More than 50 students received awards at MojuKai Karate this past Feb. 17. Students were awarded advancements in rank, recognized for achieving academic excellence, for competition wins at the Gulf Coast Martial Arts Championship and for winning national championships in the 2019 tournament season.

Belt rank advancements were awarded to: Nate Alonzo (yellow belt), Greg Gabel (2nd yellow belt), Ryan Whiting (2nd yellow belt), Sadie Hopson (3rd yellow belt), Javiel Rivera (3rd yellow belt), Junior Foster (3rd yellow belt), Gabby Snyder (3rd yellow belt), Miya Avendano (2nd green belt), Ramone Luna (3rd green belt), Cheyenne Bryant (2nd brown belt), Isabella Bryant (2nd brown belt), Simba Liu (2nd brown belt), AJ Pearson (3rd brown belt) and Gabe Pearson 3rd brown belt).

Special promotions to the rank of Black Belt were awarded to Emily Scott, Gabriele Scott and Samson Liu. A very special rank of Honorary Black Belt was awarded toMichael Scott.

Students being recognized for academic excellence were: Gold Star (A honor roll) Cheyenne Bryant, Isabella Bryant, Blayde Darby, Emily Scott and Madison Rogers. Silver Star recipients (A/B honor roll) were: Isiah Alonzo, Nate Alonzo, Miya Avendano, Trent Gabel, Sadie Hopson, Delaney Kunkle, Samson Liu, Montana Mock, AJ Pearson, Gabby Scott, Michael Scott, John Gunter Senn and Samuel Song.

Being recognized for their wins at the Gulf Coast Martial Arts Championship in Crestview, Florida, were: Greg Gabel, Trent Gabel, Caleb Hopson, Sadie Hopson, Montana Mock, Javiel Rivera, Madison Rogers, Gabby Scott, Emily Scott, John Gunter Senn and Ryan Whiting.

MojuKai Karate also had 14 students complete the 2019 season with national championships. However, MojuKai owner and head instructor Lennis Darby said that competition is not what the school or his students focus on.

“We put the person first,” Darby said. “We expect each of our students to take responsibility for their conduct and character. If they can do that, the rest is easy.”

He goes on to explain that this is the essence of traditional Japanese karate. “Real Japanese karate has two objectives, both of them directly connected to the old Bushido code (Samurai code). The person must first learn to become better as a human being; this means learning how to direct their energy, focus and self-control. By honing those aspects first, we are actually teaching the student how to maintain control during stressful moments in their lives…such as when they are under attack and need to defend themselves. Learning the physical, martial skills is the second element. Both of these are necessary for effective self-defense.”

Darby goes on to explain that the academic awards are intended as a way to emphasize to his younger students that there are more important elements in their lives than extracurricular activities. “If we don’t contribute to their understanding that their education is important, then we are being negligent regarding their broader lives. Yes, we want them to be good in the physical skills that we teach, but their lives include much more than just karate. We want to be a part of their growth in every aspect, not just their skillsets.”

MojuKai Karate is located at 607 East Lee Street, at 334-475-3899, or on the internet at www.mojukaikarate.com.

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