A Cancer Survivor's Very Personal Journey to Black Belt | Karate International of Raleigh
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ONLY $29.50 FOR OUR
TWO WEEK QUICK START PROGRAM!

Secure your spot and get started today with our EXCLUSIVE offer!

By opting into the web form above you are providing consent for Karate International of Raleigh to send you periodic text messages. Standard rates may apply. You can reply HELP at anytime or learn more. You may opt-out anytime by replying STOP.
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Thank you to Take Control Self Defense for a one hour virtual self defense class as part of our Women's Empowerment series at Poblocki. Very informative and empowering.

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We loved having you! Thanks for teaching our employees great methods to Take Control.

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Our family has been coming to Karate International for over 5 years now. It was the best decision we ever made for our boys. Shortly after, my husband started and all three are now black belts. Now I am taking karate, as well. KI has a great family atmosphere in a controlled environment that encourages you to want to come to class to learn and grow. No show-boating here, safety is always #1. There is an abundance of high level knowledge at the Raleigh dojo and every instructor goes above and beyond to help. There are several arts they teach. There is a reason they have been in business as long as they have. And that is because for them it's not a business but a passion and it shows in everything and everyone at KI. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!

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The best family martial arts school I've ever seen. Something for everybody. The skill level really shows that they are a 40+ year school. And they have multiple martial arts, which is rare.

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This is a wonderful place for my whole family. My sons 11, 9, and 6 are all on the path to Black Belt. Even their old man is giving it a try...

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I can't say enough good things about Karate International. They know how to work with children in a way that they learn proper form and technique while balancing lessons in character and integrity, all without taking out the fun. Any day, you can hear giggles from the little samurai class as they keep children enthused about karate. My son comes many times each week, and never tires of coming, and looks forward to progressing.

In addition to being child-friendly, they are parent-friendly and have done everything they could to make the parent wait comfortable and productive including parent exercise equipment, coffee, a seating area to watch classes, Wi-Fi and a charging station for mobile devices. It's the little things that say to us we are valued here. We are here to stay.

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I have watched in awe as my son has become focused, disciplined, and confident during his journey to black belt. I now see him teaching and giving back to others. KI has been life-changing for him. I can’t say enough great things about this program, the instructors, and the community. If you’re thinking about starting karate, you’ve found the perfect place!

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Every student is treated with attention and care, the staff and owners are extremely knowledgeable, patient, encouraging and hold high standards for the students. It is a delight to come and get a great workout while building character and respect through the discipline of karate. We cannot think of a better option for our middle school son!

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A Cancer Survivor’s Very Personal Journey to Black Belt

Jen was angry at her body for betraying her with Cancer

By Kathy Olevsky

Around Thanksgiving in 2009, some numbness on the right side of her body led Jen Spragins to her doctor. The next day, she was in the hospital having a walnut sized brain tumor removed from the lining of her brain. She later went through chemo, radiation and recuperation.

Jen walked in to Karate International of West Raleigh in 2010, just a year after her surgery for a cancerous brain tumor. When I asked her about her reason for choosing Karate, she said she wanted to feel strong and confident after having gone through this medical crisis. She walked by the dojo one day, on the way to the grocery store and in that moment she took her first step on the journey to Black Belt. Jen said from the first day she walked in, Mr. Chester Rowe made her feel comfortable.

Jen said overall that she wanted to feel strong again. “After cancer, I really felt that my body betrayed me”. She also said she was angry at her cancer and she wanted something that would let her get rid of that anger. She went on to say that because she lost her hair, she “didn’t feel like a girl or a person”. Just going in the dojo, she told Mr. Rowe, “I am going to have to wear something on my head” and he was okay with it so she felt that maybe this was the thing that would make her feel courageous and confident again.

By the time she started Karate, she was back in the workforce and putting time into karate was hard. She attended two to three times a week in the first two years and moved to four times a week closer to Black Belt. Her biggest obstacle was comparing herself to other people. She thought some of the other students were just progressing faster. “Mr. Rowe told me more than once that you are on your own Journey.” Jen says eventually she learned her biggest lesson which was to just keep coming back to class.

Jen, who turned 40 this year, has found friendships in her Karate classes as well as inspiration in other adults that came before her in the classes. Having the other women in the class with her made it a more full experience. She recalled that those relationships became her friendships outside of the dojo as well. Her friend Jen Aimone is the karate technician and totally gets that aspect of the arts. Melanie Moran seems to be more proficient in the flow of the katas. Jen prefers sparring. She says she never feared sparring, but she had times when she felt very challenged when she sparred with men, when she was around the Green Belt level. She said she didn’t feel scared, she just felt that she had so much to learn.

She said when she was sparring, she felt strong. Even if she did not win in a sparring match, she thought “what other woman is out here trying to punch someone”. Jen said she was angry at her cancer and the sparring gave her the best outlet for working through the anger.   She also found the spirituality that she needed in her life.   “There are the things you learn about, like perseverance and the other principles in the dojo. Then you start to live those concepts.” Jen knows she is always better when she comes back from a karate class.

Jen has found her inspirations in many people in the dojo. “Ms. Melissa Bauguss is one of our teachers and she inspires me now.” Mrs. Amanda Rowe inspired her when Jen was in her early days in Karate. Jen says, when Amanda was testing for Black Belt, “something flipped in her and she turned into something amazing.” Jen expressed that she did not think she could be a Black Belt at first.   “But Mrs. Rowe was so phenomenal when she was testing. She looked so polished and fierce when she was testing for Black Belt and she had not started out that way.” Jen decided if Amanda Rowe could make that transition and get to look like that, then Jen could do it too. Jen Spragins made it to Black Belt in January of 2015.