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Favorite Things | Karate as second nature

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A CEO took up karate as a form of revenge then learned that karate was a way of life.


INTERVIEW MICHELLE ANN P. SOLIMAN | PHOTOGRAPHY JONATHAN D. BALDONADO

Antonio “Jumbing” G. de Rosas says that his lifestyle has not changed since becoming Pru Life UK president and CEO. He rises between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. and begins the day by running, swimming, or practicing karate.

Inside his office hangs a candid photo of his late sensei training with a fellow protégé, and a certificate of achievement he earned in 2006 at the age of 41, indicating his promotion to 4th dan—mementos of years of dedication to martial arts since he began training in 1977.

As a child based in Hong Kong where his father was assigned, Mr. De Rosas was introduced to karate at the age of 12 when his father enrolled at the Hong Kong branch of the Japan Karate Organization, the only karate school approved by the Ministry of Education in Japan.

“I went to British School for my primary education, and I was bullied by classmates twice my size, which is why my father enrolled me in martial arts. My motive then was revenge. But after several months, I learned that there was more to karate, and that it was a way life.  The more you advance in karate, the more you will find yourself not needing to use it, and if a time will come you would have to, it would be to protect others rather than yourself,” he said.

Outside his responsibilities as CEO, he continues the legacy of his late sensei, who trained him in the Philippines, by being an active member of the organization.

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Which type of martial art do you specialize in?
JKA Shotokan Karate.

What makes it unique?
We have longer stances. It’s a matter of emphasis on the movement, blocks and kicks and strikes.

How often do you practice it?
At least twice a week.

What was the most difficult part in earning a black belt?
First dan black belt because the final part of the exam would be to spar with nine senior black belters.  It’s more of an initiation rather than a test of skill, although your skill level after a minimum of three years training would be sufficient.  The purpose is to break you down and make you humble so you can grow again into a better person and martial artist. However, this part of the exam has not been practiced since 2000 due to potential legal liability issues of the karate school.

How do you get to 4th dan?
It takes three years of training to get to 1st dan, six years thereafter for 2nd, another 12 years for 3rd dan.  You don’t apply to take dan examinations above 3rd dan and you wait for your sensei to tell you that you are ready.

What is your favorite move?
All the basics must be mastered, and a true martial artist does not have a favorite move because different situations require different “moves.”

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Why martial arts?
It builds and endeavors you to seek perfection in character maintaining your principles, values, and integrity.    

What values and goals are parallel in the practice of martial arts and being the CEO?
Seek perfection of character. No one is perfect, and no one will ever be, but that does not preclude us from trying to achieve perfection in every aspect of our lives. When we develop a product, we always have the interest of the customer in mind.

Be faithful. We can have the best intentions for all our stakeholders (employees, distributors, customers, shareholders, our community) only if we remain faithful to them and have their interests at heart.

Endeavor. Martial arts training takes years—even decades—and you have to be persistent and diligent to progress through difficulties.

Respect others/refrain from violent behavior. The company must promote respect in the workplace and that is a given.  We respect each other as colleagues and professionals, and we encourage openness and value everyone’s ideas and opinions.               

Why do you continue to make time for karate?
Karate is my way of life.