Jose Rodriguez is having his best year yet in karate.
Once Jose Rodriguez built up his confidence, karate success followed. A student of Sensei Chris Welbon at Chris Welbon Karate Clubs of Plant City, Rodriguez became AAU state champion in the Male 11-12 Kata (form) and Overall categories in May. At the May 13 AAU championship tournament in Fort Pierce, Rodriguez won his first gold medal in kumite (sparring), and also won gold in kobudo (weapons) and silver in kata.
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How long have you been doing karate?
I would say three years, or four.
What got you into it?
Basically, when I was a little bit little, I used to like karate a lot. But then, when I saw this dojo, I wanted to go in and I was curious. “Should I go in there? Should I learn karate again?” And the answer was, “yes,” and now I’m here.
You mentioned learning karate “again.” When was the first time?
I used to do karate in the past, but those dojos weren’t as good. Just saying.
What sets this dojo apart from the others?
The first time I did karate, it was when I was in a church named Lamb of God. It closed down, apparently. There was someone that taught karate, but it was mostly just to help you out … it was more like how to stay safe … then I got to my second dojo, when I was doing it with a friend. But that dojo didn’t teach well.
What’s your favorite thing about karate?
Well, basically everything … I would say kata. For one, I really know my kata well. Sparring, I still need to do a little bit more improvement on it. On my weapons, I’ll say that’s my second favorite because I really know more of the katas than of kumite.
Sensei mentioned you were really trying to improve your sparring, and that you finally won gold for it at this past tournament. What do you think it was that helped you improve your sparring the most?
This time, I actually knew what I was supposed to do. I already knew what the other people were going to throw out, so I knew what I needed to block, and how to strike them. At the same time, I needed to hear Mr. (Brian) Warren.
What’s the best karate advice you’ve gotten at this dojo?
I remember something Mr. Alvaro (Padron) said. It was, “Never let my foot stay flat during sparring.” It needs to stay hopping so you can move faster and dodge the attacks, or block them.
What else do you like to do for fun?
I don’t have any other sports, but something that I do like is school. I also have a farm with lots of animals.
What’s out there?
For starters, I have horses, cows, pigs, roosters and chickens, ducks, one cat, dogs, rabbits, chickadees, water buffaloes, pigeons. We don’t have snakes, but we sometimes have rare occasions of snakes going around the place. Alligators, too.
Do you help out a lot around the farm?
I need to feed every animal there is. I need to feed the roosters and chickens water and food. Water buffaloes, horses and pigs, tomatoes.
What’s your favorite subject in school?
Science and math.