City College’s karate course packs a punch for students

City+College+Kinesiology+Major+Joshua+Glass+and+his+sparing+partner+Brianna+Robert%2C+Tuesday+March+5%2C+at+City+College+in+Santa+Barbara.+Karate+teacher+Duane+Erdman+also+teaches+an+online+self-defense+class.

Malin Ensgard

City College Kinesiology Major Joshua Glass and his sparing partner Brianna Robert, Tuesday March 5, at City College in Santa Barbara. Karate teacher Duane Erdman also teaches an online self-defense class.

THOMAS B. RICH, Channels Staff

Ichi, ni, san, shi is how the counting goes in karate class as the students punch into thin air with sharp, focused faces looking straight ahead in an evening City College course.

The art of karate, which means “empty hand” in Japanese, is active and alive at City College. Though not extremely popular, there is an interest in the dynamic sport, which boasts about twenty students working at different skill levels.

The class is taught by Duane Erdman and seems to have a healthy, playful atmosphere. “Keeping the class fresh is my main goal, and learning should be fun,” Erdman said.

Erdman’s tactics will often involve feinting attacks with his hands, designed to distract the opponent while he strikes decisively with his feet. He uses exotic foot combinations before striking the intended vital area. These maneuvers are based on the general belief or doctrine that the feet are superior weapons to the hands.

While these tactics are some of the more creative aspects of the sport, the class is taught at a much more subtle level which includes stretching, meditation, punching and kicking drills. Verbal cues are yelled during drills to help maintain focus and chi, the vital life force.

Erdman, who has taught karate for more than ten years, maintains a self-defense mentality and practices various other martial arts. He is a “sensei,” which translates to teacher in Japanese.

“It is not an overnight process, it takes time.” Erdman said as he watched a young lady with her eyes on a punching bag. “You can tell she is focusing a little more each day.”

Erdman maintains a traditional atmosphere in his self-defense class with punching bags, mats, and one-on-one drills.

“I am still looking for more things to add,” Erdman said.

Stretching is an important aspect of the class. The cardiovascular aspect is dynamic, mindful, and engaged.

“I’m learning basic techniques and meditation,” said student Daniel Rosales. “Most of all it’s relaxing. But at the same time, I am striving to become part of law enforcement and this clearly should help me.”

Karate, and martial arts in general, is a discipline devoted to the perfection of character. It is a very personal pursuit in which the student turns their attention inward to strengthen the spirit.

Erdman said some students are a little reluctant to start the class, saying they might be a little reserved or self-conscious. He says the keys to the class are: be flexible, be strong, and be fast.

“Katsu,” Japanese for victory, is a very important term within the world of karate. The student tries to achieve mental strength and character. When the student overcomes their weakness and attains katsu, they gain a sense of self. They leave the class stronger, more disciplined, and with a clearer direction.

The class meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in Physical Education Room 114. Interested students are welcome to come by and watch the class.