Danny Banez and Jerry Diaz are competing in the World Karate Organization Shinkyokushinkai Full Contact Karate Championship in Guam on April 29.
Banez, is a black belt and sensei at his karate studio Kyokushinkai Karate Watanabe Dojo, and Diaz is a blue belt and a personal trainer. Both will be competing in the senior men open weight division for ages 40 and older.
Kyokushin is a style of karate originating in Japan. It is a style of stand-up fighting and is rooted in a philosophy of self-improvement, discipline, and hard training.
Along with Banez and Diaz are probably about seven students from Banez’s dojo that will compete in the competition too. Afterwards, they will attend the Skills Training Review/ Seminar on April 30.
Diaz has been training under the tutelage of Banez since last September and said “it was brutal and grueling in the beginning… However, during our belt promotion, I was honored to receive the blue belt to move on to more intermediate karate skills that includes sparring with control, counter strike, and complex kata movements.”
About how he felt headed into the competition, he said “I am nervous and enthusiastically excited at the same time. I never imagined competing in any martial arts tournament, specifically with karate. I do have preparation in the view of a coach and fitness trainer from Kelvin ‘The Big Hit’ Fitial when preparing for the main event competition on Saipan, Guam, and Australia.”
When asked if he’s ready, he said “Preparation for the unexpected is a highly stressful experience. However, this is the motivational feeling of asking myself ‘Why would I do this?’ Putting myself in this mindset to experience this competition helps me prepare and in the future when I become a black belt level instructor, I can share my experience with our youth and community, including my fitness clients looking into learning about karate. It’s all about the mindset, purpose, and perspective.
As for 67-year-old Banez, who has been a seventh dan black belt for many years now and has almost over 50 years of experience with karate, he said that this is his first international competition since the ’70s in the Philippines.
Going into the competition with participants who are probably 20 years his junior, Banez said that he will try his best to bag a podium finish. Even at his older age, he said “I have the spirit. I have confidence to compete.
He said karate is his passion and that he hopes his students will continue with their training—so that’s where Diaz comes in. He hopes Diaz will carry on his legacy in the future.
In a working relationship that benefits both parties, Banez teaches Diaz karate skills, while Diaz trains him with strength and conditioning.
As a black belt sensei or instructor, Banez said, “This is one discipline that I can share with everyone who’s interested with martial arts, and at the same time, I want to educate most of the youth and the adults to understand martial arts—to understand karate. They think once you practice karate you’re going to break bones. It’s not true. It depends on who the instructor is.”
“It’s very important to be a black belt so you will understand and be able to explain every detail into, ‘why are you doing this?’ ‘Why do you practice this?’ ‘Why do you do it over and over?’ That’s how to memorize and master it—put it in your head and your heart,” he said.
He said the philosophy of Shinkyokushinkai is “to find out and to seek. It’s nonstop training, nonstop learning,” he said. “Everything that you’ve learned, every technique that you’ve learned, think about the counter of that and find out what’s the best way. It’s a way of life.”