Madison Area YMCA In the News


Four Madison Area YMCA Members Cinch Their Black Belts With Confidence

May 26, 2016
Karate Black Belt Promotions


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Four Madison Area YMCA Members Cinch Their Black Belts With Confidence

1st degree Black Belt awards were earned by (L-R) Giulia Arpino, Amanda Lyons and Brian Vivas from the Madison Area YMCA’s karate program. Eric Camarata earned his 3rd degree Black Belt. 

(Madison, NJ) May 26, 2016- In a formal ceremony held at the Madison Area, four long-term adult martial art students of the Y’s karate program were awarded distinguished black belt grades. The recipients of the Shodan, 1st degree Black Belt award, were Giulia Arpino of Florham Park; Amanda Lyons of Parsippany and Brian Vivas of Summit. Eric Camarata of Morristown earned the rank of Sandan, 3rd degree Black Belt.

All four honorees have been active students of the YMCA’s karate program presided over by 8th degree black belt, and author, Christopher J. Goedecke. Mr. Goedecke has been running the popular program at the YMCA for more than 35 years, and has established the Madison Area YMCA karate program as one the longest running in the state.

“Our YMCA Martial Arts program has educated thousands of people, young and old, into the wonders of the Asian martial discipline since 1979,” said Mr. Goedecke.

Giulia Arpino has trained for 11 years. She began studying karate at age 6. Amanda Lyons joined the Y’s Kinder Karate program when she was 5 years old. Brian Vivas began karate at Drew University in 2008, where Goedecke has taught an ongoing two-semester credit program through the athletic department for the last 30 years.

Training standards in martial art schools vary tremendously from style to style, according to Goedecke. “At the YMCA we maintain the idea of such award as ‘prestigious’ or ‘coveted’. It is well understood in the professional martial arts community that Okinawan and Japanese standards for black belt still remain high so it will often take a practitioner 5-10 years to earn the black belt grade as there are many skill levels to be accomplished,” said Goedecke.

The three-day test covered a range of abilities. Each candidate had to demonstrate their proficiency in traditional Forms (Kata), self-defense situations, and a free-style exhibition of their fighting skills.

“All three Shodan candidates performed superbly. You don't get a belt here because you simply pay for it. You must earn it,” their coach and 8th degree black belt commented. Goedecke is a noteworthy, NJ teacher whose training philosophy and Buddhist background have gained him national attention from his many publications.

Camarata was recognized for his 16-year commitment to training. Camarata, who began training at age 38, finds karate to be the perfect outlet for his athletic and competitive interests. “Karate reminds me of the fun I had as a young man,” Camarata reflects. “I get to play twice a week with my friends and fellow students.”

Vivas found karate compelling enough to become a young sensei where he instructs the Kinder Karate program at the YMCA. “From a young age, the martial arts have called to my heart,” Vivas said. “I never thought this discipline could be such a powerful tool for inner transformation. My sense of who I am and how I have grown has been supercharged by my karate training.”

Amanda Lyons, who will be attending Brown University this fall, cites that karate training has been a major influence in her life. She is currently completing her first sword and sorcery fiction novel that has borrowed from her marital insights and exposure.

Giulia Arpino, who trains intensively in ballet, performed at the MAYO Performing Arts Center in the Nutcracker this past holiday season. "I enjoy karate kata because the movements feel natural and grounded,” Arpino said. “I connect aspects of my dancing into my karate and vice versa." Her proud parents said, “Being awarded the Black Belt was one of Giulia’s most challenging paths.”