A group of women sit on a hardwood floor intently listening to the man standing in front of them. They are dressed comfortably in sweats and lose fitting clothes and range in age from 15 to 50 years old.
The man in front of them is wearing a solid white gi, the traditional uniform of a practitioner of karate. Around his waist is a tattered and fading black belt.
The place is Rocky Mountain Shito-Ryu Karate-Do. The man is Sensei Jim White and he is teaching his free women’s self-defense class, called “Defeat the Darkness.”
White is a retired correctional officer and lieutenant who has spent more than 24 years working in both the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the State of Missouri Department of Corrections.
He has experienced real-world violence and has a unique understanding of the criminal mind. He has been practicing and teaching the Japanese form of karate, Shito-Ryu, in Cañon City since 1996. He created “Defeat the Darknes” more than six years ago and along with Master Michael Brecht of USA Tang Soo Do regularly sponsors the course free to the public as a community service.
“Karate, as I teach it,” said White, “is more than punching and kicking. It goes far beyond fighting. It is about forging character and bettering people’s lives. It’s about realizing that with great power comes great responsibility and learning humility. Part of that is serving the community.”
He practices what he preaches. Defeat the Darkness is only one of the many facets Rocky Mountain Shito-Ryu uses to give back to the Cañon City/Fremont County area.
The dojo offers karate classes at half price for members of the Boys & Girls Club. They have done demonstrations for the Progressive Care Center and assisted them with such things as ice cream socials and Christmas caroling for the residents.
The school has done multiple toy and food drives for The Family Crisis Center and the Fremont County Family Center.
White is actively involved with the B-A-STAR anti-bullying organization.
Recently Rocky Mountain Shito-Ryu, along with USA Tang Soo Do collected non-perishable food items and personal hygiene items for the victims of the Wetmore fire.
“A lot of people these days are misinformed as to what the martial arts are about. A lot of them think it is just another sport for their children to participate in. Some think that it is reserved for children. I see a lot of people taking a variety of aerobic or exercise classes. They don’t realize that the core of many of these programs comes directly from karate kihon, or basics. The first 20 to 30 minutes of a karate class will burn more calories than the same amount of time on a treadmill or elliptical. You get the benefits of an exercise program plus you learn to defend yourself and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Regular practice and dedication not only strengthens the body but the mind and spirit as well,” he said.
White said he has never viewed his art or his school as a business. To him karate is a way of life. It is an art and he has dedicated himself to preserve that art.
In a time when many martial artists fight for money or run their schools solely for profit, Rocky Mountain Shito-Ryu seeks to better the lives of not only its students, but the people and community around them as well.
For more information on adult or children’s classes or traditional Japanese karate call 214-0048 or stop by the dojo at 323 Main St. in Cañon City.
March event to benefit Family Crisis Center
The Rocky Mountain Shito-Ryu Karate-Do school and USA Tang Soo Do are seeking help from the community in order to raise money for Family Crisis Services, a local nonprofit that helps victims of domestic violence and rape.
The organizations are planning a day-long event on Saturday, March 30 with activities such as martial arts demos, guest speakers, and the free Defeat the Darkness Women’s Self Defense Seminar. The date is in conjunction with the National Take Back the Night, which is a statement against Domestic Violence. All of the events will be free and open to the public.
“We hope to raise awareness of this tragedy, which is rampant in our nation,” said J. White Sensei, owner and chief instructor of the karate school. “We will be collecting donations in hopes that the community will open its’ hearts to the Family Crisis Center and all the hard work they do to help the community.”
White said that they are seeking businesses that will allow flyers about the event to be placed in their businesses, as well as anyone who has “talents, resources or anything else that would assist us in this cause.”
For more information or to make a donation, contact White at (719) 214-0048 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.