LKA students fight hard to earn medals at JKA Karate Nationals in Metairie

November 2017, one hundred and twenty competitors from ages 5 to 75 from across North America traveled to Grace King High School in Metairie for the annual National & Collegiate Karate Championships, hosted by the Japan Karate Association/American Federation. Karate athletes competed in forms (kata) and sparring (kumite) and are graded on their body mechanics, timing and power.

One of the most exciting matches of the event was LKA’s Abdullah Jarushi (2nd dan) vs. JKA NorCal’s Wauriman Borges (5th dan) in the semi-final round. Abdullah took the match to double overtime, scoring half points (waza-ari)

Collegiate competition.

with a reverse punch, and then a classic, Mikami-style front kick-straight punch. Wauriman’s front kick earned the match point, and he went on to win the finals. Both competitors demonstrated strong fighting spirit and dynamic technique.

Fighting spirit was shown that day again when LKA’s Cathy Jarushi suffered a foot injury from a block in a match on Saturday. Sunday, she walked into the tournament with a brace on her foot, and she still chose to fight! Her determination earned her first in the women’s senior kumite division against a competitor from Miami and gold with the LKA Women’s Kumite Team.

However, the foot injury took Cathy out of the Team Kata competition. During the elimination round, Cathy, Rachel Kattawar and Kellan Lyman performed Gion, earning a top 2 spot out of 3 teams to move onto finals Sunday. Kaitlin Baudier stepped up to sub for Cathy and the team performed Gangkaku against Miami, earning silver.

The tournament was an overall success, with strong representation from clubs of all regions of the country and being injury-free. The event also marked the first tournament supported by the 3 Japan Karate Association (JKA) organization’s in the United States, JKA/WF Americas, SKDI and JKA/AF, as well as the Amateur Athletic Union. Watch footage from Nationals on the new LKA YouTube page.

Congratulations to all competitors for training hard and showing their best technique and strong fighting spirit!

Kata medalists from the LKA Karate Club include:

Carson Downs
Emerson Keen
Enzo Mazza
Sophia Mazza
Ali Talebloo
Anjali Zahiri
Kenyana Zahiri

Raymunda Semana

LKA Women’s Kata Team – 2nd place
Cathy Jarushi, Rachel Kattawar, Kellan Lyman, Kaitlin Baudier

Kumite Medalists from the LKA Karate Club include:

Josiah Lowe
Enzo Mazza
Sophia Mazza

Kaitlin Baudier
Abdullah Jarushi
Cathy Jarushi
Raymunda Semana

LKA Women’s Kumite Team
Cathy Jarushi, Raymunda Semana, Kellan Lyman

Karate, Practice of Peace

This week, on September 21, the world celebrates International World Peace Day. Interestingly enough, we can take part with triple punch repetitions and partner work, as the art of karate promotes the way of peace.

The mission of the JKA is to promote “world peace by spreading the spirit of Japanese martial arts which respects courtesy to countries all over the world”. Through training karate, we promote peace in camaraderie with others and harmony in ourselves.

Karate connects people of all types around the world; it is practiced in every country, by men and women, of all economic classes. The world karate community is truly diverse! We have the chance to share in this community when we attend training camps and tournaments or welcome visitors to our dojo. We are a sort of ambassador for our region or country, developing friendships, promoting understanding and exchanging ideas.

Practicing karate, on an individual level, promotes internal and external peace. We exercise mindfulness in karate which is a type of ‘meditation in motion’. We perpetually strive to perfect techniques, kata (forms), and kumite (sparring). This endeavor develops self-discipline and promotes harmony of mind, body and spirit.

This intention extends to our interactions with others. Karate begins and ends with courtesy. We start class and begin partner training with a bow, a sign of respect. The dojo kun (school precepts) guides us as well to be at peace with others: “respect others” and “refrain from violent behavior”. Beyond the dojo, we carry this practice to interactions with others in our daily lives.

The triennial JKA World Cup, too, which recently took place this August in Ireland is held to “promote the correct dissemination of Karatedo throughout the world and contribute to world peace based on the teachings of Gichin Funakoshi”. With 58 countries represented by 1,350 competitors, this event fosters international fellowship and excellence in karate, as our New Orleans events can, too.

