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Not just about breaking boards, karate builds confidence, body



National Karate and Tae Kwon Do in Oklahoma City is celebrating its strong showing in this year's nationals, which hosted more than a thousand martial arts competitors. The school came home with 13 medals and three national champions, including David Steece.

Steece started at National Karate when he was 6. Medals are just a small part of what has kept him involved.

"It keeps you in shape, keeps you away from bad things," Steece said. "It teaches you how to take care of yourself so if anything bad happens, you would know how to defend yourself and the right choices to make."

Jim Butin, owner of National Karate and a ninth-degree black belt, believes martial arts isn't just a hobby, but a lifestyle that can instill in students discipline and the understanding that the only fight one can win is the one they avoid altogether.

Krystle Stetler won a gold in intermediate sparring at nationals, but admitted that she struggled when she initially took up the sport.
"I used to be very unconfident. I didn't think I could do anything," Stetler said. "Now that I know I can do this, I feel like I can do more."

At 52, cardiologist Keith Kassabian said martial arts added some much-needed balance to his life and he's now in the best shape he's ever been.

"When I first started out, I saw all the advanced belts and thought, 'There's no way I could do that,'" Kassabian said. "I'm doing a lot of things I couldn't do a couple years ago." "Charles Martin


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