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Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Ron Smith is turning 70, and a green belt in karate

  • You don’t have to be a kid to become involved with karate. In fact, one of the most enthusiastic students at the Japan Karate-Do Genbu-Kai School in Pittsburg will celebrate his 70th birthday on Friday.

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  • You don’t have to be a kid to become involved with karate. In fact, one of the most enthusiastic students at the Japan Karate-Do Genbu-Kai School in Pittsburg will celebrate his 70th birthday on Friday.
    “I’ve always been interested in martial arts and had done it a little bit years  ago,” Ron Smith said before the start of class Monday evening. “When I retired, people said I needed to get out and get some exercise. My wife and other family members encouraged me.”
    A Pittsburg native, Smith worked 20 years at International Paper, and retired in 2006 after six years  at Pitt Plastic. He currently works as a crossing guard and lunch room supervisor at  Meadowlark Elementary School.
    He came to the karate school in 2010.
    “I had my first test in April of 2010,” Smith said. “You start with a white belt, get two stripes on that, then go to an orange belt. You get two stripes on that, then you go to a green belt.”
    He’s currently at the green belt level. There are three degrees to this, then the next level is a brown belt, which also has three degrees. The final level is the black belt, but it really doesn’t end there.
    “You just  keep going with the black belt,” Smith said. “They’ve figured it up for me, and I’ll be ready to test for my black belt in 2015 when  I’m 72. That’s the goal I’ve set for myself.”
    While karate does teach movements that can be utilized for self-defense, Smith said it is not really about fighting.
    “It’s about discipline, about having self-respect and respect for everybody,” he said.
    He said that he attends class three or four times a week, sometimes even five, working along side people far younger than he is, though Smith said he occasionally competes against those a little closer to his age at tournaments.
    “So far I’ve been able to keep up,” he said.  “I’ve got a few trophies.”
    Trophies are nice, but not the main reason why Smith keeps coming back.
    “It’s a good aerobic type exercise,” he said. “After I do this for awhile, I have more energy to go out and do things. This keeps me going so I can do the things I want to do.”
    Amy L. Murray, assistant instructor at the Japan Karate-Do Genbu-Kai, said that Smith is a great inspiration to the other students.
    “He works as hard as anyone and is always willing to help out whenever and wherever we need it,” she said. “He is a great example that it doesn’t matter your age or ability. Karate is great for everyone. Ron is a great asset to our dojo family.”

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