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Victoria martial arts teacher enjoys finding diamonds in rough (video)

By Keldy Ortiz
July 27, 2013 at 2:27 a.m.

David Gonzales, a third-degree black belt, breaks through bricks of stone with just his hand during the stone breaking portion of the Texas Four Seasons Karate Tournament at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Victoria. "It doesn't hurt or anything," said Gonzales. "You don't feel it afterwards."

More about Ralph Jaschke

• Teacher and owner of American Karate Institute, which is located on 3208 Sam Houston Dr

• Jaschke offers one on one to group classes.

• For more information, call 361-575-2467

It started with one martial arts tournament in early 1989.

Ralph Jaschke knew the tournament would be a success because others who participated enjoyed karate.

Now, 98 tournaments later, Jaschke still enjoys watching young competitors do their best. There's little he likes more than watching them grow and compete.

"My students are like diamonds," said Jaschke, 62. "They're rough, but when you polish them, they look great."

Saturday was the 99th Texas Four Seasons Karate tournament. The event is held four times a year, a mark that will reached its 100th tournament in October.

On Saturday, more than 32 students came from around the area to compete.

The tournament is a dedication to Jaschke's commitment to martial arts, a bond that started in 1967.

The commitment grew bigger in 1970, when he opened his first martial arts school.

"You never got to see karate in smaller towns," said Jaschke. "I got some place to work out."

But the journey of opening the martial arts business was short lived as he left the state in1974 to train in Washington, D.C., with renowned taekwondo teacher Jhoon Rhee.

The Victoria native came back to the Crossroads two years later, where he worked in a fitness center and later the American Karate Institute, which he currently owns and runs.

Rick Torres was a student of Jaschke's in 1988, and now runs his own martial arts facility. He said he makes it a point to bring his students to Jaschke's tournaments.

"He supported me from the beginning," said Torres, 56. "The tournaments have been a real treat in that it exposes (students) to healthy competition."

Jaschke's idea for the event came to him while he attended a tournament in Corpus Christi. Since Jaschke's first event, friendship has been a lasting theme between competitors.

"You can't be in martial arts without developing friendships," said David Moten, a native of Detroit who has attended Jaschke's tournaments for five years. He came with his daughter Ayanna Molen, 8, who competed.

"I get to see students from all over. It is a testament to Mr. Jaschke being committed."

Those in attendance Saturday had different reasons as to why they participate in martial arts.

Sophia, 10, and Will Davis, 9, had their reasons to join.

In school, Will has been bullied by others, his parents said. Since joining Jaschke's school last year, the bullying has ceased.

"He's taught me a lot about discipline, to defend yourself," Will said.

Martial arts has helped Jaschke's students, like Will, grow as people. The tournaments he runs are a chance for those students to show what they've learned, and are a reflection of what they can accomplish.

His 100th tournament will be a celebration of an anniversary. But it certainly won't be the end.

"They are milestones," said Jaschke. "People can depend on them. We'll keep doing it."

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