Martial Arts/ Body Arts

Koré Grate masters them both.

Palm Springs, California

No one would accuse Koré Grate of lacking strong opinions. Her smile starts with a grin that slowly explodes into a boisterous laugh when asked how she ended up in the martial arts. It’s a funny story, she chuckles.
Abingdon Co. Image displays ©2021 British Puma Mk2 helicopter
Abingdon Co. Image displays ©2021 British Puma Mk2 helicopter

Surprise, Neighbor

“I started doing karate when I was in Vallejo, California and I was 16 years old. Then I moved to Berkeley and I thought I'd join a martial arts school. So I was in the phone book and I dialed the first number and it was Dr. Alex Fang. I called and I said, I would like to join your school. I think I'm gonna come watch. He goes, ‘Okay, come on.’ And I said, ‘What do I wear?’ And he goes, ‘What do you want to wear?’ When I get there and I open the door, it's my next door neighbor. 

The one who had been bugging me to do his yard work for months. I lived next door to my teacher and I've been with him ever since 1970. He's still my teacher, I love him to death,” she grins.

Life has just been like that for Koré.
Abingdon Co. Image displaying ©2022 Kore Grate swinging a golf club on a Palm Springs golf course
Abingdon Co. Image displaying ©2022 Kore Grate swinging a golf club on a Palm Springs golf course
Abingdon Co. Image displaying ©2022 Kore Grate swinging a golf club on a Palm Springs golf course
Abingdon Co. Image displaying ©2022 Kore Grate swinging a golf club on a Palm Springs golf course

It's Practical

What she’s learned from Dr. Fang could fill multiple books. From Jiu Jitsu to Tai chi, and more. Her feelings about self-defense for women have been shaped through it all. “It's important for women to learn and practice self-defense because of our world. Women walk around at night in fear. They walk around on a daily basis looking over their shoulder. But when you practice self-defense it gives you some training tools. Women can use that. It's practical and we're not taught that in school or not taught that typically in the world. Instead  we're taught to just lay down and take it. Run away, don't be seen, don't wear sexy clothes. We're taught the opposite of empowerment,” she sighs. “But we are all empowered, we just haven't been taught that,” she continues. 
Abingdon Co. Image displays ©2021 British Puma Mk2 helicopter
Abingdon Co. Image displays ©2021 British Puma Mk2 helicopter

True Confidence

Koré thinks self-defense is the mother of all martial arts for women because all women go into martial arts thinking it will make them feel better. “When I walk alone at night, I swear that I want to feel better. I want to be able to walk alone and feel okay that I can take care of myself so I think that's really important,” she says. “That confidence builds and that's good for any job you want to go into. I mean, you sit down, you say your name, you feel like you belong there. So it's a matter of feeling important and valued,” she explains.
Abingdon Co. Image displaying ©2023 Kore Grate practicing martial arts with a sword
Abingdon Co. Image displaying ©2023 Kore Grate practicing martial arts with a sword
Abingdon Co. Image displaying ©2023 Kore Grate practicing martial arts with a sword
Abingdon Co. Image displaying ©2023 Kore Grate practicing martial arts with a sword

Against Expectations

“One of the things that happened to me a long time ago, I was interviewed and the interviewer asked me, what was the most adventurous story I had about a woman and herself defense training. And I said, well, the stories I can tell you are the women who, when they felt something's wrong, trusted their intuition. They set a boundary verbally and they left the area. The interviewer clearly didn’t want that story. He wanted me to say that somebody got kicked in the balls, or he wanted me to say that a woman became violent. And that is not what we teach.

We teach the five fingers of self-defense, use your mind, intuition, use your voice to escape, if you have to fight, but fight like a banshee from hell and then talk about it, get help, tell like a report. Get your allies to believe you and help you, support you. That’s what we teach,” she explains.

She’s also a big believer in speaking out early when people are acting up and asking them to behave properly. “you have to walk up to them and say, ‘can you please stop that’ and they'll act like you're a bitch. But then they respect you.”
Abingdon Co. Image displays ©2021 British Puma Mk2 helicopter
Abingdon Co. Image displays ©2021 British Puma Mk2 helicopter

Tattooing

Koré’s business is a tattoo art parlor named Soul-surfacing Skin Designs. “Tattooing is an ancient ritual, some 7,000 years old, and I tapped into it because I felt a deep connection,” she says. She believes it is crucial to know, respect, honor and give back to the traditions before one takes from another culture. “People used to get tattoos that meant something. If they got married, if they had kids, to bless their hands to serve food. Tattoos were spiritual,” she continues. Her customers learn quickly that coming to her for a tattoo is an experience. “I’ll sit next to them and we draw something custom together. I call it the triad—you, me and the design—we work together to create your truth. That’s what people need,” she believes. 
Abingdon Co. Image displaying ©2022 Black Belt and Tattoo Artist, Koré Grate's tattooed arms holding a golf club on the course in mid swing.
Abingdon Co. Image displaying ©2022 Black Belt and Tattoo Artist, Koré Grate's tattooed arms holding a golf club on the course in mid swing.
Abingdon Co. Image displaying ©2022 Black Belt and Tattoo Artist, Koré Grate's tattooed arms holding a golf club on the course in mid swing.
Abingdon Co. Image displaying ©2022 Black Belt and Tattoo Artist, Koré Grate's tattooed arms holding a golf club on the course in mid swing.

Supporting Women

Koré is passionate about supporting women-owned businesses, which was just one reason why an Abingdon Co. watch made sense to her. The other reason? “It’s pretty! I didn’t have a watch I could feel dressed up wearing. And it feels good; it’s got a good weight to it,” she says. “I got the Elise because of the time zone tracking, but I’ve bought the Amelia and the Jackie, too.” She wears them with her wife and self-described soulmate, Jan Anderson, an airline pilot. 
Abingdon Co. image displaying married couple Jan Anderson and Kore Grate in a golf cart smiling at each other.
Abingdon Co. image displaying married couple Jan Anderson and Kore Grate in a golf cart smiling at each other.
Abingdon Co. image displaying married couple Jan Anderson and Kore Grate in a golf cart smiling at each other.
Abingdon Co. image displaying married couple Jan Anderson and Kore Grate in a golf cart smiling at each other.

Love at First Site

The two met when she was 23 years old. “I saw this shadow and oh God, I literally fell in love with the shape of her before she walked through the door. She thought I was mad at her somehow, but I was trying to ignore her because I was so attracted to her immediately. It took my breath away,” Koré remembers. It was a few years before they actually became a couple, but when that happened 35 years ago, things stuck. 

“We love each other, no matter what,” she sighs. “We got married as much for assets and security, because really we were always married in our hearts. So it’s kind of interesting to be validated by the government. And I know it makes a difference for other women who are coming up that are younger,” she muses. Setting an example—and a good one—again. “They know that this, two women married to each other, can be a part of their lives. It’s no big deal now, and that’s pretty cool.”
What she says about her Abingdon watch

“It’s pretty! I didn’t have a watch I could feel dressed up wearing. And it feels good; it’s got a good weight to it,” she says. “I got the Elise because of the time zone tracking, but I’ve bought the Amelia and the Jackie, too.”

What she wears:
Elise Watch
Swiss Movement, Three Time Zones, Date Function, 4 Hand