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Tech Karate opens its doors

November 16, 2007

by Amelie Miltenberger

Punch.

Block.

Kick.

Waking up at 4:30 a.m. is a challenge for some, but to finance grad student Erik Engelcke, it’s a calling. A calling to step up; to defend his title.

Seeing him around campus, one might not suspect a first-degree black belt crouches inside his bright yellow polo shirt.

Make no mistake; Engelcke is the No. 2-ranked black belt in the country and the president of the Louisiana Tech Karate Club.

Starting his first quarter at Tech five years ago, Engelcke signed up as a rusty intermediate for the karate class offered here at Tech. He never stopped.

“Karate is great for physical fitness as well as self-defense,” Engelcke said.

He earned his black belt after three and a half years of agonizingly hard work under the guidance of David Jordan, a karate instructor at Tech and ninth-degree black belt.

Two years have passed since Engelcke reached black belt status, he has seen many seasons of karate come and go.

One thing he wonders: why aren’t more people at Tech excited about karate?

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Block.

Kick.

The Tech Karate Club has been a part of the United States Karate Alliance and has won 10 National Championships since the club began. However, many students do not even know the karate club exists.

Some big-name fighters have come from Tech’s own karate club like John Pat Bullock, who won the National Grand Championship.

Also, Buster Cotton, the National and World Grand Championship winner was from Tech and currently resides in Jonesboro.

“We have around 20 people on average in the club,” said Engelcke.

Most of the members range from first degree black belts to beginners.

“If you’re interested in karate, there is no experience necessary,” Engelcke said.

The main recruiting for the club comes from students taking the karate class offered at Tech and joining the club if they enjoyed the class.

Engelcke and two of the other first-degree black belts, Allison Gilmore and Kenneth Cooley, do most of their training while helping. Jordan teaches the class.

The karate club plans to compete in this year’s USKA National Championships in Albuquerque, N.M., as well as the World Championships in New Orleans.

Last Saturday Engelcke, who says his biggest karate accomplishment was obtaining a black belt, woke up at 4:30 a.m. to compete in the USKA Texas State Championships in The Colony, Texas.

To find out how he placed, just ask him at one of his karate classes Monday or Wednesday night, where he teaches at McLane Recreation Center near Ruston High School, or see him Tuesday night at First Baptist Church in Ruston.

Punch.

Block.

Kick.

Engelcke enjoys karate as opposed to other sports because he likes the individual recognition and fighting aspect of it.

Though he acknowledges, “There is a lot more to karate besides the fighting.

“There’s the work out, the practicing and the technique, just like any other sport,” explains Engelcke. “But it’s the satisfaction you get from your achievements in karate that carry over into your life, and give you confidence in everything you do.”

Ultimately, he says, karate provides a way to be physically and mentally fit, and it is an excellent way to defend oneself.

“There is a confidence that comes in knowing you could defend yourself if you had to,” said Engelcke.

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