Every training and every day, we have the opportunity to develop our character through karate to become more confident, disciplined, respectful and peaceful people.

Happy World Peace Day! If you are interested in learning more about karate, please visit our website at or our dojo: 706C Phosphor Avenue in Metairie.

Daryl Rappold – 100% effort

Sandan Daryl Rappold
Sandan Daryl Rappold

Daryl Rappold was only 10 years old when he started training in Johnny Caluda’s youth class at the original LKA dojo on Metairie Road. As he advanced up the ranks and began to train with Sensei Mikami, he gained insights that went beyond karate. “I always remember Sensei saying that improvement requires 100% effort,” said Daryl, “and you know, I’ve found that can be applied to anything in life.”

He always felt drawn to karate and continued to be very involved throughout his college years where he served as an officer in the LSU karate club. “There was a healthy rivalry with the Tulane team that made competitions a lot of fun,” Daryl shared after a recent advanced class, “Steve Robichaux was the senior instructor at LSU back then and we sent a team to Nationals three years in a row!”

He continued to make progress through the ranks making shodan in ‘99, nidan in ‘09 and sandan this past summer (‘17) at the JKA/AF camp lead by our very own Sensei Takayuki Mikami and a visiting instructor Sensei Takenori Imura, who came in especially for the occasion from the JKA Headquarters in Tokyo.

I asked Daryl what had contributed to his decision to try for his sandan when he did and he came up with a number of factors, “I had recently lost weight and my physical ability especially my speed had improved. I felt I was ready to take it to a new level. I had had some personal challenges in my life. Karate has always been such a huge part of my life. I felt I needed a win.  And I thought to myself, why am I coming if not to get better.” And the examiners also must felt he was ready to take it to the next level because he was awarded his sandan on his first try.

And what advice does Daryl have for beginners? “Effort. Commitment. Dedication to the goal. You will get out of karate what you put in.”

Daryl Rappold side thrust kick
Daryl Rappold side thrust kick

Jimmy Juno-“Kumite was always it”

Jimmy Juno reverse punch
Godan Jimmy Juno

Jimmy Juno has had a lot of memorable moments in his long career. Beginning as a white belt in 1987, he has the distinction of being Sensei Mikami’s longest continuously training male student.

Jimmy first met Sensei when he brought his car in for service at a local car dealership where Jimmy worked. When he learned that Sensei was a very accomplished martial artist who had won many high level international kumite competitions, Jimmy knew without question that he had to study with him. But first, Jimmy would spend almost a year preparing: running sprints, doing bag training and getting into the best condition possible.  He intended to make the most of his opportunity to train with the best.

By the time Jimmy was a purple belt, he added a special kumite focused class led by Joe Peco to his regular training schedule. And the extra practice clearly paid off.  Jimmy took first place at the Mid South Completion when he was still a brown belt. Jimmy continued to compete at every opportunity. “Kumite was always it,” Jimmy confirmed. It has truly been a lifelong passion.

I think you will agree every belt test is memorable, but some rank advancements stand out more clearly than others. For Jimmy, his shodan test wasn’t nearly as memorable as his first class after he made rank. He went to class as usual on that Monday night but then Sensei called him out and personally presented him with his very first black belt-a great honor! And then Johnny Caluda, the top fighter in the club, called him out to spar and taught him some serious humility in a tradition that’s called “hammering down the nail”.  The memory of that night is still vivid even after all these years.

Jimmy reminisced, ” I came up the ranks when Jerry Kattawar, Johnny Caluda and Kyriakos were all in their prime. Fathi had just come back from training in Japan.” ” I got better by necessity, for survival!”, he confided with a laugh.

Many people consider the sandan test to be the toughest kumite test. So when Jimmy was preparing for his sandan test, he wanted to be as thorough as possible. He started by looking at the people who would be testing with him and tried to figure out who he might be paired with for kumite so he could work on strategy. It happened that Lane Nevils was planning  to test and Jimmy became convinced that surely Lane would be his opponent so he began to train with Lane in mind. On the day of the test however, there was a participant that Jimmy wasn’t expecting in the line up, Chimen from Birmingham.  And this guy was blazing fast! For his kata, Chimen did Jion. And after he finished, Sensei called him back out to do the first four moves.Then Sensei came around from behind the examiners table and demonstrated the solidity of his stance by grabbing hold of his shoulder and actually walking up his supporting leg! So the guy was wicked fast and strong!

