Teaching karate is not for the mentally weak. It’s not forthe impatient or easily discouraged. It takes determination,practice, integrity and a lot of sweat. It is the passion of oneman, Bruce McDavis, karate instructor here at EWU.
McDavis, a sixth degree black belt, has been training in GojuRyu style karate for over 30 years. In addition to teaching martialarts here at EWU, he is also the instructor of a karate club oncampus. He currently teaches classes at Gonzaga and for privatestudents.
McDavis discovered karate in high school. He had previously beena wrestler, but was looking for an activity that would keep him ingood shape and let him eat at the same time. He arrived at thefirst practice in sweats and wrestling shoes, but was soon informedthat the “empty-hand” art of karate includes bare feetas well. Despite the shaky start, he became one of the few to trulystick with karate. In fact, in 1973 he started the club at EWU justso he could train two more days a week. 31 years later, it is thelongest running club on campus with the same instructor.
After McDavis earned a Master’s degree in physicaleducation from EWU, he saw the possibility of teaching karate atthe college level.
“I realized that I could make a living doing what Iloved,” said McDavis.
Soon after, with the help of Dr. Peggy Gazette, head of thewomen’s athletic department, he established karate as acredit class. Now students can learn the valuable art of karate anduse the class in their college curriculum.
What does it take to succeed? According to Sensei McDavis,number one on the list is integrity.
“If you keep your word to other people, then eventually youwill keep your word to yourself,” said McDavis.
A close second is patience. If someone refuses to give up, goodtechnique will eventually come his or her way.
“From the naturally talented to the person who has neverdone anything athletic; patience is the key,” saidMcDavis.
It also takes a lot of hard work and commitment. Fortunately forthe students at EWU, McDavis has both. For 25 years he has openedup a new world of opportunities for students, giving them not onlygood karate technique, but valuable life skills.
“One quality of utmost importance in martial arts isintegrity. The real power to the individual is that when you make apromise to yourself, you keep it,” McDavis said.
The path to excellence is a long and winding road in martialarts.
As a brown belt, McDavis was asked by his instructor to assistin a demonstration at Washington State University. He wasinstructed to break a board over his instructor’s shouldersat a specific moment in the routine. Because of a 90percent hearingloss in one ear, McDavis unfortunately did not catch at what momentto break the board or what part of the body to break it over. Ashis instructor knelt in meditation, McDavis believed it was thecorrect moment and broke the board over his head.
“The standing ovation from the crowd was probably the onlything that saved my life,” said McDavis with a grin.