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How I Started Karate

I turned 49 last month. I started practicing Karate about 33 years ago. It seems like a long time ago, but also like only yesterday.

I began practicing at the Adult Recreation Center at Hickam Air Force Base, here in Hawaii. I lived nearby, and would walk to the dojo or ride my bike.

I learned about the class from a friend in Boy Scouts. His name was Chris Crisler. I was already practicing Judo, but one day he told me that I should come and watch this class. I think he was already in it.

The class was taught by Florentino S. Pancipanci, and his senior students. The emphasis was on very practical self-defense. They also rolled in the class (on the cement floor) and did throws and take downs. Because of my Judo experience (I had also trained for about three or four years in Japan), I was drawn to the training.

So I joined the class. I was very active in Boy Scouts, but as the years went by, Karate became a bigger and bigger part of my life. By the time I graduated from high school, I was out of scouting and teaching Karate part-time. I actually taught through my undergraduate years at the University of Hawaii and my master's program at Northwestern (in Evanston, Illinois).

I was engaged in high school. My fiance and later wife, Nayna, would come to class to collect the tuition. I remember that at one time, I had over 50 students at Hickam. This was when I was still in high school. Looking back, I was too young and inexperienced to teach. But such is life.

So after 33 years, how has my Karate training changed? I used to train mostly with my arms and legs. Now I train more with my stomach (hara)!

And after 33 years, I think that I am beginning to actually scratch the surface of Karate. Maybe I am starting to get the first syllable. "Ka."

I don't know what happened to my friend Chris, from Boy Scouts. But I am very grateful to him for taking me to my first Karate class. Sometimes a small act can set things in motion that last a lifetime.


Charles C. Goodin