Shotokan Karate returns to Grafton

GRAFTON—Martial Arts have returned to Grafton, and with their return came a special visit by a highly trained Sensei.

It is often said that karate is more than just a sport, that it is a way of life. Many karate practitioners feel karate is a way of transforming every aspect of their lives, both inside and outside of the dojo.

Sensei John Poling wanted to bring that way of life back to Grafton.

“I set out years ago to bring true traditional Shotokan Karate back and it is finally coming full circle,” voiced Poling.

Sensei Poling is a Nidan Second-Degree Black Belt under the American Japanese Karate Association International. He began his training with the organization in 2006 under Sensei Rob Deangelis from the Solebury Club, near Philadelphia.

“Throughout the organization, we have authentic Shotokan masters with legitimate ranking and lineage to our founding master,” he shared.

AJKA-I has a two-fold mission, carried out by their Guiding Principles of characters, sincerity, effort, self-control and courtesy.

First, they aim to perfect the art of traditional Japanese Shotokan technique, something accomplished through an attention to detail.

Shotokan training is usually divided into three parts: kihon (basics), kata (forms or patterns of moves), and kumite (sparring). Techniques in kihon and kata are characterized by deep, long stances that provide stability, enable powerful movements, and strengthen the legs.

The second part of their mission is to instruct students in a way that makes karate relevant to the real world.

To help bring a true Shotokan experience here to Grafton, Poling has opened the Grafton Martial Arts Academy, located at 68 West Main Street, Grafton.

If the Grafton Martial Arts Academy has a familiar ring to it, there’s good reason.

“We used the name of our original dojo to pay respect and to come full circle,” Poling noted.

Sensei Poling has teamed up with Sensei Eric Swick, of Dragon’s Den MMA, to help guide students through the principles and art of karate.

“He is teaching and training to become affiliated with the organization,” said Poling. “I am currently internationally ranked through the organization, which operates in several countries and our board members are known around the world.”

Recently, Sensei Avi Azoulay, a Seventh Dan in Shotokan Karate, made a special appearance at the Grafton Martial Arts Academy to introduce guests to the standards and practice of the art.

Azoulay began his training in 1972 in his native land of Israel. Throughout his training, he has been a student under the guidance of top instructors such as Satoshi Miyazaki, Alex Sternberg, Ray Dalke and Milorad V. Sricevic, MD.

He currently practices under the vast knowledge and experience of Sensei Safar. Azoulay is also a student of Judo, Jiu Jitsu and Kikido.

The class was geared toward adults with an intermediate to advanced skill set, and Poling revealed that the event went very well.

“It was great having Sensei Avi Azoulay and his daughter, Hannah, at our dojo,” he shared. “We appreciate his excellent instruction!”

During the special visit, Poling was presented with a certificate of membership in the AJKA-I for the Grafton Martial Arts Academy.

“We are proud and honored to say that we are the first and only AJKA-I affiliated dojo in West Virginia,” he expressed.

The Grafton Martial Arts Academy will be guiding students through not only traditional Shotokan Karate, but also in cardio kickboxing.

For more information about the dojo or to learn how to enroll in classes, please contact Sensei John Poling at 304-694-2080 or Sensei Eric Swick at 304-669-6086.

Be sure to follow the organization on Facebook, Grafton Martial Arts Academy (AJKA-I/GMAA).


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