* Every Sunday, Loudoun Extra will publish a brief Q&A with an area athlete or coach.

NAME: Travis Atkisson

SCHOOL: Loudoun Valley

YEAR: Sophomore

SPORT: Karate

NOTABLE: Won first place in both the fighting and weapons divisions at the National Karate Championship, Battle of Baltimore, held in Essex, Md., last Sunday. . . . Won first place in the weapons division at the Diamond National Karate Championship on Oct. 10 in St. Paul, Minn., and third place in the sparring and free form division.

Extra: Fighting, I assume, is hand-to-hand display. But what in the world is the weapons division?

Atkisson: Weapons division is a division of karate where you go out on the floor, and you've got judges in front of you, and you do a choreographed set of moves with weapons of your choice, mine being kamas. It's a piece of wood, about 10 inches long, bladed. It's got a six-inch piece of aluminum sticking out of it. It's like a sickle. They used them as weapons in China and Japan long ago, as modified weapons.

Extra: When did you start?

Atkisson: Five years ago this February.

Extra: Why?

Atkisson: I guess I was disruptive in school and stuff, and my dad started me in it to teach me self-discipline.

Extra: Has it?

Atkisson: When I was in seventh and eighth grade, I was getting in-school suspensions and things like that. In high school, I've been written up just once, for something small, a tardy. [Karate] teaches you when to shut your mouth. It lets you know when it's good to open your mouth and when to shut your mouth.

Extra: You have to practice six days a week. Between that, work and school, how exhausted does that leave you?

Atkisson: It does leave me exhausted. . . . Just this week, I missed a day of school because I was so exhausted I couldn't stand up. It's really tiring.

Extra: How long do you plan on doing this?

Atkisson: I'll be just getting my black belt in December, knock on wood. I plan on doing it through high school and get into college with it. Most of the people I know who have been doing it get tired after eight or nine years. . . . Who knows--you never know what's going to happen.

CAPTION: Travis Atkisson