Kiado-Ryu Karate

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Photo of the Week: Freedom Is Not Free

Freedom Is Not Free

Freedom is a great privilege. It is not a right, and it is neither free nor guaranteed. Furthermore, freedom can be lost if a person or a people become lazy, negligent, careless, cowardly, apathetic, entitled.

Following are a few poignant quotations from great men who understood the true price of freedom. These quotes are worth pondering and absorbing into the DNA of every man, woman and child who seek to be truly free. Notice the common threads woven through each of them.

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. A society that will trade a little order for a little freedom will lose both and deserve neither.

~ Thomas Jefferson

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

~ Thomas Paine

Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction.

~ Ronald Reagan

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must undergo the fatigue of supporting it.

~ Patrick Henry

No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation.

~ General Douglas MacArthur

History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.

~ General Dwight Eisenhower

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

~ Benjamin Franklin

Photo of the Week: Bob “Grinder” Schreck - Gentleman Black Belt

Bob "Grinder" Schreck - Gentleman Black Belt

Bob “Grinder” Shreck is the Sixth Black Belt of the Kiado-Ryu. He received his 1st Dan in 1988 and continued his studies for two more years, attaining a 2nd Dan designation.

Grinder is the epitome of undying effort and persistence. Because his work schedule would not allow him to attend group classes, Bob studied privately for eight years before attaining his Black Belt. His determination and ability to press on in the face of difficult life challenges make him a great inspiration for us all.

Bob Schreck is and has always been a true gentleman and exemplary human being. You can read more about him and all the Black Belts of the Kiado-Ryu.

Photo of the Week: Character Is More Important Than Victory

Character is More Important Than Victory

How strange it is in today’s world that victory at all costs is more important than one’s character. It seems as though the growing consensus of achievement in today’s culture is to cast the moral and ethical quality of one’s very being over the cliff in deference to lying, cheating, stealing, deceiving, misleading. The goal, apparently, is to win the temporal, ephemeral brass ring and forego one’s primal essence.

The reality, however, is that in doing so one loses twice-fold. The titles, trophies, lands, property, treasure chests of money and worldly trinkets one gains in the rush to “succeed” will all be left behind when one dies, but dies also is the purity of the energy of one’s eternal divine being. Such a devastating and foolish investment!

The philosophy of the Karate Institute of America is always to put character first, for without it all is lost in this world and beyond. Thus, character will always be, must always be, more important than victory.

Photo of the Week: Like Father, Like Daughters

It is always warming to see how KIA martial artists, who were once youngsters, have grown into adulthood and are now parents with their own children. This week’s Pic of the Week features one such very accomplished Kiado-Ryu Black Belt.

Chris “Growler” Grau is the 36th Black Belt of the KIA, having achieved his 1st Dan on 26 August 1995. Growler is now only one of two 4th Dan Kiado-Ryu Black Belts. The other is Dan “Basai” Asay. In the 2013 archive photo below, Growler is pictured with pre-test buddies Kim “Cultivator” Thomas and Tristan “Raptor” Ligtvoet as they were all moving up in rank. Cultivator continued his studies and now holds a 5th Dan rating and “Master Thomas” title. Raptor is working for his 2nd Dan Black Belt.

As each of us migrates through the highways and byways of our destinies, life changes. Growler, who is also our KIA webmaster, now lives in the northern San Diego area. He has a lovely wife, Christa, and two just-as-lovely daughters—Kaylee and Brenna. In his own words, here is Growler’s story accompanied by some very cool photos of his karate girls! Enjoy!

I started training at the KIA in April of 1991, at the age of 14, shortly after seeing one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies with my friends (based on the date, I think it was the second one). Like many young boys, I thought martial arts looked cool in the movies. Unlike most young boys, I was determined to learn it. Having received a flyer for the KIA upon leaving the theater, my mom let me try it out. I can still remember my first lesson, learning to punch while Steve Vertun held the striking shield for me and explained how to make a fist. My first instructor was Greg Bendel, who I credit for nurturing my appreciation for the finer details of karate.

Over the next few years, I would become what is frequently referred to as a Dojo Rat. I was on the floor, training as often as I could. I would take the regular classes, but I would augment that training with private lessons with Mr. King. In August of 1995, at the age of 18, I earned my black belt. Unfortunately, shortly afterwards, life took me away. I attended college at the University of California, San Diego, where I took classes in tai-chi and aikido. It was at this time that I started looking at the wider world of martial arts.

After college, I started building my career as a computer programmer. Having not found a suitable dojo (I took a free class at what is commonly referred to as a McDojo, but immediately hated it), I let martial arts fall by the wayside.

In January of 2006, I made the decision to resurrect my training. I knew Mr. King was still teaching students, so I started driving to Lake Forest once per week to train with him. Over the next eight years, I would recover my long neglected kata and work my way up to 4th dan. Once again, however, life got in the way and I had to stop making the weekly treks.

