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The Schools within the School


November 2016



Since we teach the Mugendo system at University Karate Center, we can consider that there are several schools within the school. Mugendo means ”unlimited way”, so that all martial arts principals are included in our training.

MuDoKai Martial Arts basics are taught daily and form the basis of our training. For adult students we offer kickboxing MMA classes two days a week. These classes are a useful introduction to martial arts for adults (14 and older) looking for a fun and intense workout, but who do not necessarily feel ready to begin martial arts training within our structured curriculum. They are also a great training tool for adult martial arts students looking to build up their cardio conditioning and hone their skills in the circuit training portion of the workout. The Friday morning class is similar to the circuit training portion of the MMA class, except that the dress code is Karate pants with belt and a school tee shirt, and the last 15 minutes of class includes sparring.

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(Some happy students with their medals from our recent Shiaii Dojo tournament, along with the Sensei who judged our event. Students could compete in Basics, Forms, Sparring and Weapons)

The Adult classes include a focus on adult self defense applications, and allow more development of the students’ knowledge of Jiu Jutsu. Our Mudokai style draws on techniques from the Shindo Yoshin Ryu Aikijujutsu system. My Sensei’s Sensei, Professor Hironori Ohtsuka was the Grandmaster of this style, before he founded the Wado Ryu Karate style which combined Karate and Jiu Jutsu.

On Monday nights we offer Kobudo, practice in the art of Okinawan weapons for Adult Black Belt Club and Charter Members. Junior students who are members of the Black Belt Club have their own Kobudo classes on Thursdays.

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(Sensei Fernandez grapples with Sensei Ahearn)

For the more advanced Martial Arts students, classes are offered weekly in Kata (Forms) and Strategy (Sparring). These classes allow junior and adult students to meet the criteria for promotion through the MuDoKai ranks to Black Belt and beyond. They also offer a training regimen to prepare for martial arts tournaments, should that be within the student’s realm of interest.

Our goal is to train Martial Artists who can cope with attacks utilizing all three major martial arts principals:
Striking, which includes all punches, kicks, blocks and strikes.
Taking the foundation, which includes all sweeps, throws, takedowns, projections, kickthroughs, kneeldowns and stepdowns.
Taking a limb, which includes all arm, wrist and finger locks, leg, ankle and toe locks, neck and head locks and grappling techniques.

We have it all available for you, your friends and family. As you train and benefit from our program we hope you will take the opportunity to recommend University Karate Center to those who might be interested in our broad and thorough curriculum.

Shihan Robert H. Mason, © 2016

The Importance of Friends

December 2016


Most likely you have heard that the Martial Arts is more than just a physical discipline; that it is a discipline that develops both the mind and body. The presence of mind that the Martial Arts demand helps us to make wise and thoughtful decisions. Often these decisions involve choosing others as friends—and all of us need to choose friends well.  I heard a new item this week on TV where they reported some young men were shot by police during the commission of a crime. The grandmother of one of the youngsters who was killed commented that “he was not a bad boy, but he got in with a bad crowd”.
We obviously want to make friends with people who are “good guys”.

It is sometimes very mysterious why we choose who we do as friends. Often we like a person immediately based on some intuitive thought or feeling. Other times we observe someone for a while with admiration, and build up to a formal introduction. Friendship is a wonderful thing, often beyond words, and is sometimes sparked by an almost electric power of attraction. This is what gives friendship such a strong and almost magical power to tie people together so closely. All the same, our first impressions can be mistaken. There is no way to be certain that everybody you choose as a friend will turn out to be a “good buddy”, but Martial Arts schools are a terrific place to meet new people. Many life-long friendships have begun in the Dojo. Here are some tips on how to choose friends that might be right for you:


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(The respect and self control that is part of the sparring process allows students to become friends, despite the tendency to be competitive!)


