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  Karate International of Durham Best of the Triangle Reader’s Poll,“Best Martial Arts Studio in the Triangle”

Teaching Quality Martial Arts Since 1957

Welcome to the Karate International's Member Services Platform! Designed by Jessie Bowen

I would like to personally welcome you to our members website. This site is designed to help streamline our interaction with our members.   From this website you will be able to register online for Karate International's events, updates, online training, and much more.

You will be able to login and edit your membership data including contact information. Our members website is also design to support our Duke University Physical Education Classes.

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In order to get started you must register for a Karate International Membership Account.  You can do this by using the Login Box on the right side of the site.  When you create a new account it will not be active until our staff verify you as a member. 


Our website is designed to provide information and educate consumers about the martial arts and what sets Karate International apart when it comes to leadership and personal development training. Over the next few months, our students and parents will witness positive changes in our program and opportunities for family participation in the following:


·         Karate classes 

·         Aikido classes 

·         Mindfulness classes

·         Krav Maga classes

You will have the opportunity to listen weekly to Hanshi Bowen's radio show " The Power To Live Your Vision" and attend online personal development training telecoaching workshops.

Call 919-489-6100

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  • 01 Aug 2016 1:40 PM | Jessie Bowen (Administrator)

    Persistence is the key ingredient to success that many people are missing. Martial arts set you up for success through teaching you the Power of Black Belt Persistence. Those with persistence are able to accomplish amazing things in life. When others give up, they march on.

    Do you want to accomplish amazing things? Achieving your Black Belt is amazing, and through that achievement you are learning the exact skills you need to achieve amazing things in the rest of your life.

    This story demonstrates how powerful persistence can be in your life. The life that you really want is achievable, if you are persistent.

    Diligence: The Key to Accomplishment
    By Dr. John C. Maxwell


    Earn an advantage

    Since the average person lives for the moment, a leader gains ground on the competition by being diligent. When others are slacking or cutting corners, a diligent leader is building a firm foundation for success. By sacrificing temporary pleasure for long-term profitability, a diligent leader stands above the crowd.

    The secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda. The most successful leaders accept no excuses for taking action each day in the direction of their dreams. When energy is low, the diligent forge ahead anyway. When emotions are negative, the diligent rise above their feelings. When obstacles block the path, the diligent climb over them. Through time, discipline promotes the diligent above their peers.

    Gain control

    When a person's life spirals out of control, it seldom results from a momentary lapse of judgment. Rather, an accumulation of bad decisions lead to a series of negative consequences. For example, look at Michael Vick's predicament. Although blessed with loads of ability, Vick did not diligently surround himself with positive influences, and he ended up sabotaging his career. Instead of enjoying an iconic life as a sports superstar, Vick will be locked behind bars where he will be powerless to control his football future.

    The diligent select the life they want to live rather than responding to a life dictated by circumstances. For instance, if a leader wants to retire early and have a secure future, then he or she will diligently save and invest with that goal in mind. If a working father desires to have a healthy family life, then he will prioritize time with his children and find ways to express his love for his wife. The diligent see a desired destination, and they stick to the path that leads there-even when the road is hard.

    Win Respect

    Leaders draw others to them from the attractiveness of a life well lived. Diligence through time yields results, and those results stand as testament to a leader's character. Followers flock to a profitable leader who has proved his or her worth over an illustrious career.

    Similarly, leaders search for talented individuals who consistently demonstrate excellence in their work. Most anyone can have a brilliant moment, but the best workers leave a track record of success by diligently contributing in whichever roles they are given.
    Live the life you truly want to live! Black Belt Persistence can take you there!

    Share this article with a friend. This information could change their life!

    You can also call us anytime or visit our website at www.AFKAonline.com.

    I look forward to seeing you in class!


