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Getting to Know ...

Karen Whilden

Karen Whilden of Vienna, a member of the Baltimore Judo Club, recently won her second consecutive gold medal at the Pan American Kata Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina with Diane Jackson of Silver Springs, Md. She recieved gold in the Katame No Kata competition and ranked second the Nage No Kata division.

Number of years in Vienna?

Six years (since January 2000).

Spouse?

Richard Whilden.

Education?

BS, MS, MT(ASCP)SBB, CQA(ASQ).

Current job/primary occupation?

Medical technology/QA.

What are your achievements in Judo?

I currently compete in kata. Kata is a pre-arranged form of exercise, i.e., demonstration of judo. Competition consists of two-person teams performing the same sequence of moves. Who does it best wins. The katas I compete in are nage-no-kata (demonstration of throws), katame-no-kata (demonstration of matwork), goshinjitsu (modern forms of self-defense) and ju-no-kata (forms of gentleness).

a. Judo Nationals: Longtime kata champion; grand champion last three years. In order to be grand champion, the same two-person team has to compete in three or four of the above katas and have the highest cumulative score vs. other teams competing in that many katas.

b. World master kata championships: Masters participants are 30 years old and older. Won gold in Katame-no-kata in Japan with mother-in-law, Peggy Whilden, a longtime Vienna resident. Won gold in nage-no-kata in Canada with current partner, Diane Jackson.

c. Pan American Championships: One team per kata goes and represents the U.S.A. A team has to place first in Nationals (if the first-place team can not go, the second-place team is asked). Have competed in one to three katas for the U.S.A. from 2001 to 2006. Won gold in katame-no-kata, won gold ju-no-kata in kata, and won gold or silver in nage-no-kata.

d. World kata championship: No age restrictions. There is talk of having kata in the World's for the first time sometime in the next year. If this does occur, Diane Jackson and I will represent the U.S.A. in nage-no-kata and katame-no-kata. Having kata in the World's is the next step towards eligibility to apply to have kata in the Olympics.

I am also the kata chair for Shufu, a black belt association — mainly in Virginia, Maryland, D.C. and Pennsylvania. This includes overseeing anything related to kata — promotions, clinics, competition.

What other activities do you do besides Judo?

Read books, love to learn (classes, seminars, etc.), travel, collect foreign coins as souvenirs of where I've been on my travels.

Favorite local restaurant or place in the community?

There are so many wonderful restaurants. We have sampled lots and lots, for example, Paya Thai, Madame Wu's, Neighbor's, etc.

What are some ideas you have on ways to improve your community?

Vienna is a great community. I am fortunate to live here.

What brought you here?

I married a Vienna resident who was born and raised in Vienna.

What community "hidden treasure" do you think more people should know about?

The community center has many fine talks by the businesses in Vienna. This is a wonderful way to introduce the people and the businesses to each other.

When you were younger, what did you want to be when you "grew up?"

I was probably a normal kid who wandered along without a great plan for what to do when I "grew up" other than to go to college. I didn't think much beyond that. Afterwards, I took what I liked in school and tried to look for jobs in those areas.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Hopefully in Vienna and still doing judo. Can you tell it's my passion?

Personal goals?

Stay healthy, stay fit, and always keep learning.

— Stella Ostrander