ORRINGTON — October will be a busy month at Sensei Steve Apsega’s Maine Traditional Karate dojo.
The dojo, located at 136 River Road 3 miles from the Brewer town line on Route 15, will be co-hosting, with Orland Shorin Ryu dojo, a visit by Hanshi John Shipes of Texas, one of three U.S. directors for the Okinawa Shorinyu Matsumura Seito Karate and Kobduo Federation. Shipes will be in Orrington Oct. 6 and Orland Oct. 7.
How did such a revered teacher in the karate world end up in Maine? Well, it seems that he and Apsega go way back, more than 20 years.
Apsega was one of those kids bursting with energy, running around the house throwing kicks and punches at imaginary adversaries. His insurance-salesman dad decided to channel that enthusiasm and found somebody to teach his 13-year-old son karate.
That somebody was Shipes.
This marks Shipes’ second visit to Orrington, and Apsega and some of his students returned the favor, training in Texas with Shipes last year. (Another such trip is planned for December, with a visit to Arizona to train with an Okinawan master in November.)
“I’m very honored to have him come up,” Apsega said.
On Saturday, Oct. 6, there will be a small youth tournament, then the youth will train with Shipes. From 5 to 8 p.m., there will be black-belt rank testing. Testing for a second-degree black belt is Dan Vilasuso. Testing for a first-degree black belt are Deborah Harman, Mike Billings, Jamie Hammack, and Patrick Tyne.
Current black belts testing for instructor certification include Louis Kiefer, Scott Daigle, Michelle Burgess, Dennis Cash, and Craig Nichols. The public is welcome to any of these events, Apsega said.
On Sunday, Oct. 7, at Sensei Stan Leach’s Orland dojo, there will be more workouts and open forums from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. so the public can learn more about this traditional style of self-defense.
Shorin-Ryu is a 300-year-old system of self-defense that involves punching, kicking, grappling, and throwing. This, combined with applying pressure to pressure points and joint manipulation, creates an effective method of defending against single or multiple attackers.
Karate is more than just the physical, Apsega stressed.
“Students gain higher self-esteem, and it’s character building. It enhances their school work and morals and makes them more aware of their environment,” he said. “They become humble, respectful, and loyal. Discipline is instilled in each individual student.”
There are 64 students at the Orrington dojo, ranging in age from 5 to 105. Apsega offers advanced classes on Monday and Wednesday and beginning classes on Tuesday and Friday. He’s looking at eventually starting a satellite program at Morita’s School of Dance in Hermon, where he will teach a program for the recreation department starting in October. This will be the second year that he’s done such a class.
There’s always room for more students, which is why Apsega is holding an open house at 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Orrington dojo. There will be demonstrations, giveaways, and free pizza and beverages for anyone interesting in learning more about Shorin-Ryu karate.
For more information, contact Apsega at 570-KICK (5425) or visit www.mainetraditionalkarate.com.