CSULA’s Karate Kid

Despite the hard knocks and bruises, a young, talented, and skillful CSULA student continues his journey in karate.

Shihan Juan Larios and Francisco Moro.

At 6:30 on a Friday morning, he pulls into the campus parking lot. He steps out of the car and does his morning stretches. All warmed up, Francisco Moro, a CSULA sophomore majoring in biology, begins his training routine by jogging lightly up the sixteen or so flights of stairs.  As he completes one jog round, he increases his momentum and does four more rounds.

Born and raised in East Los Angeles, Francisco has been practicing karate since the fourth grade. Now, with an earned black belt and advance skills to prove it, Francisco humbly reflects, “The color doesn’t matter as long as you have it inside you, that’s what makes you a black belt.”

Francisco’s skills have earned him top three finishes in karate events. Last year, he won a silver metal for his second place finish in a national event.  His finish, however, was not good enough to qualify him into last year’s Olympic event because he needed to be in first place.  Karate has yet to be recognized as an official sport in the Olympics. It is, however, a sport currently recognized by the Olympic committee to be a part of the Pan American games, a step below the official Olympics, according to one of Francisco’s coaches, Marissa Larios.

Francisco practices some moves with his opponent.

Like most students, Francisco has to manage life’s daily routine. He makes every effort to complete his homework before practice.  His karate coaches check his grades to ensure that he is on top of his work. Francisco says that if he falls behind, he would have to watch from the sidelines until his grades improve.  Learning from his own experience, Francisco says “I know what I have to do [because] I really hate [being benched]… it’s the worst punishment for me.”  And like most college students, Francisco has a part-time weekend job as an audio-technician.

When asked who the motivators behind his success are, Francisco credits his coaches, Shihan Juan Larios, Marissa Larios, and the rest of the Larios family for their guidance.  He credits his parents’ support, and – specifically – his older brother Rodrigo, a CSU Long Beach student, who also practices the sport.  He sees him as a partner who pushes him to do better or else, “you’ll get your butt kicked,” Francisco says.

Marissa Larios speaks of Francisco, “as a person [who’s] mature and responsible…he has very good communication skills and the [student youths] like him. He has a lot of teaching ability and a lot of that comes from his own training… his experience as an athlete, I think, helps him overall in general.”

Francisco also teaches karate on Tuesdays and Thursdays. However, sometimes, he steps in and instructs groups of youths in the absence of their coaches, as he did recently with a group of thirteen and younger in the International Karate –Do Shito Ryu dojo in the City of Bell.

Francisco teaching the youths the proper way to warm up.

From the sidelines, one can see Francisco shout commands in English, Spanish, and in Japanese, and teach his students in the karate drills and practice fights.  He believes that to teach karate one needs to understand a concept well before explaining it to others.

One of his students, Raymond Larios, 11, says “Francisco is a cool guy, very nice, helps get us ready for tournaments, is a very good instructor and helps coach us [to reach] our limits.”  He hopes to be as good as Francisco one day.

Even with his success in the sport, Francisco doesn’t plan to turn his athletic skills into a career.  He does, however, plan a career in the medical field.

In the mean time, Francisco continues his journey in karate.

Next post: Thursday, March 29

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