A karate lesson down south

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 14, 2005

Suffolk News-Herald

Two, sometimes three nights a week, Vince Crowell drives 86 miles (spending $17 on tolls along the way) from the Eastern Shore to Suffolk to take lessons at Jeff Bateman’s School of Karate. When he and Bateman decided to take lessons from one of the great martial arts masters of the world last weekend, however, the two went a bit farther – like half the East Coast. They headed down to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. to train with Master Tadashi Yamashita.

&uot;We went down on Friday morning, and we trained for about two and a half hours,&uot; Bateman said. &uot;A man down there had a dojo at his house, and we trained with about a dozen other people.&uot;

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That was a welcome change for Crowell, who started making the trip to Bateman’s place after accompanying his class on a visit to Okinawa, Japan back in 2003.

&uot;Sometimes, the seminars have between 30 and 40 people,&uot; Crowell said. &uot;This was awesome. It was intense.&uot; Martial artists from across the country had made the trip south.

By the end of the first day, the locals were feeling it up top. But it was nothing compared to what they went through the next day.

&uot;We trained with Master Yamashita for the whole day,&uot; Bateman said. &uot;We went to a park and did some samurai sword training.&uot;

Though Bateman is the proud owner of a fifth degree black belt (four below Yamashita), he only started sword training about a year ago.

&uot;He taught us standing and squatting sword techniques,&uot; Bateman said. &uot;He taught to go around, step down, poke the sword, how to attack, put it away, bow afterward, everything.&uot;

As he flew home Sunday, Crowell said, &uot;I’ve been swinging for eight hours, and I couldn’t feel anything between my shoulders and belt. But I had a great time.&uot;

It’s a time that young karate students from across the area will get to experience first-hand when Yamashita comes to Bateman’s studio on Feb. 26. The school is located at 1154 Portsmouth Blvd. and can be reached at 544-5425.