Category: Member Profile

Member Profile: Power + Finesse Fitness

Power + Finesse Fitness | Luis & Laura Ocampo

Sensei Luis Miguel and Laura Ocampo have taught traditional karate at their dojo, Power + Finesse Fitness, since 2001. Located in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, Power + Finesse Fitness has been a member of the Shuhari Institute since its inception in 2015.

Training Background

Luis began studying karate in the late 1970s with Ricardo Picard, and after Picard’s retirement he studied with Gerardo Covarrubias, a top karate competitor in Mexico. Luis began teaching karate in Mexico in the 1980s. With Covarrubias’ encouragement, Luis began studying with Sensei Nishiyama in Los Angeles 1989, intending to stay for one year. In fact, he studied there for more than four years.

Laura studied in Minneapolis with Sensei Robert Fusaro, where she eventually taught karate at several local colleges in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

Luis and Laura first met at  Sensei Nishiyama’s International Summer Camp in La Jolla in 1990. Luis returned to Mexico in 1993, but he and Laura stayed in touch and by 1995 they decided to get married and settle in Minnesota.

The Ocampos both competed in the U.S. National and World Tournaments for several years. They qualified to compete together in Enbu for the 2000 ITKF World Tournament in Italy, but because Luis was not yet a U.S. citizen he was unable to attend. This provided Luis the motivation to seek citizenship the following year.

In 2001 they took the leap to open a dojo in a small space in St. Louis Park. They spent three years developing their business and in 2005 moved to a larger space where they have been ever since.

What makes your dojo unique?

Over the years, and with their colleague Sensei David Gimberline, the Ocampos have expanded their course offerings to include a broad spectrum of fitness and sports coaching. In addition to Shotokan Karate, they offers classes in Hatha Yoga, Yoga-Bells™, athlete’s & adult’s strengthening, personal training, and law enforcement control tactics for local police.

Luis offers this advice for new dojo owners: “If you love karate and want to teach it, keep studying and training. Anyone from any dojo is welcome to stop in a train with us.”

Learn more about the dojo here:

Member Profile: South KC Shotokan

An interview with Sensei Eric Banks

We spoke with Sensei Eric Banks after the 2017 Shuhari Cup and asked him a few questions about his experiences.  Eric is the owner and instructor at South KC Shotokan, located in Grandview, Missouri, a suburb of Kansas City, where he has taught traditional karate since 1996.

What is the history of your dojo?
I began teaching the way many instructors do, offering a few classes a week in my church’s basement. I spent the next 10 years developing my karate and expanding the program, and in 2007 I formally incorporated the organization as an LLC. Just this past February, a little more than 20 years after I first started, I made the leap to quit my day job and focus on teaching and writing full-time.

What makes your program unique?
Like many dojos, our kids program is foundational. I have several assistants who help me with the kids’ program, and I recently developed and offered a training program for the assistants.

What makes South KC Shotokan stand out in our region is our focus on building solid basics through breath energy integration. There are many karate schools that are sports based, but our main focus is traditional kata, kihon, and kumite as well as various sensitivity and engagement drills. These are key to building a solid foundation. To become proficient in any art you must learn to create healthy movement and healthy body structure, and continue to go deeper and deeper to find and free the essence of the art and of the individual practitioner. That is what we emphasize.

I am also expanding our offerings for adults. Our Restorative Energetic Movement classes help adults who want to regain physical fitness. We work on balance, strength, range of motion, and movement for our participants who range in age from 50 to 70. At the moment we are working with a Chinese exercise that helps tendons become stronger and more supple.

Who is your Sensei?
My first sensei was Robert delMas when I was a student at Northeast Missouri State. In those early years, as I moved for school and work, I trained with others teachers and in other styles. Eventually I was introduced to AAKF and attended Nishiyama Sensei’s seminars in Chicago. I trained with Smaby Sensei in the AAKF region for several years. I met Shimoji Sensei in 2004 at a national tournament, and a few years later I made it a point to attend one of his seminars in St. Louis. His teaching has profoundly affected my perspective on karate, how I move, and how I teach. Shimoji Sensei’s emphasis on proper movement makes perfect sense to me: an art should make you better, not tear your body down.

Learn more about Sensei Banks’ dojo here: