Don’t Break Your Uke

We asked our skaters if any of them would like to contribute to the Keweenaw Roller Girls blog. We received our first feature by the newly recruited, I Love Skatin’ #666. Here she write about karate, roller derby, and how to treat your “Uke.”

don't break your uke


When I was 28, with no previous experience, I joined a karate dojo. Long story short, it wasn’t easy.

When I was 35, with no previous experience, I joined a roller derby league. It was also not easy.

Being not a particularly athletic person with few experiences on which to draw, my roller derby journey is evoking many memories of when I began my martial arts training. One idea that especially resonates is the notion of the uke when sparring or training in karate.

In Japanese, an uke (pronounced oo-kee) can be referring to one of two things. First an uke is a stone for sharpening a sword. Second, it is the title of one’s opponent when practicing sparring or martial arts techniques. Sensei taught that one should interact with one’s uke as if they are the stone used to hone the sword of one’s technique. If one is too rough or careless with one’s uke, you can break it. Go too easy on your uke, and your sword will not be as sharp as it could be.

Unlike the relationship the blade has with the stone, the uke learns from and is shaped by their interactions with their training partners. It is not a passive position. Inherit in this idea of the uke is the notion of respect. Sure, a big sword could probably chop a sharpening stone in half… but aside from one singular display of might, there is no future value in that. In karate training, we need to respect our partners, our ukes, and not get so carried away that we seriously injure them.

We as derby skaters also need to approach our training with the idea of the uke in mind. Train hard, skate hard, hit hard… but not so hard that you break your fellow skaters on purpose (always understanding, of course, that accidents happen in contact sports). As a heavy-weight skater, it’s very convenient for me to throw my weight around, sometimes not being as mindful of the well-being of others on the track as I could be.

Next time you catch me, #666, being disrespectful of my ukes, please let me have it and say  “Hey Skatin’, don’t break your uke!”


-I Love Skatin’


Bowl For Kids Fundraiser


This year Keweenaw Roller Girls are participating in Bowl for Kids, an annual campaign by Big Brothers Big Sisters to support mentoring programs for youth in our local communities. Please help us to be part of something big!

Be a Bowl For Kids Sponsor

Local businesses and organizations are invited to support the children and youth in their community by becoming a Sponsor of Bowl for Kids through a monetary gift. As a Sponsor you are Making a Positive Difference by assisting Big Brothers Big Sisters in carrying out their mission. You are assisting children and youth in achieving their highest potential as they grow to become confident, competent and caring individuals.

The Friendships of Big Brothers Big Sisters are joyful, uplifting and effective and the support of our Sponsors is instrumental to the success of the relationships we support.

Five Seconds!

“Five Seconds!” All derbyist know the command, the jam timer in the center of the track raises the whistle to their lips and… 4, 3, 2, 1 {TWEET!} it’s go time! The Keweenaw Roller Girls head back to practice this week after a well deserved, yet achingly long winter break. We’ve done some cross-training, some traveling, some mending of broken bones, some reuniting with friends, and now we’re ready to hit the track. Season three brings new competition, new team skaters, and the ever reliable bad-assery that is the Keweenaw Roller Girls. We don’t always win, but we give’er hell alright, and we have fun while doing it.

This year we look forward to many things, one of the most exciting is becoming a full member league of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association and taking on our WFTDA sponsor league, the Mid-State Sisters of Skate, at our season opener!

So derby fans, keep your eyes and ears peeled for KRG’s game schedule, league events, news, and more as we approach the melting of the ice rinks and the beginning of another exciting season of roller derby. The first whistle is just around the corner!

KRG’s Second Season Winds To An End But Not Before An Upswing

Fall is here. In the great North of Upper Peninsula Michigan we find ourselves not only in the Copper Country, but also in Hockey Country. Our home arena has been iced over for more than a month now, and though there isn’t snow on the ground (yet) it’s well known that it’s time of year. We wind down by winding up with a focus on recruiting new team members, and training them post season until we take our holiday break.

This season’s Fresh Meat recruits are lookin’ better than ever. Strong, determined, and learning with such vigor and speed they’re keeping the veteran skaters on their toes. The end of this month they will graduate from the program and we will all take time off to spend with our families. KRG will return to full force training not long after the new year to prepare for another exciting season ahead for us. We’ll face off against Marquette’s Dead River Derby early at home to start us off and hope to experience tournament play this Summer along with our goal of obtaining Full Member League Status within the WFTDA.

In the meantime, in less than a week the WFTDA Championships are being held in St. Paul/Minneapolis, MN. The greatest teams in the world will battle it out for the Hydra Trophy to be recognized as number one. Seeing as this is in our backyard (so to speak) several of KRGs league members will be traveling to witness some of the greatest roller derby ever to be played.  If we see you there, please give a friendly hello, and if we don’t see you and you wish to catch some of the action, the WFTDA Championships will be streamed online and the final day (Sunday) will be on ESPN3!

So until next time, we hope to see you out enjoying the Fall/Winter season here in the beautiful UP and we can’t wait for you to see how this team is shaping up with our new recruits!

And we begin another revolution…

Revolution is what we know. It’s in our blood and is wired into our brains. We learn it as kids when we play; riding bikes, rolling a ball down a hill, hula-hooping. It’s more or less what makes the world happen. The Earth does it’s thing around the Sun, and everything else follows suit. It only makes sense that we find ourselves so familiar with the concept, and naturally attracted to roller derby, content to orbit in it’s atmosphere.

Revolution has many meanings, and most all apply to life in roller derby.
Merriam-Webster states:

Full Definition of REVOLUTION


a (1) :  the action by a celestial body of going round in an orbit or elliptical course; also :  apparent movement of such a body round the earth (2) :  the time taken by a celestial body to make a complete round in its orbit (3) :  the rotation of a celestial body on its axis

b :  completion of a course (as of years); also :  the period made by the regular succession of a measure of time or by a succession of similar events

c (1) :  a progressive motion of a body around an axis so that any line of the body parallel to the axis returns to its initial position while remaining parallel to the axis in transit and usually at a constant distance from it (2) :  motion of any figure about a center or axis <revolution of a right triangle about one of its legs generates a cone> (3) :  rotation 1b


a :  a sudden, radical, or complete change

b :  a fundamental change in political organization; especially :  the overthrow or renunciation of one government or ruler and the substitution of another by the governed

c :  activity or movement designed to effect fundamental changes in the socioeconomic situation

d :  a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something :  a change of paradigm <the Copernican revolution>

e :  a changeover in use or preference especially in technology <the computer revolution> <the foreign car revolution>

Certain parts of this definition stand out to me, particularly the “change” aspect, “motion,” “completion,” and “returning.” Philosophical as it may be, these aspects are very much witnessed when you’ve been around the derby culture for awhile, long enough to see a revolution. Each season bring new components, new people, new life. We being another revolution every time. New skaters move forward, progress in physical skill, overcome ideas of themselves and what they’re capable of. As they move forward and complete their own revolutions, both literally and figuratively, they return back to the beginning, having been changed in the process.

And that’s where we are now; again. We’re now going in to our fifth rendition of our training program for new skaters. Some of us are still around from the beginning, some were rookies this last year, but all of us have completed our revolutions. We’ve grown individually and together, and now get to witness and guide the beginning of new revolutions. Tonight we will have the honor or introducing these new gals to the joy of this sport, what it means to be tried, and to be examples of what it means to prevail over ourselves and our previous conceptions. When we look back from one year from now, I hope we can all see our evolution in all the revolutions.

Wrath and Hoppe