Shotokan karate club offers exercise with a `kick’

Gabe Davis

Students seeking an alternative way to stay in shape can now join Iowa State’s newest sports club.

The Shotokan Karate-Do Club was written into the books Tuesday night at the bi-monthly sports club meeting. Representing the club at the meeting was the new founder and instructor, Noel Valentin.

“We teach that you generate the power to punch and kick, like 400 pounds of pressure when you hit someone. It’s real strong,” Valentin said.

Valentin, senior in mechanical engineering, has been practicing Shotokan for the last 12 years. Before he came to Iowa State two years ago, he was a member of the Puerto Rican Olympic team.

Since arriving at Iowa State, he said he’s had a strong desire to start the club.

“After you’ve learned it, you want to teach other people,” Valentin said. “Once you start, you can enjoy.”

There are many differences between the taekwondo that is taught by the Karate Club and the Shotokan that Valentin is going to teach, he said. One difference is that in Shotokan every move is made using the natural movement of the body he said.

“Karate-Do, means the way of the empty hands. The self-defense is pretty much unique,” Valentin said.

One of the first members of the new club is Liza Pachelo, a graduate student in chemical engineering. Pachelo says she’s glad to be at a college where she can finally have an opportunity to be involved in things like the Shotokan Karate-Do Club.

“Since I was little, I’ve wanted to be in something like [this],” she said.

Iowa State has had a Shotokan club before, and Alan Murdoch, Ph.D. adviser for the Sports Club program, is excited because “it has existed before for a long time and sometimes when there’s a transition of members or leadership, a club ceases to exist.

“I guess the people that have been members in the past have shown a great level of maturity, understanding, patience and all the things that you wouldn’t assume occurs with all students,” he said.

The club will meet at Forker 213, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday. Participants will be able attain different colors of belts as they improve in the skills of Shotokan.

Valentin said there will also be many opportunities to attend tournaments through the club.

“The U.S. National Karate Confederation is starting Olympic level competition in the 2004 Olympics. Shotokan is practiced internationally,” he said.

Murdoch said the club has returned to Iowa State now directly because of the hard work that Valentin put in.

“It’s nice to see that there is new leadership that has blossomed, because it will provide an opportunity for people to try a club that they would not normally have the opportunity to try if weren’t for being a student at Iowa State and having that chance,” he said.

In addition to learning the ancient art of Shotokan, which originated at the University of Tokyo, Valentin said, participants can expect a great physical and cardiovascular workout.

“I look forward to learning the discipline and to learn the technique of it,” Pachelo said.