JKA Karate Club of GWU



Michael Tzeng, President (2014-2015, 2016-2017)

Starting from a young age, I've always been interested in learning martial arts. I trained at a Kung Fu school throughout my high school years, and when I left for college, I knew I wanted to continue training. It didn't really matter if it wasn't Kung Fu; I just needed a hobby to keep me active. I eventually heard about the JKA Karate Club at George Washington University and decided to give it a try. Looking back, it was the best decision I made during my time at GWU. The training I experienced under Sensei Haramoto was exactly what I was looking for. I knew the practices he led were going to be some of the most intense and memorable experiences in terms of martial arts practices and experiences at GWU. You're pushed to your limits and you have no desire to give up while your training with your fellow club members. Karate has become a huge part of my life. I do my upmost to go to every practice or else I find myself having trouble focusing on school work that night. Karate has helped me relieve stress and also allowed me to make some of the closest friends I have at GWU. It is a great pastime I would recommend to anyone interested in learning more about martial arts.

Carl Mackensen, founding President (2002-2015)

In the Fall of 2002, the start of my sophomore year at GWU, I saw a flyer in the gym for those interested in starting a Karate club at the university. I went to the meeting and expressed my interest in Japan and learning Karate to the wonderful Cynthia Lee, a professor at the law school and the faculty advisor for the club, herself a black belt. We began the club that semester, with the great Kenichi Haramoto presiding over the club as our instructor, and I was asked to serve as the student President of the club despite having no previous Karate experience. I did this happily and passionately until my graduation in May of 2005.

I learned so much from Haramoto-sensei, it is difficult to articulate it all. This was not limited to Karate, but included discipline, respect, dedication, perseverance, and awareness, among other things. In large part based on this experience I chose to teach English in Japan as part of the JET program straight out of undergrad, and worked in a small, rural village in Saga, Japan for the next two years, where I continued my study of Karate, and began my study of Japanese and Pottery. Though I am a poor Karate-ka, potter, and Japanese linguist now, I cannot express deeply enough how much these experiences influenced my life. I was so deeply honored to help the club find its footing, and couldn't be happier to see how much the club has grown. I am sure that Haramoto-sensei will guide the club and its members with the same dedication to teaching he showed at the start, and know in my heart that, should I ever find myself in DC for an extended period of time again, I would gladly put on a Gi and tie a white belt if necessary, despite my age, physicality, and habits being so different from when I studied under him previously. Gambatte!

Victoria Chevee, Member 2012-2016, Vice President (2012-2013 and 2015-2016)

I have been practicing karate for twelve years. I started back home in France and was worried I might not find a dojo to practice during college. Thankfully I joined the JKA Karate Club of GWU and found more than I was hoping for.

Training under Sensei Haramoto is hard but it is certainly worth your time and effort. He knows exactly how much to push you so you can explore your full potential, whether you are a beginner or have a lot of experience, as he truly understands and cares for his students. Through his teaching you will keep your life balanced and learn how to control your body and improve your endurance. Everybody comes out of practice happy… and drenched in sweat. The effort is intense but the speed at which people progress is incredible; He is a wonderful teacher.

Sensei Haramoto also supervises 4 dojos in the Bay Area in addition to the GW club. His visits are always met with a lot of anticipation and excitement. However great the regular practices are, training under Sensei Haramoto is just Something Else.

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity I had to train with the JKA Karate Club of GWU and I strongly encourage everybody to give it a try. You’ll love it!

Haruka Akashi, Member (2015-2016)

I started karate when I was around 10 years old, in Brussels, which is where I grew up. I moved to New York for college, then came to GW for graduate school. I was so happy to find out that GW had a JKA-affiliated club, as it was the association of which I had been a member since starting karate. I was even happier when I experienced the training under Haramoto Sensei: focused and intensive. The practices under him are of a rigor that are rare for a university club. In fact, "club" is just a technical category, as this is really a dojo, where you come to improve your technique but also mental stamina and discipline. Coming to practice regularly also helps me balance my life as a student, as grad school involves a lot of sitting, reading, and stressing. Beyond the practices, Sensei also gives us the opportunity to go compete in regional and national tournaments, which helps us broaden our perspective on karate and karate practitioners. I feel most fortunate to be part of Sensei's dojo, and hope that students of all levels will come try out and join our practices.

