A karate studio is known as a dojo and one of Santa Monica’s finest dojos is located in back of a Starbucks on Ocean Park Boulevard. Shorinji-ryu Renshinkan Karate shares the space with a Brazilian capoeira (also a martial art) studio. On Saturday mornings and Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, William Candelario, the shihan or instructor, trains both kids and adults in the art of karate.
Candelario has studied martial arts for over 25 years, often traveling to Japan and other countries to keep his skills sharp and to maintain close relations to the Grand Master of Renshinkan in Japan. Renshinkan is a relatively new form of karate, founded in 1955 by Isamu Tamotsu, who combined several earlier forms of karate with other martial and gymnastic arts to create the new form. Since 2007, Japan has been holding an international competition each year and this year, several of Candelario’s students are going to Japan to compete.
“I teach ages five to up to about 14 right now, as well as adults,” said Candelario. Five of the kids as well as eight-ten adults are going to the Renshinkan International Championship of Martial Arts. The students chosen have green, brown, and in a few cases, black belts. As Candelario explained, the belts indicate proficiency in this order: white is for beginners, then come yellow, blue, green, purple, brown, and black.
The kids who were chosen for the competition have reached their levels through many years of training. “We saw the kids [who have the best ability] to win the competition,” said Candelaria. “I measure their work in school, too. If they’re good in school, they have the opportunity to come with us.”
The team will be leaving in late July and the competition is not to take place until August 1. But Candelario observed that six months “is not too much time to train. It’s a very high level of competition.”
This reporter watched through a window as the Japan Team went through their Tuesday afternoon workout. Candelario’s assistant shouted commands (actually numbers in Japanese), and the students assumed the stances, which included such moves as hopping on one foot while aiming the other foot. Even the youngest and smallest students seemed remarkably agile—which is what all that training does.
Some of the young team members talked with the Mirror. Briana Ten Houten, age nine, is a “purple belt” and recalled that she began studying two years ago. “The hardest thing,” she said, “is getting the form right.”
Matthew Proft, an eleven-year old brown belt, agreed with Briana. “There really isn’t anything easy about karate. Some things are easier than others.” He did not recall ever having an injury or physical problem from working out at karate.
Kyralai Duppel, age nine, is a “green belt.” She has also been studying for two years and said that, while karate helps her feel more confident, she isn’t sure if she “should use it or not” in cases where she gets hassled by others.
Kyralai and George Juarez, a seven-year old “green belt” were excited to be going to Japan, but admitted to having some trepidation because they don’t speak Japanese.
For further information please contact Stacy at California Renshinkan, 310.259.6716.
Mirror Contributing Writerlynne@smmirror.com