Meet the instructors of Shotokan Karate Napa
Chela Morales-Placone started training in Autumn of 1991, several months after her young kids started training. "I saw the change in their confidence and their personality a few months after they passed their yellow belt test. It was then when I realized I had to join them. Shotokan karate has given me the discipline and courage to achieve my goals. It has and continues to positively impact every aspect of my life, from work to home and everything else in between. Nothing would give me more pleasure than to teach these attributes to our students through training."
Chela started competing after she received her 1st degree black belt in 1995. She received a Best Competitor Award in 1998 and was asked to represent the Northwest Region in the US Nationals that year. One of her many achievements in karate was winning the Gold in kata at a National Championship in South San Francisco for her division.
In 2001, as the highest ranking student at Shotokan Karate Napa, she became the chief instructor when Sensei Greg Leonard retired. Rick Placone, then a fellow karate practitioner and competitor, helped run the administrative side of the dojo but also taught so that they each could continue training. Their relationship, which started with mutual respect and support for each other, lead to a wonderful marriage in Autumn of 2010.
Chela has achieved the rank of 5th degree black belt and is also a certified Class D judge by the ISKF. She has a degree in Accounting from Golden Gate University and enjoys her full-time position as a Payroll and Human Resources Specialist. Chela and Rick live and work in the beautiful Napa Valley. She enjoys her garden when she is not practicing karate. It represents the perfect complement to her karate training.
Rick Placone, M.D.
Rick Placone began training in shotokan karate in 1994. Rick has been involved at a competition level with various sports including competitive swimming, bicycle racing and triathlons since childhood. "I reached a point in my life where I began looking for something to sustain more than just my life long interest in personal fitness - I wanted to pursue something with intellectual and technical challenges as well."
Rick thought martial arts might provide the unique challenges he was looking for. After auditing many different styles and schools for over 2 years, he concluded that training in a traditional Japanese karate style such as shotokan would provide the right blend of training involving body, mind and spirit. "This is a lifelong endeavor - I will always be challenged and there will always be room for improvement."
A career in medicine afforded Rick many opportunities to teach and he brought this experience to the dojo when his sensei, Greg Leonard, retired. Along with his wife, Chela, he has helped keep a long running tradition of quality instruction and training in true karate in Napa. Rick is a 4th degree black belt and still enjoys competing at the senior division level. He often helps with judging at tournaments and enjoys building projects in his spare time, including both the downtown and home dojos of Shotokan Karate Napa.
Select students who hold a 2nd degree black belt or higher also teach at Shotokan Karate Napa. All are ISKF members who understand the importance of staying true to the traditions of Japanese Shotokan Karate, teaching in a safe and respectful manner to develop students’ body, mind, and spirit.