Two local karate students earned black belt rankings this summer.
Kathy Hocker was awarded the rank of second-degree black belt, and Bruce Abel attained a first-degree black belt ranking after a series of tests held in August, conducted by the International Shotokan Karate Federation (ISKF).
Examinations were held at the ISKF-Alaska Summer Camp in Birchwood, just outside Anchorage, and also at the Juneau Shotokan Karate Club. The tests require students of all ages and ranks to demonstrate their proficiency in the areas of fundamental blocking and striking techniques (kihon), defending oneself against an opponent (kumite) and performing a pre-arranged series of blocks and strikes against imaginary multiple opponents (kata). Hocker and Abel have spent many years learning the traditional Japanese art of self-defense, and practicing Shotokan karate's guiding principles.
Hocker was among 20 students from Juneau who attended the ISKF-Alaska Summer Camp. Her test for the rank of Nidan required her to engage in free sparring with an opponent, an activity reserved for advanced students. The ISKF-Alaska Summer Camp offered instruction, training and examinations with two honored guest instructors, both senior ISKF officials: Cathy Cline and Hiroyoshi Okazaki.
Cline, the highest ranked woman in the ISKF organization, also visited Juneau to teach and conduct testing.
Hocker, a fine artist, also created a design for the Alaska Summer Camp shirts. The design for the shirts included Orca whales, an Alaska flag design and wording celebrating 50 years of statehood. On the back of the shirt appeared the Japanese calligraphy for "Never Attack First," one of the guiding principles of Shotokan karate, and the theme of the summer camp.
The calligraphy was created by ISKF Chairman and founder Master Teruyuki Okazaki. Students learn the guiding principles - aimed at improving character and promoting responsible behavior - at the same time that they are learning the physical elements of self defense.
Abel tested in Juneau for the first level of black belt or Shodan, and when examination results were announced, Abel was presented with a black belt by the chief instructor of the Juneau club, Diana Stevens, and congratulated by assistant instructor Doug Murray.
The Juneau Shotokan Karate Club welcomes all people age 7 and older. The club has been serving the Juneau community since 1983. It is affiliated with the non-profit International Shotokan Karate Federation (ISKF). The Juneau Shotokan Karate Club also is affiliated with the 4H Clubs of America through the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service. For more information please call 790-4199 or visit www.juneaushotokan.org.