Karate meets

Martial arts instructor James Kerr
also earns a living as a "supergeek"

I wear two hats. One is, I run this company called SuperGeeks that services and repairs computers. I started the company in 1998. We serve as a computer department on demand, kind of like "geeks on call." There are 15 of us. We have two locations, supporting both Oahu and Maui. You can find us at

My goal for that company is to develop a chain, kind of like Jiffy Lube or Kinko's. We want to be the first to put a flag in the ground and say, "Here we are; you can expect good service and consistent service." It is very important that people identify with the consistency of a brand.

People really want a technician who is knowledgeable, friendly and responsive, and that's what we want to offer.

I also teach the martial arts.

Karate was one of my interests as a boy. I had an older brother who was a superstar soccer player, and like all younger brothers, I wanted to be as good as he was. I thought if I learned to control my feet through karate classes, I could learn to better control the ball. Eventually, my love for martial arts superseded my love for soccer.

As a child, I was painfully shy. You hear about martial arts developing self-esteem; I was a poster boy for that.

Now, I'm 38 and I have a third degree in hapkido, which is a Korean martial art, and a first degree in taekwondo, another Korean style.

My first company I started here in Hawaii in 1997 was called Computer Safari. I offered software training to schools. One summer, we needed to fill out a two-hour block of time, but two straight hours on a computer isn't healthy, so I created a computer-karate combo.

The demand after that summer was strong. I would go to a different school every afternoon, but that got to be too much.

Then the YMCA offered the space, and we consolidated it there as Karate Kids.

The age group I teach is 3 through 18. We start at white belt and promote through black belt. At that age it's not so much which style you choose, it's which school and which instructor. Schools have different priorities. Some focus on tournaments, some on street tactics and some on character development. We focus on character development. The learning environment is more family-oriented. It's important that the students have fun. There are rules -- and if they are broken, there are consequences -- but it's not the traditional militant environment.

What's most important to me is giving them something they can then run with and pass on to someone else.

My ultimate satisfaction is to see change in a child's life, whether it's more confidence or a bounce in their step, getting stronger or faster, or just becoming better children. That's what keeps me jazzed.

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