Renchi Rachel Camp
Year Started Studying Martial Arts: 1989
Years in the Martial Arts: 30
Years Teaching Martial Arts: 25
Sensei Rayburn Nichols (deceased)
2001 – PowerHouse Gym International Employee of the Year
2002 – American Classic 1st Place Heavyweight Bodybuilding
2002 – Overall Women’s Bodybuilding
2003 – Southern Classic 1st Place Heavyweight Bodybuilding
2003 – Overall Women’s Bodybuilding
2005 – NPC Alabama State 1st Place Heavyweight Bodybuilding
2006 – NESTA Lifetime Certification
Certified Personal Trainer
Charitable Donations and Community Service
• Albertville City Schools Running Club Supporter
• Read Across America Week – Guest Reader, Karate Mini-Clinics
• IKF Albertville Leadership Team – Lead Volunteer, Community-wide Volunteer Work
• Christian Women’s Job Corp – Awareness & Self-defense for Women
• Local Church groups – Awareness & Self-defense Classes
• Ogden House – Teen Residential Treatment Center – Awareness & Self-defense Classes
• Boaz City Schools Bama Bells – Underprivileged Girls – Awareness & Self-defense Classes
• Youth groups – Awareness & Self-defense Classes – Kids through College-aged
• Senior Citizens – Awareness & Self-defense Classes, Mobility & Strengthening Classes
• Frequently donates “6 Months of Karate” packages for local school fundraisers
– includes a free gi and 6 months dues
• Cut It Out program – New Beginning College of Cosmetology
• Douglas City Schools – Summer Camp, First Start Self-Defense Program
• Guntersville City Schools – Summer Camp
Major Martial Arts Achievements
1990 – US Yoshukai Karate #1 Ranked Women Competitor
1990 – US Yoshukai Top Speed Breaking Competitor
1991 – US Yoshukai Karate #1 Ranked Women Competitor
1992 – 1st Dan
1992 – Began instructing under Rod Lowery
1992 – US Yoshukai Karate Top Competitor Award
1993 – Alabama Karate Circuit Top Competitor
1993 – Instructor under Jerry Cox
1995 – 2nd Dan
1996 – Instructor under Rayburn Nichols
1999 – 3rd Dan
2001 – 4th Dan
2001 – Owner/Operator IKF Albertville Karate, teaching
Adult Classes at PowerHouse Gym
2003 – Chito Ryu Yoshukai Karate Student of the Year
2004 – Martial Arts Hall of Fame Inductee
2004 – Marshall County of Alabama Certificate of Excellence
2004 – 5th Dan – Shihan
2006 – Opened First Dojo in a small rental space, training adults
2007 – Built 3,600 sq ft dojo
2008 – 6th Dan – Shihan
2013 – 7th Dan – Renchi/Master Instructor
2014 – Krav Maga Level 1 Certification
2015 – Boy Scouts of America, Certified Self-Defense Merit Badge
2016 – Albertville City Schools Super Citizen Award
2016 – Built 6,000 sq ft Dojo – Current Location
2018 – Albertville City Schools Super Citizen Award
“If you choose a job you love, you will never have to work a day in your life.” ~Confucius
Sensei Nichols loved this quote and shared it with his instructors. How many people, though, really get to live it? As I look forward to my 30-year anniversary as a martial artist, I realize that I am one of those very few who have been blessed to live this life.
I will always remember my very first karate class. In 1989 I walked into a dojo for the first time. I was in a violent marriage and looking for a way out. I thought, “If I can just learn enough to fight back then maybe I can leave.” Training first with Rod Lowery, then Jerry Cox, I worked hard and progressed through kyu grades. I entered tournaments and ranked as the No. 1 Women’s tournament fighter in 1991 and 1992. I earned my 1st degree black belt under Mr. Lowery. I began teaching some of the classes and got a taste of what it would be like to be an instructor.
Along the way, karate gave me a way to face my abuser and get myself and my daughter out of an abusive situation and into a safe home. I truly believe that karate saved my life.
Around 1993, friends began travelling to Birmingham to train with Sensei Nichols and I went along. The hour-long drive there and back was a lot but the International Karate dojo in Centerpoint felt like the place I needed to be. I learned a lot very quickly and tested for my 2nd Dan under Sensei Nichols.
With International Karate, under the guidance of Sensei Nichols, I began teaching kids in after-school programs. It was a modest start. I drove 1 ½ hours each way to train a handful of students, but I loved it. As I grew in my training and teaching, I was able to begin an after-school program closer to home, in Union Grove, and eventually in my hometown of Albertville. I was still diving 2 hours round trip – two days a week – to train, but I could teach right there at home.
As I grew in rank, and grew as an instructor and martial artist, something was really nagging at me. Each new “first” in my martial arts journey reminded me of my first class. I knew this was telling me something but I hadn’t sorted out the message just yet.
Life was moving on as I welcomed another beautiful daughter, was working full time, and still had time to train and teach karate after school. Really, everything was good, but I still felt that pull in a new direction. I believe that God has a plan for me. If I am working against that plan, and working MY plan, it won’t work. If God wants you to be doing something, or does NOT want you to be doing something, the signs will be all around you. The signs were all around me. My employer was closing its doors. My karate classes were growing. Sensei was encouraging me to branch out and to consider teaching adults. Everything was pushing me in the same direction. So, one day I just decided that I’m going to do it. I’m going to quit my job and pursue karate full time.
During this time, I still loved competing, but I wanted to focus on teaching and training while raising my children. I wanted to turn my attention away from competition and awards and think about what really drove me to start karate in the beginning. I know that a powerful program can change lives, even save lives, and I wanted to offer that program in my community. I knew I needed to work with adults.
In 2001 I made an agreement with the owner of PowerHouse Gym and started an adult class in the aerobics room two nights a week.
It wasn’t long before we outgrew the training floor at PowerHouse so I rented a slightly bigger space down the road. It was exciting to create a dojo and welcome my students onto the floor that first night. Again I remembered my first class and what drove me to begin training. I knew I needed to do more. Teaching and training were a priority, but I knew that I also needed to start giving back to the organization that had given so much to me and my family. I started exploring volunteer and community service opportunities. Word got out fast and I had several clinics and workshops scheduled. I worked with local churches, Christian Women’s Job Corp, Ogden House (an adolescent residential treatment center), and local school and community groups.
My classes grew larger than I could have ever hoped. We outgrew the rental space, but I couldn’t find another space that would work for us. Sensei said to me, “So build one.” Well, I had never considered that! But I trusted Sensei and was grateful for his faith in me. So, I found a commercial lot, had a building put up, and opened my very own dojo in 2007.
I began using my dojo to host self-defense clinics, community safety and awareness programs and domestic violence awareness programs. Finally I was doing the work that I knew I should be. I was teaching and training, but I was also giving back.
In 2016, we needed more room to grow so I built a bigger building and moved to my current location. I teach karate year-round at the dojo, teach after-school programs during the school year, host summer camps and clinics during summer, host Karate Birthday Parties, and have a mini Ninja Warrior type obstacle course in the dojo.
Monday / Thursday, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Monday / Thursday, 5:00 – 6:00 p.m.
13 & Up,
Brown and Black Belts, All Ages
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 6:30 p.m.