MUNSTER | If you cared about the health and well-being of John Zurisk, it would have been hard to refrain from shouting "Don't go there!"
"My wife (Michele) pretty much knew what I prepared and trained to do," Zurisk said of the creative breaking routine he performed at the International Sport Karate Association U.S. Open World Martial Arts Championships, held July 11-12 at Disney's Coronado Spring Resort in Orlando.
"But she still worried about me kicking that apple through the sword," he said.
And with good reason. Though the apple itself may have been the easiest object for Zurisk to bisect during the self-choreographed routine, his foot made enough contact with the upright-held blade to cause a laceration.
But aside from razor-shape blades, patio blocks, two-by-fours and baseball bats, the most ominous prop Zurisk employed was a mini-trampoline.
"Now I'm more of a big power guy," said Zurisk, 45, of Cedar Lake. "I'm not one to do fancy jumps."
Yet a fancy jump he did as Zurisk performed a trampoline-propelled forward flip to destroy a table top-sized wooden platform. It was the coup de grace of Zurisk's destructive act.
"I never did a flip on a trampoline before, but I knew I needed a big finish," said Zurisk, who won the creative breaking competition as well as the side-kick and three directional-blow competitions on way to being named the "Ultimate Breaker" at the U.S. Open Championships.
Zurisk has won previous "Ultimate Breaker" belts in 2010 and 2012, and has been named the World Breaking Association and the United State Breaking Association "Competitor of the Year" three times.
"I've been training in martial arts for 35 years, and breaking just so happened to be what I ended up being the best at," Zurisk said. "You could also say I'm too dumb to quit."
In addition to earning rank in a variety of karate styles, Zurisk is also trained in judo, akido, tae kwon do/hapkido and kyusho-jitsu. His sensei is Brett Homann of Homann Karate Do in Crown Point.
"(Homann) is the one who got me into breaking," Zurisk said. "He also helped us open up our own school (in 2007)."
Zurisk Karate Academy is located in Michigan City. Zurisk's wife, who was an accomplished sparring competitor, is one of the instructors.
One of the school's programs is "Karate for Everyone."
"No every family can afford to have their kids train in martial arts," Zurisk said, "but we try to cater to those families ... anything to get kids off the streets.
"Martial arts can make such a positive impact on one's life. It did for me. It gives so much back what you give to it."