white belt

@ 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 !!

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