August 31

Our 2011-2012 Program Offerings: Update

The school year is more than upon us—tomorrow is the first of September, and I’m hoping many of our former students and prospective students will check our website for information on this year’s programs.

In brief, here’s what we have to offer as of now:

Metamora High School students will have practices Tues, Wed, and Thu after school. There will be a non-obligating informational meeting and first trial class for new students interested in our program on Thursday September 8th from 3:30-4:30. Meet in the commons and wear comfortable clothes.

For grade school age students and adults in our community, we are offering weekly classes at Riverview Grade School on Wednesdays in the gym from 6:30-7:30. If you are interested in joining or resuming your training, just show up! We’ll have more information for you at that time.

UPDATE: Our program at Germantown is resuming Thursday Sept 15 from 6-7 p.m.

Who is teaching what?

At the high school, Deshi Thomas is teaching on Tuesdays (class supervised by Mrs. Deters), on Wednesdays Coach Unger is leading the workout, and Sensei Chianakas, Sensei Hawkey, and Deshi Adam Bockler are teaching on Thursdays. Assisting as available are Joshu Adair and Joshu Andy.

At Riverview, Joshu Adair Rodriguez is our black belt lead instructor, assisted by Robert Unger (also our adult supervisor), Caitlan Rohman, and Greg Martin.

At Germantown, Deshi Adam Ulbricht, a 2nd degree black belt, will lead the classes. Assistants still TBA.

How much does it cost?

Training at Riverview Grade School costs only $7 per class with a semester fee of $20 (payable two times a year). It’s the best deal in town, for sure!

Training at Metamora High is free and is sponsored by the high school. You pay only for your uniform and promotions.

If you have questions, you may contact Sensei Joe Chianakas at

How do I get updates?

Please “like” our Facebook page here. You can also join our private Facebook group if you are a current student or parent of a current student here.

August 5

2011-2012 School Year Preview

The 2011-2012 School Year: A Preview

Many of you are curious about our upcoming school year, and I hope you are also excited as I am to resume regular training. I’ve been meeting with my black belts and adult assistants to plan the school year. Although I have not yet met with everyone, I feel confident enough to give you a tentative preview of the programs.

High School Start Dates (Please note- this is a preview- all dates are subject to change. Check our website and Facebook frequently for updates!):

Tuesday August 23, 3:30-4:30, for all current students
Informational meeting for new students (be sure you bring a friend!): Thursday September 1
New students begin regular training Tuesday September 6

Grade School Start Dates:
Pending approval from grade schools still-
Riverview Wednesday August 31
Germantown Thursday September 1

Who is teaching each program?

High School:

Tuesdays will be led by Deshi Thomas Deters and supervised by Mrs. Deters
Wednesday workouts will be led by Coach Robert Unger
Thursdays will be led by Sensei Chianakas, assisted by Deshi Adam Bockler and also very likely Joshu Andy and Joshu Adair. On days I cannot attend, Deshi Adam and Coach Unger will lead classes. Mr. Hawkey will lead advanced class as usual.

Grade school instructors TBA. I still need to meet with our grade school team, and I have not had the opportunity to do so yet, but I will be meeting with grade school instructors next week.

There are several more new and exciting announcements I wish to tell you about, but I will remain patient for now and reveal more information about our program as our start dates near.

June 21

New fitness opportunities with Mr. Chianakas

To our martial artists and members of our community:

I want to invite you to join me in new endeavors to enhance our physical fitness.

During this summer, starting now (or to be specific, June 21, 2011), I will be teaching two Body Pump classes at the ICC CougarPlex. The ICC CougarPlex is a new state-of-the-art facility. Check it out at

Body Pump is an intense one hour barbell and weightlifting workout to music. I’ve been taking Body Pump classes for nearly a year, and I recently began the journey to become a certified instructor. During this certification process, which will take several months, I will be teaching Body Pump “demo” classes. In other words, the classes won’t include the current, official rounds until I am certified, but the workouts and moves will be similar.

While I’m teaching summer academic classes, I wanted to find a way to get involved on campus in other ways. During the fall, I will most likely continue to teach Body Pump twice a week and add two cardio kickboxing classes as well. If you are a current martial artist, you will remember our “crazy karate” workout days. That’s what the cardio kickboxing classes will be!

