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home : sports & recreation : sports & recreation August 22, 2017

3/11/2014 1:55:00 PM
Sisters has two new black belts
Nathan Woodworth and Jim Cornelius with Sensei John Sanders. Sanders led the pair to black belt ranking over four-and-a-half years of study. photo provided
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Nathan Woodworth and Jim Cornelius with Sensei John Sanders. Sanders led the pair to black belt ranking over four-and-a-half years of study. photo provided

By Gary Yoder

Nathan Woodworth and Jim Cornelius were awarded black belts after a grueling martial arts test last month in John Sanders' kenpo karate class.

"Congratulations to Jim and Nathan! This is a real significant accomplishment," said Sanders.

Sanders is a retired teacher, coach, and assistant principal from Rhode Island. He's also a second-degree black belt in kenpo karate. Sanders teaches "Nick Cerio's Kenpo," which is a hybrid of several different martial arts styles.

"It's primarily self-defense," said Sanders. "It's a hard, stand-up style, mostly striking, but we do some jiu-jitsu, take-downs and controlling on the ground. It's geared toward dealing with multiple attackers and defense against guns, knives, and clubs."

Sanders started teaching karate in Sisters in 2005.

"After we moved to Sisters I joined Cascade Fitness for a place to work out. Some people saw me doing some martial arts training and asked me to teach them, and that's how I got started," he said.

The road to the black belt is a long one for teacher and student.

"Jim and Nathan have been training very consistently for four-and-a-half years, at least two classes per week," said Sanders. "They were definitely ready to test for black belt."

The testing was Sunday, February 23, and lasted three hours.

"Both did an exceptional job," said Sanders. "They had to demonstrate their expertise in performing all of the katas, combos and blocking forms. After all that I pressed them pretty hard with sparring."

Another part of the black belt test was a written document.

"It's a list and description in their own words, of all the hand techniques, katas, etc. that they've learned," said Sanders. "When you write something down you learn it more thoroughly. These writings will be helpful to them when they begin instructing. Now that they're black belts they'll be doing some teaching."

Cornelius reflected on the milestone.

"I've always been interested in martial arts, both the history and for my health and well-being," said Cornelius. "Self-defense training is important to me. I believe that everyone should take responsibility for knowing how to defend themselves and their loved ones. I really enjoy the practice of martial arts and the people I train with. My training partner, Nathan, is great to work with. He's come a long way, and I have a lot of respect for him. He's had to deal with me and I'm a lot bigger than him. He's developed into a very quick and aggressive opponent."

Woodworth confirmed that he has to fight well above his weight class.

"For the test I had to spar both Jim and my dad at the same time," said Woodworth. "They're both big, strong men. It wasn't easy, but I think I handled myself pretty well."

Woodworth has been involved with martial arts since he was a boy.

"It was exciting for me to join John's karate class, because that's the style I was most familiar with," he said. "I started martial arts when I was seven with judo. Then I took kenpo karate for a few years."

After his family moved to Sisters, he resumed martial arts training in a jiu-jitsu class at Cascade Fitness, but had to stop after an injury. When Sanders started teaching, Woodworth went back to his preferred art, karate.

"I like Nick Cerio's style of karate. It emphasizes self-defense, not tournaments. It's quick, fast, and brutal. Of all the styles I've tried, I've never found a more practical style for self-defense."

The class is small, personal and informal, and offers something different than other programs in Sisters.

"I want to stress that I'm not competing with Outlaw Martial Arts," said Sanders. "Master K has a great program there. I'm just keeping myself busy in retirement. I do private instruction for a few people who indicated an interest in training. I don't charge much. I'm not trying to earn a living. There's no contract, no uniform, no competition. It's informal, but we do have belts, structure, curriculum and testing."

Cornelius said, "This experience has been both humbling and very beneficial. As we get older we get used to doing the same things. It's good to learn something new. I'm a big guy and can do a lot with just strength, but this has helped me improve my balance and athletic position and use technique. Becoming a black belt brings a sense of accomplishment, but you also recognize how far you are from mastery. You can always improve on something you know, and there are always new things to learn."

For more information on Nick Cerio's Kenpo, contact Sanders at 541-549-6132.

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