Earlier this month, Karin Hillman, our venerable Karate instructor, watched as her first student to reach black belt level was promoted. This tremendous achievement as a teacher is one to be celebrated.
I sat down with her last week to talk a little bit about how she got to where she is today.
TC: What was it like to move to NYC from Israel as a young professional dancer?
KH: Shocking. In one word, it would be shocking. I came from a village, a quiet village, that’s where I grew up. I did train in Tel Aviv in dance, and reached a level there where there was no higher to go. Since I didn’t like the director of the company, it was a great opportunity to come to study in New York with the best teachers in the world.
(Karin was on tour with an Israeli company in the US and UK, and instead of returning home after the UK leg of the tour, she went back to the US and stayed.)
TC: Why and how did you decide to start studying Seido Karate?
KH: It started with my son, who was a student here at Discovery, in the gymnastics program. He wanted to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. So I found Seido on the UWS for children, and I of course was watching his classes and part of his classes were forms that looked like dance – choreographed karate movement called kata – and I wanted to do that. It was in the back of my mind for awhile. Then, I was attacked by a teenager while attending a performance in the city. I completely froze. I was so scared, and no voice would come out. After that I found out when and where my son’s karate teacher was teaching, at the Seido headquarters, and that was my first class, at the age of 43. And this January it’s going to be 21 years.
TC: What motivated you to begin teaching Seido Karate?
KH: I didn’t want, especially girls and women, to be afraid like I was. I wanted them to be self-confident, which I wasn’t. My self-confidence came when I started to win tournaments. My movement was beautiful, but it didn’t have the power. I always was a girl that was shy and naive, and so if I can make one child get that self-confidence I gained then I feel like I can do something.
TC: How do your Karate students inspire you?
KH: It’s challenging, but so rewarding when you see the kids grow. They become powerful kids. Humble and powerful; that’s the combination. Focused, self-suffiencet on those things that they’re learning. When you see a child on their first class, and they’re ashamed to even say what their name is, and then you see how class after class they get a little louder and a little louder, and the confidence starts to come in. When you see a kid that has trouble focusing, keeping their mind on only one place, there is something that happens when I connect with these kids that changes that. They want to succeed when they learn that they can be powerful and confident.
TC: What has been your proudest moment as an instructor?
KH: Yonatan’s promotion. When you have a student that starts at the age of four, and never stops, until he is now eleven and he is now a black belt, then I have done something right . It’s just the way that he performed. The way that he did it made me very proud. His focus. His sincerity. His thankfulness to his family. Just the way he was. He wasn’t scared. He was powerful. He was humble. What he talked about in his promotion essay was that he uses the meditation that we practice in training when he’s nervous. He trained himself really hard.
Karin teaches all belt levels of Seido karate at Discovery, Tuesday-Thursday of each week. Spots are still available in the current semester, and registration is open for our Winter/Spring term!