Set foot in the small Firestone dojo room filled with 30 students, sitting low in their horse stances. The mirrors drip with condensed sweat as students power the sweltering temperatures with their body heat; they work hard. Their face etched with intensity-fill creases tells volumes of their envisioned attackers as they punch the air with closed-fist strikes. Brazen by the power of Shorei-ryu, the students generate a compelling environment that motivates any individual to a limitless state-of-mind. However, it starts with the leadership and accomplishment of their kin—Sergio Mariscal. No one can miss the cornerstone of the Firestone dojo—a 16 year old second grade brown belt aspiring towards self-confidence and youth empowerment. Mr. Mariscal has been featured in the lashorei.org Student Spotlight section because he demonstrates the fervent and humble qualities of a selfless leader while maintaining a diligent karate work ethic.
His 16 years of life are already testament to Mariscal’s leadership qualities. A native to South Central Los Angeles, he has faced social factors that can be detrimental to the success of the youth. While living amongst gangs and violence, one must make conscious decisions that impact one’s entire life, at a very young age. One important decision is focusing on education and karate instead of gangs and drugs. Mariscal is currently excelling as a junior at the Kayne Eras Center. Furthermore, he acknowledges the decision to train in karate as a conscious effort to avoid street trouble. However, his decisions have not been selfish, as he considers his actions examples to his three younger siblings. He instills a sense of respect for elders and rational decision-making in his younger siblings by way of example. Karate has been an essential tool in molding himself to a fine example and astounding leader, not only for his siblings, but also for the students at the Firestone dojo.
Through his appreciation for karate, Mariscal demonstrates the passion and humility with which he leads the youth around him. One of the biggest hurdles that Mariscal has faced and defeated is anger management. Plagued with a short fuse, he learned to get lost in the calmness in karate while indulging in the endorphin boost after a punishing workout. The soothing effect of performing a kata or a single punch 500 times transpired into a tool for emotional control. While karate teaches one to be relaxed in a stressful situation, Mariscal learned to enrich his daily life with this technique. As the grueling, boot camp like karate training intensifies, Mariscal continues to sink into karate’s calmness and perfect the ability to apply karate techniques to his daily life. The realization of self-control and mental fortitude has molded Mariscal into a prominent leader amongst his peers.
As the highest kyu rank at the Firestone dojo, Mariscal displays an honest dedication to the empowerment of the youth through karate. By applying the mental techniques of self-control and awareness, he has gained an immense amount of patience that allows him to connect with his peers especially when teaching. He enjoys attending classes led by a variety of instructors as he experiences different teaching methods. He aims to diversify his teaching techniques to become a more efficient leader. The highlight of teaching the younger kyu ranks, he explains, is witnesses a student’s increase in self-confidence and physical strength. He feels that through his example of self-control and mental astuteness, he has greatly influenced the younger students as they look to him for guidance. The students bear witness to the epitome of a transformed karate-ka; Mariscal has interwoven karate lessons in his daily life to enrich his personal being and the youth around him.
Mariscal aspires to become part of the Shorei-ryu yudansha in the future. He wants to continue the tradition of karate and be a model of diligence, dedication, and mental fortitude to the future generations of Shorei-ryu stylists. The Shorei-ryu yudansha congratulates Sergio Mariscal for his exemplary dedication and diligence in karate.