(Top and middle: Duncan Sticht; Bottom: Lucas Puskarich (left) spars with Duncan)
CADIZ – Last week Dennie Miller welcomed another one of his pupils into the family of black belt earners. Along with his brother Eric, who was formally presented with his fourth degree black belt, it was Duncan Sticht, a Harrison Hills student, who entered the spotlight by earning his first degree black belt.
Miller, who runs Miller’s Martial Arts Studio with his brother, is a grand master and holds a seventh degree black belt himself.
The 16 year-old Sticht doesn’t plan on stopping at this level. A grand master is what he wants for himself, which is a lofty goal but from seeing his moves he has plenty of potential in those kicks.
Sticht has been training and learning under Miller for more than seven years and last week put on a little show by breaking a two-inch concrete slab with his elbow.
When he talks about what his experience in the arts has meant words like discipline, dedication and respect come pouring out for what it has taught him in his young life. Sticht is a second-generation black belt who Miller lauds for his good-hearted ways where he’s been tutoring another student in her academics, for example.
“He’s young enough,” Miller said of Sticht’s ambition to reach grand master. “His goals are lofty but life’s more important,” he added regarding the furthering of Sticht’s education.
His good friend, Lucas Puskarich, who earned his black belt a little more than a year ago is now a senior at Harrison Hills and plans on attending Washington & Jefferson College in the fall to study business and law.
Lucas was there to see his friend receive his coveted belt where he also noted the satisfaction in the achievement. He said it opens doors stating that on at least one college application he was asked about the black belt in impressive fashion.
Miller teaches the Tainui system where he recognizes a fifth degree of black belt as a grand master. He said his system is a combination of Kung Fu and Tae Kwon Do among some of the disciplines taught.
Lucas, who will attend college on an academic scholarship with the hope of playing soccer, said that one of his greatest experiences was achieving the rank of black belt with two of his other friends, Zack Stubblefield and Job Positano.