I’m sure some may be wondering if I will still be available to teach karate at MTHS, and the answer is yes. My schedule at ICC and the fitness facility schedule are quite flexible.

Regardless, one’s pursuit of martial arts expertise, black belt, and beyond must include physical fitness. Yes, knowledge is power, but in a real fight, you must be in good physical shape to survive if you ever need to defend yourself. My fitness classes will be designed to get us in the best physical shape possible.

A few quick facts:

– ICC students pay $40 for the summer semester, $80 for fall semester, and $80 for spring semester. This cheap rate gives you unlimited access to everything in the fitness center (weights, gyms, and all fitness classes—not just mine).

– If you are not an ICC student, you can join the fitness center for only $35 a month. Most clubs are significantly more expensive.

– You can also, instead of paying any membership, simply sign up for a college credit hour. You get an hour of college credit in physical education if you attend a specific number of hours. The fee is $90 some bucks per credit hour.

My life journey in martial arts and physical fitness has taken me in several directions. As I become a full-time employee at ICC, I want to give to the college as much as I ever gave to the high school. Physical fitness will be one small area in which I can contribute my time and energy. I invite you to join me.

If you have any questions, reply or send me an e-mail to

June 8

Mr. C’s career change and the future of Metamora Martial Arts

Although I have told many people in person, I have not had an opportunity to post an important professional change to viewers of our website. For our interested martial arts family and friends, I want to share with you my professional change and also post the summer schedule and preview a tentative fall schedule.

I have accepted a full-time teaching position at Illinois Central College for this upcoming school year and have resigned as a teacher at Metamora High School. Without a doubt, the decision was very difficult. The family and friends I have gained at Metamora are incredibly valuable to me. Working with high school students has been a great pleasure in my life for ten wonderful years. It was with a heavy heart that I said good-bye to my co-workers, administration, and Metamora students.

However, I am very excited about my future at Illinois Central College. I will be teaching college level communication classes and will have several incredible opportunities. My hope is to be involved with changes in online education, and I may even have an opportunity to work with the International Studies Department, specifically between ICC and colleges in Japan.

Communication (in addition to martial arts) is my passion. This May, I graduated with a second master’s degree—this time in speech communication. During the school year, I was made aware of an opportunity to become a full-time professor at ICC. I pursued the opportunity, and out of nearly 80 applicants, I was selected at the finalist.

I am already teaching at ICC this summer, but I begin full-time in August. I look forward to new challenges and opportunities at the college level, but I will miss Metamora High School dearly.

With that said, it is my intent to continue the martial arts program as is. I have met with black belts and instructors, and we will be working as a team to continue the program. We plan to have the same schedule at Metamora as we did this previous school year, and we plan to continue the programs at Riverview and Germantown.

Here is a preview for fall:

At Metamora High School: Deshi Thomas will teach Tuesdays and the practice will be supervised by Denise Deters. Robert Unger will lead the workout on Wednesdays. Joshu Andy and Joshu Adair will alternate teaching on Thursdays and the practice will be supervised by Robert Unger. Mr. Hawkey will also continue to lead a Thursday advance class. I will schedule myself to teach as often as possible, but I do not yet know my fall schedule. My plan is to be at Metamora High during all stripe review weeks and at least one practice per week (some Tuesdays, some Wednesdays, some Thursdays so I can work with everyone). Additionally, I plan to schedule a specific practice to work with advanced students, especially those approaching black belt. PE waivers should still be available. Please note, however, that all of this information is subject to change and is still pending approval from Metamora administration. I am sure it will be approved, but we may not know for sure until later in the summer.

At Germantown: Deshi Adam will continue to lead practices on Thursdays.

At Riverview: Practices will be led by Joshu Andy and Joshu Adair who may alternate weeks, and Robert Unger will also assist and supervise practices.

I’m excited to have so many wonderful leaders in our program. The true strength of a program is revealed by the student-leaders, not simply by one instructor. We have a very strong program that I am very proud of.

I will post the summer schedule below. Always check our Facebook site for updates. Especially during this hot weather, we may cancel classes due to extreme heat.

