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Black belt: a goal worth fighting for

Shannon Morrow
Sports Editor
1/6/2010

After 11 years of diligent training, James Geary of Quincy recently attained a black belt rating in Kenpo Karate.
American Kenpo emphasizes the art of striking and principles of motion. The discipline was established by Ed Parker in the mid-1950s.
When Geary began his training more than a decade ago, he auditioned five different schools before deciding on the Epperson Brothers Dojo in Chico.
Chuck Epperson, Geary’s instructor, holds a seventh-degree black belt. Epperson was also Geary’s best man in his wedding.
Geary is Epperson’s 34th student to earn a black belt. Epperson said only one in 1,000 students earn a black belt, because it’s too hard for the average person.
“In the first three years of training, you only learn enough to get your butt kicked,” said Geary.
There are 10 belts from white to black. In his black belt test, Geary had to demonstrate 154 different techniques in a three-hour test that included fighting with pads.
“It was a brutal test,” said Geary. “I could barely move afterwards. I was bruised for awhile.”
In addition, Geary wrote a 36-page thesis on the rotating twist stance and created 10 techniques.
Geary now looks forward to fighting in the black belt division at tournaments.
“Those guys can fight,” said Geary.
Geary’s first major tournament as a black belt will be this January in Redding, where $500 goes to the winner.
Geary has always been passionate about martial arts. As a child he used to dress as a ninja, and in high school he wanted to be a kung fu teacher.
“I don’t know any other way,” said Geary. “It gives you discipline, it gives you self confidence. I love it.”
Training at the dojo twice a month, Geary logged approximately 46,000 miles of driving the Canyon to earn his black belt.
“I also have a black belt in driving the Feather River Canyon,” Geary joked.
Geary will continue his training to obtain higher ranks of black belt.
“In a few more years, I should have a few more ranks,” said Geary. “It’s beyond a passion. It’s almost an obsession.”
In his wallet, Geary carries laminated cards listing the many different techniques he’s memorized. Names such as Gathering of the Snakes, Dominating Circles and Unfolding the Dark are listed on one of the black belt cards.
One of the things Geary loves about Kenpo Karate is that it’s all in English. “You don’t have to learn a foreign language,” he said.
Geary’s ultimate goal is to travel the world teaching seminars.
“This is my ticket to Ireland,” said Geary.
In the meantime, Geary is offering private instruction out of his house to local students five-years-old and older. He hopes to eventually find a new location to begin teaching group classes.
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