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An Unexpected Pastime

February 5, 2019

Ryan+Peters+and+his+Karate+instructor.+Photo+courtesy+of+Jessica+Suttles+
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An Unexpected Pastime

Ryan Peters and his Karate instructor. Photo courtesy of Jessica Suttles

Ryan Peters and his Karate instructor. Photo courtesy of Jessica Suttles

Ryan Peters and his Karate instructor. Photo courtesy of Jessica Suttles

Ryan Peters and his Karate instructor. Photo courtesy of Jessica Suttles

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You may put junior Ryan Peters in a box when you see him. You may assume that he likes anime, or that he is a nerd. What you may not expect is that he has a black belt in karate.

Peters’ venture into sports started when he was five years old. He attempted soccer and tee-ball, but neither activity really clicked. “My memory from back then is fuzzy,” Peters said, “but I remember not looking forward to practices.”

In 2015, Peters’ sister started karate. She soon invited him to participate as well. “Back then, I didn’t spend much time with her, so I wanted to do something with her,” he said. Though his participation was based only on being with his sister when he started, Peters now says he enjoys karate enough that he tries to take classes at least twice a week.

Aside from going to karate class, Peters attends every karate graduation he can. “It’s really to show off what everyone has learned that cycle,” Peters said. At graduation ceremonies, students demonstrate what they learned and are given their next belts. “It’s even more special when it’s a black belt graduation [because] students who have trained for so long finally get the black belt they worked so hard for,” he said.

Karate became a family sport when both Peters’ parents started participating in karate too. His father has gotten up to his orange belt, the third belt color, while his mother has gotten her black with blue belt, which is the 12th.

Karate has not been a painless pastime for the Peters family. Both of Peters’ parents have hurt themselves at different times, with his father breaking his back and his mother breaking her hip while doing karate. At the time of his parents’ accidents, Peters’ sister had also left the state, so for a long time, he was on his own at practices. Now, both of his parents are once again working their way up the belts like their son. In addition, Peters’ parents help run the Uplevel Martial Arts in Charlottesville.

Peters said he likes doing musical katas, which involve taking karate moves and putting them to music, the best. Thinking back to when he first started learning katas, Peters said, “It was fun, but sometimes it was difficult because [the instructor] kept on changing it for the better.” In contrast, he admits he’s not a fan of sparring. “We have a cardio part of class sometimes where we just do high activity [running, skipping, and side steps for 5-10 minutes without breaks] and then have a rest time. Sparring is just like that, but the entire class in your gear,” he explained.

Peters isn’t sure if he’ll be able to continue karate in the future. “When I get to college I think I’ll have to stop so I can focus on studying more,” he said, “but once I’m done, I hope to be able to still have fun doing it again.”

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