Look for people who share the same basic values that you do. Karate teaches you certain values and principles that you should know to look for. Honesty, respect, self control are all good qualities that a lot of people share. Having friends with these qualities will make it a lot easier for you to feel relaxed and at ease when you are with them.
Look for people who respect your decisions. Your friends may have different tastes than you do, but they should respect your freedom of choice, just as you should respect theirs. Sometimes you may think that a friend is not making a positive choice, or a friend may feel that you not making a positive choice. Discuss these issues. Nothing is more important to friendship than open communication and honesty.
Look for people that are team players. You know what that means: people who are willing to stick by you through thick and thin, will be there when you need them, and will show you the understanding that you in turn give back. A friend that you know you can depend on can be a friend for life! There will be times when you think that a friend of yours is consistently making bad choices, or is not treating you with respect. The Martial Artist takes pride in understanding: try to see where your friend is coming from, and try to resolve any differences that you might have. Feel free to speak to your instructors. They have the benefit of experience, and are always looking out for your best interests. There are very few things as precious as having good friends, and you should not let them go easily. Hold onto your friendships; let your friends know you value them and do your best to solve problems as quickly as they arise. Trust your instincts and follow your heart!

Traveling, Training and Time

...seeing the bigger picture...


November 2016



During a trip to England a few years ago I trained very little in Martial Arts. In fact, I only trained a few hours towards the end of my visit, yet it struck me that, in many ways, traveling and training are similar. They both have the capacity to open up a person’s mind to the bigger picture, to something that is interesting and challenging, both engaging and stimulating.

Part of the reason why “travel broadens the mind” has to do with the novel situations that we experience as a part of being in new places and unfamiliar surroundings. The journey through the Martial Arts is similar. A student moves from rank to rank, achieving higher belts and being exposed, as a result, to new and more sophisticated concepts and principles. Just as traveling can make us feel uneasy and even fearful, so the challenge of learning new moves following a rank promotion can fill us with doubts and trepidation. To enjoy either kind of journey we need to put our fears aside and allow our excitement and eager anticipation of enjoyment carry us forward.

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(Sensei Joseph Winn applies an armbar to his opponent during the grappling segment of his recent grading for 4th Dan)

Just as a place we visit can become jaded and ordinary if we stay there for a long time, so the techniques we are seeking to master can become boring and tedious if we get stuck in a rank and lose our momentum and our aspiration to achieve the next level. This happens sometimes because we become comfortable at a particular rank or in a particular place, a bit like settling down somewhere we were only supposed to be visiting. As you journey through the Martial Arts ranks, don’t even think about settling down until you have achieved Black Belt. Even then it is helpful to engage a new level of excitement by taking advantage of the opportunities offered at the Black Belt level. Our path continues in new directions from the base we have established, perhaps through teaching or weapons training, and progresses to new levels of understanding through the Black Belt curriculum.

During October Sensei Fung Sang became the youngest student ever to achieve the rank of Godan (5th Degree Black Belt). He had the advantage of beginning his training very young, and has now been a student of Shihan Mason for over twenty years. Though it is true to say that the best time for anyone to begin Martial Arts training is the day a person takes their first lesson, be that at five or fifty-five years old. Sensei Fung Sang is so used to training now that his journey through the Martial Arts just keeps rolling along. It is a law of physics that “a body in motion tends to stay in motion”. Let’s keep our momentum going as we travel through our Martial Arts training over time. Achieving new heights, we come to see the bigger picture.

Shihan Robert H. Mason © 2016

The Connection between the Body and the Brain

October 2016


Top executives frequently have basketball nets and such in their office; it makes sense to combine the physical with the mental, as they are so closely connected. Our philosophy at the Dojo (karate school) is to stimulate consciousness and awareness primarily through physical activity. Jean Piaget, famous for his contributions to Developmental Psychology, was the first to realize that all concept development begins physically on a sensory-motor level. Even the most sophisticated abstract concepts can only develop as a consequence of earlier appropriate sensory-motor practice.
Glenn Doman, the internationally famous pioneer of “The Institutes for the Development of Human Potential”, realized long ago that brain-damaged children could often be led to a full recovery if natural reflexes were appropriately stimulated to encourage the next necessary steps in development. One day, while listening to a severely brain damaged five year old boy reading to him on a high school level, he asked himself the question, “what is the matter with normal kids who cannot read”. He went on to modify his techniques, which had been developed to teach brain-damaged children, to enable him to teach normal babies (aged 6 months -3 years) math and reading. I used his methods when teaching my daughter to read as a toddler.