You (Christina) You, Club Treasurer (2015-2016)

I have always been interested in Japanese culture .The first time I found out about Karate was through the anime Detective Conan , in which there is a character named Lan who is good at karate. When wandering at the student organization fair during my first semester at GW, I met students staffing the JKA Karate Club of GWU's table and decided to join the JKA Karate Club of GWU.

Sensei Haramoto is very strict but also very nice. My experience in karate has proven to me that quantitative accumulation leads to qualitative transformation.You will build up not only your body but also build up your perseverance during the process of practice.

The bonus will be that you can make lots of friends .The unexpectedly and surprisingly wonderful thing is that most of the people who stick to karate have a kind personality .There might be some subtle interaction between practice and personality .Maybe karate brings out the better side of us. Karate is also a good for me to switch mind from school work,which is a great way to relax the body and mind.

I am an international student and karate has been a large aspect of my graduate life here at GW. I am at a little bit of a loss when I don't have practice for it is now my routine. I will keep karate in my life for as long as possible.

Isaac Chae, member (2013-2016), President (2013-2014)

If you expect to take life easy, flow down the path of least resistance, then karate is not for you. Karate will richly reward you with discipline, motivation, and stamina if you invest the proper attitude, time, and effort but show up with a weak will and you'll be better off binge watching shows off Netflix in bed.

Whether you're a fresh undergraduate or seasoned PhD candidate, there are standards to meet and expectations to be exceeded at GW. The mental and physical training karate will put you through can provide you with the tools to succeed in academia and later life but this is entirely requisite on your own hard work.

Prepare to sweat and curse, have your lungs burn and legs feel as heavy as iron. Karate isn't about punching people in the face but rather dominating your own limits. The collegiate experience is all about pushing boundaries and creating a new identity, why not join karate and see if you have what it takes to cast a better you?

Masanori Sen, member (2011-2013), Secretary (2012-2013)


I am lazy. I always go easy on myself. It is hard for me to focus on one thing. When I take classes, I easily lose my focus on the lecture. When I work on a paper, I always go to Facebook instead of writing. One day I realized, “Oh man, I don’t have any discipline in my life. How am I going to survive in real life?” I have a very weak mind so I needed strong will power to overcome my weakness. I knew from my childhood experience that Karate helps in strengthening one’s mentality so Idecided to join the GW JKA Karate Club.

GW JKA Karate Club has changed me a lot. I am still lazy but I can now control myself. During the Karate practice, students are expected to perform their best. Sensei Haramoto then pushes us further. This way, students learn how to push past their limitations and gain discipline in their lives. Thanks to these great practices with Sensei Haramoto, I can strictly push myself not only in practice, but also in real life. In addition, since I’ve joined the GW JKA Karate Club, I feel more energetic. Before joining the club, I felt tired all the time. However, now I feel the bursting power gushing out of my inside and can tackle school work and enjoy life at full power; I enjoy my life to the fullest now. Overall, GW JKA Karate has given me so much pleasure. I am very glad that I have decided to join the club.

If you are thinking of joining the GW JKA karate club, you should definitely do so. There is great diversity amongst the students in the GW JKA Karate Club. Some are already working in their careers and others are students at GWU just like you an me, so you can get to know all different kind of people and participate in a great networking environment. Plus, the team members are all awesome so you will like them for sure. If you are thinking of participating in Karate for health reasons, GW JKA is the right place for you. A Karate practice is great exercise and I lost almost 10 pounds after joining the club! You might be thinking Karate is only for tough guys, but that’s totally wrong. I am not tough at all and again I am a lazy guy. I could join the club and continue doing Karate, meaning anyone in the world can do the same. You should just give it a try. JKA Karate can change the way you live. You can enjoy your life more than ever!

