Joel Kemegue is a freshman creative writing major from Bellevue, Washington. He enjoys reading, writing and procrastinating.
‘Like 5’4” and a complete badass’
Self-defense instructor started young, says she uses her skills as a 'security blanket'
January 30, 2020
In the Physical Education Building, junior and black belt Andrea Barcenas teaches karate, boxing and other forms of self-defense.
Barcenas practices Karatedo Doshinkan, which she said pulls the best aspects of other martial arts forms and incorporate it into one. While she also teaches judo, Kyokushin karate, Muay Thai and boxing in her class, Karatedo Doshinkan is what she’s been training in for 15 years.
“I try to make [the class] as fun and incorporating as possible,” Barcenas said. “One thing I didn’t like when I was younger was, of course, a 6-year-old doesn’t want to stand for three hours. But you learn, it’s discipline. So yeah it’s tough, but it’s also fun.”
Barcenas has been involved in martial arts since she was four, encouraged by her father, who did martial arts when he was a child.
Barcenas said she didn’t like karate until she turned 13, where she started learning more about the outside world and saw its value.
“One time my sister and me were walking home from school and for some reason someone decided to choke her, and he said it was for fun,” Barcenas said. “And I was like ‘Well, why don’t you do that to me since it’s fun,’ and then — this is, like, elementary [school] — I grabbed him and I threw him over my back, on the pavement in front of all of the security guards, all of the teachers, all of the parents, and then I just grabbed [my sister’s] hand and walked away.”
Right now Barcenas studies mechatronics robotics and automation engineering, which WSU does not offer as a major but does provide the foundations for, Barcenas said. After college, Barcenas said she wants to work in animatronics, robotics or programming.
She said she is still considering opening a dojo but besides needing the permission of her sensei, she said she doesn’t think she’s at that level yet.
“Even after I got [my black belt, and] after 12 years it still wasn’t enough, but I think everyone’s definition of enough is different,” Barcenas said. “I feel like my bar is all the way up here, so, unrealistically high expectations.”
“I’ve been in situations where I’ve had a gun held to my face. I never want that to happen again.”Andrea Barcenas
Jillian Lenicka, WSU freshman nutrition and exercise physiology major and student of Barcenas, said she is an “energetic and passionate person” when it comes to self-defense.
Computer science major and president of Judo Club Matthew Molitor said he first met Barcenas while she was doing a demonstration at a martial arts symposium, where she was breaking wooden boards and cinder blocks.
“I was blown away by that because she was unassuming, like 5’4’’, and a complete badass,” Molitor said. “It kind of gave me a respect for karate.”
Barcenas said she sees karate as a spiritual activity, something that she’s incorporated into her life “mentally, spiritually, physically,” even if she doesn’t do it every day.
“I’m terrified of the outside world sometimes, that’s why I wanted to learn to protect myself,” she said. “Because I’ve been in situations where I’ve had a gun held to my face. I never want that to happen again.”
Barcenas calls self-defense a “security blanket,” and said it’s important to learn to protect oneself if a dangerous situation comes up.
“If you’re like me and your mind runs at a hundred miles an hour you’re always thinking about what could happen,” Barcenas said. “I never want to be in that situation again, therefore I’ll never let myself get in that situation again. If it happens, they’re not coming out of it.”