Athlete of the Week: Dash Blake, Malibu High School


Dressed in a black karate gi and carrying a b¯o with the confidence and poise of an elder master, 14-year-old Dash Blake walked to the center of the room at Joey Escobar’s Malibu Martial Arts and prepared to demonstrate his skill with the b¯o.


In front of 15 karate black belt students, his teacher and one awe-inspired journalist, Blake demonstrated a variety of strikes, blocks and thrusts with swinging and sweeping moves that accentuated precision and force.


The b¯o is a six-foot long, wooden staff that can be used in self-defense. Blake wielded the b¯o around his five-foot, eight inch, 115-pound body with grace and authority. At the end of his personal demonstration, he answered questions and shared with the group the detailed techniques of his routine.


The young karate prodigy began his ascent at the age of five and reached a milestone last month. Blake, a freshman at Malibu High, became the youngest third degree black belt ever in Escobar’s karate program. (Joey Escobar’s Malibu Martial Arts has been operating in Malibu since 1996.)


“Dash has always conducted himself in an exemplary manner as a role model for fellow students. Through the years, Dash has striven to perform to the best of his ability and always shines as a true martial artist,” said Escobar, a disciple of Chuck Norris and a seven-time International Middleweight Champion, including International Grand Champion in 1990. “He is one of the most brilliant martial artists I have ever seen. He has the old traditional classic style combined with modern athleticism.”


Blake and his brother, Connor, a second degree black belt, began taking Tang Soo Do (Korean karate) at Joey Escobar’s Malibu Martial Arts when they were five and seven years old, respectively.


Since that time, Blake has attended classes four times a week, working his way through the multiple belts ranks (white, yellow, purple, orange, blue, green, brown, red, black) and was awarded his first degree black belt (master of basics) four years ago when he was 10 years old.


“It teaches you not only how to defend yourself, but also respect and discipline,” Blake said. “It’s helped my concentration and self-control and my temperament and attitude, too.”


He secured his second degree black belt two years ago. Along with good friend Everett Plen, a sophomore at MHS, Blake took the incredible step of obtaining his third degree black belt at such a young age. Achieving his third degree black belt in less than 10 years was a huge accomplishment and a rare achievement in karate.


Under the watchful eyes of Escobar, an eighth degree black belt, Blake passed the rigid test with flying colors.


“I felt the test went well,” Blake said. “It was definitely hard because the pace was so quick. When I passed the test, it felt really good. It’s great to get a new belt.”


Blake trained intensely for a month prior to the test, with practices every day for several hours. The test consisted of 18 different katas (movement of patterns), 15 one-steps (attacking self-defense techniques), sparring (six three-minute rounds) and a personally designed musical expression with the b¯o.


After two hours of demonstration and showcasing his current aptitude of karate, Blake became a third degree black belt.


“It was relief that I don’t have to do the test anymore and I didn’t have to keep practicing for that test in particular,” said Blake, who has earned close to 20 belts total in his journey. “It was satisfaction that I got my new belt after years of trying what I wanted to achieve.”


Once Blake got his coveted belt, he instantly began training for the next one. Growth and advancement in karate takes time and Blake will continue to focus and perfect one of martial art’s oldest Japanese disciplines.


“Dash has been the perfect student and I am always proud to show him off,” Escobar said. “He is the type of individual that will always succeed in his endeavors. I am confident he will achieve his fourth degree black belt before college.”


In recent years, in addition to his traditional karate workouts, Blake began training in “mixed martial arts” (MMA) classes. The classes were offered through Escobar’s school and Blake has incorporated many MMA-style techniques and moves into his current karate style.


Along with karate and MMA, Blake also finds time to be a part of the Malibu High band and drumline. He plays the snares and performs at various school events.

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