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Lahaina karate students earn black belts

By BY WALTER CHIHARA - | Jun 4, 2021

From left, Hanan Oleiwan, Michella Cabingas, Sensei Charles Lee and Caehlaen Wyatt Balmores celebrate after the exam.

LAHAINA — Three young Lahaina martial artists achieved a milestone in their lives as they took the Japan Karate Shotokai Shodan (first degree black belt) exam two weeks ago at the Lahaina Hongwanji Mission grounds.

Michella Cabingas, Caehlaen Wyatt Balmores and Hanan Oleiwan have been practicing the traditional martial art of Shotokan Karate Do at the Lahaina Dojo for four years and persevered to achieve the coveted ranking.

Japan Karate Shotokai Hawaii Chief Instructor Charles Lee (Rokudan or sixth degree black belt) administered the examination aided by Lahaina Dojo Chief Instructor Walter Chihara and instructors Glen Delatori and Dave Barca.

The mentally and physically grueling test involved basic technique followed by the formal exercises of karate known as kata. Traditionally, these are followed by kumite, or free sparring, but due to COVID-19 guidelines, this was waived in this exam.

Cabingas, 15, is the daughter of Lisa and Michael Cabingas and a sophomore-to-be at Lahainaluna High School.

Balmores is the son of Everett and Criselyn Balmores and a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Lahaina Intermediate School.

Oleiwan is the daughter of Sisca and Yassin Oleiwan and a fifth-grader at King Kamehameha III Elementary School.

Michella and Caehlaen fully passed the requirements for Shodan ranking, while Hanan attained temporary status and will retake the exam in six months.

At the conclusion of the exam, Lee Sensei expressed his satisfaction with the examinees and advised them to continue their dedicated practice of the art.

“They did well, and I will come back in six months to review the exam. So please continue to train diligently,” he said.