Officer brings Okinawan karate to Oak Harbor

Six-year-old Gabriel Pridgen participates in a children’s karate class led by Sensei Chris Peabody and Diedre Sherman on Feb. 10. - Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times
Six-year-old Gabriel Pridgen participates in a children’s karate class led by Sensei Chris Peabody and Diedre Sherman on Feb. 10.
— image credit: Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times

It’s a full body transformation and quite a mouth full. This fall, Coupeville police officer and Sensei Chris Peabody opened North Whidbey Seibukan Karate-Do in Oak Harbor.

Seibukan Karate is a traditional practice that stems from Okinawa, Japan. It teaches striking, blocking, grappling, throws and pressure points. Peabody began training in the sport when he was 6 years old in Ketchikan, Alaska and has now been involved with it for 25 years. He said his father took classes and as soon as he was old enough to join in, he did.

Peabody studied under Kyoshi Warren Berto who has been teaching 35 years and has run a facility in South Whidbey for about eight years.

“It’s all about personal growth,” Peabody said.

Peabody pointed out that unlike more mainstream American sports like basketball or football, karate doesn’t have the instant gratification of seeing a ball go through a hoop or a touchdown being scored. And because of that, its participants must be dedicated.

“It’s about discipline, physical fitness and a lot of fun,” Peabody said during a children’s class last week. “They gain a lot of self confidence in what they’re able to do.”

In addition to the children’s class, Peabody also teaches a beginner’s class for adults and a traditional weaponry class. He is looking to start a women’s self-defense class and a class for people with physical disabilities with the help of assistant instructor Diedre Sherman.

Oak Harbor resident Brian Pridgen and his 6-year-old son Gabriel recently began taking classes at the center (typically referred to as a dojo). Pridgen said he studied a similar style of karate when he was in college and was excited for the opportunity to get back into it.

“I got the itch and even though I’m short on time, I knew I wanted to do it,” he said.

Though there aren’t many local karate competitions or tournaments to participate in, members of the island’s Seibukan Karate centers have traveled to Okinawa multiple times to attend events and study.

Langley resident Dave Noble recently received his black belt while in Japan. He’s been studying Seibukan for four years on the island but has been training in martial arts for 10. Though he usually attends the dojo in South Whidbey, he visits Peabody’s center in Oak Harbor when he has a schedule conflict or can make time.

“It’s the most intense, good workout,” Noble said. “It’s not all for show. It feels useful.”

Those who are interested in joining one of Peabody’s classes can get more information by emailing him at or by calling 360-969-4541.

North Whidbey Seibukan Karate-Do

  • Location: 390 NE Midway Blvd., B204, Oak Harbor

  • Classes: Beginner: 5:30 to 7 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays; Kids’ class: 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays; Kobudo (weaponry) 5:30 to 7 p.m.,


  • Contact: or 360-969-4541.

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