Karate club focuses on lifestyle, not belts

Ever since he stepped foot on campus, junior Jonathan Ebersole had dreams of starting an Eastern karate club. Now, two years later, he is the leader of an official, SGA-approved club that meets three times a week.

On Wednesdays, the karate club meets from 6-8 p.m. in the Eagle Great Room, on Fridays they work from 3:15 to 5:15 p.m. in the Gough Great Room and on Saturdays they are back at Eagle, practicing from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

To be part of the karate club, interested students just need to show up.

“All you have to do is come once a week,” Ebersole said. “Just have an open mind, be willing to learn and have a good attitude.”

Ebersole said the club does perform traditional martial arts, but nothing like what people may expect based on what they see on television.

Club meetings typically feature a callisthenic workout for a half hour or 45 minutes, followed by sessions on strong, simple skills, such as punching, blocking and kicking. The meetings are capped off with new techniques.

“It’s not just about kick-punching; it’s about making good people,” Ebersole said. “A lot of what we do is joint manipulation; hitting weak parts.”

Ebersole began practicing karate before high school and attended a special school in Kansas City, Mo., where he was taught advanced techniques, but more importantly, to have a strong character.

“We do not promote belts, because I want to promote their attitude, not their ego,” Ebersole said, explaining why he does not wear his black belt. He believes karate is more about being a good person and increasing mental toughness than what color belt one earns.

Ebersole explained that the emphasis on character comes from the word karate. It is actually two words, “kara” and “te,” that mean “helping hand.”

“If your heart’s good, your hand is going to be good,” Ebersole said.

“We don’t do self-defense,” he said. “What we do is life preservation. We try to protect the life, both mentally and physically, of both the attacker and the defender. It’s a demonstration of not only skill, but of character.”

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