    Hanshi Jessie Bowen

  • 27 Mar 2016 12:06 AM | Jessie Bowen (Administrator)

    How to Compete and Succeed in Martial Arts Tournaments

    The sport and practice of the martial arts is growing in popularity around the world. With all the martial artists out there, it's no wonder people enjoy the competition aspect of sport martial arts! If you are a martial artist, you too could compete at tournaments and make a name for yourself in the martial arts world. Due to the abundance of information on martial arts tournaments in North America, these are the ones this article will primarily focus on. However, there are plenty of tournaments all over the world that you could look into if you do not live in N. America. Also,this article will be focusing more on the types of tournaments that karate, tae kwon do, and kung fu artists mainly attend, rather than UFC-style or grappling tournaments.


    1. Train regularly in the martial arts. If you don't know any martial arts, you certainly can't compete in a martial arts tournament! Train at least twice a week when preparing for a tournament, as well as few times a week at home so you can achieve a skill level that allows you to compete and do well when pitted against others. Stances, technique, kiai and balance are all important aspects to work on. Private lessons, if offered at your dojo, may be beneficial. If you are an XMA artist or do creative/musical martial arts, be sure to work on being able to keep to your music, land all your stunts and keep your weapons in your hands at all times. Also, if your dojo has a competition team that travels on tournament circuits and practices specifically for tournaments, this may be something you want to look into. 

    2. Find a tournament that suits you. There are tons of tournaments out there, so you need to narrow down your search a bit. What kind of martial arts do you do? Some are open tournaments, which allow all forms of martial arts as well as XMA (extreme martial arts) to compete, in separate divisions for each event (see below). There are tournaments specifically for grappling or sparring enthusiasts, and tournaments for one style of martial arts only (eg. a kung fu tournament vs. an open martial arts tournament).

    3. Another important thing to consider is the size of the tournament and the rules the tournament follows. If you are just starting off in tournaments, a smaller one or one recommended by your club may be less daunting than a large international tournament that involves travelling a long way from home and staying in an expensive hotel. Typically, a tournament is hosted by a club around the area in which that particular dojo is located. The tournament may be part of a martial arts tournament circuit, in which case point ratings may be awarded for circuit regulars/members and the tournament will likely follow one set of rules and divisions shared by many different events. Rules are a very important thing to read when filling out registration, especially for sparring or XMA competitors. continue reading for more detail on this.

    4. Decide which events you will compete in. All the events available at most tournaments will be discussed in detail below, but if you do not practice one of the events, obviously don't sign up for it. Typically, most people compete in forms/kata, sparring, and possibly weapons.

    5. Be prepared on the day of the tournament. Be sure you have your full uniform and belt/sash, all the sparring equipment required, and plenty of snacks and water before you leave home. Most tournaments provide some kind of lunch for sale, so you may bring money to purchase it or pack your own. You should have some kind of duffel bag or backpack to carry all your things, and this should be clearly labelled with a marker or luggage tag. If you bring weapons, be sure you can clearly identify them as your own (recommend you write your name on them in permanent marker on one end). Check Mapquest to make sure you have directions to the venue and leave a bit early.

    6. Once you arrive, make sure you take the time to register or pick up your pre-registration and make sure you are registered in all the correct divisions.Mistakes do happen. You may want to bring a plastic card holder lanyard that can go around your neck and underneath your uniform to hold your division cards. Make sure you stretch properly and warm up before competing at all, to avoid injury. Because there are often breaks between divisions, you may want to repeat this before each division.

    7. Be alert! Make sure any space you use to practice or warm up is not needed for a ring or spectators. Sometimes you may be asked to leave the tournament floor if you are not competing. If the rings and divisions are being called on the loudspeakers, be sure to listen for them and head to the correct ring promptly when called. You will usually be disqualified if you are late to enter your card. If you are at a large tournament like NASKA, you may be responsible for finding your own ring using a ring assignment chart. Be sure to figure this out right away and hang around near the ring until your division is called so you don't miss it.

