Herald JournalHerald Journal, July 19, 2004

Local to compete in Africa

By Lynda Jensen

Jill Fleischacker of Winsted has been selected to compete in the Japanese Shotokan Karate Association World Cup, July 26-31 in Pretoria, South Africa.

Fleischacker began her karate career in 1987 at the age of nine, with the Winsted Karate Club. She received her black belt in 1990 and currently holds the rank of sandan, or third degree black belt.

Her competitive career started very successfully as she climbed to the black belt rank.

In 1990, she was invited to train at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. with the U.S. Junior Karate team.

In 1992, she traveled to Japan to compete in the All-Japan Youth Championship, where she placed third in kata competition and fifth in kumite competition.

In 1996, Fleischacker competed in a goodwill tournament in Ireland, where she placed first in kata and first in kumite.

Spanning that time, Fleischacker has competed and placed in many regional and national karate tournaments.

“This is the next big step for Jill,” said Louis Stifter, former U.S. Team member and director of the Winsted Karate Club.

“It is a major commitment for an athlete through years of training and competition. You compete, get injured, recover, and go back into the ring with some of the best competitors in the United States and the world. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But when you make the United States team, it is something a majority of people do not understand – the excitement of setting out on such a huge goal and actually attaining it. We are very excited and proud of what Jill has accomplished,” Stifter said.

The Japanese Shotokan Karate Association (JSKA) World Cup will host more than 50 countries. The tournament will have both individual and team competition in both kata and kumite.

Kata competition is a series of pre-arranged karate techniques, such as punching, blocking, striking, and kicking done in sequence and scored by a panel of judges.

Kumite matches are done as two-minute, one-point matches with five judges awarding points or penalties for rule infractions.

The judge of the match awards a point when a competitor scores a legal technique to a legal target area (this can be either a half or a full point).

Penalties are given for illegal techniques, illegal targets, or for excessive contact as all matches are non-contact.

Fleischacker was selected for the team early this year. Since early May, she has been living, working, and training in New York.

A typical day for her starts with a U.S. team training, led by U.S. team coach Tommy Casale, from 6 to 8 a.m.

From 8 to 9 a.m. Fleischacker teaches a class before going to work for the day.

Following work, she returns to the dojo (karate training room) for another U.S. team training from 8-10 p.m.

It is a very intense schedule, with little free time.

Weekends bring either more competition, team trainings, or fundraising. The estimated cost for travel, lodging, food and entrance fees is $4,000.

Raising the money to offset these costs started early in the year with the Kick-a-thon at the Winsted Karate Club. June 26 and 27, the Winsted club hosted Casale, who taught several seminars on kata (forms), kumite (sparring) and self defense.

Casale, a fifth degree black belt from Brooklyn, N.Y., is a former U.S. team member, and is the chief instructor of the Japan Shotokan Karate Association - USA.

All of the money generated by the event will be used to help cover Fleischacker’s expenses.

The Winsted Karate Club also conducted a pledge drive supported by former and current club members, as well as friends and family.

“We are still taking donations,” said Delbert O’Loughlin, chief instructor of the Winsted Karate Club.

“We are about halfway to our goal. If anyone is interested in donating, Jill would really appreciate it,” O’Loughlin said.

Contributions may be sent to the Winsted Karate Club, Inc., PO Box 640, Winsted, MN 55395.

The Winsted Karate Club has provided traditional shotokan karate training since 1981.

The club trains Monday and Thursday evenings from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Winsted Elementary School.

For more information, stop by the school during classes or call O’Loughlin at (320) 224-0027, or Brenda Diers at (320) 543-2900.


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