Tokyo 2020

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…



Week 2, check.

Week 2 was as challenging as the first.

I began with a sharp deep pain in the inner part of the joint of my left knee -as if I were 90 years old. Not sure where that came from, as not even with Bikram Yoga it has ever happened before, but Mr. Benavides and Sensei Oquendo have assured me it will be gone… in a few years, maybe…

They say, and I quickly learn, there are just parts of the body never trained that are awakened with martial arts.

The very deep, squared-hip, sustained lounging and forward / backward travel of the zenkutsu-dachi ( 前屈立 ) and the kokutsu-dachi ( 後屈立 ), while learning my first kata : taykioku ( 太極 ) shodan -or chinese taiji, the ying and yang or the oneness before duality, are some of the most intensive tasks my body has physically endured. Also, working on creating the power that needs to be exerted to perform good striking techniques or uchi-waza ( 打ち技 ).


Also, this past week I tuned in to the approval of Karate as a competitive sport in Tokyo 2020, by the International Olympic Committee. Dreams of old Japan stirred up, and dreams of learning japanese, and a plan to be there -as spectators or in competition- is now set into motion for myself and the Kuro-Obi Dojo Team.


About the Team : we are a good one… We have everything from 40+ years in practice like Mr. Benavides, and 35+ years like Sensei Oquendo, to 10+ years in Engerbert Jr., Jorge Jr., Diego, and Enrique, and novices -like me.

I intend to, by then have reached my most optimal level before the Tokyo Olympic Games arrive, and that -by my calculations- means I could be a Black Belt 2nd Dan. I just have to keep doing what I am doing, work hard every day, and test as regularly scheduled every 3-4 months. In order to attend the U.S. Open however, and us all have any sort of shot to make an Olympic Team -to be structured- or become refs, we have to participate and compete and rise in various settings starting with our local / regional event on August 20, and work our way to other larger like other regions -in October competing in Altanta GA, the National championship, and international settings -like the Panamerican, European, and World championships.

For now, ONE day at a time…



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

Karate in Tokyo 2020

Yesterday, the International Olympic Committee made an unprecedented decision while in Rio’s 129th IOC session :

Karate as the newest competitive sport added to the lineup for the Olympic Games to take place in Tokyo 2020.


Incredible, a dream realized for martial artists around the globe.

After a lifetime training, imagine learning that your selection is now an Olympic selection -as the Spanish selection did (very publicly) yesterday.

Truth is, this is coming full circle for Karate and Karatekas, as Japan is its birth place and Tokyo is welcoming it, open arms.

We have partnered with Kuro-Obi Dojo to take the trip of a lifetime, and travel to Japan for he games; we will be working on fundraising soon and also, we will be working to bring an exhibition team of Shotokan from Florida, USA.

Do you want to join us? Then join our event page on Facebook – Kuro-Obi Dojo and Be Black Belt at Tokyo 2020 – for updates as we go. Contact Tabitha of Be Black Belt or Olclaris of Kuro-Obi Dojo if you have any questions.

Exciting things to come. Will you be a part of it?

Always remember… stay true to your practice, and Be Black Belt!