Convergence - Turkey Farmer Teaches Karate

1 decade 6 months 4 weeks ago March 02, 2006 Mar 2, 2006 Thursday, March 02 2006 Thursday, March 02, 2006 2:58:22 PM CST in News
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“(I’m) kind of a specialist in turkeys but I do broilers also,” said Jeffre Firman.

Firman’s two jobs aren’t exactly compatible.  A turkey farmer doesn't always work as a karate instructor, too.

“We do a lot of push-ups and sit-up and crazy stuff like that,” Firman explained.

Firman teaches a style of karate known as Okinawan Goju, which is considered a‘hard-soft’ style.  Firman said the moves begin with closed fists and hard punches, but finish with rounder movements that might be considered more a form of self-defense.  This style of karate was founded in the mid-1800s when Kanryo Higaonna traveled from Japan to China to study Kempo karate.  Helater returned to Japan and integrated his Kempo training with Okanawan styles.

Firman’s hard side includes teaching University of Missouri students the art of Goju but when he goes to his turkey research farm near Centralia his soft side emerges as he picks up a turkey chick.

“… they’re cute when they’re little,” he said. “When they get bigger they tend to be less cute.”

JeremyMcGill, a master’s student who works at the farm with Firman, has never seen his instructor’s karate moves, but that doesn’t pose a problem for him.

“Yeah, I can imagine him … I don’t want to try to find out if he can, but I believe him,” McGill said.

In addition to his turkeys and karate students, Firman teaches several classes on the MU campus and has five children at home. Being tugged in each direction makes for an interesting assortment of chicks in his care.

“It’s a struggle constantly trying to keep up with getting grants and teaching classes and working with the club activities and taking care of things at home and traveling internationally and such…but that’s part of the fun,” Firman said.

While he likes his traditional classroom work, Firman said he enjoys teaching the karate class even more.

“This is to me the ultimate way of teaching because you really are thinking about the entire person,” Firman said. “So we talk about mind, body andspirit, where in the classroom setting you are really very discipline-oriented and so you’re really talking about a specific partof their training.”

Firman will be traveling to Azerbaijan later this month to continue his research on bird flu.

Reported by Jeremy Goldmeier
Photography by Le Ngheim

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