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‘Achieving strength through harmony’

Okinawan Karate and Kobudo students demonstrate their skills to a crowd. OKK recently performed at Military Appreciation Day and will have several members perform Sunday at the former Bremerton Junior High School gymnasium. - Courtesy photo
Okinawan Karate and Kobudo students demonstrate their skills to a crowd. OKK recently performed at Military Appreciation Day and will have several members perform Sunday at the former Bremerton Junior High School gymnasium.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Okinawan Karate and Kobudo (OKK) has been open since 1994, but the winds of change are blowing through the dojo.

Donna Cressman and her husband, Tom, took over OKK in 2005. Cressman’s husband and daughter attend the martial arts school. She previously worked in Seattle and was ready for a change.

“I was tired of being over there and wanted to do meaningful work,” Cressman said.

OKK teaches Family Matsumura Seito Shorin-Ryu Karate which began in Okinawa.

“It’s a style that’s very centered and grounded,” said Guy Shinkaruk, BBA program director and first-degree black belt.

The style consists of high stances, quick hand techniques, kicks and numerous kata. Matsumura Seito Shorin-Ryu was refined in Okinawa during the early 18th Century.

“Almost every kind of karate around the world pretty much stems from Okinawa,” Cressman said.

OKK currently has 138 members ranging from 4 to 85 years old. The instructors teach youth and adult group classes as well as private lessons. Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Wushu and Hungar also are taught at OKK.

“Karate is good for physical health but also good for character,” Shinkaruk said.

OKK recently launched the Black Belt Academy (BBA). A description of the BBA has been in the school’s handbook for years, but they officially started the group about six months ago.

“All of the main things we needed have been in here (handbook) for a long time, but only existed in thought,” Shinkaruk said.

OKK students are invited to join the group. They must complete an application and interview before becoming a BBA member. BBA works to prepare students to someday become instructors and leaders, both in the dojo and the community. BBA students are looked up to as role models in the dojo and throughout the community.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to see what we can do and a good chance to help out the community,” said Preston Medley, 10, BBA sergeant at arms.

BBA members organize and participate in community service events. Drew Young, 13, serves as BBA treasurer and recently completed a community service event as part of BBA. Young raised $600 and participated in Relay For Life for his 5-month-old cousin who was recently diagnosed with cancer. BBA plans to organize a Relay For Life team at next year’s event and looks to adopt a park, road or highway to clean up.

“We do stuff to give back,” Young said. “It gives us ways to help prepare for the future and sometimes it’s fun to get together.”

Micah Corey, 15, is a first-degree black belt and serves as BBA president. The group is creating a pledge, patch and inviting members to join the BBA.

“We’ve tilted the boulder and now we’ve got it rolling downhill,” Corey said.

Once a student graduates from the BBA, he or she may be appointed to full instructor status or other positions within the school.

“It’s a true commitment,” Cressman said. “When they graduate they’ll always be members of BBA.”

Cressman plans to turn BBA into a non-profit group in the future. They will utilize scholarships, grants, take donations, sponsorships and demonstrate their skills at various locations.

OKK is hosting a seminar from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday in the former Bremerton Junior High School gymnasium. Guest speakers include Dr. Mei-Hui Lu and Master Chang. Lu, a native of Taiwan, volunteers at Overlake Hospital and gives regular talks at the University of Washington. She also is a professor at the Seattle Institute of Oriental Medicine and taught at UW. Chang has trained in various styles of martial arts since he was young. Both are disciples of Wudang Dan Pai in China and have won many awards.

The Wu Na and International Wudang Martial Arts Team also will perform at the event. Tickets are $5 for OKK members and $8 for non-members in advanced. Tickets will cost $10 at the door and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Relay For Life.

“It’s a bright future in the world of martial arts,” Cressman said.

Okinawan Karate and Kobudo

32 NE Silver Pine Dr., Suite 112

Bremerton

(360) 698-2032

www.ShorinRyu4u.com

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