comscore Karate class teaches discipline, respect | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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Karate class teaches discipline, respect


    @Caption1:Brad Suzuki and Marisa Kanegawa shadow box during a workout at the Universal Kempo Karate Schools in Pearl City.


Kick, jab, punch! Not having any formal martial arts training, I’ll admit that checking out Martin Buell’s kempo karate class was a bit intimidating, but upon arrival, I was welcomed into the group and my insecurities quickly disappeared. There were people of all ages, genders, shapes and sizes, and like me, many with little experience.

Universal Kempo Karate Schools

>> Location: 98-713 Kuahao St. (behind Buzz’s Steakhouse, at the end of the cul-de-sac next to Pearl City Florist)
>>Schedule: Adult classes are offered on Mondays and Wednesdays; and on other days at various locations. Youth classes are also available
>> Attire: Uniform is required upon enrolling; if taking a free introductory lesson, wear comfortable clothing
>> Contact: 630-8068; email or visit

Before class starts, everyone is encouraged to shake hands and greet one another as a show of respect.

Basic self-defense measures were introduced after we completed a warm-up session that included jumping jacks and stretching exercises. A prayer is also recited at the beginning and end of each class. Chinese Kempo Karate blends aspects of karate, judo, jiujitsu, grappling, muay thai, weapons and boxing arts.

"Discipline, humility and respect are emphasized," explained Terri Smith, an eighth-degree black belt. "You don’t need to maintain a certain level of fitness to begin training."

Students train at their own pace according to ability. My first lesson was how to escape an attacker’s grip. If a person grabs your wrist, for example, you might swing that arm overhead and strike down on the attacker’s forearm with the opposite hand. I practiced several techniques with Smith before moving on to building up my blocking, kicking, punching and jabbing skills. I liked the one-on-one attention, which made it less formidable. Once you get the basics down, you are integrated into the class with everyone else.

The class teaches self defense and awareness of the body parts as instruments. For example, Smith demonstrated how knees and elbows can become strong weapons in crisis situations.

One of my favorite parts of the class involved the sharing of karate’s values, with weekly lessons encouraging humility, gratitude, understanding and forgiveness.

Over time, this class would surely make me physically fit. Many of the exercises require strength and endurance, in addition to training the mind to be alert. The punching and kicking alone are a perfect form of stress relief. I left feeling a bit stronger, with a good dose of confidence. And that was just from one class.


Reach Nancy Arcayna at or call 529-4808.

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