Kick high for life; a true inspiration

Four years have passed since Shari Bookstaff, a Skyline Biology teacher, had her brain tumor surgery. Doctors claimed that after her surgery it would only take weeks for her to recover but it turned out to be months, and then years.

And now she’s up on her feet again thriving through life and embracing what it has to offer: Last Saturday, Shari Bookstaff received her black belt in Karate.

The ceremony gathered honorary guests including Great Grand Master Ming Lam, Professor Janet Gee, and Sensei Jerry Jaeger who came to witness the students claim their success.

This kind of ceremony happens once every two to three years. Each time the karate center has a big number of junior students who attempt to tests to have their black belt.

Gathering the grand masters from different places is also a factor of having this ceremony once every two to three years only.

Sensei Lee Byrd the owner and head Instructor of the Family Martial Arts Center of Pacifica was very proud to be a great part of the black belt promotion of Shari Bookstaff, her colleague Pat Carter, and his students.

“In running the karate center, I never turn any students away despite any disabilities,” said Lee. “I let them show their potential.”

Bookstaff, along with her sister Patricia Carter, a Laboratory Technician from Skyline’s Biology Department, has achieved the fruits of their labor. Training and working for a black belt takes time and effort, taking almost seven years to complete.

David Durkin, Lee’s student, was all out in helping Bookstaff for her preparation in black belt promotion.

Karate helps her exercise to gain back her coordination and balance. In addition to that, with the help of adaptive physical education professor Chip Chandler, the Wii-hab program, video game rehabilitation, is now helping Bookstaff get up and running again.

“It takes her hours to burn movement in her mind and body… Shari as a student is an inspiration, she’s out there and gives her all, before and after her surgery,” said Lee.

Bookstaff first took up karate with her kids to develop a bond in 2005. She never thought of having a black belt; in fact she did it just for fun.

“At first I didn’t have a goal, I just wanted to play,” Bookstaff said.

Sensei Lee encouraged Bookstaff to pursue karate, get back on the mat and aim for that black belt.

“It was all about surviving, learning all the basics again,” said Bookstaff.

The ceremony and black belt promotion was a reward of Bookstaff’s hard work. Karate was something that gave her family and friends bonding sessions as well.

“She was like everyone else,” Carter said. “She was a go-getter in karate, active and strong, she even got me into karate!”

Carter and Bookstaff have been working together almost 15 years at Skyline and have been training for karate for five years.

“There is something about karate that when you’re doing it, all you’re thinking about is doing karate,” said Bookstaff. “Not the laundry, not doing work; It’s not about anything else but you and hitting the target. It’s where you can leave your worries.”

She shares her rigors and hardships in life which is written on her very own book, “When Life Throws you Lemons, Make Cranberry Juice!”

Bookstaff’s life chapter is true evidence of courage and what kind of mindset she had as a karate student.

She continues fighting using pre-arranged techniques in karate known as “Kata” and struggles with what life has to offer regardless of the challenges she had to overcome.