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The Dansville Online
  • 20th karate tournament marked with surprise honor

  • Marking Hayabusa’s 20th annual Karate Tournament was a special occaision in itself, but it became more monumental after Sensei Judi Stiegler of Wayland was asked to step forward.

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  • Marking Hayabusa’s 20th annual Karate Tournament was a special occaision in itself, but it became more monumental after Sensei Judi Stiegler of Wayland was asked to step forward.
    Dan McGraw, a longtime colleague and instructor of Stiegler’s, as well as owner and master instructor of Canandaigua-based dojo McGraw’s Martial Arts, brought her in front of the podium in Wayland–Cohocton’s middle school gymnasium during the tournament’s opening ceremony Saturday.
    “I have thoroughly enjoyed training with Judi,” McGraw began. “I have never known anyone who worked harder, or with a more laser-light focus, or to be more endurable, always in the front of the line, always wanting to test herself with the next challenge.”
    As she tried to hide her tears, he added that her teaching skills have consistently demonstrated patience and respect for her students, always wanting to see them succeed.
    McGraw then had her stand, and placed around her a red belt, symbolic of her new rank.
    The ninth degree is the second highest rank in the standard tradition of martial arts. With this honor, Stiegler remains one of the highest ranked women blackbelts in the U.S.
    He then read aloud her certificate, which states her advancement to level of Ku-Dan, ninth degree blackbelt, with corresponding title of Kyoshi, which means, “Renown Master.”
    A round of applause erupted from the audience as McGraw gave her a firm embrace and Sensei David Cole handed her a boquet of flowers.
    “I am overwhelmed. Karate has just been a part of my life, and I’ve just done it,” she later told the Express.
    McGraw explained that Stiegler having earned this rank is based on three things: having advanced martial arts by way of teaching, having conducted tournaments, and others; being known and respected by her students; and living by the rules she teaches.
    Stiegler began learning the art of karate in 1972, having earned the degree of blackbelt within four years, and during a time when female blackbelts were few and far between.
     In 1984, Stiegler went on to teach karate as a full-time profession.
    Today, her two dojos are located on West Avenue in Dansville and on Seneca Road North in Hornell.

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