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Sensei, students look forward to karate’s debut at Tokyo 2020

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) - At Basche’s Martial Arts, students of all ages are trained in the art of karate.

The skill, is more than learning self-defense and fighting.

“You have two types of kids: the real hyper ones that are all over the place, and the real insecure ones,” Sensei Steve Basche explained, “and what’s beautiful about martial arts is it helps balance them out.”

“It doesn’t matter the personality, if they come here, and train hard, they leave here happy,” he continued, “and they’re at peace, and calm. They have this confidence, this effortless strength that’s developed when they’re trained - and its just a beautiful thing. I love seeing the change.”

Abby Sowles enrolled her son Oliver, who says he loves it.

“I was a little leery at first, but I think it’s so great he’s learning when to use those techniques, and skills, and its not okay to just do that to your friends and parents,” Sowles told us, “there’s a reason for martial arts, and so I think he’s learning that at his age.”

Oliver, has also been learning respect.

“We get a lot of ‘Yes, Ma’am, No, Ma’am. Yes, Sir, No, Sir’ and that’s something we’ve never gotten before” she said.

Sensei Basche tells us, respect is a core principal of the discipline.

“If you notice when the kids walk in, the adult students, it’s always bowing, ‘hello, sir’, right from the beginning,” he said, “and I feel like this is what this world needs is practice respecting one another. First, respecting your mind and body and spirit by taking care of it, and then others. If we can do that, this world would be a much better place.”

But perhaps Basche’s biggest excitement for Karate’s debut in the Olympics, is studying an option for  one of his star pupils, and now assistant instructor Katy Vardaman.

Vardaman is only 14-years-old, but Basche believes she’s destined for greatness.

“First my brother started before I did. Me and my little sister were begging my mom to get us into class,” she said, “I was really shy, and I didn’t want to yell out or anything, but its helped me with my self-confidence, and now I’m not afraid to go and talk to people.”

“A lot of people, like you said, think it’s about fighting. But a lot of it is self-respect, discipline, keeping your body clean. And that alone is very powerful, projecting positivity,” Vardaman explained, “I’m hoping in the next couple years I can train really hard, give my best and then one day I’ll make it to the Olympics.”

Basche says, her dream isn’t too far from reality, if she continues to work towards it.

“I know without a doubt, with my experience, my knowledge and her talent, with the support of the parents anything is possible. I think we can definitely get her there,” he explained.

Basche continued, “She’s a Christian - put God first, envision your goal, work hard… anything’s possible. All you have to do is those three principals and anything is attainable.”

Karate’s debut at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics begins Thursday, Aug. 5.

The competition wraps up on Saturday, Aug. 7.

You can learn more about Basche’s Martial Arts here, and follow the latest on karate in the Olympics on Fort Wayne’s NBC on-air, and online.

Daniel Beals

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