One of the longest standing businesses on Daniel Island was on the brink of closing due to financial struggles wrought by the pandemic.
But Sensei Glenn Raus refused to concede to COVID-19.
After 18 years of business, Osupurē “Osprey” Karate, which was formerly called Japan Karate Institute Daniel Island, was forced to reinvent itself after nearly losing all of its membership over the past year.
At 33 years old, Raus started his karate training at the Japan Karate Institute West Ashley and is now a fourth degree Black Belt with more than 20 years of martial arts experience and training. He worked for Blackbaud at the time when the tech company moved to Daniel Island in 2000 and saw it as the perfect spot to start a satellite dojo.
Karate is much more than kicking and punching to Raus. As a man of moral fiber, he preaches precepts that focus on perfecting the mind, cultivating the spirit and keeping truthfulness in one’s heart.
Raus’ mission is to help each and every student learn how to conquer their own weaknesses, whether physical, emotional or mental. He uses traditional Wado Ryu “the way of peace” instruction — one of the four major styles of Japanese karate in the world — as the vehicle to drive this goal.
“I don’t teach how to fight, I teach how to defend,” Raus said. “... I don’t buy into toxic masculinity when it comes to this kind of stuff.”
His first class was held in October 2003. To put things in perspective, the inaugural issue of The Daniel Island News hit the streets on Oct. 30 that same year.
Before the days of a global health crisis, Raus’ dojo at the peak of operation had 175 students enrolled. Summer camps were sold out leading up to the outbreak of COVID-19.
Then 90% of Raus’ students dropped his program in a month’s time. At the most vulnerable point in the pandemic there were only 20 students.
Ten percent of the students chose to stay and help rebuild the program. Raus said his landlords were flexible and gave him the opportunity to recover financially even when he couldn’t meet full monthly payments.
“I’m grateful for those who stuck around,” Raus said. “... It’s a successful business model that will be successful again.”
Now, the karate school is on the path to overcoming these low times and is returning to a state of zen. All because Raus did everything within his being to save his business from collapsing.
At the beginning of the pandemic, he offered Zoom classes every afternoon and then those transformed into in-person parking lot classes. At one point, Raus resorted to riding his bike around the neighborhood to teach individualized lessons in the driveways of students’ homes.
“The pandemic tested my resolve and my students’ resolve,” he said.
Last fall, Raus launched a karate enhanced e-learning program for kids not attending school online. Students came to the dojo to learn karate, but first they had to get their homework done.
At the beginning of 2021, the karate school resumed its transportation service for its after school program. Students are picked up from school by bus and brought to the dojo.
This spring, five of Raus’ students obtained black belt status: Søren Spina, Andersen Spina, Joel Herndon, Sean Herndon and Mike McKeever. Four of the five new black belts are two sets of brothers from Daniel Island. One of them has been a students for 11 years and started when he was 3 years old. Another is 59 years old.
Part of Raus’ black belt examination includes an essay that’s not graded, but asks the student what their karate means to them. Raus learned that his class kept one student from taking his own life.
Over the years, Raus has worked with students with a range of disabilities. One student in particular had spastic cerebral palsy and was unable to walk on his own, but he trained for four years in his wheelchair and walker.
This fall, Raus is contemplating rolling out a special needs class for adults with Down syndrome. He expects that by the beginning of the next school year, his dojo will be back on track and no longer on an abbreviated class schedule caused by the coronavirus.
Osupurē Karate has two locations: 295 Seven Farms Drive Unit B (Daniel Island) and 454 Deanna Lane Unit C (Clements Ferry Road). For more information, visit ospreykarate.com.
NEWEST BLACK BELTS
Feb. 1, 2012
Status: Kohai (junior instructor), member of 2021 Sempai Academy
Feb. 10, 2010
member of 2021
Jan. 1, 2016
Status: Sempai (instructor)
July 7, 2014
Sept. 20, 2015