Ki [ 黄 ]

It has been a challenging first 4 months practicing Shotokan.

First, being post-partum and recently having had a cesarean section; truth is that it probably causes certain strains that I would not otherwise be experiencing. I am very much used to putting my body through the strains and stresses of any athlete, but my body does feel much more tired and less stable since giving birth, especially in and around the incision.

Second and in direct relation to the first, having a baby; I am lucky that I have a dedicated daddy in Mr. Benavides, and he picks up Victoria in order for me to train. The only way I can train is by heading directly to the Dojo from work, and hoping for the best when it comes to traffic on southbound I-4 so I do not arrive obscenely late to class.

Third, in direct relation to the above -I am exhausted. Every day. Every week. All things at home plus getting back to work. Victoria still gets up at night sometimes, and my weekdays start then as early as 4 AM. By the time 4 PM comes around I am dragging, and I train Shotokan 6-7 PM, to then get home and take care of Victoria plus get everything ready for the next day… Imagine what is like for me to get to Thursday…

Add to this research and all things that I am doing for my ‘other’ work; fortunately this last item is more mental than physical, perhaps balancing it all out. I do lots of this work during my lunch hour or in the wee hours of the weekend -when everyone is still asleep.

Similarly to Bikram, in Shotokan it is as much physical and external as it is mental and internal. To learn to not allow your body to control your mind, but learn to use your mind to control and tame your body… both practices are very challenging, and both do something that I truly enjoy : unveil -revealing- your true essential self.


Another reason to love the practice is that it is a Japanese; not only was it born in Japan but it also is learned in Japanese; commands are learned and are followed in the language. I have made the decision to take that a little further and learn the language in full. I have always had a fascination for that culture, so I say i am Japanese at heart.

Despite of it all, and all the tiredness, I do work hard in training. I go in there and push myself for an hour. I try to be there every day, but usually ends up being more like 3 times a week; part of it is that as exhausted as I am, Victoria is too by weeks’s end, I concede to her tiredness sometimes… opting to stay home.

When I train I do train hard because I want to be good. I have this amazing opportunity to have joined my husband in his dedication and self-discipline in martial arts, and I want to develop into a top martial artist, as he is: a Master of his practice. 



On that note, I truly want to thank my husband for introducing me to this lifestyle, also I am truly proud of my sister for adopting it when and for the reasons that she did, and thankful to both due to sharing it with their children. In the same, I am thankful to my Sensei for his dedication to his Dojo and his karateka students, and for his understanding of my particular situation; if my Sensei were not who and how he is, I probably would not be starting in this journey… it takes a certain kind of person, and a certain kind of energy, to help inspire a grown woman to put on a White Belt each day and practice with karateka students 25-30 years her junior.

This week I was elevated from White Belt to Yellow, or Ki [ 黄 ]. I do have a long road ahead, a couple of years to get to Black or Kuro [ 黒 ]but we all know… a Black Belt is the White Belt that never quit… I will not quit. I live in a household full of martial artists, and I have a daughter who was born for it… I will be there for her, as an example and as her biggest fan, when it’s her turn…



New to Practice – Week 1

A year later, after having declared I would start my martial arts training, I have finally gotten around to it. Originally set for 09/01/15, I got derailed by the more valuable condition of motherhood; I found out I was pregnant only days before that date. And having never practiced martial arts, practicing pregnant did not seem like a good idea.

I did stay active, but with activities my body was used to, like strength training and yoga.

Fast forward and pregnancy was easy, and birth was relatively painless. Now we, Mr. Benavides and I, have the most beautiful future black belt girl : Victoria Carolina. She will begin to train once she is two.

It is worth a mention that I chose to follow my husband to a new discipline : Shotokan. Read Back to my Roots post. Even though a novice, I can really appreciate the much more elevated levels of power and speed developed with this discipline, over Tae Kwon Do. Also I can appreciate more the way of competition within the World Karate Federation (WKF) over ATA’s structure.

In recent days, in fact, I was floored watching the WKF World Championship in Women’s Kata, and Rika Usami’s performance. It was fascinating to watch.

So, for my training week one : I watched Rika win ( a couple of times, maybe ), I took my 3 month old to the dojo, I started training both in Shotokan as well as in Krav style self-defense ( taught by my husband ), got myself a bruise the size of my entire big toe, and learned the entirety of the taikyoku shodan kata -now only to perfect it… Plus, milestone number 1 is in place : competition.

I will be competing in the Kuro-Obi Dojo Open in Central Florida.

The end goal is simple, and for that cheers!… to the Martial Arts lifestyle!!



-Tabitha. White Belt, Bikram Yoga Practitioner + Usui Ryoho Reiki Master

Back to my Roots

When I started practicing martial arts beyond practicing as a young kid with my father, many years ago, I started by practicing Shotokan Karate in Venezuela. I was young, was happy with practicing in a sensei friend’s garage, and had all of that newfound energy to live the martial arts lifestyle; it was a passion shared with friends, we encouraged each other, and we competed together.

The last 11 years I have spent practicing Tae Kwon Do, however in looking for that feeling of newness again, and in looking to learn more and develop myself more deeply  as a martial artist -you know, seeking that feeling of getting really excited to come to my Dojo “with an empty cup” again… I have returned to my roots. I have returned to Shotokan Karate.

In my new Dojo, Kuro-obi Dojo with Sensei Engerbert Oquendo, not only I feel renewed but I have become involved in helping my Sensei with the Dojo’s development. Not officially, but sharing with him my many years practicing. There, in addition to practicing, I am also training to compete again, as well as I am teaching a Krav-style Self-Defense class.

A piece of advice for those truly immersed, or looking to be, or those truly interested in living the martial arts lifestyle… take a moment to once in a while reflect on your reasons for practicing. Take a moment and re-assess your feelings, as well as re-establish your position as “a white belt that never quits”.

Remember that introspection is a big part of the martial arts lifestyle, and looking within should be a regular thing.

… That is what our ancient masters and grandmasters, of any discipline, would have wanted : that you never forget where you came from, why you are doing this, or where it is that you are going. Keeping all of that in mind, do not fear to proceed accordingly.


Be Black Belt!