Local karate instructor Donnie Chappell receives special honor
Justin Schuver, Hartselle Enquirer
In a state where karate is not exactly the most popular after-school activity, Donnie Chappell has established a nice little niche in Hartselle.
Chappell owns and operates Chappell's Family Karate, a full-time karate school that instructs students of all ages and genders. Chappell runs the school with several members of his family. He has taught martial arts for 12 and a half years.
Even with his teaching schedule, Chappell has continued to improve in his own karate mastery, and on Sept. 16 was rewarded with a special honor. He received the rank of Renshi sho, a special rank bestowed upon a sensei (the Japanese word for "teacher") who shows exceptional expertise at teaching karate.
Professor William Rawls, who continues to instruct Chappell and who occasionally teaches at Chappell's Family Karate, bestowed the honor.
"Renshi sho is a master instructor rank, and it's usually granted to people who have been in martial arts for a long period of time," Chappell explained. "Not everybody would be eligible. It's more or less a recognition of teacher status. It's typically between fourth to sixth-degree black belt you're eligible to receive that. I'm a fourth degree now."
Chappell has been learning karate since 1982, and has been teaching at Chappell's Family Karate for eight years after four and a half years at other schools. He currently has about 150 students in his school, including seven of his own children.
"I think it was more because I was really shy, and didn't fit in well in group activities – sports and things," Chappell said as the reason he first started learning martial arts.
"I found that karate was something I could do on my own.
"We teach martial arts as a way of self-improvement, a way of learning self-discipline or respect. How to treat other people, how to develop focus, and also for physical fitness and stress relief.
"There is a self defense aspect to karate as well; it can help a person with their confidence."
Chappell's Family Karate also features a uniquely Christian environment in addition to the Oriental aspects of martial arts.
Students have the opportunity to participate in Bible trivia contests as well as conventional sparring matches. This unique Christian-Far Eastern combination is summed up in the school's slogan, "Great family fun and time in a Christian environment."
Chappell's Family Karate is located next to Fred's Discount in the Morgan Plaza Shopping Center on Highway 31, and is mainly active during the evenings while school is in session.
During the summer additional summer classes are held. For more information, call 751-3325 or visit the school's Web site at www.chappellsfamilykarate.com.