Proven Effective Self Defense

お正月クラス Oshōgatsu kurasu (New Year’s Class) : Denise’s Message

Okinawan Karate New Year Class

Denise’s New Year Comments:

“As Sensei Roberto shared, today was our Oshōgatsu kurasu New Year’s class — where we all set our karate intentions and goals for the coming year. With that in mind — and with much humility — I offer a few thoughts for you to consider.

お正月クラス Oshōgatsu kurasu (New Year’s Class)
お正月クラス Oshōgatsu kurasu (New Year’s Class) Attendees

I’ve been practicing some form of martial arts off and on for more than 20 years. (That statement still shocks me.) I used the word “practice” deliberately. You do not “study” karate. You must do it.

I’ve watched many people come to the dojo for the first time. They are all excited to pursue something new and difficult, but also fearful. Fearful of getting hurt, of doing it all wrong, of failure.

People handle fear in a few ways. Some listen intently, stumble through the exercises. Some go home, watch videos, read texts. Others ask questions.

Here is all you need to know to get better at karate: “No talk. Just do.”

I’ve heard those words from Sensei Iha, Sensei Roberto, Sensei Paul, Sensei (Big) Mike, Sempai Emerson, and many more. (Also, in variations, from Yoda and Nike — so you know it must be true.)

Proven Effective Self Defense
Denise Demonstrates Turning a Block into a Throw

I also often hear from students, “I don’t want to develop bad habits” or “I don’t want to learn it wrong.” As Sensei Roberto has said often, the only thing that you can do wrong is to not do anything at all. Also, I am 100% certain that no one in the history of the world has ever done a karate technique “the right way” on the first try. Believe me, you will not be the first.

It also isn’t enough to just practice the things you like doing. If you want to improve, you must do the things that you don’t like, the things that you know that you are not good at. I do not like hitting the makiwara. It hurts. I know am doing it wrong, and I know I will only get better if I keep doing it. So this is my intention this year — to hit the makiwara every time I’m in the dojo. Please hold me to it.

So, today set your karate intention for the year. Then every time you come to dojo, leave your fear at the door, and just do.


Thanks Denise. Wise words for all of us.


Kiyoshi, 8th Dan, Virginia Dojo

Roberto’s karate students insisted he rent a more permanent location for his Karate instruction instead of wandering from building to building while renting out space in School gymnasiums and Churchs. In 2017 he and his students decided upon an office space in an office condominium complex. His students have built the Virginia Dojo into an outstanding training space evoking the sense and feel of traditional Okinawan Karate Dojo. Many students drop by just to meditate, or for Yoga or Tai Chi classes. Drop by even if just to see the dojo space, watch a class. Or to try Two Weeks of Free Classes!
Roberto began studying martial arts in 1969.  He studied judo, Shorinkan Shorin Ryu karate, Shotokan Karate, Goju Ryu, and Kung Fu.  He started studying with now Grand Master Seikichi Iha, 10th Dan, Beikoku Shidokan Shorin Ryu in 1979 and continues until now as one of his senior students.
During Roberto’s long-term overseas assignments stationed as a Foreign Service Officer (Diplomat), he trained US Embassy Security Personnel, US Marines, foreign security operatives, and people just like you. When stationed in the Washington, DC area he also always built a cadre of dedicated Shidokan Shorin Ryu Karate students.  Now retired from the Foreign Service he concentrates on teaching proven-effective adult-focused self defense karate at the Virginia Dojo in Alexandria VA.
His Karate classes in Alexandria are often called the Martial Arts Grad School as he teaches common sense applications found in all martial arts that most people simply don’t see. Upon seeing these applications most people say it is like a light bulb going off in their mind.
He is a member of the East Coast Beikoku Shidokan Karate Black Belt Promotion Board and the National Black Belt Promotion Board. Among his numerous awards are:
“Best Martial Arts Teacher in Washington, DC” in 2017.
“Best Martial Arts in Washington, DC” 2018
“Best Martial Arts in Alexandria” 2019
“Best of” in 2018 and 2019