Private Passion

December, 2001


Barbara Tanabe, principal, Hoakea L.L.C.

You’d think that more paperwork would be the last thing that Barbara Tanabe would want to see after a tough day at the office. But when the public relations maven wants to wind down, she starts folding paper. Born in Japan, Tanabe started doing origami at age 5, folding cranes for the other kids in the neighborhood. When she moved to the U.S. a year later, she continued folding, learning much of her craft through books.

“Sometimes I’ll go through long periods without doing origami,” says Tanabe. “Then I’ll sit down for several nights in a row and do a whole zoo.”

Today, Tanabe doesn’t have to rely on book learning to hone her skills. Her uncle, a retired airline pilot in Japan, is now an origami shihan (master). “When I visit him, we sit at the table and just fold.”

Ultimate Fighter


Clayton Kirio, president, Kirio & Co.

For some people being good at something just isn’t good enough. They have to go for the ultimate — literally. Clayton Kirio is an ultimate fighter, a practitioner of a hybrid martial art that is a mixture of Muay Thai kickboxing, Brazilian jujitsu and grappling. The controversial sport was started in the early ’90s when fight promoters put martial artists from different disciplines into the ring in a sort of battle royal.

Although Kirio, a CPA, practices the martial art, he doesn’t compete in it. Instead, he can be found working out several times a week at Egan Inoue’s Grappling Unlimited gym in Halawa. Kirio spars with Inoue himself. No easy feat, since Inoue is a two-time world champ.

“I’ve done everything from judo to tae kwon do to kendo,” says Kirio, who was on the tae kwon do team while at the United States Military Academy. “But ultimate fighting is a more complete form of exercise. I get an upper and lower body workout as well as the mental and spiritual. It looks brutal but there’s a lot of thinking going on.”

Car Enthusiast


Mike O’Neill, chairman and CEO, Bank of Hawaii

Every time Mike O’Neill gets behind the wheel of his 1963 356 (B) Cabriolet Porsche, it must feel like a trip down memory lane. In 1963, O’Neill, then a student at Princeton University, bought the same model Porsche. A couple of years later, he had to give up the car when he joined the Marines. In the mid-1990s, he bought his yellow Porsche (actually champagne colored) and had it lovingly restored a couple of years later.

Today, the Porsche spends most of its time in the garage, protected from Hawaii’s humidity and salt air. However, O’Neill takes it out about two or three times a week to work or for “exercise” along the H-1, H-2 and H-3 freeways. On these excursions, O’Neill is usually partnered with his 13-year-old son, Pete.

“We like to go out to the North Shore or out to Kailua,” says O’Neill. “It’s really a lot of fun. You know what they say, once a kid, always a kid.”

Roughwater Swimmer


Laurie Foster, president, hotU

To Laurie Foster, it was no big deal. It was less than 10 miles long, and there were 8-to 10-foot swells, so it was almost like body surfing. The “it” was swimming the Alalakeiki Channel between Maui and Kahoolawe, which is known for big surf and even bigger sharks. But the modest and mild-mannered high-tech executive is humbled by her sport and her fellow athletes.

“Actually, I’m quite a wimp compared to the people who I swim with,” says Foster. “They are amazing people.”

Foster started swimming in college as a member of Stanford University’s water polo team. However, she didn’t start open-ocean swimming until she returned to Hawaii in the early ’90s. Since then, she has swum in just about every rough-water competition in the state. Her high-seas saga was her first channel swim and the first crossing of the Alalakeiki on record. She hopes to cross one Hawaiian Islands’ channel a year with swimming partners Linda Kaiser and Mike Spalding. Next year, the trio will swim from Kahoolawe to Lanai, a trip of approximately 20 miles.

Dog Lover


Victor Lim, franchise owner, McDonald’s

Victor Lim likes to say that his wife has 10 kids and one dog. Actually, she has three children, seven canines and one dog-obsessed husband. The Lim family started to grow about five years ago when they got their first Shar-Pei as a gift. Shortly thereafter, Lim got a companion for the animal, then another dog, so that each of his children could have a pet to call his or her own. Two litters later, the Lim pack was complete — at least for now.

Today, Lim is a regular on the dog-show circuit, with two of his Shar-Peis earning champion status. Amazingly, he walks his dogs daily but in two shifts, a duty that is both grueling and rewarding. Over the past several years, he has lowered both his blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

“It’s crazy, sometimes you feel like all you do is pick up dog poop,” Lim says. “But having them has been a joy, and it’s good for my health.”

Ki Therapist


Jon Won, president, Hawaii Dental Service

If you’re having trouble channeling your energy, you might consider seeing Jon Won. The president of Hawaii Dental Service is a second-degree black belt in karate and a certified ki therapist. Ki therapy is similar to the popular reiki therapy, which refocuses universal life energy (ki) to treat specific health problems. Ki therapy tends to be more of a whole body and maintenance treatment.

Won, who has practiced karate for nearly 40 years, has been practicing ki therapy since 1995. He received his certification in Japan after a grueling 18-day training class. Today, he practices at his dojo, the Japan International Karate Center in the Chinese Cultural Plaza. Won doesn’t charge for his services.

Although he has had a long career as a health administrator and has lived his professional life by the motto: “Good science, good medicine,” Won is a firm believer in ki therapy. He’s also slightly mystified by it all.

“I really can’t explain it, but it works,” Won says. “This is purely anecdotal, but we had someone in his 70s come to our dojo in a walker. After several years of ki therapy, then karate, he competed in a big tournament and won a silver medal. It was incredible.” var feedicon=document.getElementById(‘__atomfeed__’); if(feedicon)’inline’;


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