Sunday, November 25, 2007

Tigard karate instructor offers an alternative to kids
Bob Ellis says the form of karate he teaches can help instill strong character, morals and discipline in youth
By Barbara Sherman

The Times, Nov 15, 2007
TIGARD – Bob Ellis has a much broader mission than teaching karate to kids. The owner of a business on Main Street called Seishinkan Karate on Main, Ellis of course wants to teach karate, but he also wants to teach kids to aspire to high ideals and standards. “I’m on a mission and want to get the word out,” he said. “There have to be alternatives for kids out there who don’t want to play football or soccer. “I’m very passionate about this. It’s nice to be able to devote this part of my life to doing good. The comments from parents have been rewarding.”

The true focus of Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate-Do is to instill participants with strong character, morals and discipline, according to the federation’s Web site. “Moral, intellectual and physical training combine as one to encourage positive development of the human spirit,” stated Higaonna Morio, chief instructor and chairman of the International Okinawan Goju-Ruu Karate-Do Federation. “Through karate training, a student will learn to focus and apply the power of the mind. “Students develop qualities centered on courage, morality, resolve and responsibility... This is what is meant by karate-do. This is what we practice. This is what we teach.”

A former Marine, Ellis said he has more than 25 years of experience as a defense-industry executive. He also said he received top-secret security clearance and worked with the special operations and intelligence communities. On the karate side, Ellis is a personal student of Morio and the founder and chief instructor of the IOGKF, which has more than 80,000 students in 45 countries. Ellis, who has 45 years of karate experience, is a certified IOGKF senior instructor and a member of the IOGKF-USA Executive Committee and National Grading Board. He is disheartened at the state of our society today, which he feels includes lack of character education at home and in school, a win-at-all-costs mentality in sports, and family pressures that lead to broken homes and kids left alone. Ellis uses statistics from “Report Card 2002: The Ethics of American Youth” that he says proves him right. In a survey of 12,000 high school students, cheating went from 71 percent in 2000 to 74 percent in 2002; theft increased from 35 to 38 percent; willing to lie to get a good job jumped from 28 to 39 percent; stealing from a store within the past 12 months went from 31 to 38 percent; and cheating on an exam once in the past year jumped from 61 percent in 1992 to 74 percent in 2002. In sports, Ellis said that coaches don’t always set a good example, and many coaches place winning above honorable competition and condone illegal or unsporting conduct. Ellis also agrees with the national studies that show childhood obesity has become an epidemic and will lead to serious diseases and earlier deaths.
Ellis believes the solution is lifestyle modification and developing character in youth, such as through karate.

“What are we doing to our kids?” he asked. “People are not caring for their kids, and a litany of problems are erupting at the family level. These kids who are left alone are ignored and getting fat. Diabetes will overwhelm the medical-care system. “Schools aren’t teaching these things. What we need is action, not discussion. The problems are addressable by life-style modification.”
According to Ellis, karate is not a sport but a lifestyle. His karate studio currently has between 75 and 100 students, with the youngest 5 years old and the oldest 34 years old.

Ellis starts new students in an introductory, two-month-long class, and he requires the parents to meet with him and go over the curriculum so that everyone has the same expectations.
“Everybody has to be invited to join,” Ellis said. “Our goal is for kids to earn their junior black belt. They all sign a letter a intention to get it.” He also works on personal issues, as exemplified by his leadership and anti-bullying classes and another one on stranger awareness. Another aspect is the physical, and a third one is values. For example, September was respect month.
“Anyone can call himself a karate teacher,” Ellis said. “What makes me a little different is that I had experience in the corporate world, and I had all my (karate) training in one place, and all my records are there.” Ellis said that our culture is one of instant gratification, while his karate training takes dedication and hard work. “It’s not quick and easy,” he added. Ellis and his family have lived in Tigard for 14 years.

Seishinkan Karate on Main is located at 12566 S.W. Main St. in Tigard. For more information, visit or call 503-968-1600

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