Jimmy Juno sandan test
Jimmy Juno sandan test

And who do you think Sensei paired Jimmy with for kumite? That’s right! Chimen. So all of that careful preparation was for nothing.  But not to worry, because it all turned out well in the end. The picture at the left is from that fight. As you can see, Jimmy actually lifts Chimen off his feet with a well placed front kick stopping Chimen’s punch just inches from his face. Jimmy won the match and was awarded his sandan. It was a good day and one he will always remember.

Lisa Croft – Exercise with meaning

Nidan Lisa Croft and son Roman
Nidan Lisa Croft and son Roman

I had studied ballet and dance as a young girl, but I was always interested in martial arts and did not know which martial arts club to join. Then as a freshman at LSU, I saw a demonstration performed by the LSU Shotokan Karate Club that seemed magical to me. I wanted to know this magic. I instantly switched from the art of ballet to the martial arts.

When I graduated from LSU, I returned to Metairie where I was very fortunate to be able to continue training at LKA with Sensei Takayuki Mikami, the chief instructor, who is also well respected and renowned throughout the world. Sensei T. Mikami is in direct lineage from the style’s founder. T. Mikami trained under Masatoshi Nakaymama who trained under the founder, Gichin Funakoshi. I feel so very fortunate to have had the very best traditional Shotokan Karate training at LKA from Sensei T. Mikami who I consider a Living Art.

I always hoped that my children would share my love of karate. My son, Roman, age 8 started training karate in the childrens’ class at age 7 with Sensei Doug Walsh and Sensei Cathy Jarushi. They are both excellent teachers. Roman looks forward to his class and says it’s a lot of fun. Karate training cultivates great attributes for children in ways of discipline, respect, perseverance, confidence and friendships. Plus, I’ve always wanted a Karate Kid.

Lisa Croft and her son Roman practicing before youth class.
Lisa Croft and her son Roman practicing before youth class.

Shotokan Karate is a traditional art form that is physical and spiritual.  Its exercise with meaning and the magical part is that you can defend yourself. As a small person that gives you a confidence and an awareness that carries you to all facets of your life both at your work and personally. Unlike an exercise machine at the gym, karate is mindful. Now that I am older, I appreciate the health aspect in which it alleviates your daily stresses and helps keep you very healthy. Karate is a great workout for your entire body, mind and soul.

(Lisa has been studying Shotokan Karate for over 30 years and holds the rank of Nidan)

If you’re interested in learning more about karate, please visit our website,, or stop by our dojo at 706 Phosphor Ave in Metairie (near Bonnabel and Vets) to watch or try a free class. 

Team USA fights hard at World Cup

Team USA, pre World Cup training in Ireland

On Finals Sunday of the JKA World Cup on August 20, 2017 in Limerick, Ireland, Team USA fought hard, showing strong technique and good spirit, as Dimitri Papadopoulos of New Orleans and Ryo Goto of Miami represented the country in kumite (sparring) and kata (forms), respectively.

Since team trials in April, five competitors from the New Orleans area have been training diligently, preparing their best to represent America and Sensei T. Mikami. New Orleans/Metairie team members include Cathy Jarushi (6th dan), Dimitri Papadopoulos (5th dan), Ray Semana (5th dan), Harry Rahn (3rd dan) and Abdullah Jarushi (2nd dan).  Coaching the team from the region also

Team USA’s youth competitors celebrating their success!

included Jerry Kattawar (7th dan), Kyriakos Papadopoulos (7th dan) and Johnny Caluda (6th dan).

The JKA World Cup (a.k.a. the 14th Gichin Funakoshi Shoto Cup) is held every 3 years and hosted by the Japan Karate Association, the largest and most influential Shotokan karate organization in the world. Sensei T. Mikami serves as its Senior Technical Advisor, and our dojo, LKA is the national headquarters for the United States. The event aims to promote world peace and karate excellence, fostering goodwill and strong spirit through fellowship and competition.

