News: Dojo in the desert: deployed karate master carries on traditions in Iraq
Story by Staff Sgt. Cody Harding
CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION SHOCKER, Iraq — Training in the martial arts takes dedication, time and the will to continue to grow and learn. It can take years of patient study and practice to gain a black belt, a sign of respect and knowledge. Even then, the martial artist continues to learn and grow, eventually attaining the proficiency to share his knowledge with others.
Within a military career, the demands can become even more involved. The student must balance a career with training and ensure success in both. Overseas deployments and the responsibilities of being a Soldier only add to the challenge.
For Maj. Rob Boone, A Troop, 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, a liaison for the 1st Commando Battalion, Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement, the challenge of being an instructor in Matsubayashi Shorin-Ryu, a style of traditional karate, and an infantry officer working for the Stability Transition Team at Contingency Operating Location Shocker, serves to help him improve himself.
"It's a unique challenge, because I have Iraqis, Ugandans and Americans in my class," said Boone. "You don't see a lot of formalities in here, because, with these guys, they have to deal with formalities all day. So it's a relaxed atmosphere."
Boone, from Spring, Texas, finds enjoyment in helping teach the Soldiers and workers at COL Shocker, which also acts as a way to relieve the stress of operations. In the class, he teaches the students ways to defend themselves when unarmed, and runs them through katas, a set of motions designed to improve balance and familiarity.
"We'll spend time hitting bags, kicking bags and working on self-defense", he said. "Katas are a great way to relieve stress and exercise. You can work up a sweat doing these moves back and forth."
Though he had learned King-fu as a child, Boone's beginning in karate went back to his time as a Ranger School instructor in Florida, which was where he learned about his current discipline. From there, he progressed in the art, finally gaining his black belt in 2005. He is now a third-degree black belt.
"You never finish training in karate," said Boone. "Once you get your black belt, it starts. It's like being a college graduate, and you have to apply what you learned those past four years."
Being able to teach others is a relief for Boone, who has trained the Iraqi commandos as well as the Ugandan guards employed by Saber International to protect the COL and U.S. Soldiers.
"We have people on the camp who are black belts in Jiu-Jitsu and Judo and who also have a knowledge of Kempo" he said. "So we have a lot a background here. It's good to tap into that experience, balance and share it with the Iraqis."
As for his future plans, Boone will continue to progress in karate even after he leaves the military, he said.