If you have any questions, post a comment below. Also, please update your address books with the following information:
My new work e-mail is I don’t know my office phone number, but you may still reach me on my cell at 309-256-6406. My new work mailing address (starting August 1) is as follows: Illinois Central College/ Dept of Communication/ Attn: Joe Chianakas/ One College Drive/ East Peoria, IL 61635.

I look forward to continuing our martial arts journeys together, no matter where our professional and personal lives take us.

Summer schedule:

Thu June 9: All students, all ages, all ranks- @ Metamora High wrestling room; instructors/supervisors: Robert Unger and Andy Seidel, 6-7

Tues June 14 (subject to change; will let you know the weekend before): Advanced students only (Brown belts and higher) with Mr. Chianakas at MTHS, 6-8

Wed June 15: Advanced students only- @ Mr. Hawkey’s, 6-8

Thu June 23: All students, all ages, all ranks- @ Metamora High wrestling room; instructors/supervisors: Robert Unger and Adair Rodriguez, 6-7

Wed June 29: Advanced students only- @ Mr. Hawkey’s, 6-8

Thursday July 7: All students, all ages, all ranks- @ Metamora High wrestling room; instructors/supervisors: Robert Unger and Andy Seidel, 6-7

Tuesday July 12: (subject to change; will let you know one week in advance): Advanced students only with Mr. Chianakas at MTHS, 6-8

Wednesday July 13: Advanced students only- @ Mr. Hawkey’s, 6-8

Thursday July 21: All students, all ages, all ranks- @ Metamora High wrestling room; instructors/supervisors: Robert Unger and Adair Rodriguez, 6-7

Wednesday July 27: Advanced students only- @ Mr. Hawkey’s, 6-8

June 2

Summer training at Mr. Hawkey’s

Last night began the fourth summer of advanced ranks training at Mr. Hawkey’s home deep in the woods in Hopewell. As class goes on, I hope to provide more insight as to what we’re learning.

When black belts first started attending classes in 2008, we weren’t quite sure what to expect. He was in the process of transforming a space adjacent garage into something of a cottage for when his children came back home – though at the time, the walls weren’t finished, there was no air conditioning and the only martial arts-related equipment in the room were two very smooth blue mats taped together and a rig for a punching bag and speed bag.

Now, as advanced ranks began to join us last summer, the room is air conditioned and finished.. There’s a bathroom, a kitchenette and some more furniture. The old fireplace is adorned with foam on its edges to protect us from potentially falling into it. The mats still appear to be in pristine condition, like he’s ordered another set.

Mr. Hawkey also enjoys landscaping, eager to show us new projects he’s working on. Last summer he was redoing his backyard and even had Justin and I moving blocks for him before we started class. I didn’t get to see the finished product last night, so maybe next time.

In a way, Mr. Hawkey’s home projects are telling of martial arts practice. When he teaches class at his place, we refine techniques and build on the knowledge we have, similar to how he’s turned a building with four walls and a roof into a weekend getaway.

We worked undo chikara last night with reference to Wansu. Undo chikara stands for moving forces, outlined in the Pinnacle of Okinawan Karate, and they are different ways to look at your techniques. Instead of just blocking and striking, we’ll be taking a look at ways to apply pressure, joint locks, throws, knockouts and more in order to effectively dispose of “the attacker.” (I put this in quotes not because I think it’s a joke, but because “the attacker” seems to be the invisible other person in the room with us when we visualize what’s happening.)

As students, generally colored belts, we work the same interpretation over and over again. This allows us to get a decent grasp on the basics.

However, as we advance into the deeper colored belts and black belts, we need to know our kata inside and out. And that’s where this advanced class comes in. But in order to do some of these modified techniques and apply extensions on the kata, we must have a solid grasp of Wansu’s basic tenets. For example, last night, Mr. Hawkey was showing us the axes the hips must rotate around to get the proper thrust and action. Once we get a firm understanding of how our hips move, then we can understand what kind of damage we can cause.

There is so much attention to detail with regard to where your body is against “the attacker’s.” How are you moving? Where is (s)he going? Why would you want to use a one-finger punch instead of a regular punch? Why do we use stances anyway?

This goes to show that before we ever get to the advanced techniques, we need to get the basics down first before we add to them.

Just like building a cottage in the woods.

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