Ron Mirikitani’s teaching career at Meramec spans 45 years of coaching, training
By: DALILA KAHVEDZIC
Art & Life Editor
Full-time instructor Ron Mirikitani was born in one of the internment camps during World War II. The challenges he faced have led him to pursue a career teaching personal defense. “It was never popular to be Japanese back then so I had different confrontations and my father just started teaching me how to protect myself,” Mirikitani said. “I saw a lot of injustices there.” Mirkitani’s parents were farmers until the farm was seized. “My dad’s parents were barbers and they had their shop and they took everything from there. They just gave them a large suitcase and said ‘put in what you can carry’ and that was it. It was not a good situation back then,” he said. His experiences remained with him as he began his career teaching at Meramec 45 years ago. “You just look at the news any night you’ll see so much violence. I think the first thing you need to do is be very diligent on where you’re going and know where you are and know your limitations and try to be aware of your surroundings all the time,” Mirikitani said. Mirikitani started training around the age of seven and now teaches karate, personal defense and judo at Meramec. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education with a minor in biology from the University of Central Missouri and a master’s degree of Science in Guidance and Counseling with emphasis on Sports Psychology from Iowa State University. “I enjoy all three of these classes,” Mirikitani said. “Judo is a lot of grabbing and throwing there and Karate is a lot of kicking and punching and blocking; they’re all interesting.” Getting in and evading fights are all important aspects depending on what a student is trying to get out of martial arts, Mirikitani said. If in an inconvenient situation which would involve violence, Mirikitani said students should show they are not afraid. Having a calm mind and knowing how to react in a situation helps as well. “A lot of people are in personal defense class that want to learn to defense themselves, obviously. I have a lot of people in my judo classes; some of them are top-ranking who are going into MMA or Jujitsu and they want to learn more skills,” Mirikitani said. Mirikitani said practice is very important. “It’s not just the athletic aspect, it’s the discipline, the stick-to-it-ness; all those things are involved in athletic training that are so critical to be successful in living,” Mirikitani said. His daily routine embraces discipline and athleticism, he said. Mirikitani gets up every morning at 4:30 a.m. for a run and utilizes Meramec’s gym for working out until his classes start at 7 a.m. Mirikitani’s work out includes martial art training and a lot of cardio. He also lifts weights two to three times a week and eats healthy. Mirikitani’s family is involved in the martial arts as well. Mirikitani, along with his wife, Jan, who he met at Central Missouri State while he was training as an athlete, has been honored with the National Wrestling Coaches Association Meritorious Service Award. Mirikitani is a member of eight various halls of fame and his wife was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame last year, making her the first woman in Missouri to be inducted. “It’s quite an honor,” Mirikitani said. Mirikitani’s son David Mirikitani was a volunteer assistant coach for Meramec and his son Jason Mirikitani coaches at Lafayette High School. Ron Mirikitani has three black belts with Khadija eight degree in all three, has been named man of the year and has received countless trophies, but his favorite accomplishments, he said, involve his students. He has had Meramec students represent the United States in the Junior Pan American team and Junior College National Team. “I enjoy when I have a lot of my students come back or my athletes come back and share things that happened and what I’ve done to help them out a little bit in their life; that’s fairly important to me,” Mirikitani said.