All of Team USA fulfilled this vision by training hard, fighting with vigor and showing good spirit. LKA’s Ray Semana fought smart to best strong opponents from Brazil and Canada. In the Top 16 round, she narrowly lost to the UK champion but, as usual, showed strong technique and finesse.

For men’s kumite, in the Top 16 round, Dimitri faced a skilled fighter from Brazil. In double overtime, he won the match with a perfectly timed mae geri

Sensei Mikami & Dimitri Papadopoulos at LKA before Ireland

(front kick), earning his spot in the Top 8 for Finals Sunday. This is Dimitri’s 3rd time to fight his way to Top 8 at the World Cup.

In the first match of the division, Dimitri faced Japan’s Okada Yasunori. Both fighters began by feeling each other’s timing. In the first clash, it looked as if each fighters’ techniques landed with focus simultaneously. Japan was awarded a half-point. With Japan in the lead, Dimitri needed to create an opening. After fighters reset, Dimitri skillfully ‘closed the distance’ to the opponent, but was not awarded a point. Japan won. Nevertheless, Dimitri did us all proud, showing the world the product of dedicated training and strong spirit.


Congratulations to the following team members who placed and to all of Team USA for a strong showing!

Dimitri Papadopoulos Men’s Kumite Top 8
Ryo Goto Men’s Kata 7th place
Ray Semana Women’s Kumite Top 16
Kym Torres 19-21 yr old Men’s Kata 4th place
Emily Nagatomo 16-18 yr old Girl’s Kata 3rd place
Grace Marulanda 16-18 yr old Girl’s Kata 3rd place
August Tierney 15 yr old Boy’s Kumite 2nd place
Sammi Yeung 15 yr old Girl’s Kata 7th place

Check out tournament photos and stay up-to-date on all LKA and US Team happenings by liking us on Facebook here!

Vey Laplace- Conquering intimidation

Shodan Vey Laplace
Shodan Vey Laplace

Vey was interested in karate from a very young age, but she thought that the idea of training and competing with fighters was simply too intimidating for a young girl.  It took her a long time to finally be confident enough to join a martial arts school.  In fact, it was only after she took the bar exam that she found she could do such a thing.  “Taking and passing the bar exam was the hardest thing I had done up to that point in my life.  When I found out I passed, I realized that other things I considered to be unachievable actually were possible.  So I fulfilled a childhood wish and started to train.”

Vey didn’t want to pay for a black belt, though, like some McDojos allow.  She wanted to earn it.   “I hopped around from a few martial arts schools in the area trying classes out, but none of them particularly appealed to me.  I wanted a more traditional school.  One day I found the Louisiana Karate Association.  It was established in 1961 and the chief instructor, Sensei Mikami, was and still is the highest ranking Japan Karate Association master in the United States. He also won the All Japan Championship in both kata and kumite multiple times before coming to the United States.  Everything I learned about the LKA showed it was a dojo of tradition and excellence. I realized the school was a perfect fit for me.”

“Training has been hard, but it has been completely worth it.  Sensei is an amazing teacher his accomplishments are so inspiring.  He has particularized our training to create a strong foundation in basic technique which is truly the defining characteristic of everything in karate.  There’s just so much to learn and perfect in karate.  Sensei has the ability to see everything that you are doing and he can identify the smallest movement you make that throws the rest of your technique off.  Once he points it out, then the real work is on you to change it in yourself.”

“I needed every lesson he taught me to pass my shodan test this past June.  I also think about the things he’s taught me when I am dealing with difficult attorneys,” Vey laughed.

Vey is also inspired by 9 year old Mahiro Takano who also trains in Shotokan karate and is quite the rising star.  “I wish I had started karate at 7 or 8, because I think if I had done so, it wouldn’t have been as intimidating as I’d imagined.  And young girls excelling in karate are so empowering.  Just look at Mahiro.  She says that you should always train like you are competing and put forth your best effort. That’s such a powerful mentality to have.  There’s a lot I need to work on before my nidan examination- particularly my stance- but I try to train with Sensei in that manner.  If you train like you’re competing, then the competition itself is just another training day and nothing can intimidate you.”

