Local black belt earns honors in Hawaii


Published in the     Aiken Standard
Date                       March 21, 2008
Byline                     Photo and Article by Staff Writer Kenton Makin

Mike Hess, a ninth-degree black belt that runs karate classes in Aiken, North Augusta and Williston, earned grand champion honors at the Aloha Goodwill Games on Feb. 16-17.
Hess dominated the Men's 35-and-up Division en route to earning top honors, then decided to try his hand at the Men's 18-35 Division.
Hess, who has taught classes for more than 35 years, won the silver medal in the division and proved that most of the students in Hawaii could not match the teacher.
Hess remarked on the beauty of Honolulu, Hawaii, where the Games were held, and the diversity of his opponents' styles.
"It was beautiful ... too beautiful to be fighting," Hess said with a laugh. "There were a lot of different styles that I've never seen before, and the younger division kept me on my toes."
Hess, who started training in the Zenshotokai system under the late Master Virgil Kimmey more than 40 years ago, not only teaches karate locally but also serves as an officer on the Jackson police force.
For all of Hess' service and accomplishments, he was most pleased with the efforts of his black belt students, who ran the class during Hess' two-week venture in Honolulu.
He gave special mention to Marsha Hopkins, who went from school to school to make sure that classes were running smoothly.
"They supported me all the way ... they went further than I'd dreamed they would go," Hess said. "My black belts did an outstanding job running the class. When I came back, my class held a welcome back party, which was pretty awesome - and real shocking."
For all of the lessons that Hess has taught his classes, and vice versa, it seems that the common theme with Mike Hess Karate is goodwill.
In fact, a few of Hess' students competed in a goodwill tournament in Beaufort on Feb. 23 and hold a Lions Club karate tournament in Jackson every year.
Even though Hess is exceedingly humble when it comes to his accomplishments, he noted that he surpassed his personal expectations for the Games.
"I'm not as old as I thought I was," he said with a grin.
For more information on Hess and his local karate classes, view www.mikehesskarate.com.