What was your motivation in opening Saint-Cyr Dojo?
I have always had a love for Karate and have always believed in the importance of investing/giving back to the community. Opening the Saint-Cyr Dojo was an opportunity to do just that. My focus has always been to work with children and families. As a mental health therapist and social worker, I am able to work with people on an individual basis to help them achieve their goals. Through karate I am able to impact more lives and interact with people from many diverse backgrounds and life experiences. The dojo also allows me to expose people to this beautiful art that I love.
When did you begin your training in the martial arts?
I started training as child in 1980 in Spring Valley, New York. My father placed me in a Kyokushin school as a way to build up my self-confidence. I developed focus, discipline and a sense of accomplishment through rigorous hours of training. I reached the rank of 4th kyu when I took my first hiatus from training. Even though I stopped training at that time, I still thought about my personal goal of obtaining my black belt. In the 90′s, I had the opportunity to return and train again with Soshu Shigeru Oyama and some of his top instructors. As a matured student, I started coming into my own and excelling in my understanding and application of karate technique. I also started participating in tournaments as a way to test myself and techniques that I learned.
A torn patella tendon impacted my ability to train in 2002. At that time, I was informed by the doctors that, although I would make a recovery, I would never regain full power in my leg as a result of the injury. Discouraged but not deterred, I spent a lot of time working on rehabbing and strengthening my knee with a goal to return to training. I was finally able to do so and returned to some form of training in 2004.
I have had many beginnings each representing a different phase of maturity, understanding and dedication to my art. I think that all of these beginnings have helped mold me into the person I am today. Even now as I teach, I am at yet another beginning. I still have so much to learn and continue to learn through my individual training and my interactions with my students.
What did you do prior to opening your Dojo?
During my rehabilitation for my knee, I was blessed to have had the opportunity to cross-train in a couple of other disciplines. I also took time to go back to school where I received my Masters degree and then later obtain my clinical license in Social Work. When I came to North Carolina, I attempted to find a dojo home, but was unable to find anything that was convenient to me location and time wise. I was encouraged to open my own dojo and eventually started it in 2012.
What was your goal in opening Saint-Cyr Dojo and the direction you wanted it to take?
My goal with the Saint-Cyr Dojo is to be able impact those who may not otherwise have the opportunity to train and learn about martial arts. My desire is to build positive relationships and foster healthy mental and physical health through the martial arts. I strive to work with others interested in serving some of our diverse families and providing them with exposure to the arts. I want to be able to build champions in life. Through karate, I want to help build confidence that they can take into their everyday lives. I see the value and potential in all people and want to be able to play a small role helping to develop that. My vision is for the Saint-Cyr Dojo to be a safe and positive environment where people can come to work on improving themselves mentally and physically.