinawa

Very few of my students have had the opportunity to test for upgrade with Sensei. This was a wish come true for Mr. Brading I am happy for him.

I arrived on Okinawa Saturday night and my meeting with Sensei was scheduled for Sunday. It was then that the test was scheduled for Wednesday at 1:00p m. Although questionable, I also tried to schedule a time for Mr. Brading to meet Nakazato, Shugoro Sensei. Minoru Sensei told me on Tuesday that it should be alright to have a brief moment with Sensei. From that point forward we did nothing but enjoy the hospitality of the Okinawans.

On Wednesday Mr. Brading was ready for testing and we were ready for class. Testing went very well and Sensei was well pleased with Mr. Brading’s kata performance. Kata performed were Chinto and Kusanku Dai. Sensei was intense as he watched but when done he was well pleased. Mr. Brading did get to meet Nakazato, Shugoro Sensei. Congratulations!


Karate History- Nakazato, Shugoro Sensi

I am sitting here on Okinawa writing this newsletter and it is historic. It is historic in that I have two of three of my most senior students with me and one is here for his first time. Secondly, I met with my Sensei today who is perhaps the oldest living Grand Master on Okinawa. Sensei is 95 years old and is doing very well. It is most admirable to sit and look at him interacting with us at that age. He looks very strong and is very alert to all that is going on around him. Yes, his son uses a sound device to speak to him but he is most certainly alert to all that is going on. Few of us may live to be that age but it is worth aspiring to get there. As said earlier in this newsletter, life s a precious commodity and we should cherish it while we live.

Nakazato, Shugoro Sensei has always tossed some life lessons over the years as I have visited and/or trained with him. However, when we are young those lessons never register. Then, as we begin to grow older and become more spiritual we begin to smell the roses. Don’t honestly know what Sensei’s faith background is but mine is Christianity.

Nonetheless, as we talked today it was so reminiscent of my last day on Okinawa in 1967. The conversation was different and with me doing all of the talking. It was me thanking Sensei for his teaching and mentoring me into manhood. I was 22 when I began training but had a lot to learn about life and being a man. It is so funny how we run rampant for so long and then life changes. What worse is if you don’t get there to make the change. Nakazato Sensei was appreciative of the time spent and wished us well as we departed his home. My Sensei!


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October 2015Newsletter - Printable Version