Dean Joseph Childers and Shotokan Karate

By Elizabeth Brown, CHASS Dean's Office Student Intern
October 21, 2013

Joseph Childers, Dean of the Graduate Division and English professor at UCR, has practiced Shotokan Karate with the UCR karate team for 20 years. When he was an assistant professor in 1993 he decided to take karate classes through the UCR recreation center after a graduate student who was an international competitor mentioned it to him. He quickly joined the team as he realized his skill for the martial art.

Growing up athletic and competing in wrestling and taekwondo in college, he effectively transferred and built upon his skills, at one point climbing to 3rd in the nation in brown belt kumite, or fighting, and competed until he turned 40. He still trains, however, and is currently a 3rd degree black belt, professing that the intellectual part of the art is what keeps him diligent in his training.

His involvement with karate ascends above the purely physical, and the direct and efficient style of Shotokan shows in his teaching and lifestyle. Though he does not instigate conflict, he stands his ground during turmoil and tries to deal with issues in a way that imitates the ippon kumite, or style of competition that strives for one efficient blow to end the fight.

Dean Childers tries to teach at least once a year, and a few years ago he co-taught a three quarter course on conflict resolution called the Theory and Practice of Everyday Life that examined the way different disciplines attempt to resolve personal and social conflict, and how that is reflected in the literary subject matter relevant to the discipline. His students can attest to his direct, aware, and non-dictatorial approach.

The dean recognizes that the art side of the martial art is equally important, and believes that the goal of practice is perfection, and even though it is unattainable, one should always strive for it. The individualistic style of training Dean Childers received by training in the US, rather than a very traditional Japanese style dojo allows him to focus on the techniques that work for his body type instead of imitating his instructors completely. Though he always focuses on improving his weaknesses as well, he feels this approach allows students to excel to the best of their abilities, and teaches as such in academics.

In academia, Dean Childers specializes in Marxist theory and Victorian literature. Currently, he is working on a book about immigration to England in the 19th century and the representation that it had in novels. He is also in the early stages of a book on the representation of public masculinity in the 19th century that explores areas such as parliament, gentlemen’s clubs, court, and financial circles.

The next course Dean Childers will teach is during the spring, with Professor Andrew Winer, on ultimate and penultimate themes of final and late novels.

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