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Training for black belt in kajukenbo exhausting but worthwile experience

Sifu Jim Pytel (right) and Professor Scott Dinger demonstrate a grappling technique at Dinger’s gym in the Masonic Lodge on W Jewett Boulevard. Dinger, who trained Pytel, has been teaching kajukenbo in the Gorge for the past 10 years.

Photo by Ken Park
Sifu Jim Pytel (right) and Professor Scott Dinger demonstrate a grappling technique at Dinger’s gym in the Masonic Lodge on W Jewett Boulevard. Dinger, who trained Pytel, has been teaching kajukenbo in the Gorge for the past 10 years.



By KEN PARK

The Enterprise

kpark@whitesalmonenterprise.com

If you are a student at Columbia Gorge Com-munity College you probably know Jim Pytel as the instructor of Renewable Energy Technology and not as Sifu Jim Pytel, the first black belt in Tum Pai Kajukenbo trained by Professor Scott Dinger.

Kajukenbo is a form of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) from Hawaii, elements of which were brought over by Japanese and Chinese immigrants fleeing communism in the 1930s. The name comes from those different elements of self defense that are built into the martial art; karate, judo, jujitsu, kenpo, and boxing with a special focus on disarming opponents with weapons, as well as using weapons.

In order to earn his black belt, Pytel had to participate in a five-hour-long test that consisted of a seven-mile run, fighting multiple opponents at once, and sparring with other black belts.

“I was exhausted by the end of it. I had to try and catch third and fourth winds to continue,” says Pytel.

Pytel first fostered an interest in self-defense training as a teenager and enrolled in taekwondo classes. His education in martial arts continued with his training in the U.S. Army as a captain in the 4th Infantry Division. When he came to White Salmon, his friends encouraged him to join this self-defense class taught by Professor Dinger.

Dinger, 55, has been teaching kajukenbo for 10 years both in Trout Lake and at the White Salmon Masonic Lodge.

“What I teach here is different from MMA as a sport. It’s more about fighting from a place of survival than from a place of anger and ego. This is a team effort and a family.”

Dinger mostly works with kids and jokes that while the kids may look cute in their gis (uniforms worn by martial arts students) that they can actually kick butt.

Pytel has been training with Dinger for the last eight years and helps out with kids’ classes and has put together a “Friday Night Fight Club” for those who are signed up for the classes and want to do some extra training.

If you are interested in signing up for kajukenbo, you will have to join the waiting list. As of right now Dinger says every class is full. Both Dinger and Pytel are hoping to turn out more black belts in the coming years.



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