Martial artist earns second black belt

In The Spotlight: Sam Birnberg, sophomore

Sophomore+Sam+Birnberg+performs+his+final+move+on+his+bo+staff+form+for+his+black+belt+exam+last+April.+Birnberg+received+his+first+black+belt+three+years+ago%2C+his+second+one+last+April+and+hopes+to+continue+adding+onto+his+belt.
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Martial artist earns second black belt

Sophomore Sam Birnberg performs his final move on his bo staff form for his black belt exam last April. Birnberg received his first black belt three years ago, his second one last April and hopes to continue adding onto his belt.

Sophomore Sam Birnberg performs his final move on his bo staff form for his black belt exam last April. Birnberg received his first black belt three years ago, his second one last April and hopes to continue adding onto his belt.

Used with written permission from Sam Birnberg

Sophomore Sam Birnberg performs his final move on his bo staff form for his black belt exam last April. Birnberg received his first black belt three years ago, his second one last April and hopes to continue adding onto his belt.

Used with written permission from Sam Birnberg

Used with written permission from Sam Birnberg

Sophomore Sam Birnberg performs his final move on his bo staff form for his black belt exam last April. Birnberg received his first black belt three years ago, his second one last April and hopes to continue adding onto his belt.

Ruthie Hope

When did you start karate?

I started karate about 6 years ago in January — fourth grade.

How did you first become involved with karate?

I was interested because I used to watch old kung fu movies with my dad. Bruce Lee inspired me. When I had the opportunity it was like an alternative to football.

Where do you take karate?

I take karate at National Karate in Plymouth.

What do you enjoy about it?

I really like the aspects of karate. It’s mental and physical. It works a lot with your physical limitations but also discipline and focus.

Do you participate in karate competitions?

I used to compete a lot. I don’t really as much (now). There’s a big tournament every year, an international tournament hosted in the Twin Cities, Diamond Nationals, that I’ve been to a couple times.

Do you teach karate?

I began teaching after I got my black belt and I taught on and off for three years.

What is your favorite part?

Sword class because it’s really exciting to work with swords. I don’t go to it much anymore, but we would learn sword techniques, sword fighting, sparring and we learned a form. Using swords itself is really fun, but learning the techniques and training makes it better. Learning to use weapons is one of the more exciting parts of karate.

Is it unusual for someone your age to have a black belt?

It depends on when you start. Generally, it’s three years from the starting point. There are kids who start when they’re 6 and they’ll get it by the time they’re 9 and there are people who start when they are middle-aged.

Do you have a favorite memory from karate?

My favorite memory would be finally getting my first black belt after all the hard work and years of practice.

Are classes group or individual?

Generally it’s a class, so you have an instruc- tor teaching a group of kids or adults depending on what age and level. But a lot of it is either individual, or if you’re working in pairs or groups, doing things together. It’s more self-defense or form.

When did you get your black belt?

It’ll be three years ago at the end of this month from my first black belt. And then I got my second black belt this April.

What are some of the challenges?

When I first got my black belt, there was a large screening process. You have to take three tests. That was really hard. The first black belt, they really work you to make sure that you’re ready.

What are you looking forward to now that you have your black belt?

I’m really looking forward to learning more techniques and really developing my skills and hoping to get higher degrees of black belt.

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