Concentration, coordination and confidence

Published on: July 23, 2010

By Penny Fletcher



Penny Fletcher Photo
Jim Chambers strikes a pose before demonstrating a new move in his karate class at the Gardenville Recreation Center. Jim and his wife Sarah teach the class at Gardenville and also at Riverview Recreation Center every Monday and Wednesday.

GIBSONTON – Shana Chevillot started her son Alex in USA Goju Karate just before his fourth birthday.

She says it helps him concentrate. A little more than three years later, when Alex dons his karate suit, so does she. She says it helps her with her balance.

Now the two of them take lessons at the same time Monday and Wednesday nights from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Gardenville Recreation Center, 6219 Symmes Road in Gibsonton.

The traditional karate uniform is called a Gi, pronounced “gee” and is designed to hold up despite being gripped, pulled or tugged. But watching the children’s and adult classes taught at the center last week, I didn’t see any pulling or tugging. In fact, I didn’t see any confrontational behavior at all.

Instead, I saw Sensei Jim, who works with the adults, and Sensei Sarah, working with the children, leading their charges in lessons of self-discipline, respect, self confidence and coordination.

Jim and Sarah Chambers explained that the term Sensei means “teacher” in Japanese. They use it as a title, to help students get in- and stay in- the right mental state during class.

The couple is originally from Melbourne, but has lived in South County for about 10 years. They live in Riverview and also teach at the Riverview Recreation Center, 7807 Capitano Drive, on Tuesdays from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.  

“Children can start as young as four,” Jim Chambers said, and there is no upper age for adults. He said the skills learned in the sport bolster both mind and body and help with mental and physical fitness as well as teach strong self defense. 

Ron Garner, 42, started learning the techniques by taking his three boys, now 8, 13 and 20. Then he began taking lessons himself. Ron has only been at it four years, and has already obtained a Brown Belt.

Belt ranking denotes proficiency from levels 10 Kyu (Japanese for lesson) to No. 1. From there you go into Black Belt categories which are numbered from 1 to10 with 10 being the highest. The belts are colored from white to green to purple and then go to brown and black. The colors supposedly denote the depth of concentration and proficiency of the participant.

Major David C. Lyles of Riverview’s FishHawk Ranch is stationed at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa but trains and helps teach with the Chambers. A Black Belt himself, he often leads exercises at the recreation center.

The exercises of the USA Goju Katate are part of the national USA Goju Organization; its symbol a fist over an American flag. Established in 1964, the organization has a style that requires trainees to concentrate and push on to new and higher levels. It instills concepts that all things are possible, we all start at the bottom, nothing is free and that everyone works.   

“We never say ‘I can’t,’ but find a way to accomplish a goal,” Jim Chambers said.

When they begin, they sit in a concentration stance with their eyes closed. “We must first get into the correct mentality,” he explained.

Although karate teaches self defense, it also helps the body’s need for exercise and improves the mind, Sarah added.   

To find out more, or to register, either show up at the times and places mentioned earlier in this story, or call the Chambers at (813) 695-6138.



Penny Fletcher Photos
Sarah Chambers teaches her students concentration, discipline and respect along with their weekly self defense lessons.