Martial artists test for rank advancement

Several members of Pazzaglia's American Kenpo and Karate recently tested for rank promotions. In the front row is Mia Francesca Pazzaglia. In the back row, from left, are Matt Van Nostrand (black belt), Mary Hallett (third-degree black belt), Robert Carpenter (junior brown belt), Colemar Henderson (brown belt) and owner and chief instructor Joe Pazzaglia (fifth-degree black belt). (Photo submitted)

JOHNSTOWN – Recently, members of Pazzaglia’s American Kenpo and Karate tested for rank advancement. Pazzaglia’s kenpo karate was established in 1999, and the owner and chief instructor, Joe Pazzaglia, is a fifth-degree black belt internationally recognized with nearly 40 years of consistent teaching, training and competition experience.

Pazzaglia earned his black belt under the instruction of Steve Holden of Sabi katei martial arts school in Gloversville, his first and second degree at the Johnstown Zen do Kai under then head instructor Mike Campos, and his third, fourth and fifth degree in American Kenpo under internationally-recognized and grandmaster Larry Tatum.

Pazzaglia has dedicated nearly 30 years to working in the security industry and with incarcerated youth. His career and experience has provided him with the insight to create and develop a curriculum that provides efficient, realistic and practical solutions to today’s threats. To date, Pazzaglia continues to provide training to the community as well as members of law enforcement, military and security personnel.

“Our curriculum is tailored over time to meet the needs of the student and focuses on strengthening and developing not only their natural ability, but their perceived weaknesses as well. This result in a far more well rounded martial artist and increases one’s ability to defend themselves,” Pazzaglia said. “Our test challenges the practitioner right from the start in many ways that are uniquely different from our competitors. The test at Pazzaglia’s American Kenpo and Karate are far more drill based rather than simply demonstrating their techniques in the air.”

“The drills provide practitioners with the opportunity to defend themselves in less than ideal situations and overtime help them to decipher what is useful vs. useless. Practitioners are still required to demonstrate techniques, forms, defend against club, knife, gun, multiple attackers, fighting, locks, throws, and more depending on the rank. Although we partake in seminars and tournaments our school focuses on self preservation and providing quality material that is tangible, practical and effective. We understand it may very well save their life someday or someone else’s. At Pazzaglia’s American kenpo karate we continue to honor tradition and the virtues embody martial arts such as respect, loyalty, compassion, courage, discipline and hope to pass these traits on to our students. Our test and students are a reflection of this. “

Recently, Mia Pazzaglia, who is 8 years old, tested for her junior blue belt.

Mia Pazzaglia started her training when she was only 4 years old and because she is the daughter of Joe Pazzaglia her test was deferred to two other black belt judges to remove any doubt or potential bias. Mia Pazzaglia travels to area schools to help her father teach our children abduction prevention (Zero Tolerance) and anti-bullying seminars (Courage & Compassion) to help other kids. Her test requirements provided similar challenges to the adult test only in smaller portions.

Also testing for adult blue belt was Brandon Walton. Walton is 16 yrs old and extremely dedicated.

“He takes his training very serious, shows true potential and catches on very fast. Brandon also participates in our X-treme Kardio kickboxing and fitness classes,” Joe Pazzaglia said. “I really enjoy working with Brandon, he has a great attitude and a genuine willingness to help out others.”

Finishing off the night and testing for junior brown and adult brown belt were Robert Carpenter and Colemar Henderson.

Carpenter started training when he was only 8 yrs old and has had to overcome alot of adversity to get where he is today.

“In lieu of the difficult times, Robert has developed a great attitude and shown true determination and has learned giving up is simply not an option. Robert has learned to tackle his objectives and overcome obstacles at an early age by simply training harder,” Joe Pazzaglia said. “He has evolved and grown in every way. He is on his way to becoming an excellent martial artist and I am extremely proud of the progress he has made.”

Henderson tested for his adult Brown belt. This was a huge transition from junior green to adult brown.

“The adult brown belt test is extremely difficult to begin with, however, moving up from a junior rank to an adult rank at this level is far more challenging. It took over nine months of consistent training for him to achieve this rank,” Pazzaglia said. “It’s at the brown belt level in our system that students get their first real opportunity to bring it all together and start expressing themselves a bit more freely. Colemar is an excellent student with a great attitude. Colemar’s new rank will also allow him to play a more vital role with teaching responsibilities and other day-to-day operations. He will be a great asset to our members.”

The advanced test can vary in length but generally run about an hour and its very demanding mentally and physically, Pazzaglia said.

“Practitioners have to effectively go through a variety of reality based drills and attacks, self defense, forms, locks, throws and more. It’s at this level when students are first introduced to weapons defense against clubs, knives and firearms,” Pazzaglia said. “However, the test isn’t over yet, the hardest stuff is intentionally saved for last. Practioner’s now have to fight three two-minute rounds with varied scenarios with very little left in the tank. It’s here where we really see their spirit and determination. It’s a very emotional time for everyone.”

“I think what’s most amazing and rewarding is not only watching these students come up through the ranks from such an early age and seeing them grow older and get better but also the look of sheer joy and happiness on the parents faces and to hear how proud they are of their son or daughter and what they have accomplished in the martial arts.”

Pazzaglia’s American Kenpo and Karate is located at 81 Briggs St. In Johnstown.

Karate classes for children and adults, kardio kickboxing and fitness and private lessons are offered Monday through Friday.

For more information, call (518) 775-0696 or stop in and the new location at 81 Briggs St. Johnstown.

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