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Senpai | Annika Nieber

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My Story

My interest in martial arts was awakened at age 14 when I started Shotokan training in Germany. I soon figured out that my strength lay with kata rather than fighting. Over the next few years, I attended kata summer camps and was able to train with national and international instructors like Shihan Hideo Ochi, Chief Instructor of JKA Europe. When I was a 7th kyu, Sensei Katja left the dojo to attend College and we were left with her student Senpai Dana, 5th kyu at the time, to continue in our Sensei’s footsteps. With no Yudansha (Blackbelt) instructor, the Dojo lost its character. It was time for my friends and me to try something new. 

After experimenting with Aikido and a semester of Judo I began training in a Taekwondo dojo in 2003 and 2004, respectively. I felt like a rock compared to some of the other students that could easily jump-kick over a 6-foot high obstacle. Adjusting my mawashigeri posed the biggest challenge to me at first but was helpful in my Kyokushin career later on. Training Taekwondo was more about the workout than the martial art itself. I only spent about a year with the group and left in summer 2005 to move to the U.S.A. 

After recovering from culture shock, I finally made it to the Ellensburg Kyokushin Dojo in summer 2007. I was very anxious and had no idea what to expect, but my curiosity was greater than my fear. Compared to my previous training, Kyokushin seemed to focus more on cardio and strength rather than form. Especially the Kumite sessions – these were quite frustrating to me at times. I tested for my 8th kyu (blue belt) and entered my first semi-contact tournament in Fall 2007. Since then I have entered numerous tournaments and placed in many of them. In June 2012 I had the privilege to travel to Japan as a member of the United States National Team to fight in the IKO-Matsushima World Tournament and to test for Nidan rank. I had the honor to grade alongside my mentor and fight coach Shihan Ian Quitadamo at the Honbu dojo in Isesaki, Japan in front of Kancho Yoshikazu Matsushima. 


In February 2011, I started teaching a kid’s class under Shihan Quitadamo. I had been a student for so long (and still am) that I never thought I would aspire to be a teacher. I found that I really enjoyed teaching, and some of my students have even participated in tournaments. It is gratifying to see new students join all the time. 

What I like most about Kyokushin is that it is a traditional mixed Martial Art. In Kyokushin, we train by the principle that a good fighter has to be proficient in stand-up fighting as well as throws, self-defense, and weapons. Kyokushin training has helped me learn more about my strengths and weaknesses and fosters my growth as a person and a productive member of society. Osu! 

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