Coszacks Dresden Dojo

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Sensei Foulon Sheppard

Coszacks Adds 40th Black Belt

Foulon Sheppard Black Belt Promotion

On Saturday, July 20th, at the Dresden Dojo of Coszacks School of Self Defense, located at the Tri Valley Fitness Center, Foulon Sheppard (15) earned the right to be called Coszacks’ 40th Black Belt over a 43 year history in Zanesville and Dresden.

Sheppard began his journey with Coszacks in August of 2008 at the Zanesville Dojo. As a small and quiet child, he was subjected to some teasing and bullying. His main goal for joining however was to obtain training from a group of elite martial artists to help prepare him for a future career in the military that he had dreamed of since he was only three years old.

Sheppard realized that to succeed in the armed forces, he would have to develop a base in resect, self-obedience and be willing to be presented with great challenges and complete those challenges. Foulon’s participation in football, baseball and track throughout the years has helped him accomplish his goals, but these activities pale in comparison to the intense demands of Coszacks’ requirements of a Black Belt.

The black belt test in Coszacks School of Self Defense is one of the most enduring, difficult, demanding and mentally challenging promotions a martial artist will have to go through. A panel of current Black Belts (ranging from 1st through 7th Degree) direct the student through this rigorous promotion and collectively decide if the student is worthy of the rank of Black Belt.

The student must have first put in approximately four years of training, and must have passed their yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, brown, 1st degree brown and 2nd degree Brown promotions. The student must also have completed a minimum of 100 teaching hours.

The student begins the promotion by displaying some basic hand and feet techniques after being attacked by an opponent which combines over 300 blocks and 900 hand and feet counter strikes totaling a minimum of 1200 techniques which must be thrown with precision and control.

The student must also demonstrate numerous katas (form exercises) consisting of choreographed Karate, Judo and Kung Fu movements. Eleven katas, both hand and weapon (staff and nun chuck), consisting of over 415 memorized techniques must be demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Black Belt panel.

Two kata of over 125 movements must be performed blindfolded. The student must then demonstrate over 25 different Judo Techniques (mat work) consisting of throws, escapes and ground techniques. Six different knife attacks and defense techniques are also thrown in.

After all of this has been completed, along with pushups (in excess of several hundred) the student must demonstrate their Kumite (fighting) skills. The student must fight three black belts, one at a time for three minutes each, demonstrating good technique and good control.

Immediately after this, he must defend himself against a minimum of five black belts at the same time, but he is not allowed to throw a single offensive technique, only blocks. If the student would get angry or accidentally strike back at any of his attackers, the promotion would be forfeited immediately.

This is the ultimate challenge we pose to our up and coming Senseis (Black Belt Instructors). After they are worn out for over two hours of testing, we finish up with this physically draining and mentally challenging exhibition of self-control.

We know that there is no possible way to defend against five to seven Black Belts punching, kicking, taunting and pinching you for 5 to 10 minutes. What we are looking at is how the student handles himself in this situation. If he loses his temper, strikes back, gets angry, gives up or lets emotion over take his mental prowess, then he is not worth of the Black Belt.

A Coszacks Black Belt wears their belt proud. They know that the belt was not given but was earned. Having a Black Belt is about so much more than just wearing the piece of Black cloth around your waist with a Karate uniform. It is about wearing a certain attitude of confidence, pride and sense of accomplishment around your entire self, every day for the rest of your life.

“Foulon was very impressive. His conditioning and demonstration of techniques was exemplary despite having some asthma issues! His control was exceptional, mat work and katas were superb. I really can’t say enough about how pleased I was with his promotion. His Kumite (fighting) was awesome as well!! I feel that his promotion exemplified exactly what we as Senseis look for in our Black Belts. I know he will wear the belt with pride every time he puts on his uniform.” 7th Degree Grand Master Jeff Hardwick

“I am so happy and proud to have this young man as a student, martial artist and now instructor with me. I have watched Foulon grow from a young kid with raw talent into a very mature young adult with a great understanding of martial arts and very crisp abilities. I wish I were able to do what he does when I was that age. I have watched and worked with him closely over the last year and a half, and his commitment and dedication to cleaning up his skills and becoming and elite martial artist is simply amazing!Foulon has definitely earned his spot among the instructors.” 4th Degree Ranking Instructor Brad Seward

Sheppard believes that coming from a single parent home, the club helped provide additional structure and positive reinforcement. Foulon found role models to look up to, who were accomplished and willing to support him in his own accomplishments.

The effects of him being part of Coszacks are undeniable, unalterable and forever an unwavering source of encouragement and honor for him to draw on for the rest of his life, states Sheppard’s mother, Crystal Renick.

Foulon will now continue his journey with Coszacks as an instructor and will help those students under him become better martial artists. Foulon is a student at Maysville High School and after graduation hopes to join the United States Air Force to become both a pilot and a paramedic jumper.

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