    1. Musical Creative/Extreme Weapons or Forms. Usually the first event of the day, so be there bright and early to warm up sufficiently! Stretch well, be sure to warm up with your weapons to get the feel of them before you go up, and make sure your uniform will not catch the weapons or interfere with your routine in any way. Have your music on an otherwise blank CD to avoid the wrong music playing in your routine. A sound system may or may not be provided to you, so it's good practice to bring a loud, battery-powered stereo of your own if you can. If you have acrobatics in your routine, this is the time to use them. Warm up your stunts beforehand, but don't practice too much - you may hurt yourself before the division even starts! If you keep dropping your weapon or can't land stunts in the practice/warm up, don't let that make you nervous. Nerves can kill your routine!

      • Once you get up to compete, make sure you are LOUD! Unlike other divisions, you can yell and scream all you want in this division. If your music does not include time for you to make your judges introduction, raise your right hand high enough for the stereo operator to see when you want it to come on. Don't over-think your routine or watch anything/anyone but yourself. If you've practiced enough and are keeping to your music, you will be fine! Your competition time usually consists of bowing to enter the ring, an introduction to the judges, your form, and a pause at the end in which you receive your scores before exiting the ring. Sometimes, to speed things up, a tournament may tell you to skip the judges intro for this division. If so, be sure you have music prepared beforehand that is shortened accordingly. You will be given a number score by 3 or 5 judges and the highest total score wins.
      • Traditional Weapons Forms. This event usually follows creative events. Your competition time will consist of bowing into the ring, a judges presentation, the performance of your form, a pause for scoring, and bowing out. Again, sufficient warm-up is important. Be sure you've warmed up with your weapon(s) and that nothing will catch on your uniform. Right before going up to perform, you may want to wipe the palms of your hands on your gi to avoid sweaty palms and slipping weapons! This division is NOT the time to be performing any routine that you made up, or any form with throws/catches, creative movements, or acrobatics. This is a traditional division for traditional martial arts forms. Be sure to keep your technique clean, your stances low, and to use loud breathing and kiai. If you have any kicks or balance moves in your kata, be sure to chamber and make sure they are not sloppy. You will be given a number score by 3 or 5 judges, the person with the highest total score wins. BTW, if your dojo uses a separate belt system in weapons, do NOT switch to a weapons belt. Use your regular belt.
    2. Traditional Forms. This is usually the largest division at a tournament. Your competition time basically consists of bowing into the ring, a judges presentation, the performance of your form, a pause for scores, and bowing out. Once again, the task of warming up, especially your arms and legs, is paramount. Don't be nervous when going in, just be sure to keep your technique really clean and your stances very low. Intense facial expression is helpful, as is balance and use of your body/uniform to create sound. You may want to SLIGHTLY modify from your original, adding more pauses/kiais and snaps of the head. However, this is a TRADITIONAL form division, so don't perform any stunts, acrobatics or creative moves. As with the other divisions, your score is a numerical score from 3 or 5 judges and the person with the highest total score wins. If there is a tie, you will perform either the same form again or a lower form, and judges will either re-score or decide the winner with a show of hands. Don't ever attempt to perform a form you haven't practiced or don't know well.

    3. Sparring. The most anticipated division of the day, and usually the most fun! Before fighting, make sure you are wearing all the proper protection required by the tournament. Pretty much every tournament will require at least a mouth-guard and some kind of hand protection, and also may require any of the following: groin protection, foot pads, headgear, shin pads, a chest-guard, or full face mask. If you don't have any of this equipment, borrow from a friend - but make sure it fits properly!

