Don't mess with Cathy Cline at Bellevue City Hall. She recently earned her seventh-degree black belt in Shotokan karate — the only...

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Don’t mess with Cathy Cline at Bellevue City Hall.

She recently earned her seventh-degree black belt in Shotokan karate — the only woman in the world entitled to wear the award in this traditional Japanese style of martial arts. Cline credits U.S. Shotokan masters for what she considered the privilege of testing — she doesn’t believe she would have been given the opportunity in Japan.

“The Shotokan masters have been here for 40 years, and it’s a more egalitarian culture because so many women are involved in the dojos, or schools,” Cline said.

She flew to Philadelphia for the test and was grateful for the 82-degree weather and humidity. It helped her feel loose and flexible physically so she was able to do all of the moves with a full range of motion, power and speed.

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It takes training as well as good weather to conquer the other challenging part of the test — nerves.

Cline was tested by seven Japanese masters. No spectators were allowed as she demonstrated various physical forms of Shotokan. The second half of the test was a question-and-answer session from the panel about everything from teaching to technical forms.

She has studied Shotokan since 1986, first under a master in Denver and then one in Philadelphia.

Cline works out either in classes she teaches, classes she takes or tests she gives. “It’s like brushing your teeth,” she said. “You just do it.”

She enjoys the philosophy of respect, self-improvement and mind and body control that goes with Shotokan. And Cline doesn’t plan to even think about testing any higher for at least eight years.

“Traditionally, you rest in place for a while and grow into the rank,” said the 54-year-old. “Life experiences and wisdom are part of the Shotokan practice.”

In her daily life, Cline isn’t a woman to fear. She’s the go-to person in Bellevue for seniors, disabled and low-income people who seek discounts on their utility bills.

“I’m a social worker and get to help people,” she said.

A course above par

There’s more to The First Tee golf program than just hitting the ball into a hole.

Youths ages 8 to 18 who sign up for First Tee’s lessons at the Crossroads Par-3 Golf Course will learn life skills such as honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility and courtesy. Scholarships are available to cover the $30 fee for needy students. Classes vary in time and day.

Registration will start at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. The golf course is at 15801 N.E. 15th St.

The First Tee program was started by the World Golf Foundation to give access to youths who otherwise might never play the game.

“They may never be great golfers, but golf can help them become great people,” said Doug Armintrout, president of the Greater Seattle chapter of First Tee.

The Greater Seattle Chapter also offers classes at Jackson Park and Jefferson Park golf courses in Seattle. For more information, go to www.theFirstTeeSeattle.org.

Biting ballet

The International Ballet Theatre in Kirkland opens its 2005-06 season with a classic not usually seen on point: “Dracula.”

Fascination with the fictional vampire created by Bram Stoker traditionally surfaces around Halloween, so it is an appropriate offering for the Oct. 28-30 shows in Bellevue’s Theatre at Meydenbauer Center.

International Ballet isn’t the first to stage the story. Companies in Canada, Texas, Georgia and South Carolina have delighted fans with ballets of the same name.

The local production will include ballet, jazz and tap.

Sherry Grindeland: 206-515-5633 or sgrindeland@seattletimes.com