Local Sensei competes at world-class level, teaches art of Shotokan

Airman 1st Class Edward Drescher
Kaiserslautern American

Seventeen years ago, a young Hawaiian man was fascinated with martial arts. Watching his father, who owned a martial arts school, and his cousins, who practiced martial arts their entire lives, an 18-year-old Felix Farinas decided he would take up karate himself.

***image1***When deciding which form of martial arts to study, Felix went with a type he called one of the most popular forms of karate; Shotokan Karate.

“Nearly 70 percent of martial arts around the world are Shotokan,” said Felix, who now works here at Ramstein with the USAFE Combat Support center. “And most of the top martial artists have a background in it.”

Shotokan is a full-contact, counter-attack style of karate that originated on the island of Okinawa, Japan in the 1920s. It is considered one of the most physically demanding forms of martial arts and is based on precision, timing and anticipation, said Felix.

After 17 years of practicing and teaching Shotokan, Felix has proved himself as one of the top competitors in the world.

He has competed and won in events such as the U.S. Nationals and the Tokyo Championships and also finished second in the 2004 World Karate Championships.

After the strong showing in the world tournament, Felix thought it may be time to hang it up and focus solely on teaching.

That was until he opened his own karate school in Ramstein-Miesenbach in December.

“I felt with opening a new school, that we needed to develop a reputation,” said Felix.

***image2***To start his school’s path to getting recognized, Felix decided to enter the Rheinland-Pfalz Karate Championships that were held Saturday in Idar-Oberstein.

Felix said he wasn’t sure what to expect after returning from a two-year hiatus from competing. His outlook worsened when two days before the competition he came down with a fever and began feeling ill; his body was so worn out from the illness he could barely train.

“I said to myself that I didn’t think I would be able to compete, then I began thinking about it the day before the tournament and decided I couldn’t let two bad days ruin the work I put into it before that,” he said.

Going into the competition, Felix said he honestly didn’t expect much, but as soon as he stepped in with his opponent it was like he never stopped competing. It instantly came back to him.

His opponents in the tournament were no pushovers either, as many of the competitors belonged to the German National Karate team.

Still, Felix’s skill and experience were too much and after taking down opponents in four straight matches, Felix was crowned Rheinland-Pfalz champion and punched his ticket to the All German Karate Championships April 1 and 2 in Schwenningen, Germany.

If Felix finds himself victorious at the German championships, he will have another shot at becoming the world champion in the 2006 World Karate Championships.

Regardless of the outcome, Felix claims this will be his last go at competing.

Despite his huge advantage in experience, Felix admits that it continues to get harder to keep up with the younger, faster competitors.

“After my last hoorah here I will probably retire from competing and dedicate my time to my students,” said Felix.

Felix teaches karate at his school three times a week. He offers two programs, the parent/child program and the adult program.

“I love teaching the kids. I love their eagerness to learn and their never-ending thirst for knowledge,” said Felix, who was the chief karate instructor of the New Mexico region in 2000 and also teaches women’s self-defense courses.

Anyone interested in Mr. Farinas’ courses can contact him at 0176-287-99433 or SenseiDK0076@yahoo.co.uk.