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.

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

May 23

Where are they now? Clay Blum reflects on the discipline in martial arts training

In this “Where are they now” feature, Clay Blum reflects on his martial arts experiences. Blum started training in karate in 2006 and was dedicated throughout his junior and senior year in high school. He also placed second in forms at the 2007 US Open World Karate Championships, one of the biggest martial arts tournaments in the world.

At first, my martial arts training began a mild fascination that quickly grew into an insatiable appetite for everything martial arts-related.

In a matter of weeks, I went from a fairly lazy, inactive, average student to a very active one whose grades were improving markedly.

In a few years, I went from a novice white belt to a more educated, more disciplined brown belt with a greater understanding of what martial arts is really about.

Clay Blum performs Anaku

Clay Blum performs Anaku in 2008

I trained for about three years and eventually my life of work and school made it too difficult to attend regularly. I wish I could still attend, but I have taken away from my experience several trophies, and most importantly, life skills that I will never forget. I am thankful I was able to be a part of that group and that my instructor was so influential and really cared about his students.

While I have been inactive for quite for some time now there is not a single day that goes by that I do not think about everything I have learned from my instructors, Joe Chianakas and David Hawkey. My skills have certainly diminished to a degree, though I still practice what I remember when I can.

However, I will never forget the ultimate characteristics I learned from them: discipline and self-confidence. It is these two attributes that have gotten me to where I am today.

Even after several years of training my instructors would still have us practice a form (kata) we learned as a yellow belt, which was very early on in training. I thought it was of little benefit at first until I realized that, even after three years of practicing it, the form was far from perfect. The idea behind it all was to hammer the idea that nothing we do is ever perfect, and thinking that it is perfect will breed laziness.

The discipline I learned in karate was my favorite part of karate every day I went to class. I never wanted to sit cross-legged on the floor during our “lectures” on karate history. I always hoped that we would have to sit zazen, a traditional posture that was usually uncomfortable. I enjoyed pushing myself to sit for as long as I could like that.

Eventually, that aspect carried over to my daily life. I began to actually do my homework and study. It was the same idea – push myself to do something I really don’t want to do because it is good for me.

That discipline has gotten me to where I am today. I am currently employed at Caterpillar in a part-time office job in a division where my hard work will eventually help propel me further in the company. Of greater importance to me, I am attending Bradley University as a Communications major (another influence from my instructor) and have scholarships due to my high GPA.

I could not have hoped for that if I had never become fascinated by karate, and ultimately moved from just loving the physical hard work it required, but loving the discipline it instilled in me. Studying karate has made me a better person and has changed my life for the better.

Even if I can’t attend classes, the lessons I learned will always stick with me.


May 9

This month in history: May


Metamora Martial Arts performed at the Cherry Tree Festival in Washington, Ill., to promote our Extreme Kumi-Taku Martial Arts studio in Sunnyland.

MMA alumni Jessica Duffy, Neil Kirchoefer and Amanda Dixon perform


We participated in Central Grade School’s Arts Day, as we had for several years.

May 22 – We hosted students from the Harrison and Dorris College of Martial Arts for a special seminar to prepare for our first tournament that would take place the following year.

Metamora Martial Arts students team up with students from the Harrison and Dorris College of Martial Arts


Mr. Chianakas’ Black Belt Magazine column on MMA training hits newsstands.

May 10 – Mr. John Morrow hosted his 31st Annual Karate & Kung-Fu Championships in Moline, Ill. To view full results, click here.

Metamora Martial Arts students competing in Moline, Illinois

May 25 – I led my first Arts Day at Central Grade School in Washington and was assisted by Amanda Dixon, Braden & Brandon Love and Emily Berger.


Both Justin Knobeloch and I tested for second-degree black belt. We are the fourth and fifth nidans in Metamora Martial Arts.


Andy Seidel tested for and achieved his black belt. He was the 10th first-degree black belt to be promoted in our program.

Andy Seidel tests for black belt


May 11 – Adair Rodriguez completed a five-hour physical exam for his first-degree black belt. On the 11th day of May 2011, he was named our 11th black belt.