CARLSBAD — Steve Ahle takes his role as a parent just as seriously as he does being principal of Poinsettia Elementary School.
Like most parents, he knows that it’s not always easy or convenient to do the right thing.
In January 1998, Steve Ahle’s son, Jordan, was 11 when he announced that he wanted to quit karate even though he had trained hard for his black belt since the age of 7.
“Jordan was working 24 hours a day, six days a week, at two studios,” Ahle remembers. “It was a huge commitment for a little kid. I said, ‘I’m not going to let you quit yet.’”
The only problem was that Steve Ahle was 45, and had never taken a karate lesson in his life. He was also recuperating from surgery to remove bone spurs from his Achilles tendon.
Despite the hurdles, he joined his son at North County Martial Arts and set his own goal of earning his black belt by the age of 50. The Ahles attained their respective goals: Jordan Ahle became a first-degree black belt four months later in April 1998. Steve Ahle earned his first-degree black belt in April 2003.
In the process, Steve Ahle found that karate provided welcomed relief from stiffness following his Achilles surgery.
“I went to a physical therapist and nothing worked,” he said. “After karate it loosened and became flexible.”
A bonus for Jordan after finishing his black belt was the opportunity of making good money for an 11-year-old, as an instructor at the karate studio. After entering Carlsbad High School, Jordan Ahle put his karate dreams on the back burner while pursuing cross country.
Steve Ahle went on to earn his second-degree black belt in 2005, the same year Jordan Ahle graduated from high school and began his freshman year at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
Jordan Ahle returned to karate after graduating in March 2010, earning his second-degree black belt last October.
A month ago, on Feb. 27, the Ahles each won trophies at the Southern California Friendship Tournament in Corona.
Jordan Ahle, now 23, placed first for forms and second for sparring in the 19-34 age division. Steve Ahle, now 58, won his first tournament ever, placing first for sparring in the 35-and-over division. In doing so, he proudly says he surpassed a 36-year-old former Marine.
Today, Jordan Ahle is passing on his love of karate as an instructor of kindergarten and first- and second-grade students at Poinsettia Elementary. The Kinderate (kindergarten) and Kiderate (first- and second-grade) classes were started by Masters Rick and Jennifer Jones of North County Martial Arts. Joining Jordan as instructors are Jamie Flores and Kyosa Nim.
“Karate keeps me fit plus I like to preserve the tradition of martial arts,” Jordan Ahle explained. “Some of the traditions are 900 years old. I think it’s important for kids because it instills self-discipline, courage and a commitment to good.”
Steve Ahle also continues to reap the rewards.
“I have a stressful job and there are levels of exhilaration and anxiety,” he said. “Those highs and lows take their toll. Karate is good for tension and relaxation, endurance and flexibility. It’s a great alternative to staying in shape.”
Even though both men are second-degree black belts, Jordan Ahle is considered to have seniority because he received his first-degree black belt first.
“It’s usually ‘Like father, like son,” Steve Ahle said smiling. “This was ‘Like son, like father.”
When he’s not teaching karate, Jordan Ahle works as a biologist in the private sector and for the Agua Hedionda Foundation.