Slashing and kicking

Newcomb sisters master the techniques of karate

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

GALLUP, May 19, 2012

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(Special to the Times - Donovan Quintero)

TOP: Chauntel Scott, 14, works with a weapon staff Saturday in Gallup. (Special to the Time

BOTTOM: Chanel-Dion Scott, 13, lets out a scream Saturday during her forms testing in Gallup.

F or the last six years, Chauntel and Chanel-Dion Scott have become proficient learners.

As students of karate, the two sisters have been tested a least a dozen times and last Saturday their dedication to the sport put them in a rare breed of young black belt holders.

Chauntel, 14, and Chanel-Dion, 13, both attend Newcomb Middle School.

They have a younger sister, Chauntae, who is also learning the Japanese art of self-defense and last Saturday at Miyamura High School she earned her purple tips for her green belt.

"I knew they would make it all the way," their father Melvin Scott said of his two older daughters. "When they started their training at the white belt level, they were pretty much outspoken and they picked up the techniques pretty quick."

Scott said his girls showed a strong interest in karate at a young age after watching a few martial art movies.

"They picked it up from there and it caught me by surprise," he said.

To earn their black belt from the Jodie Sanchez Academy of Mixed Martial Arts, both sisters went through a battery of tests, which included hand weapons, sparring with other members from the class and performing sets of katas.

When asked what a kata was, Chauntel said it was a choreographed set of movements that involves spins and twirls.

"And it has a lot of slashes and kicks," Chanel-Dion added.

Those routines are very precise and they require a lot of practice. On a typical week, the sisters spend 20 to 30 hours at home trying to master those techniques.

"Everything about karate needs to be perfect," Chauntel said. "The mistakes we make in class, we use the extra time to polish our form."

Said Chanel-Dion, "We do that to keep it fresh in our memory."

As for the testing, the sisters said it was very intense especially the demonstration in hand weapons.

For their presentation, they both did the sais while Chauntel added the bo demonstration and Chanel-Dion did the kamas.

Of the two, the older sister said the bo was the most difficult because of all the twirling.

"The technique is very advanced," she said.

In her presentation, Chauntel mishandled the broom-like stick and dropped it. But after recovering, she finished her test with flying colors.

"I was real disappointed that I dropped it because this was a major test," she said. "I had to be perfect to show my proficiency."

But to keep things in perspective, their sensei, Jodie Sanchez, reminded her that she's done this a million times.

"Just take a deep breath and treat it like it's practice," he told her.

The sisters have been training with Jodie Sanchez for four years now and they are the first black belt holders from his academy, albeit the Sanchez karate school has been in business for over 52 years.

He took over the school from his dad, Tony, who passed away eight months ago.

"They are great kids and you know from the beginning I knew they would be the first to earn their black belts in my school," said Jodie Sanchez, who has a fifth-degree black belt, a fifth in tae-kwon-do and second degree in kung fu. "I known it the first time they came through my father's school."

Sanchez said the Scott sisters have really worked hard to earn their belts.

"In karate you have to be self-disciplined and very respectful," he said. "They have that and they earned every part of it because nothing was easy."

For the last six months, the two sisters have helped Sanchez with teaching his academy. They mentor both the younger and older students and so far they like what they are doing.

"At first I was real nervous, but now it's really fun," Chauntae-Dion said.

When asked where they go from here, the two sisters said they want to continue to train under their sensei and earned their fourth-degree black belt.

"That is as far as he can take us," Chauntel said. "We want to continue doing this because we want to keep this tradition alive."

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