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Karate School In Va. Emphasizes Culture, Earthquake Relief

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Even the 4-year-old students at Seicho Karate count in Japanese. Using the native language during classes is just one way Sensei Richard Romero emphasizes culture.

"In addition to the core karate curriculum we also teach Japanese language, Japanese calligraphy and Japanese flower arranging," Romero says.

Parents like John Baltes say that was a big selling point.

"He explained why the Japanese culture is important and how he would instruct the kids, and that it was more than just learning a martial art," Baltes says.

Because culture is such a big part of the school's mission, Romero says choosing to lend a hand after the earthquake hit was a no-brainer.

The school is donating proceeds from merchandise and enrollment to Red Cross relief efforts and Romero is using the tragedy to teach students about the importance of building a global community.

"Even though these people are located in a country far away, there's something that we can do for them because they're members of the human community and we should stand with them in their time of need," Romero says.

Seicho Karate students also have pen pals in Japan.

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