By this time, 2014, I was married and had two daughters. The oldest of which I had enrolled in a karate class at a local karate dojo. For several months, I would watch the classes, longing for regular training. Finally, I stepped onto the mat and started training with a new group of what are now good friends.

My new style is Kobayashi Shorin-ryu, which is the oldest style on Okinawa, the birthplace of karate. It has been a phenomenal two years, once again becoming a Dojo Rat, training consistently, and learning about the rich history and tradition of karate. I have been fortunate enough to train with some of the best karate practitioners in the world, through our association’s annual training camps. Soon, I hope to visit Okinawa to train and learn more about karate’s history.

This month, I earned my brown belt and am about a year away from testing for my black belt. Not only do I train, I help teach the kids classes. I have found that there is very little more fulfilling than teaching a child, watching them grow, and knowing that I have had some small influence in their character. Additionally, I am an assistant coach for our dojo’s fledgling competition team. We have our sights set on next year’s national competitions and even have a couple of students aspiring to compete in the 2020 Olympics, when karate will be officially included in the Tokyo games.

Kaylee, who was the first in my family to train at this dojo, has her gold belt and is excited to test for her orange belt on her 8th birthday at the end of this month.

Wouldn’t want to mess with her!

Brenna (age 5), who loves watching her big sister train, is an orange stripe, which is a mid-level rank between white and gold for the younger, “pee-wee” students.

Wouldn’t want to mess with her either!

Congratulations, Growler, on your newest endeavors and continued Martial Arts journey. We all support you in your life and look forward to featuring you when you get your 1st Dan in Kobayashi Shorin-ryu!

Photo of the Week: Great Quote for Life and War

Great Quote for Life and War

Sun Tzu’s quote regarding securing ourselves against defeat doesn’t just apply to war. It also applies to our emotional control, psychological balance, financial solvency, emergency preparation, and spiritual state of being on a daily basis.

So many of our problems in life are a direct result of our own negligence in not taking measures to construct the type of defenses—both internally and externally—that keep us safe . . . and undefeated.

Discipline, self-control, reflection, wisdom and forethought of the consequences resulting from our actions before we execute them are the structures and barriers securing us from defeat in life.

This is just another example of how Martial Arts is Life—the first principle addressed in The Black Belt Book of Life – Secrets of a Martial Arts Master.

Photo of the Week: A Barracuda From the Past

As is well known to KIA students, our current “Barracuda” is blue belt Zemia Garrett. However, in the early days of the KIA, Ryan Allen also claimed the callsign “Barracuda.”

Ryan studied with the Karate Institute of America from approximately 1989 to 1991. He achieved his Orange belt under the tutelage of KIA Black Belt Greg “Maddog” Bendel, one of the KIA’s chief instructors at the time.

To this day, Ryan “Barracuda” Allen has wonderful memories of the KIA. He says,

“I took many great wisdoms from the KIA that I apply to my life daily and have been for years. The place (KIA) was so very stable and had so many wonderful people and great leadership.”

During the last quarter century, Ryan has led an exciting and mercurial life. Being a lover of flying, Ryan landed a job with Delta airlines in January of 2001. He began as a feeder carrier pilot flying 30 passenger turboprops and later moved to 50, 70, 90 passenger jets and then on to the “big time.” As he says, he’s now a “big time airline guy.” In other words, a “Black Belt level commercial pilot!”

Ryan and his wife, Mara, have three kids – Kate, Cullen and Reagan. Cute photos below.

Mara with youngest daughter Reagan.

Cullen and Kate. What cute kids!

Ryan taking time to relax in the great outdoors.

Ryan is now 43, has been studying Kajukenbo for two years with a goal to achieve his Black Belt rating by age 50, which I’m sure he will do!

How great it is for the KIA’s former students to reconnect and share their life updates with us. We are extremely proud of Ryan for taking the time and having the grace to let us know how his life and destiny have unfolded, obviously with great success – personally and professionally. We wish him, Mara and the kids a beautiful and happy future. Thanks, Ryan!

Photo of the Week: A Truly Inspirational KIA Heroine

A Truly Inspirational KIA Heroine

With Sue Lansdon, Inspirational Heroine

We meet many people in our lives, but some remain friends forever. Too, some of our friends are truly inspirational. Sue Lansdon, who was an instrumental force in the early days of the Karate Institute of America, is one such person.

Before her destiny moved her in a different direction, Sue attained the rank of Green belt. She was also an integral part of the KIA Demonstration Team back in the early 80s.

