Mosab Bajabar (left) practices karate moves with members of the community. Photo submitted.
For three students at UND, their communication professor is also their karate teacher, or sensei.
LaRoyce Batchelor founded the karate team in Grand Forks and coaches Mosab Bajaber, Daniel Nygaard and Michelle Chock, students who will be competing in the Karate Nationals in Cincinnati, Ohio, this year.
Batchelor also will be competing because she is a student at UND finishing up her Ph.D. and is allowed to compete for one more year until she completes her degree.
The team has been to nationals four times before, but this is the first time Bajaber and Nygaard — both brown belts — have been asked to compete on an — all black belt team. The team is made up of five individuals from the North Central region, which includes North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan. The other three members are scattered throughout the five-state area.
“That’s a huge, huge honor,” Batchelor said.
Chock is a purple belt and will be competing individually. Batchelor also will be competing individually as a black belt.
The team is not a part of the UND athletics program and does not receive any funding from the university. Because it is not an all-inclusive organization and does not holding regular meetings, it cannot be defined as a student organization.
The team pays its own way for trips including nationals. Many times, this means carpooling and making things work as best they can by staying overnight in dojos — places where teams practice, full of mirrors and mats. The team sets up sleeping bags and air mattresses on the floor and cleans the dojo before heading to competition. That functions as the team’s rent so they do not have to pay to stay at the dojo.
While the team has stayed in many other dojos, it has one of its own in the Grand Cities Mall in Grand forks. Donations have supplied all of the equipment that is uses.
Without outside help, the team finds difficulty in securing what it needs to compete.
“We charge no dues for karate so students don’t have to pay to take (karate) classes,” Batchelor said.
The training and lessons in karate are free and open to everyone, including all UND students. Cost also is not an issue for students until they reach tournament level.
Batchleor does not charge for karate lessons at her dojo because she wants it to be affordable.
“I never ever, ever want to look at one of my students and see a customer,” Batchelor said. “It’s cheating that student. I need to be invested in their development, not their pocketbook. That’s our philosophy.”
If anyone is interested in the karate team, they are encouraged to stop by and check it out. All training is free, and individuals do not need to worry about having a uniform until they reach the tournament level.
Mariah Holland is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]