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PizDoff
12/27/2005 12:07am,
Teen completes martial arts training just in time for Christmas

By Erin Rickert, The Daily Reflector

Friday, December 23, 2005

Dressed in a traditional gi finished with a purple belt, Shannon Cafferello shuffled around the blue floor mat at the Pitt Community College Annex Building.

Arms in a defensive stance in front of her body, sweat beading over her eyes, Cafferello pondered how to stop the two men coming at her from both sides.

From chairs around the mat, the voices Cafferello's family boomed: "Get him!" and "Knock him out!" as she jabbed one opponent in the gut, then again in the head.

"That's two points," Sensei Ron Cooper of Shicata Martial Arts said, holding up a hand on the sidelines. "Next round."

The eight sparring matches were part of the final set of exercises meant to test the 18-year-old's knowledge of shicata, a martial art she has trained in for two years.

At the end, Cafferello traded in her purple belt for the first-degree black belt she had worked so hard to complete before heading to San Antonio and the start of Air Force basic training next month.

The accomplishment is something Cafferello said she can always look back on fondly when Christmas nears.

"I have had very few students with the kind of commitment Shannon has," said Cooper, who has taught martial arts for more than two decades. "She is probably one of the most dedicated students I have ever had."

Cafferello balanced her training with a part-time job, attendance at South Central High School and choir practice at St. Paul Pentecostal Holiness Church, where she sings soprano.

She managed to complete the training required for the belt nearly two years earlier than the average student breezing through six belts before she was presented black on Dec. 18, Cooper said.

Cafferello will finalize her certification with three essays describing the history of martial arts, the belt ranking system and her thoughts on the benefits of shicata. All must be completed before her Jan. 2 departure.

"Through all this, God has been there," Cafferello said. "I could not have done it without him."

Cafferello is enlisted in the Air Force the next four years. She enlisted as a way to travel and hopes the opportunity will allow her to attend college and later pursue work as a lawyer, senator or judge.

Cafferello's interest in martial arts began as a young child in Hawaii.

It was not until 2003 that she began practicing shicata, a combination of several martial art styles.

To squeeze the classes into an already tight scheduled, she was forced to drop the hip hop dance class she loved.

"I had to give up dancing," Cafferello said. "I loved martial arts, but had to give up one."

Cafferello had to make sacrifices to continue the art she loved missing basketball games, school dances, homecoming and parties with friends.

This summer she set out to complete the black belt certification before Christmas.

"I really wanted it," Cafferello said. "It was right there at my fingertips.

"I just didn't know if other things would be added to the testing."

The night of testing she was required to demonstrate several moves and complete eight timed sparring rounds.

When the night ended, she took her oath and bowed in front of Cooper and her classmates with the new black belt wrapped around her waist.

As part of the oath for black belt certification Cafferello gave her word to continue teaching others the art.

She said she plans to do this while continuing her own training, one day hoping to become a 10th degree black belt.
Original article and picture at
http://www.reflector.com/local/content/news/stories/2005/12/23/20051223GDRgift.html


.....you tell me.

Xiangfei
12/27/2005 12:43pm,
Wow. Google brings up nothing at all.