Master Nelson Nathaniel Jr.
Who is Master Nathaniel?
I am an awesome teacher, but a forever student, whose purpose is to help others shine their brightest light.
What do you do outside of the world of martial arts?
I love fishing , dancing, gardening, reconnecting with nature. I’m also an audio engineer so I dabble in music here an there and when the opportunities arrive I’ll help in short film projects.
How long have you been studying karate, and what got you started?
Over 30 years, since age 5! When I was 4 yrs old I saw a Bruce Lee movie with my Dad called Fist of Fury, also known as “The Chinese Connection”. I was hooked. Then I saw Blood Sport and started training my splits like Jean-Claude Van Damme. Ninja Turtles was also my favorite. So, naturally, I asked my dad if I could start karate. He enrolled me in Tae Kwon Do at age 5. Now I have my own Dojo with Austin Karate Center. It's been an amazing journey!
What styles do you teach?
I start all students at Austin Karate Center with Shotokan Karate with kickboxing applications. This allows students to learn the tradition of respect, discipline and honesty as well as skills for self-defense. I also teach Okinawan Goju-Ryu for competition or as a progression after earning a black belt in Shotokan.
Are there many different styles of karate?
There are four main styles of karate. Shotokan, Goju-Ryu, Shito-Ryu, and Wado-Ryu. Other styles branch from these main styles.
Styles of martial arts are like foods - they vary by region and cultural traditions of the people. So you can imagine how many variations of martial arts there are. Karate is one form of martial arts from Okinawa and is a national sport in Japan.
What is your experience and how many styles have you studied?
I've belted in American Karate (1st degree), Lockhart Combative Systems (5th degree), Okinawa Goju-Ryu Karate Do Kyokai, or OGKK, (2nd degree) and Japanese Karate Federation Goju-Kai (1st Degree).
I've also studied Tang Soo Do, Tae Kwon Do, Kickboxing, Ed Parker Kenpo, Aiki Jujitsu, Wing Chun Kung-fu, Wushu, Tai Chi, Muy Thai, Modern Arnis & Kali, as well as various weapons. So quite a few.
Martial arts has also opened the door to the film industry for me. I do stunt work and fight choreography.
Why so many? Why not stick to one or two?
Because it’s FUN! As mentioned earlier I am a forever student. I love to learn about the culture and history of the arts. When you learn about people you learn about yourself. I have “Karate Family” all over the world. There’s also this universal respect that comes with it. We can relate to one another as we know the hard work and dedication needed to endure such extreme training.
What inspired you to open your own studio (Dojo)?
My first Karate instructor, Joseph Hernandez. I went through a lot of adversity as a kid and the dojo was the only place where I could escape. He helped mold me into a positive human being when I was going the other direction by being a role model and leading by example. He showed me I could achieve anything if I focus.
Imagine experiencing yourself getting better every week in some shape or fashion. And you don’t do it alone. You're in a community where there is no discrimination. Honesty, respect, discipline, and hard work are the foundation. Integrity is everything, and I hold my standards very high. I knew I couldn’t follow under any other company, but I did learn from every experience and I put all of that into Austin Karate Center.
You teach adults as well as kids. What is your experience working with children?
I started teaching kids at age 19 and have lost count as to how many champions I've groomed. My most significant experience was working for Chuck Norris, himself, in his program called Kickstart Kids. They introduce martial arts to kids in middle school as place of physical education. There I managed over 250 students. It was a valuable experience that prepared me in working with kids.
Do you prefer working with kids or adults?
Both, age doesn’t matter. Everyone has the capacity to grow at any point in life.
What is your long-term goal for your students?
To master their body, mind and spirit so well that they can teach others so easily and enjoy every moment of it. At Austin Karate Center, we have a Student Creed that goes,
"To build true confidence through knowledge in the mind, honesty in the heart, and strength in the body. To keep friendship with one another, and build a strong, happy community. Never fight to achieve selfish ends, but to develop might for right."
Notice it has nothing to do with martial arts, but everything to do with the responsibility of being a good human. This sums it up for me. If I can instill this concept in the hearts and minds of future generations, then I've done my part to bring positive change in the world.