Cathy Jarushi-Our first female rokudan

Rokudan Cathy Jarushi
Rokudan Cathy Jarushi

After almost 40 years of effort and commitment, Cathy Jarushi has become the first woman from our dojo to achieve the rank of rokudan. It is a rank held by only a handful of people in our state and represents tireless dedication to improvement and excellence.

Her training began under Sensei Mikami when she was 13 years old. And from the first, she was actively and enthusiastically involved participating in innumerable tournaments, demonstrations and competitions.

But of all of the awards that she received over the years, none has meant more to her than the award she received that allowed her to participate in her first international competition.

Only 20 years old, she traveled to Japan and with the USA-AAU team took first place against elite competitors from all over the world. Cathy then stayed on to train in Japan for the next 3 years. Ultimately, she did return to New Orleans. And she continues to train with Sensei Mikami along with her husband, rokudan Fathi Jarushi, and her son, nidan Abdullah Jarushi.

Cathy has also pursued and achieved certification and licensing as an instructor, examiner and referee by the Japanese Karate Association, the parent organization of the LKA.

“Training in karate hasn’t just prepared me to face physical challenges but also familial, academic and ,in fact, all types of life’s challenges. Everyone can benefit from this training. It can really help to build confidence and character”, says Cathy.

Rokudan Cathy Jarushi
Rokudan Cathy Jarushi

What was the most important lesson she has learned from Sensei? “Always remain humble.  No matter what you achieve there is always more to learn.”

We invite you to learn more about karate by joining us for a free class. Class for new beginners is Mondays, Wednesday & Fridays at 5:30 at 706C Phosphor Ave, Metairie, LA 70005. For more information, please visit our website here

Havard Albright-“Now the REAL training begins”

Shodan Havard Albright
Shodan Havard Albright

Havard Albright might not fit everyone’s image of a martial artist. Soft spoken and affable, this high school English teacher has been a serious student of shotokan karate since his own high school days at Jesuit. He began training with Sensei Mikami in 1984 at the old dojo on Metairie Road.  Unfortunately, he had to suspend his formal training when he started college in Pittsburgh as there was no shotokan dojo closer than Philadelphia. Still, he continued to train on his own through college and after when he returned to New Orleans.

Finally, about two years ago, he felt inspired to return to formal training. He had passed the old dojo and knew it was closed. So he consulted google and found out that Sensei Mikami was still teaching at the Louisiana Karate Association‘s new dojo at 706 Phosphor Ave in Metairie. He signed up the same week. Says Havard, ” There’s an old saying that felt true to me the day I came back,’When the student is ready the teacher will appear.’ When I was ready, Mikami was there.”

Shodan Havard Albright practicing Bassai Dai
Havard Albright practicing Bassai Dai

I have trained with Havard and can attest to how hard he has worked and how diligently he has trained over the past two years. So I was delighted when he was awarded his black belt at this summer’s JKA AF national camp lead by Sensei Mikami (9th dan) with guest instructor Sensei Imura Takanori (8th dan) from the JKA Headquarters in Tokyo. He certainly earned it!

Havard looks at it this way,” Earning my black belt isn’t the end of training; it’s the end of basic training. Now the real training begins.”

Coming back to karate or just starting — now is always a great time to train! Join us for class Mondays through Fridays

Helen Stone-“An Art for a Lifetime”

Godan Helen Stone
Godan Helen Stone

Godan Helen Stone has long been one of the main stays of our club. Anytime there is an event or tournament she  is always there helping to make it a success. At 76 she is our oldest member still actively training. Helen trains in two classes three times a week, week after week- that is when she isn’t substitute teaching for Senpai Maria Hrabec.

Helen came to New Orleans in 1982 specifically to study with Sensei Takayuki Mikami. When asked what influenced her most about Sensei’s teaching she said, “His emphasis on basic technique and constant repetition.”

“Karate is an art that can be practiced for a lifetime,” Helen says. And of the 40 years she has trained in karate, “It keeps the body in good shape and promotes excellent health. It reduces stress by stimulating endorphins in the brain and slows down the aging process.”

And along the way she has made friends and forged relationships that have stood the test of time, “My relationship with my karate friends is second only to my relationship with my family. Karate has given me the strength to overcome adversity in my life and to appreciate the simple joys of life.”