black belt life style

@ Kuro-Obi Open


Last week, at the first ever local Kuro-Obi Open, space fell short. People came from many places including out of state to compete in the open -a Shotokan Regional led by the regional leader himself, our Sensei Oquendo.

Upon arriving, proud parents and karatekas of all ages were out in the hotel’s courtyard awaiting for the doors to open. Volunteers from the Dojo ran around putting all last details in place.

For a first event, we will stand by the fact that it was a pretty successful one.



We had an amazing line up of Senseis, guests including international Sensei Carlos Vasquez from Venezuela, standing by to judge in the various divisions throughout the day.

For our family it was also a first : the four of us were in karategis, and the fifth -for reasons mostly of lack of coordination- had to be taken care of (thanks to my sister in law and her family for helping) while looking on at her not-so-distant future as a martial artist herself



Competing was the added bonus.

Although waiting our turn was long, we all did compete except for Jorge Jr. who, despite signing on for Kumite, had no opponent ready in his division to take on; instead, he helped as referee at one of the mats along with dad throughout the event.

Diego competed in both Kata and Kumite in his division, taking both gold medals.

As an adult beginner, Tabitha competed in Kata in her division taking also gold.

I competed in both Kata and Kumite, taking silver and gold respectively; though my Kata I am told was more precise and technically clean, it was not a par in difficulty with the opponent’s during the last round of exhibition.

Sensei Oquendo was pleased, tired, and we truly thank him for hosting us all at this event, and for his continued commitment to the development of his karatekas of all ages.

Many more competitions, including Tokyo 2020, to come…

Remember, as Mahatma Gandhi once said : “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from indomitable will.”

You too can  BE BLACK BELT !    OSS !!

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

5 Reasons


The five reasons why Martial Arts is the best fitness program for adults :

  • Better self confidence: This reason tops the list. Due to the goal setting, positive encouragement and respect for values that are part of all martial arts programs, the greatest benefit usually reported by martial arts students is greater self confidence. You become more comfortable in all situations – whether you’re in danger or simply doing a task that takes you beyond your comfort zone — and you’ll discover you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.
  • Total body workout: Martial arts is a high-aerobic workout that uses every muscle group in the body. Your stamina, muscle tone, flexibility, balance and strength will improve with martial arts.
  • Stress relief: In martial arts you get to kick, punch and shout(Kiai), which is a great stress release no matter what your age.
  • Reach and maintain your healthy weight: Due to the total-body nature of a martial arts workout, tons of calories are burned during every class. However, you’ll also find that your natural eating signals become better regulated so food cravings will disappear and you’ll eat less portions with more frequency as a result you will have less fat and more muscle tone.
  • Learn self-defense skills: Unlike any other form of exercise, with martial arts you learn potentially life-saving self-defense skills.