Karate Instructor Uses Eighth - Degree Black Belt To Teach Life Lessons

Karate instructor uses eighth-degree black belt to teach life lessonsAs soon as Salomon Villalpando steps onto the mat and takes his glasses off, he becomes another person.
For three nights a week, the eighth-degree black belt wears his red kimono and teaches life lessons using karate.

With an insignia on his back that reads "Train Like a Champion," Villalpando begins to stretch in front of his Wednesday night class. With his feet wrapped in black tape, the 57-year-old karate instructor bows in front of his students as a sign of respect.

It's on that mat where Villalpando faces the many difficulties he has come across.

"Karate challenged my life and taught me to go beyond those obstacles," Villalpando said. "Martial arts keeps me on the right trial, but God's faith keeps me going."

The Norton Shores resident first got involved in karate when he was 15 years old after being jumped by some kids who went to his high school. To this day Villalpando doesn't know why they did it, but it was the main motivating factor that got him to where he is today.

As the son of a pastor, Villalpando went down a different path than his father – although both would encourage peace and discipline in their undertakings.

When he began at first, it was just a way to defend himself. But as he grew bigger and became faster than others in his class, Villalpando realized he wanted to teach the sport to others.

During a training session in the Norton Pines Athletic Club, Villalpando spent the majority of his time as an attacker – taking an elbow to the head, being thrown to the ground and absorbing punches to the gut – in order to help his students react and counter any attack.

By reliving his days as that bullied 15-year-old who was a little too shy and timid, he was helping others avoid those scary scenarios.

"Karate comes in a variety of ways," Villalpando said. "There is discipline, respect and self-confidence that are all a part of it."