It’s not every day you receive a call informing you that you are being recognized for your dedication to your community by your state assembly member.
But that’s exactly what happened to Santhi Castle — owner of Encinitas Karate, Inc. —when a representative from the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce called her to tell her that she’d been singled out as the state’s 76th District “Woman of the Year.”
“When I first got word by phone, I was teaching a class,” said Castle, a fourth-degree black belt in Tang Soo Do karate. “I asked, ‘Are you nominating me?’ The answer came back, ‘No, you have been selected. You are the Woman of the Year!’”
While it came as a surprise to Castle, the same was not true for Rocky Chávez, State Assemblyman for the 76th District, who presented Castle with her certificate March 9 in Sacramento.
In an online comment, Chávez stated, “Santhi has spearheaded many community events to provide aid to local firefighters, Saint Jude’s Children Hospital and Hurricane Katrina relief organizations.”
The ceremony took place on the assembly floor, which was packed with state representatives, members of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, and supporters.
Chávez walked with Castle arm-in-arm to the floor, where she was honored with other state-wide winners.
March is Women’s History Month, and in its recognition, The California Legislative Women’s Caucus honors California women who make a difference in their communities.
“This celebration is an excellent way to honor the women who shape our state’s history,” said Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) in a public statement.
Castle has helped shape the character of hundreds of citizens of all ages through her martial arts instruction. Born and raised in Malaysia, she started martial arts when she was 10 years old, more than 30 years ago.
As an adult, she relocated to the U.S. in 1993, where she continued training in Shotokan karate, but then transitioned into Tang Soo Do when her studio opened in 1999.
Castle’s mission is to make students more successful in life by teaching them to be positive and respectful, and to adhere to high personal standards of conduct, she said.
“We are not focused on competition. We work with the children to be better members of society, being more focused on self-improvement and self-confidence,” said Castle, whose son, Skyler, is also an instructor.
Serving as a positive role model for her students, Castle has proven herself as an activist for community betterment. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, she helped raise nearly $2,000 for aid.
Two years later, the studio — in support of St. Jude’s Children Hospital — raised almost $9,000. And in 2014, more than $14,600 was raised for firefighters who risked their lives putting out the San Diego County wildfires.
Even though Chávez gave the award to Castle in Sacramento, he said he wanted to personally honor her with her students present. “Rocky showed up at my studio door with his assistant and gave me the award again,” said Castle.
On Friday, April 3, the studio will host two free seminars with Gary Rivers, a crime prevention specialist with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. After the recent attempted abduction of a Solana Beach child, families looked to Castle for advice.
“I told parents, ‘I will have a specialist with me, and together we can help you,’” she said.
The first seminar is scheduled at 4 p.m. for parents and children ages 5-7. The second, at 5 p.m., is for parents and children age 8 and older. “I will demonstrate self-defense and tell them what to do if they feel in danger,” said Castle.
Visit www.encinitaskarate.com for class information or call 760-635-3699 for seminar reservations.