SUMMIT, NJ - Summit's Brian Vivas has been awarded his first degree black belt, called the shodan, in Okinawan Karate, Isshin Kempo style. Vivas has, for seven years, trained under the notable, New Jersey martial arts teacher Christopher J. Goedecke.

Goedecke has been teaching a popular karate program at The Connection for Women and Families for more than three decades. Vivas moved from Union City to attend Drew University in 2008, where he took a university self defense course taught by Goedecke.

Vivas says he has a spiritual connection with Martial Arts. “From a young age, the martial arts have called to my heart. 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.”

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“Training standards in martial art schools varies tremendously from style to style.” said Goedecke. “We seek to maintain the idea of such an award as prestigious or coveted. It is well understood in the professional martial arts community that Okinawan and Japanese standards for black belt remain high. It often will take a practitioner from 5-10 years to earn the black belt grade as their are many levels of skill that must be accomplished.”

Vivas' three-day test covered a range of abilities; from demonstrating proficiency in traditional Forms called Kata, to self defense abilities, in both a prearranged and a free style exhibition of his fighting skills.

Vivas is a 2012 Drew University graduate with a B.S. in Business, and is currently the instructor of the Adult and Kicks for Kids program at The Connection for Women & Families.

For program information, visit TheConnectionOnline.org. The Connection is located at 79 Maple Street.