The Ultimate Goal

Kodi Harvill is a normal 13-year-old. He attends Red Oak
Junior High, lives with his parents and has been practicing karate
several times a week for the last two-and-a-half years. The
karate, however, is what makes Kodi different. He has competed
twice in Texas state tournaments — placing fifth in the weapons
and open hand form events in the first tournament, and fourth
in weapons and first in forms at the second tournament held in
January. “We encourage the tournaments and the competitions,
but the karate is his deal. It was his idea from the beginning,”
Kevin, Kodi’s father, said. “When I was a kid, I played football
and took karate, but karate was going to interfere with football,
so I quit karate and stuck with football. Kodi wanted to play
football last year, but when he found out it was going to interfere
with karate, he said, ‘No, football.’ The competitions are really
nice, too. We’ve met a lot of folks. We’ve made some good
friends, and Kodi’s made some good friends.”

To qualify for the state
tournament, Kodi accumulated
points through other tournaments.
The top five students from each of
three divisions (north, south and
east) are invited to state, making a
final pool of 15 competitors. “I just
always liked kung fu stuff, like in the
movies,” Kodi said. “I wanted to do a
back flip off a wall. I haven’t reached
that [level] yet.”
In two to three years, Kodi will
earn his black belt. Although it might
be a long time to wait, Kodi will
stay busy, practicing and training,
focusing on his kamas — sickle-like
weapons that are used in karate form
[formal sets of routines] events. Kodi
received his first pair as a birthday
present from his local dojo, The
Martial Arts Experience in Red Oak.
According to Kevin, there has
been a noticeable difference in Kodi
for the better, since the beginning of his karate career. “This
doesn’t mean parenting him is a breeze, but it sure does make
things easier,” Kevin explained. “The respect, the attitude, the
discipline [have all seen improvement]. You know, he’s still a
13-year-old kid; he still gets into some of the typical 13-year-oldkid
stuff. But looking at some of his buddies who come over
that aren’t in karate, there is a difference in respect and attitude.
Most times it’s ‘yes, Sir’ and ‘yes, Ma’am,’ but he still
slips every once in a while. Schoolwork, well, he’s
not the best student in the world, but he takes care
of business. I guess he gets that from me; I wasn’t
the best student in the world either.”
He might not be the best student academically,
but when it comes time to train, Kodi is easily able to retain and
learn new information. He is simply better in the gym than he
is behind a desk. Karate is much more fascinating to him than
anything he could learn from a book. Mastering new skills is his
favorite, when it comes to training. “I’m just not too big on the
technique,” Kodi said. “I also don’t really like to review all the
stuff that I know. That’s a big problem that I have in school.”

Sparring is an event Kodi really enjoys.
He anticipates reincorporating it into his
training regimen and improving his skills
in the event now that there is a steady
instructor in the dojo.

After his black belt, Kodi’s future
in karate is undecided. He assumes he
will keep training. Black belts are also
able to instruct, which could also be a
possibility for Kodi, who already has
some experience in that regard. “He was
helping teach the Little Dragons and
the white belt classes four days a week,”
Kodi’s mother, Julie, said. “He did that
for about a year, so he’s already had the
experience of teaching. I think it was just
interfering, you know, he needed some
free time to be a teenager. But he still
helps out, if they’re short. If someone’s
not there, he still offers his time to go
up there and do it. Of course, he wasn’t
getting paid for it. They offered but we
said ‘no.’” Kevin explained that they
simply felt that a 13-year-old did not needextra spending money.

They saw it as alearning experience for Kodi — and avery beneficial one.
Whatever may come of Kodi and
karate, one thing is for certain — the
future seems bright. But, for now,
according to Kodi, “the black belt’s
the goal.”

Adam Kohut