Mr. King had the opportunity to reconnect with Sue. Such great stories were shared and, of course, updates on each of the families. Sue also shared that she is battling cancer. However, in telling her story there was no “poor me,” or “Sadie sad face.” Rather, she exhibited a sense of balance, strength, calmness and courage that is truly inspirational. She said she didn’t mind her story being shared, so read on and be impressed. These are her actual words . . .

“It was great seeing you this week. What a blessing to share memories with you!

“My journey is never a secret. The ups and downs are lessons for me and anyone who wants to use them may, so feel free to share whatever you feel will benefit others about the cancer.

“You mention that it is a ‘struggle,’ and I guess it seems like that sometimes but, truthfully, for the most part I don’t choose to focus on the struggle as much as the growth opportunities and blessings I get from what God gives me.

“You know the famous saying from Mother Theresa,

“I know God won’t give me more than I can handle, I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.

“Well, sometimes I feel that way, but when I do I stop and look at what I get from all that ‘trust.’ This ‘cancer thing’ has brought my family closer together and made us all appreciate each other and our time together much more. People I haven’t seen in years are coming to visit me. People I didn’t think cared about me with more than just a ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ sent me flowers. People come to me on almost a daily basis and share stories of inspiration and healing, and I am getting flooded with good thoughts and prayers from all over the place. That’s just awesome!

“Cancer is just a name given to a process that is taking place in all of us. We are all here for a limited time. We are all going on to our next adventure at some point. Cancer is not going to take me, God is, and will do so in His time and in His way. I fully expect to be here for many more years! In the meantime, I will make the best of the time He gives me and do the best I can with what I have. I am blessed and I know it.”

Pretty amazing, huh? Thanks for the inspiration, Sue. You’re absolutely awesome! Our thoughts, prayers and blessings from all of us at the Karate Institute of America are with you as you conquer this challenge. We look forward to more great memories!

Photo of the Week: Goldilocks & the Brown Bears

One of the wonderful aspects of the Karate Institute of America is the number of enduring relationships created over the years. One of the most precious is that of “Goldilocks and the Brown Bears,” i.e., Nicole Hackler, Lori and Jenny Brown.

Goldilocks & The Brown Bears

From left to right: Jenny, Nicole, Lorie. Summer, 2016, SoCal

This summer Nicole had a chance to visit SoCal and she was able to connect with her KIA buddies, Lori and Jenny. Of their relationships, Goldilocks writes:

A true example of a friendship borne of the KIA, and one that is still very much alive and kicking after 21+ years! Can you believe it’s been that long? There wouldn’t BE this incredible friendship without the catalyst of the KIA!

How sweet their relationship is! And how grateful we are to have these terrific ladies as part of our ever-enduring Karate Institute of America legacy.

Photo of the Week: Just Call Her “Nuke”

She’s known to her friends as Lauren; to her former AP teachers as Ms. Haller; to her boyfriend, Kiado-Ryu Black Belt #64, Tristan “Raptor” Ligtvoet, as his gorgeous girlfriend. However, to the Karate Institute of America she’s known by her callsign, “Nuke.”

Why “Nuke?” Just take a couple of her back kicks to any part of your body and you’ll know why, painfully, if not worse! That is if you’re still standing . . . and conscious.

Lauren “Nuke” Haller was an athlete and honor student in high school; now off to college. She’s an excellent example of what it is to be a self-motivated, responsible, respectful, intelligent, mature, hard working and optimistic young woman. Always manifesting an embracing smile, Nuke is a tribute to those of her generation.

Nuke learning the basics of punching.

Raptor and Nuke—a well-suited and gorgeous couple. Having met in high school, they are now off to college!

How beautiful is this couple! Here they are on prom night. Those smiles are truly genuine. No false posing here.

And another one just for fun. So purely innocent.

These two young people—Lauren Haller and Tristan Ligtvoet—are the kind of individuals that give hope to humanity. They are both highly intelligent, kind, caring, respectful, responsible, honest, hard-working, and loyal. Both of them are 1st Class all the way.

The KIA has been extremely blessed to have Raptor and his family as part of our family for a decade. Now, his loving girlfriend, Lauren, is joining him at the KIA.

Nuke did not get her callsign for being wimpish. And she didn’t name herself. She earned that moniker as a result of the immense raw power she generates. And don’t be fooled by that beautiful smile. Lauren “Nuke” Haller is one tough chick you definitely want on your side! We at the KIA are grateful to have her join our martial arts family and look forward to sharing in her Kiado-Ryu progress.

Photo of the Week: A Touch of Picasso at the KIA

This is fun. Mike Shamassian, Hannibal’s father, applied a little Picasso artistry to several photos of his daughter’s Purple Belt test. They’re very unique! Enjoy.

Hannah and her father, Mike

Hannah’s brother, Josh; Mrs. Shamassian; Mr. King

Hannah, Master Thomas, Tristan Ligtvoet, Mr. King

Hannah and Mr. King