Hideki Rose, Club President (2005-2006), Vice President/Treasurer (2004-2005)

Since my mother is Japanese, I have always been interested in Japanese culture, especially martial arts. Having previously done judo and karate, I wanted to continue my study of Japanese martial arts when I became a grad student at GW. In particular, I hoped to study under a Japanese instructor who emphasized discipline and other traditional Japanese values that I learned as a kid. Haramoto Sensei and the JKA Karate Club of GWU were exactly what I was looking for.

Haramoto Sensei's strict, no nonsense style felt natural to me. He always pushed me to the limit, and I was a better karate-ka as a result. Having lived and visited Japan at various times during my life, I knew what an authentic Japanese experience was like, and a karate practice under Haramoto Sensei was as authentic as you could get.

I am grateful for Haramoto Sensei's instruction, since it helped give me confidence and a determination to never give up. After leaving his dojo, I was able to achieve goals like finishing a marathon and becoming a firefighter thanks to these traits. I think back to those tough practices under Haramoto Sensei, who often shouted at me in Japanese "don't back up, attack!" Those words have helped guide my approach to any challenge I meet in life.

Sheila Kwong, Club President (2011-2012), Vice President (Spring 2011)



Before even graduating from high school, I anticipated an overwhelming transition from high school to college life. I worried about keeping up in academics and studying and getting good grades. At the same time, I knew I didn’t want to spend my college life nerding away, so during Colonial Inauguration (CI), I walked around looking for one student organization, and one only, which I promised myself I would join and commit to during my first year. I figured that if I chose one student organization to commit to, I would be able to concentrate on my studies while retaining the social aspect of college life through a student organization. This student organization ended up being the JKA Karate Club of GWU.

I was interested in karate because I was told that it is the only club with the most consistent Instructor, and this is true. Sensei Haramoto is a very experienced instructor and conveys his message of the spirit of karate in his unique style of teaching. I admit there have been times when I ended my long day of classes and felt like I lacked sufficient energy to attend karate practice. After donning my karate gi and joining the rest of the group, I feel the energy in the dojo and this has helped me get through practice. At the end of practice, I am prepared to tackle the large pile of homework waiting for me.

Not only does karate practice with Sensei Haramoto provide a great workout, but it has helped me remain focused while studying. I have developed very useful time management skills that have allowed me to efficiently complete tasks. Making time for karate has greatly benefited other aspects of my life. Developing the necessary focus and concentration for my courses has largely been due to the intensive scheduling I do for my day aside from karate practice.

Fortunately, I have had the honor of serving as an officer. Not only can I continue to come to karate practice, but I am also able to give something back to the club. I have learned many of the Administrative tasks required to maintain successful club operations and I am grateful that I am able to contribute to the club. Additionally, I have been able to practice alongside my fellow officers and we have been able to remain a close knit dojo. Everyone retains a spirit which I try to match. This has made karate practice so much more enjoyable.

I am currently a second semester sophomore and karate has been a large aspect of my college life here at GW. It is very difficult to imagine a semester without karate because it is an integral component of my college life. Every semester, I look forward to karate practice every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights. I intend to keep karate in my life for as long as possible.

Amber N. Wiley, member (2009-2011)


I joined JKA GWU in the midst of writing my dissertation - a long, laborious, and lonely process. I decided to take a break from all day sojourns in front of my computer to be more active, get reinvigorated, learn some new skills, and be a part of a group activity. I chose karate because I had a little bit of prior experience and I knew that it was something I wanted to pick back up and continue. I trained with the JKA Karate club for about 2.5 years, during which I received excellent instruction from Sensei Haramoto. I appreciated his strict teaching style, clear commitment to the club and to ensuring that we were learning the proper skill set to be great practitioners of shotokan karate. I understood that I was learning from a giant in the karate field, and Sensei Haramoto commands respect. It is an honor to have the opportunity to train with him. I enjoyed my fellow dojo members as well, our pizza outings and semester parties at Sensei’s house. I have made lifelong connections through JKA GWU, and although I have graduated and moved away I am still in touch with a number of the dojo members. Being a part of JKA GWU was a rewarding experience that gave me focus and energy during the extremely challenging phase of writing a dissertation, and it was a nice way to meet people from different parts of the GWU community.