( Sensei Sheila holds a pad for Carmen to kick at the Shiaii )   (Photo by JoEllen Bate)

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( Notice that Carmen has her standing foot precisely angled, her hands are up, her head-neck orientation is great and her shoulders are relaxed. Her kicking foot is perfectly formed. She is balanced, poised and powerful as a result. Carmen is age 6 and a Karate Tiger. )



F.M. Alexander created his technique for the attainment of poise following research on his own voice. The “Alexander Method” has since been expanded to utilize reflexive movement to retrain the body to accomplish all manner of physical skills, while maintaining a state of relaxed poise. The tendency, Alexander noticed, was for students to “muscle up” prior to moving, often in a way that made smooth natural movement impossible. His training method allowed his students to learn to extend into what they were doing, regardless of what the action entailed, rather than contracting into their movements. All movements in the MuDoKai curriculum are to be taught and practiced using the “Alexander Principle”.
In our rush to conform with the traditions of the public education system, like homework and coaching for tests, it is easy to lose sight of the importance of developing our children's thinking skills. Jean Piaget showed how the development of thinking is connected to physical activities. Stimulating a child’s neurology in karate class leads to the development of new conceptual thinking skills, and is a practical way to promote the essential growth of children’s thinking abilities.
Our program is excellent for adults as well. After all, we are never too old to learn.

2016 Shihan Robert H. Mason




“Played until my fingers bled”

September 2016


In the song by Brian Adams this happened “in the summer of ‘69”. For a new guitar player, that’s the feeling you get when you practice all the time. Your fingers may not actually bleed, but the level of discomfort is intense, yet you love playing. Stretching at the beginning of class is similarly demanding, and Martial Arts training, like playing an instrument, is a voluntary exercise in “intentional suffering”. However, with guidance this training is actually fun. You just have to get into it as you learn to be the player and the instrument, and discover your “inner artist”, your “true self”.

The curriculum at our Dojo is based on the idea that there is an easy way to learn things. That method involves starting out with the practice of movement, using karate techniques, that we learn to copy from an instructor. As students follow along with the class they learn correct posture, poise, and skeletal alignment. They also learn to develop muscle memory, balance coordination and self control, as those principles relate to specific movements they are practicing for their rank. With promotion to a new rank the process begins over again, only on a higher level each time, because of the progress made at the previous rank. Because we teach our basics, partner moves and forms (Kata) as specific skill techniques, and require the students to practice them the same way every time, students come to the point where they can demonstrate their moves almost without thinking about it. That is usually the signal that they are ready for promotion to the next rank and a new set of challenges.

September 2016 Newsletter Played Until My Fingers Bled

(Shihan Mason and Tobiyokogeri Jodan : To achieve the heights you must consolidate the basics.)

As you learn the techniques at each rank the Sensei will award you red stripes on your belt to show improvement, thus allowing each student to progress at their own speed. You have to learn all your techniques to an acceptable standard, but everything can be individualized to make progress achievable. The result is that most students are able to reach Black Belt in due course, and demonstrate a high degree of proficiency worthy of the Black Belt rank.

One of the great advantages to a written curriculum is that when you look back over what you have learned you can see what you know. This is often a tremendous boost once you achieve Black Belt because you have a structured perspective, making it much easier for you to pass on your skills and insights to other students, and even qualify as an instructor if you like.

Students who choose to take advantage of the DVDs we have available for home practice will find themselves more able than ever to make the most of their time in class to work out on moves that they already understand in theory. Currently DVDs are available for ranks White Belt through Shodan. Ask at the Front Desk for prices.

Shihan Robert H. Mason © 2016

Goal Setting, Persistence, and Training in MuDoKai

September 2016

I trained for about 8 years before earning my Black Belt in MuDoKai Karate. It was a relatively slow process for me as I had to balance my training with school and a job. The truth is though,even without those outside responsibilities I wouldn't have set any speed records in my pursuit of Shodan. But I had set a goal for myself and I was going to achieve it. I knew I could, because I had set goals before which ended with success. A year before I started my martial arts training, I entered and won my class at the Mr. Sunshine State Bodybuilding Championships. That was a HUGE achievement for me as I had once been the proverbial skinny kid on the beach getting sand kicked in my face.

