200 Days in the Life of the College

Monday, April 25

Peace through karate? She’s got the chops to pull it off

By John Wulf ’12

Tiffany Sanders ’11 has done a lot in her four years on the Hill. A government major and resident advisor, Sanders has been an officer in Hamilton’s Black Latino Student Union, a multicultural ambassador host for Hamilton’s Admission Office and a member of the Doers and Thinkers honor society. However, as Tiffany sits behind her desk at the Writing Center (oh yeah, she works as a secretary there as well), she talks about her most recent accomplishment — a $10,000 grant from the Davis Projects for Peace Foundation.

In her first summer as a Hamilton alumna, Sanders will be using her grant to foster peace in an interesting, seemingly paradoxical way: She and her father will be teaching karate. Sanders grew up in Dorchester, Mass., a suburb of Boston. It was there that her father trained Sanders to become, like himself, a karate black belt. She returns to Dorchester to teach not only the skills but also the personal lessons of karate to a community of youth that badly needs them. In Dorchester, the crime rate for juveniles has increased, and kids are being incarcerated at younger ages. Sanders sees karate as an opportunity to turn that trend around.

Free classes will offer a safe haven for kids who would otherwise be left to their own devices. Recognizing a dearth of community centers open during the evening, Sanders tailored her summer sessions to those hours.

For Sanders and her father, karate has always been more mental than physical. One needs to listen and control aggression. Even the board-breaking instills strict discipline. Sanders and her father require their students to recite a promise that “the art they learn will never be used in any harmful way except to defend themselves when absolutely necessary.”

As Sanders explains with conviction, “Karate shows kids how to control anger, how to be disciplined. And just in general, it improves self-control and self-respect.”

If you don’t believe her, you may want to keep that to yourself.