      • The sparring rules are the greatest variable between different tournaments. Some tournaments are very strict on contact, even not allowing you to touch each other at all. Light touch tournaments let you hit each other but with controlled contact, and full-contact tournaments let you hit as hard as you can (these often require the most protective gear). Be VERY well aware of these rules before beginning the fight.
      • You score points by hitting to a target area. There will be one centre judge and two other corner judges watching your fight. If they see a point, they will call for you to stop fighting and will award a point by show of hands. There will always be an odd number of judges so no arguments over who saw what point should occur. Target areas are generally the stomach/torso, kidneys, and side/top of the head, but vary from tournament to tournament. Again, be aware of rules before beginning. Some tournaments require you to be the first to score 3, 5 or 7 points on the other person. Others give you 2 minutes to score as many points as you can, the winner being the one with most points after this time runs out. The division runs in round-robin style, so if you win you will advance to fight the next person until only 2 are left to decide 1st and 2nd places.
      • Warming up and working on cardio are probably the most important. Be sure to practice blocking and scoring combinations at your dojo or on a punching bag beforehand. Don't let your opponent intimidate you; simply look for openings, block their combos, and do what you were trained to do. If you or your opponent injures each other or hits in an illegal area, contact will be called. This can mean the awarding of points to the opponent or disqualification in serious cases. Be nice to your judges and be sure to respect their decisions - they are black belt/sash judges for a reason.

  • 17 Feb 2015 12:22 PM | Jessie Bowen (Administrator)

    Why Compete in Tournaments?

    Tournament competition is about more than just winning trophies, it is an essential element of martial arts training.

    If you haven’t competed in a tournament yet, you don’t know what you’re missing. The benefits of tournament competition are so great, that if you asked me “What does it take to become a great martial artist?” I would respond with “a good teacher, lots of practice, and tournament competition.”

    Why are tournaments such a vital part of a martial artist’s training? Here are my top 5 reasons:

    Reason #1: Tournaments let you test your skills.
    You spend hours in class and at home developing your skills, drilling your forms, learning effective sparring strategies, working on your strength and flexibility… isn’t it time to put that training to the test? Tournaments offer a safe and positive environment for you to showcase your abilities and learn about what you need to improve. You will get feedback from the judges, as well as other competitors, on what you did well and what you should work on.

    Reason #2: Tournaments help you overcome your fears.
    One of the benefits of martial arts training is the ability to stay calm and clear headed in stressful or dangerous situations. So how can a tournament help you to stay calm instead of panicking? Just ask anyone who has competed. When you step into the ring your adrenaline starts to flow. Your pulse quickens, you feel butterflies in your stomach, and your legs will feel heavy. This is a result of the “fight or flight” response, and in a tournament you will literally be conditioning your body and mind on how to handle these stresses. With each competition, you’ll become stronger and more confident. Tournaments force you OUT of your comfort zone, and while that doesn't always sound pleasant, it is necessary for true growth.

    Reason #3: Competition helps you stay motivated.
    Like everything else in our life, our level of motivation never stays constant. We see this the most in children who are still learning about self-discipline, one day they are extremely motivated future black belts, the next day they want to quit altogether. Tournaments can help keep students motivated by providing them with “mini goals” throughout their training. Once you commit to competing in a tournament, you start to train harder. And then when you do compete, you feel a tremendous amount of pride in what you have accomplished.
    Reason #4: You get to watch and learn from others.

    When you train in your school, you usually end up sparring with the same people, over and over again. You eventually get used to the way they spar, and can start to anticipate them. Going to tournaments allows you to compete against new people that can challenge you. Remember that even inside of a single martial arts organization, each school will have its own unique style and personality, due to differences in the master instructors. So another benefit is that you may learn or see something you wouldn't have seen just by attending your classes.

    Reason #5: You will become closer to your fellow students.
    Tournaments offer a unique bonding experience for students. As you train together for a common goal, and then compete with and cheer for each other, you will become closer. You will also have the chance to meet with and create friendships with students from other schools. Nothing brings people together like a shared experience.

    In the end, the benefits of competing in tournaments are much greater than any reason you could have not to. It’s about more than just competing and winning trophies and medals, it’s about taking your martial arts journey to the next level. My personal success in life is through the persistent I learn as a competitor in tournament competition. 

