News: Martial arts discipline is way of life for Marine on Okinawa
After studying martial arts for six years and learning Shorin-Ryu Karate for eight months, Gunnery Sgt. Carlos P. Underwood earned his Shodan Black Belt and became a junior instructor at the Camp Courtney Martial Arts Class of Okinawa Shorin-Ryu Karate. Shodan is the first of six black belts in Okinawan Shorin-Ru Karate.
Growing up, Underwood remembers watching a lot of Bruce Lee and Jet Li movies.
"That's what sparked the interest," said Underwood, with Company B, Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler.
"It's an easy escape for me," said Underwood who is the Camp Courtney Facilities Engineer Detachment staff non-commissioned officer in charge. "To be able to give back to something that's made a big change in my life is extremely important to me."
Karate was something Underwood grasped well, and becoming an instructor allows him to give the opportunity that he was given back to his students, Underwood explained.
After Underwood's father passed away in early March, Underwood said it has only made him push harder towards his success in karate.
"It's only made me want it more," he added.
"Gunnery Sgt. Underwood has practiced very hard and promoted to Shodan, the first rank of black belt, relatively faster than average," said Grand Master Seifuku Nitta, 10th Dan, head of Okinawa Kensei Do-Ko-Kai, honorary chairman of the Universal Martial Arts Association International Board of Directors and Hanshi instructor at Camp Courtney.
"In addition to the trainings on Tuesdays and Thursdays on Camp Courtney, he sometimes comes to the training at the local community, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday," said Nitta.
Many of the students are young, not yet in their teen years.
One of those students is Underwood's son.
Anthony Underwood, 10, says, it's pretty cool having a dad that knows karate.
"He helps me with my kata's, and I wish I could help him with his, but I'm not that good yet," said Anthony, with a smile on his face.
Anthony said he looks up to his dad, and is very proud of the accomplishments he has made.
After 18 years in the Corps, Underwood said, "My goal is to become more involved with the Marines in my charge as well as any Marines I can influence."
"I plan to get promoted and further my service as a Marine leader, he said.
"For my son, I try to tie martial arts into the discipline and work-hard, play-hard mentality I teach him daily. I feel martial arts is the purest form of discipline that exists; if you train hard then the results are evident," Underwood explained.
Underwood said he would like to open a dojo in Louisiana, his home state, once he retires, in the hopes he can give to his community and foster discipline, a good work ethic and confidence through martial arts.
"Martial arts have become a large part of my life and given me a great outlet which helped turn a typical young man into a more focused and disciplined husband, father and Marine," Underwood said,
Underwood now teaches at the Camp Courtney Martial Arts of Okinawa Shorin-Ryu Karate at the Camp Courtney gym Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-8:30 p.m.
For more information or to attend a class, call 622-9221.