Karate class instills life lessons

Considering the crime-ridden reputation that surrounds Main Campus, perhaps taking a course in self-defense isn’t such a bad idea.

Although Michael McKeon only received two credits for taking karate, he said the course provided him with skills to last a lifetime.

“I learned more than just how to punch and kick,” McKeon, a 2013 Temple graduate who majored in physics, said. “I learned the philosophy behind the development of the technique and the method for proper training and execution. I learned the values of a practitioner of karate from three of the best instructors in the country.”

Fifty-two-year-old Sensei Hiroyoshi Okazaki has been teaching karate at Temple for more than 15 years.

“I was born in Japan, and then moved to Philadelphia when I turned 18,” Okazaki said.

“I came here to work with my uncle who actually created the course for Temple in the 1960s.”

Okazaki’s uncle, Master Teruyuki Okazaki, still educates beginners on the principles, ethics and rules of competition. He also offers an advanced class that teaches increasing concentration as well as body movement.

Experience is not a prerequisite, and is not even an advantage at that. Okazaki said he prefers students enter the course with a blank slate.

“We try to teach students what real martial arts is all about,” Okazaki said. “Nowadays, all you see and hear is about fighting. We are teaching from the basic psychological aspect.”

Okazaki explained how the grading process mixes mental and physical prowess.

“During the semester, we have two quizzes about the history of karate as well as the techniques,” Okazaki said. “For the final, they perform the sequence of movements they learned throughout the year.”

McKeon said that after enjoying the class immensely, he was inspired to join Temple’s Karate Club.

“As a former president of the Karate Club, I can say that I have had no more rewarding an experience at Temple,” McKeon said. “We dove into the history of the martial arts and tried to uncover the reasons why each move is carried out a certain way. We traveled up and down the East Coast for competitions, and recently as far away as Arizona. The combination of the club and class experiences helped me earn my black belt last May.”

For a fun athletic course to complement your roster, McKeon suggests signing up as soon as possible.

“I would recommend anyone passionate about exercise to try the class and also the club,” McKeon said. “There is nothing to lose and a world of knowledge to gain.”

While the health benefits are certainly intriguing, Okazaki revealed what he believes to be the main reason to practice martial arts: “Karate perfects your character.”

John Corrigan can be reached at john.corrigan@temple.edu.

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