Sensei James Penor Kyoshi has a unique talent for performing a fierce-looking kick, punch or weapons maneuver, then following it with a beaming smile. He embodies the balance between joy and focus. Take a class with Kyoshi and channel your inner happy warrior.
Reflections magazine: How long have you been training in karate, and how did you first get into it?
James Penor Kyoshi: Forty-three years, and I got into it when Bruce Lee’s popularity took off.
RM: What are your biggest accomplishments within the discipline?
JPK: Teaching others. Many of my students have won numerous championships on local, national and worldwide levels. Some of the parents of my black-belt students have commented that the child’s discipline of hard work to achieve goals has set the foundation for adult life. I have kept in touch with many of the black belts.
As for my own accomplishments, in 1994 I was an International Karate Association (IKA) World Cup bronze medalist. In 2011 I received IKA World Cup gold medals in the weapons and kata divisions.
RM: What level belt are you, and what did it take to achieve that status?
JPK: Sixth-degree black belt. It took many years of consistent training along with loyalty to the organization, its members and teachers.
RM: How has karate enriched your life?
JPK: It taught me how to get along with and understand the many varieties of characteristics people possess. It also helps me stay physically fit and keeps my mind sharp.
RM: What are the most common misconceptions about karate that drive you crazy?
JPK: That a black belt’s hands must be registered as a weapon. Also that it’s about fighting. Like many things, it has a different perception among the general public.
RM: What advice do you have for those interested in trying karate?
JPK: It is all about training the mind, connecting the mind to the physical. Be ready to try new techniques and train with an open mind. Visit a dojo or two, see how the class is run and watch the students to see how they are working. Make sure you like the instructor and his or her style of instruction. Also, one thing I think is interesting is that karate training will enhance your skills in any other physical activity you are involved in (baseball, football, tennis, boxing, golf, etc.). There is an aspect of martial arts in every sport.
Speak like a Sensei
Karate vocabulary for beginners
In many traditional schools, this word basically means “Yes, I understand, with respect.” Though it really does not translate to be an exact word.
Yell or shout
Place of training
Forms, or a prearranged series of techniques
To train with James, email firstname.lastname@example.org.