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(Sensei Katon, Mason and Mayer)

The turning point in my life came when I began to set goals and write them down. Initially they were very small goals. For example, I would write down that I wanted to bench press a certain amount of weight by a given date. Since I knew what I could bench press when I started out, I knew that in order to get to my goal I would have to make a certain amount of progress in each workout. My progress was slow and steady and I was realistic with my expectations, but I always challenged myself to give my best effort. Each time I met a workout goal it gave me a boost of confidence. And that confidence led to more success,and so on. That translated into success in the dojo. From the day I walked into the University Karate Center I was hooked. I loved the atmosphere and was in awe of the black belts. While I was strong, these people had a combination of strength, speed and agility that was really impressive. I made a goal at that time to earn my black belt. It took longer than I thought it would. But that's the way goals are sometimes. A goal is a destination. I see it as setting a course and then hoisting the anchor. Sometimes, the "winds of life" may pull you off that course, but you can reset the sails.

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(Sensei Katon kicks while sparring Sensei Stamp)

The great thing about having a goal is that you always have that "end point", and can readjust to get there. Eventually I got there! I used the same strategy in school. An underachiever in high school, I was told by my college guidance counselor that I should not pursue a career in pharmacy because of the math involved. When I began college, my first math course wasn't even for college credit! That's how far behind I was!! Ah, but I had tasted success by then with bodybuilding and karate and KNEW that I could do anything I was willing to work hard enough for. I'm convinced that the discipline I gained through my martial arts training at UKC was a key factor in my success in school. I graduated pharmacy school with honors and won the "Deans Award" for highest scholastic achievement in my graduating class!
You can use this same goal setting strategy in all aspects of your life. Keep balance in mind, and SET YOUR GOALS for school, work, training and family. WRITE THEM DOWN. Above all, NEVER QUIT! Remember, anything worth having takes work. And nothing is as important as hard work and persistence. Good luck with your goals. You get one chance at life so do it right!

© Sensei Dean Katon, Sandan (3rd Degree Black Belt) July 18th 2006

UKC Instructors Incorporate TAGteachᴿ in Karate Tigers Classes

August 2016

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TAGteachᴿ, also known in behavioral science as “auditory marker training”, is a very effective way of teaching sports that uses a sharp click sound, called a “tag”, to mark a correct response from an athlete. When necessary, the sound is paired with verbal praise or other things that are demonstrated to be positive reinforcers for a targeted skill element, but often the sound of the tag itself is motivating enough.

The tag sound takes on the properties of reinforcement but with some advantages over praise. The sound is less distracting than praise, as it does not interrupt the flow of movement or invite a social response. It is also much briefer, so it precisely marks an athlete’s proprioceptive feeling in the split second that his or her body is in correct position. Proprioception, the sixth sense, is a person’s feeling of body movement and orientation in space. Athletes experience the tag like the click of a camera that captures a feeling, rather than an image, of a moment in time. In this way, tagging is more like biofeedback than praise.

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In addition to the tag sound, the method uses a very specific way of prompting correct physical movements designed to be maximally efficient so fast learning can occur.

TAGteachᴿ has been used in many countries and with all ages and ability levels, including world class and professional athletes. It is used to teach gymnastics, golfing, rock climbing, parkour, ballet, soccer, tennis many other activities. Athletes report that tagging is fun and helps to keep them focused during practice.

Sensei Laraine Winston, a Behavioral Sports and Health Consultant and Certified TAG Teacher is currently collaborating with Sensei Sheila Apicella and Sensei Steven Apicella to use this cutting edge strategy in their Karate Tigers classes. More information on TAGteachᴿ can be found at!

© 2016 Sensei Laraine Winston MS, LMHC, BCBA. 2010 Black Belt World Champion

Executive Director and Lead Practitioner Life Targets, LLC