Mind and body merge in karate

Laura Lorenz

Laura Lorenz

Under the watchful eye of their instructor, Sensei Gould, eight to 12 members, dressed in the traditional white Karate Gi or everyday workout attire, move methodically across the wood floor performing moves in time with Gould’s counts.

As they do a series of exercises from kicks to blocks, Gould moves up and down the line making small adjustments in their form and stance. Quiet intensity is mirrored on each member’s face as they listen and practice until each motion is done with ease.

The students prepared for a quarterly competition this past weekend at Central Elementary in Brookings. The competiton has been held in the ROTC building in previous years, but because of the remodeling there it was held at the school.

Sarah Christensen, a sophomore manufacturing engineering technology major said that 50-75 people participated in the competition. The first night included sword fighting.

“I had never done that,” Christensen said, “It was mainly black belts.”

Participants also took part in a Kyu test and DAN exam.

“Everyone on campus passed,” Christensen said.

Since 1964, members of the SDSU Shotokan Karate Club have enjoyed the physical and mental benefits of this martial art. Shotokan focuses on self-defense, where one learns to counterattack an opponent and then get away, and is different from the attack-focused style of other martial arts forms, such as Tae Kwon Do Christensen said.

Christensen, the club’s president and a black belt, has studied Shotokan for 12 years.

“It’s a good workout, and it’s fun,” she said. “You can meet new people and learn techniques to use in everyday life.”

Concentration is important, Christensen said.

“Shotokan is very center-focused; you need to have yourself centered and ready,” she said.

Adam Kimble, a sophomore pharmacy major and club treasurer, said he agrees that concentration is needed in order to practice Shotokan.

“You have to be prepared,” he said.

Kimble, who started studying Shotokan in September, said that he joined the club because he wanted to meet new people.

“It also looks good on my resume to be involved with extra curricular activities and have a leadership position,” he added.

The karate club hosts a number of events throughout the semester. Last weekend, two self-defense specialists came to host a self-defense workshop. Kimble said they showed how to protect oneself in an attack, and how to get away.

“I got to wear the padded suit for the demonstrations,” Kimble said.

Kimble and Christensen said the competition they are competing in is open to people from all over.

“Students compete in a series of tests in order to move up to the next color belt,” Christensen said.

There are also special classes that black belt students can take and learn how to give tests and teach classes to other students.

“As a black belt, I can take a class and learn how to teach Shotokan,” she said.

Kimble said that this will be his first quarterly.

“I hope I pass to the next color,” he said. “There’s also something called BBA, or Brown Belt Academy. It’s a program for the brown belt students to get ready to take their black belt test.”

Christensen and Kimble agreed that Sensei Gould is one of the most knowledgeable instructors around.

“He’s thought highly of by people in the class,” Christensen said.

“He also understands that students are here for a college education first, and that sometimes they can’t make it to practice because of scheduling conflicts,” Kimble said. “He expects us to get good grades.”

At the end of practice, the members line up in front of Sensei Gould to be dismissed. “Remember,” he tells them, “let your mind dominate over your body. If you want to do something, then just do it. The body follows the mind.”

The club meets every Tuesday and Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the Intramural Building in the Martial Arts room.

#1.885599:975755409.jpg:Karate 1 (Laura has name).jpg:Sarah Christensen, a black belt, concentrates during practice at the SDSU Karate Club. :Mike Carlson