Blaise Najafi, co-Secretary (Spring 2012)



I had always been interested in studying martial arts from a young age. I tried multiple disciplines while growing up but never really felt a strong connection with any of them. My father had practiced Shotokan karate when he was younger and had always recommended it to me. Upon learning about the JKA Karate Club of GWU, I was extremely curious in learning more about the opportunity of practicing. I was instantly hooked after taking part in my first practice and was soon convinced that karate was for me. Sensei Haramoto's instruction is exceptional and unmatched compared to my experiences with other instructors in the past. His meticulous approach to teaching is so genuine that even the most advanced of students benefit from training under him. I would definitely recommend JKA Karate Club of GWU to anyone who has ever had an interest in learning a martial art.

Hendy Handoko, Club President (2010-2011)


I first found out about the JKA Karate Club of GWU when I was starting law school here at GW. At that time, I was looking for a shotokan karate club near campus and was elated to find the JKA Karate Club of GWU which practices shotokan karate under the auspices of the Japan Karate Association (JKA). Initially, I was trying to decide between two clubs on campus that practice shotokan karate but after I watched the JKA Karate Club’s demonstration, observed its first practice session, and talked to some of the more advanced members of the club, I was sold.

Based on my previous experience practicing Karate, I noticed two factors that set this club apart from most other Karate clubs. First is the instructor. The JKA Karate Club of GWU is very fortunate to have Sensei Haramoto as the instructor. I feel privileged to be able to learn directly from a traditional, senior Japanese instructor. There are many Karate clubs, but nowadays it is a rare opportunity to be able to learn directly from an instructor who did his training in Japan. I feel I now have a better sense of the philosophy, the spirit of Karate and its training, as well as marital arts etiquette after training under Sensei Haramoto. In my opinion, many younger instructors nowadays do not emphasize these important aspects of Karate.

After teaching Karate for decades, Sensei Haramoto has tremendous experience in, well, being a great Sensei. Sensei Haramoto has a very great sense of observation. He readily notices when students make mistakes (sometimes minor ones – ones that a less experienced instructor might miss) in executing techniques. Instead of fixing all of our mistakes at once, he focuses on one particular move and keeps correcting us on that move until we stop making the mistake. His feedback greatly helps me improve. Sensei also cares very much about our progress. He knows our limits and will keep pushing us to our limits so we can constantly improve. Once, before I took my test to become a brown belt, Sensei made me perform a full kata while carrying another person (of the same or heavier weight) on my shoulders. I did not think that I could do this, but when put to the task, I was able to perform.

Another factor that sets this club apart is the members. Most Karate clubs have a very high proportion of lower belts and very few black belts. However, most of our club members are advanced black belts. Some beginners may be intimidated by this, but they should not be! Actually this is a great and a rare opportunity for beginners. They will be able to learn so much faster in such environment. I find that the more advanced members of the club are very, very helpful. They are always eager to help less advanced members in improving their progress.

Sarah Lee, Member 2005, VP and Treasurer (2005-2006), President and Treasurer (2006-2008)


Seeing the flyer for JKA Karate Club of GWU in my freshman dorm was probably one of the best things to happen to me at GW. Having studied muay thai kickboxing during high school, I was looking to get back into martial arts, but was open to trying something new. I was and will always be so glad that I picked up Shotokan karate. Not only did I learn self-defense, but also discipline, perseverance, and leadership. Even during the most stressful exam periods, karate helped me, as the UK government circa 1939 put it, to "keep calm and carry on." This club has the privilege of having Haramoto Sensei as its instructor, and I was deeply honored to be his student. I also met some of the most wonderful people I have ever known through this club. To this day, I remember fondly my JKA days and always try to practice what I learned from karate in everything I do.

Jessica Yi (Club President, 2012-2013)


video clip of Jessica talking about karate training

Andrea Ruiz (Vice President 2011-2012)


video clip of Andrea talking about karate training

Ryan Peck (member since 2011)


video clip of Ryan talking about karate training

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