Martial arts instructor Lee Woolsey said top teachers from around the West Coast will be at Gleneden Beach State Park Saturday and Sunday, including Goju Ryu Karate chief U.S. instructor Andy Franz. (Photo by Rick Beasley)

GLENEDEN BEACH — Karate masters and students from around the West Coast will convene at Gleneden Beach State Park this Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 25 and 26, to test themselves in the sand and surf.

“Suddenly the footing is uneven, compared to the flat floor of the dojo,” said Lincoln City martial arts instructor Lee Woolsey, describing the challenge and excitement of karate on the beach. “The conditioning drills are tougher. It’s good for fighting, sparring and takedowns. You end up with sand pressed into your cheeks, ears and nose. It’s a different experience.”

For spectators who take the park’s beach trail to watch the 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. sessions this weekend, one of the most interesting sights will be “kata,” the synchronized practice of traditional forms by up to 30 talented martial artists at a time.

Goju Ryu Karate chief U.S. instructor Andy Franz is the featured teacher. Other methods that will be spotlighted are the ancient and disarming practices of Gung Fu and Kenpo karate. On Sunday, the class will close with breathing exercises in the icy, waist-deep surf.

“You’re doing kata while the waves are trying to suck you into the ocean,” remarked Woolsey, who said all ranks from lowest yellow to highest black will be tested for advancement.

Woolsey said the gathering of martial artists from Washington, Idaho, California and Oregon has become an annual tradition. “It looks like Mother Nature will be kind to us this year, our fifth. But if the weatherman is wrong, we’ll meet inside at the dojo in Lincoln City.”

Goju Ryu is an explosive martial art from Okinawa, taught locally at Taft Athletic Club in Lincoln City by Woolsey, a first-degree black belt. He operates two popular classes, for youths ages 6-14 at 6:15 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, followed by adults at 7:15 p.m. The dojo is located upstairs at the gym, 4744 SE Highway 101. Visit lincolncitykarate.com or call 541-614-1446 for more information.

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