Martial Arts

J.K.A Indiana sensei remains true to martial art tradition

2013-04-05T18:45:00Z 2013-04-06T03:28:09Z J.K.A Indiana sensei remains true to martial art traditionJohn Burbridge, (219) 933-3371

PORTAGE | Don't let Anthony Milevsky's age, which is 71, and size -- about 140 pounds -- fool you. He can whip you like creamed butter.

And don't let Ethyl Ruehman's age or gender fool you, either. The 13-year-old girl can likely do the same.

But the opponent Ethyl had to conquer during her junior black belt testing at J.K.A. (Japan Karate Association) Indiana was herself.

"Little nervous? I was very nervous," said Ethyl, a Portage resident, who after performing a complex kata consisting of crisp kicks, punches and other striking blows in concert with balanced body control, stood patiently at one side of the dojo while head sensei, Milevsky, and his assistants discussed her fate on the other side.

"I didn't think I passed," Ethyl said. "I was just told two weeks ago I was taking the test. I didn't think I was ready."

Milevsky thought otherwise, and Ethyl passed the test.

"But that's a junior black belt ... I don't award black belts at that age," Milevski said. "When she turns 16, she'll go for her black belt."

Even after Milevski awards a black belt, there is still another step to take.

Milevsky said black belts still require training in how to carry themselves as a black belt.

"Then after a year when they've learned what being a black belt is all about, they'll receive their black belt 'diploma'. At that point, it's official," he said.

The same night Ethyl earned her junior black belt, Mark Gieras of Lake Station and Terri Hagler of LaPorte, both received their black belt diplomas.

"Though I finally reached my goal, it feels more like the beginning rather than the end," Hagler said.

Milevsky's students come from all walks of life. There's Purdue University professor Marc Rogers of Lafayette.

"I teach cyber forensics," said Rogers, a second-degree black belt. "That's investigating computer crimes and cyber terrorism ... a field that, unfortunately, is in greater demand today."

There's chef Kevin Boling of Chesterton.

"I lost 70 pounds since I started this seven years ago," Boling said. "Something hard to do in my profession."

And there's pastor Michael Macchia of Hobart.

"One thing that makes (Milevsky) such a great teacher," Macchia said, "is that he gets right out on the floor and leads by example."

And how. While watching Milevsky lead a class through a series of high-impact movements, you notice that Milevsky -- twice and thrice as old of many of his accomplished students -- doesn't break a sweat or show a hint of exhaustion.

"It comes from breathing the correct way and mastering technique," said Milevsky, a seventh-degree black belt, or 7th Dan.

After Milevsky served in the U.S. Air Force, the Gary native took up martial arts in 1965 before upgrading to traditional karate while training under the tutelage of some of the most revered masters in the world such as Shojiro Sugiyama and Hidetaka Nishiyama.

A former steelworker and marathon runner, Milevsky has taught the shotokan karate at Valparaiso University, Purdue University Calumet, Portage High School and Calumet United Women Against Rape. He also has taught in Germany and the Netherlands.

Milevsky doesn't teach fancy tricks, such as high-spinning jump kicks, but he will show students how to grip the floor while creating pressure to move power outward.

"The point of martial arts is self development ... to be better than the day before, each day until you die," said Milevsky, who's not a big fan of cagefighting, and usually shows Anderson Silva wannabes the door whenever they approach him with UFC aspirations.

"This is not game of tag or who's going to tap-out," said Milevsky, who embraces the "Budo" art form, which emphasizes efficient technique -- small motion generating great power -- to survive life-or-death encounters, and the mental strength and discipline to quell an aggressor without violence whenever possible.

One of Milevsky's most loyal students is Larry Massey, 33, of Valparaiso, who has been training at J.K.A. Indiana for 20 years.

"It took me a while before I thought I was ready to test for my (third-degree black) belt," Massey said. "When you get to that level, you have to know enough to be able to teach others. It's one thing to spot what someone is doing wrong, but to step in and fix it takes a greater amount of expertise."

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