By Robert Barron Staff Writer

Many people think of karate as the ability to break bricks with an open hand, or to jump five feet in the air to deliver a kick.

But martial arts is much more than the ability to fight, and Marisol Parr wants to introduce Enid residents to that Oct. 15 during National Martial Arts Day.

"We plan to use the Down-town Square as a fund-raiser for the United Way and for the WildHorse Gang. I plan to have my school do demonstrations, teach lessons for donations," she said.

The WildHorse Gang will sell refreshments, and a jazz band will play in the background.

Most of all, Parr wants to stress the benefits of martial arts, such as improvement of self-discipline, respect and excellence in what a person does.

In her class she stresses academics -- doing well in school and helping others.

"Improving oneself also means improving the community. It's a platform to do community work," she said.

Parr, a military wife, has taught karate in Enid for just more than a year at Oakwood Activity Center at Oakwood Christian Church.

She has a total of 40 students.

Her students are primarily youths ages 5 to 13, but some are adults.

In addition to the $40 a month fee, students also purchase sparring equipment, headgear, a mouthpiece and a hand piece to prevent injury.

Proficiency takes time and practice.

Parr is affiliated with Katsutaka Tanaka, who is her instructor.

Parr is a first-degree black belt in Shito-Ryu, but also has a black belt in another discipline.

To advance and obtain higher degrees, students must show knowledge of techniques, Japanese and English names, be able to perform the physical techniques and fight, she said.

Parr recommended kickboxing if a student is strictly looking for fitness.

"We do forms. You must build up your leg strength and endurance. It's tough because it's mental and physical. It's mostly a mental program," she said.

To control the physical, she said, you must control the mind and breathing, keeping the body relaxed.

Parr hoped to retire in Enid and wants to build something good here.

"Values, self-discipline, manners, respect. We want to promote martial arts and serve our community," she said.

Shito-Ryu is one of the four traditional forms of Japanese karate and Parr teaches that form.

Karate is a way of self-improvement, she said. It is learning how to control the body and control the mind. Physical action is a last resort in any confrontation. Karate teaches the individual to walk away from confrontation, she said. The only time someone should fight, is when he or she has been physically hurt.

While most of her students are young, karate also is good for adults as well. She began studying at age 34.

"A good teacher will take people from where they are and teach that physical level," she said.

Parr said the body will adjust to the training.

"The first few days you will be sore. But if you stay with the stretching exercises and learn to do the kicks, it all comes down to technique. It's not just sticking your leg out there. It's sticking it out there right," she said.

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