In July, Osborn fifth grader Soichiro Shintaku took two bronze medals at the 2013 Team USA National Karate Trials in the age 10-13 kata, or forms category.
By Sarah Varney
In July, Osborn fifth grader Soichiro Shintaku took two bronze medals at the 2013 Team USA National Karate Trials in the age 10-13 kata, or forms category. Soichiro, now 11, started karate at age 6 in Japan. He and his family have lived in Rye for just over a year.
“For him to compete at the highest level after just a year in this country is very impressive,” says Cleveland Baxter, sensei at the Baxter Shorin Ryu Karate dojo in Mount Vernon. He’s among the best of the best. He is elite.” Baxter adds, “What sets him apart is his focus. You can see the intensity in his eyes.”
In addition to his tournament successes, Soichiro holds a black belt at the highest level for his age group. “It’s very rare for a kid his age to receive a black belt,” notes Baxter.
Soichiro estimates that he practices about 12 hours a week. He also takes a four-hour class with Baxter, once a week. As he gets older, he can compete in higher level games. His goal is to qualify for the Pan American games when he is 18.
In Japan, where karate is the predominate martial art, there are “karate moms” similar to our “soccer moms.” Mothers typically attend lessons, learn the proper technique for forms, and, of course, get the kids to class and then back home. Mrs. Shintaku started taking lessons at the Baxter dojo two months ago.
We pictured Soichiro “practicing” with mom at home. “Do you ever flip her when you’re practicing? “Yes, I do practice with her, but she’s heavier than me,” says Soichiro. When he’s not tossing his mother around the living room, Soichiro likes to play video games, soccer, basketball, and tennis. He also plays violin in the Osborn orchestra, but he stresses that he plays “only in school.” That way there’s more time for sports, karate, and video games.