Karen MacDonald, 4th Dan – Cotati, California
Karen MacDonald (4th Dan) started karate when she was 11 years old.
"What brought me to the Martial Arts was an 11 year old, shy, insecure, little me. Both my sister and I started at the same time. In fact we were the first females in Bolton, Ontario to start Martial Arts. Our picture was even in the local paper!"
They started their Karate journey in 1983 with the enthusiastic guidance of the late, Sensei Ian Fung, may he Rest in Peace.
" I have so many fond memories of Sensei Fung. He was such a powerhouse and he really brought that very thing out in me. I am forever grateful and will forever miss him. Sensei Ian Fung laid our foundation and my sister and I were both hooked. We would take weekly trips to train with Shuseki Shihan Woon-A-Tai in Toronto. Our traveling time included quizzing each other on how many movements were in each kata and seeing how much Japanese we could remember."
Sensei Karen has many fond memories of the Toronto dojo!
"Here is where I found my spirit and intensity. Shuseki Shihan and his wife were major inspirations to me growing up. Both of them fed my young soul with so much goodness."
Six years later, she received her Shodan from Shuseki Shihan Woon-A-Tai and Master Okazaki.
She trained with Sensei Frank Corbett through College. Her training slowed down until moving to Northern California in 2000. The first thing she did when she moved was find a dojo.
"It was my piece of home even though I was in a different country."
She became the Dojo Administrator and Instructor for Sensei Marty Callahan/ISKF at ASK Karate in Santa Rosa, CA. In 2003, she earned her Nidan and Sandan in 2007 from Yaguchi Sensei. By this time she was teaching on her own in the local Community center. After hearing that Shuseki Shihan Frank Woon-A-Tai formed the IKD, it did not take her long to join.
"It did not take me long to find home again."
She became an IKD member in late 2012.
"A bitter sweet testing for Yondan in early 2013 with Shuseki Shihan Woon-A-Tai. Full Circle."
Karen was drawn to Karate by the Spiritual Side to the Art.
"Because it helped me so much growing up in school and in life with my confidence level, and my bully issues it is still the main reason I teach today. The benefits are endless and young people today need a focus for mind and body to help get them through tough times that may arise."
She got involved with a Martial Arts for Peace Program that specifically teaches young people about Peaceful ways to manage bullies, by Nationally and Internationally acclaimed author Dr. Terrence Webster-Doyle. She became a Certified Martial Arts for Peace Instructor in 2003 and focused on bringing Karate to schools in her area and teaching it as part of Health Education.
Karen works with Horses in the day and teach Karate in the Evenings. In working with horses, she always says...I wouldn't be here today, if it weren't for my karate training. She have been through some pretty impressive wrecks starting young horses, working with problem horses, retraining thoroughbreds off of the track.
"I owe it all to my Karate training! Working with horses is so much like Karate, the timing, focus and calmness you need to be safe around these amazing 1500 lb + animals."
In July of 2016, she took the big leap and finally opened her own dojo in downtown Petaluma.
"2016 was a scary but exciting year for Petaluma Karate Club. We are doing well with 31 students strong! I couldn't have done it without the amazing unconditional support of Shuseki Shihan Woon-A-Tai, who continues to inspire me and keep my spirit and intensity 'Sensei Ian Fung strong' OSU!!"