    • Won over 2000 trophies and awards
    • Former Tae Kwon Do Sport Coordinator USOC 
    • Former coach Duke University Tae Kwon Do Team
    • 2002 World Cup Forms and Weapons Champion
    • 8 Martial Arts Hall of Fame induction for martial arts achievement

     If you do have any reservations or concerns about competing, I urge you to talk with me about them. I know that once you experience all that tournaments have to offer, you’ll be hooked and looking forward to the next one!

  • 07 Dec 2014 6:06 PM | Jessie Bowen (Administrator)

    Integrity: Black Belt Gratitude 


    Being thankful for what you have is something very simple and is one of the best traits a person can have. A person can always find a reason to complain and whine about what they need/want/don't have. It takes an even bigger person to accept what they are blessed to have and be thankful

    Read this amazing story about gratitude and you will see the true of power that a gracious person can have.

    Do I have enough?

    I was doing some last-minute Christmas shopping in a toy store and decided to look at Barbie dolls for my nieces. 
    A nicely dressed little girl was excitedly looking through the Barbie dolls as well, with a roll of money clamped tightly in her little hand. 
    When she came upon a Barbie she liked, she would turn and ask her father if she had enough money to buy it.  He usually said "yes," but she would keep looking and keep going through their ritual of "Do I have enough?" 
    As she was looking, a little boy wandered in across the aisle and started sorting through the Pokemon toys. 
    He was dressed neatly, but in clothes that were obviously rather worn, and wearing a jacket that was probably a couple of sizes too small.  He, too, had money in his hand, but it looked to be no more than five dollars or so, at the most. 
    He was with his father as well, and kept picking up the Pokemon video games.  Each time he picked one up and looked at his father, his father shook his head, "no." 
    The little girl had apparently chosen her Barbie, a beautifully dressed, glamorous doll that would have been the envy of every little girl on the block. 
    However, she had stopped and was watching the interchange between the little boy and his father.  Rather dejectedly, the boy had given up on the video games and had chosen what looked like a book of stickers instead.  He and his father then started walking through another aisle of the store. 
    The little girl put her Barbie back on the shelf, and ran over to the Pokemon games.  She excitedly picked up one that was lying on top of the other toys, and raced toward the check-out, after speaking with her father. 
    I picked up my purchases and got in line behind them. 
    Then, much to the little girl's obvious delight, the little boy and his father got in line behind me. 
    After the toy was paid for and bagged, the little girl handed it back to the cashier and whispered something in her ear.  The cashier smiled and put the package under the counter. 
    I paid for my purchases and was gathering my bags, when the little boy came up to the cashier.  The cashier rang up his purchases and then said, "Congratulations, you are my hundredth customer today, and you win a prize!" 
    With that, she handed the little boy the Pokemon game, and he could only stare in disbelief. 
    It was, he said, exactly what he had wanted! 
    The little girl and her father had been standing at the doorway during all of this, and I saw the biggest, prettiest grin on that little girl that I have ever seen in my life.  Then they walked out the door, and I followed, close behind them. 
    As I walked back to my car, in amazement over what I had just witnessed, I heard the father ask his daughter why she had done that.  I'll never forget what she said to him. 
    "Daddy, didn't Nana and Paw Paw want me to buy something that would make me happy?" 
    He said, "Of course they did, Honey." 
    To which the little girl replied, "Well, I just did." 
    With that, she giggled and started skipping toward their car.  Apparently, she had decided on the answer to her own question of, "Do I have enough?" 

    Share this information with a friend! Help them achieve their dreams too!

    Keep this story in mind whenever you think that you don't have enough or when you want more. Every time you think to yourself "I want" rethink that maybe you already have enough. Be thankful for what you have all the time. 

    Black Belt Gratitude will help you enjoy the many gifts that life presents to you each day. 

    A black Belt is thankful for each wonderful moment of life they are given...that is why it's called the present!


    Hanshi Jessie Bowen

Karate International of Durham
5324 New Hope Commons Dr
Durham, NC 27707

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