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Lahaina Dojo karate students earn black belts

By Staff | Aug 30, 2018

Pictured at the exam are (from left): Hoen Hironaka, Kokoro Yamazaki, Charles Lee, Dania Oleiwan and Ayumu Hironaka; back row — Clint Parola, Jacob Arakawa, Michele Di Bari, Gina Parola and Afnan Oleiwan.

LAHAINA – It was a momentous occasion for nine martial arts practitioners from the Lahaina Dojo of the Japan Karate Shotokai as they culminated years of study, including intensified training over the last ten months, with dan (black belt) examinations two weeks ago at Lahaina Civic Center.

The students, ranging in age from seven to 50 years old, have all practiced under Chief Instructor Walter Chihara (Yondan, Fourth Degree Black Belt) and Instructor Glen Delatori (Nidan, Second Degree) at Lahaina Dojo for five to 15 years.

Testing for Shodan (First Degree) were Ayumu Hironaka (age seven), Hoken Hironaka (11), Dania Oleiwan (ten), Afnan Oleiwan (12), Kokoro Yamazaki (12), Michele Di Bari (45), Gina Parola (45) and Clint Parola (50). Jacob Arakawa tested for Nidan at age 25.

Administering the testing was an examination board headed up by JKS Hawaii Chief Instructor Charles Lee of Honolulu, who holds the rank of Shichi Dan (Seventh Degree Black Belt). He was joined by Lahaina Dojo instructors Chihara Sensei, Delatori Sensei, Dave Barca (First Dan), Kevin McMenomy (First Dan) and Vadim Gorokhovski (First Dan).

The grueling, hour-long exam included kihon (basic techniques), kata (forms) and jyu kumite (free sparring). The kata portion of the exam was particularly difficult for the students, as they were asked to perform three forms – including two random choices from Lee Sensei and their personal favorite.

In the end, Lee Sensei was pleased to announce that all nine had passed, although three of the students were required to return the next day for a post examination review and also go through a 30-day probationary period.

Nonetheless, all nine examinees wore relieved smiles on their faces upon receiving their black belts following the testing.

Lee Sensei added his approval in saying, “They all did well, and we understand that the students are understandably nervous, and we take this under consideration. Overall, their spirit was strong and that is the important thing.”

Chihara Sensei concurred: “I am very happy for all of the students who tested. Their spirit and determination was impressive, and their relentless desire showed through tonight. This really shows the support that they get from their parents and families is vital to their success in their martial arts pathway and in their approach to life in general.”