Like son, like father

Brandon and Robert Harvey earn black belts at Riverside Martial Arts

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Following in the footsteps of his son Brandon, Robert Harvey earned his black belt on Dec. 2 from the Riverside Martial Arts academy in Washougal.

The son becomes the father, and the father becomes the son.

Robert and Marisa Harvey signed their son Brandon and daughter Tianna up for Riverside Martial Arts classes through Washougal Community Education in March of 2009. Eight months later, Robert joined his children in this family quest for fun.

“It just got too tough sitting on the bench,” Robert said.

“I think it’s a decision he made on his own,” Brandon said. “The class itself encouraged him to join.”

Turn the clock forward four years, Robert, 48, earned his brown belt on the same April night as his Tianna, 12. Despite taking a kick to the head, Brandon, 14, hung in there and gained his black belt on June 13.

“I knew the test was almost over. I had to keep going,” Brandon said. “At the end of the day, I’m glad I did because I achieved my black belt.”

On Dec. 2, Robert passed the test for his black belt at Hathaway Elementary School. It was no easy task. Robert said he had to recite a poem about Disneyland while performing a series of techniques without missing a step.

“I can’t remember all the words. I said something about Goofy’s shoes, climbing Space Mountain and not falling out of a canoe,” Robert said. “At the end, I said I can’t wait to go there next year and have a beer with Mickey.”

The Harveys are taught by Steve Brown, who has been involved in this artform for more than 25 years.

“All I can see in my head right now is Steve smiling,” Robert Harvey said. “There’s a picture of me hugging Steve after I got my black belt. It tells the whole story. We’re both on our knees bowing to each other, with smiles on our faces from ear to ear. I have so much respect for that man. It’s hard to put it into words.”

Riverside Martial Arts has been a part of Washougal Community Education since 1998. The class meets twice a week at Hathaway Elementary. The next session begins Jan. 13.

“This all started in my back yard about 18 years ago,” Brown said. “Washougal Community Education has been a wonderful asset. It makes the program available to everybody.”

Harvey said he felt comfortable with Brown teaching his children from the word “Hello.”

“You could see the honor and respect he has,” Harvey said. “He’s not there for the money. He’s there because he loves martial arts. He’s the one who makes it all possible.”

Harvey thought he was in good shape before, but then he tried those martial arts classes on his own and found out how much they pushed him to the limit.

“You start out in the back row,” he said. “It’s not really intimidating, you’re just in awe of all those people in front. You have so much to learn from them.

“This is the most physical thing I’ve done in my life,” Robert added. “I’m in the best shape I have ever been in my life.”

Robert, Brandon and Tianna Harvey said they never look at the clock during class out of boredom. They are too busy absorbing information. They frown when class is over, anxious for the next one.

“It’s just a great, fun and physical activity to do with the family,” Brandon said. “Anybody from the family can join.”

Maybe one day Marisa will join fun with her husband, son and daughter. Every day is a new challenge. The Harveys are chasing them, head-on.

“I don’t have any end plan,” Robert said. “This is a big new adventure.”