Past Articles from Beisho
The selected writings below are from SKKAA members and other sources,
taken from articles and emails:
|◊ Kilted 50 for Charity, by Mike Poole|
|◊ Woman, 93, strikes incredible yoga poses (Video Link)|
|◊ VERSES, by Mike Poole|
|◊ Camp Perspective, by Owen Davidson|
|◊ Spring Clinic in Waltham, by Paul Shorb|
|◊ Okinawan Kobudo by Masahiro Nakamoto and students (Video Link)|
|◊ Introduction to Okinawan Karate (Video Link)|
|◊ Vintage 1960 Video of the Late Matayoshi Shimpo doing Eku Kata (Video Link)|
|◊ Onaga Yoshimitsu Videos (Video Links)|
|◊ Sensei Iain Abernethy Bunkai Videos (Video Links)|
|◊ Check out this attempted abduction from an elevator and how the woman fought off her attacker (Video Link)|
|◊ They say don't kick above the waist but check out this one kick knockout in a street fight (Video Link)|
|◊ Kung Fu's Identity Crisis, By Sascha Matusak|
|◊ 10 Life Lessons From A Navy Seal. I Will Always Remember #4, Naval Admiral William H. McRaven|
|◊ Listening to the Voices, by Mike Poole|
|◊ Okinawan Kobudo by Masahiro Nakamoto and students (Video Link)|
|◊ Actor Makes a Living Getting Killed by Samurai|
|◊ Basics to Bunkai, by Sensei Ed Kearney|
|◊ Cherry Blossoms, by Kseniya Vaynshtok|
|◊ Japanese Concert Culture, by Patrick Finn|
|◊ Pepe, Sensei Clinic - January 10-12, 2014, by Marta Lozano, Ikkyu, Wyoming Karate Club|
|◊ Jiu-Jitsu Definitely Works, by Linda Selima|
|◊ When it comes to teaching karate, Sensei Theise has a passion that won't quit, by Clark Forster, Jackson Hole News & Guide|
|◊ A Life of Lessons, Black Belt Paper by Sean Batenhorst, Age 16|
|◊ Philosophic Karate, Black Belt Paper by Tige Wilson|
|◊ Celebrating the Wyoming Karate Club's 25th Anniversary with a Wonderful Summer Camp, by Rebecca Palazzolo|
|◊ Reflections of the Wyoming Karate Club's Summer Camp by Ryland Sauter, age 16|
|◊ Hallowed Ground, by Amy Gulas|
|◊ Summer Camp as see through the eyes of an 11 year old student, by Devin Schaeffer|
|◊ Budo Camp, Summer 2013, by Faith Van Horne|
|◊ The Samurai Exhibit at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts|
|◊ Shorin-Ryu Karate Camp: A Teen's-Eye View, by Daniel Strauss|
|◊ Karate Camp 2012, by Amy Gulas|
|◊ The Seishin Dojo's September Visitor, by Michael Stonebrook|
|◊ The Ironman Brown Belt Streak Is Over!, by Mike Poole|
|◊ My Nidan Test in Goju-ryu, by Seraina Eldada|
|◊ Beisho Black Belt Camp 2011,Musashi lives again, by Eric McLoney |
|◊ The Truth about Violence, Three Principles of Self-Defense|
|◊ Decade of Training Culminates in Test for Black Belt|
|◊ The Cutting Party, by Faith Van Horne|
|◊ Thoughts on Summer Camp 2011 Theme, by Faith Van Horne|
|◊ The Tune of The Kata, by Nick Pampe, Age 16, Wyoming Karate Club|
|◊ Budo Camp, Summer 2011, by Rosie Askin Cully|
|◊ Passing of a Great American Jiu-Jutsu Master, by Christopher M. Clarke|
|◊ Kyoshi Seiken Takamine Seminar, by Paul Shorb|
|◊ Still Kicking, by David Filipov, Globe Staff|
|◊ Ramblings of a Middle Aged Karateka, by Marta Lozano|
|◊ Jujitsu Cross-training, by Steven Tulimieri|
|◊ Jack LaLanne dies; fitness guru helped shepherd in an era of health-consciousness, by Patricia Howard|
|◊ Harking back to samurai days at Japan's Dosun Festival, by Michael Scott Moore|
|◊ As China's wealthy grow in numbers, so do their protectors, by Keith B. Richburg|
|◊ Beisho Budo Black Belt & Summer Camp Experience 7/29 - 8/1/2010, by Renshi Don Romard|
|◊ Summer Camp, by Amy Hull, Wyoming Karate Club|
|◊ A Soft Breeze of Taiji, by Sharon Skapura, Okinawan Karate Center|
|◊ Reflections On Forty Years In The Martial Arts: Part One, by Tom Wirtanen|
|◊ Cowboy Heroes, by Christopher M. Clarke|
|◊ Pinciples Of Combat, by Sensei Mike Pepe|
|◊ Steppe Lively: Mongolia's Naadam Games, by Michael Shapiro|
|◊ Iaido Matrix, by Sensei Mike Pepe|
|◊ Mu To Yu, by Sensei Mike Pepe|
|◊ Back to Basics - Forward Into the 21st Century, by Ed Thulin and Jaron Shook|
|◊ To The Land Of The Rising Sun, by Molly Kempton, Okinawan Karate Center|
|◊ Saifa - More Than Just A Kata, by Frankie Cardillo, True Martial Arts Academy|
|◊ Rolling With Royce, by Jim McDonald, Gokyu, Sessa Kai|
|◊ Jackson Japanese Fire Festival, by Sue Theise, Yodan, WKC|
|◊ Translatable Skills, by Faith Van Horne, Sankyu, Seishin Karate Club|
|◊ In The Ring, by Andrew Mohler
|◊ On The Mat, by Shihan James A. True, Jr.
|◊ Japanese culture in comics-- not just for kids, by Faith Van Horne, Sankyu, Seishin Karate Club, Columbus, Ohio
|◊ Dancing with the Stars, by Rick Ellis, Nidan, Seishin Karate Club, Columbus, Ohio|
|◊ Waltham Soldier Awarded Bronze Star, Waltham Daily Tribune
|◊ Meeting a Master, Butokukai Seminar with Shihan Fumio Demura, by Shihan James A. True, Jr.
|◊ En Garde!, by Joseph Daddario, Okinawan Karate Center
|◊ Equine Shorin-ryu, by Dee Dee Sorsby, Wyoming Karate Club
|◊ Farewell To An Old Friend, by Christopher M. Clarke, Ph.D, Ku Dan
|◊ Papa Joe, by Lynda St. James, Sandan
|◊ An Overview Of My Kendo Experience, by Susan Hollobaugh, Shodan
|◊ Kendo - Then And Now, by Alan Knepper, Yodan
|◊ Intensity, by Amanda Lowe, Shodan
|◊ Balance, by Mitch Lewis, Shodan
|◊ The Eye Of The Martial Artist, by Meghan Boyle
|◊ The Ancient Fire, by Meghan Boyle
|◊ Where To Take Karate, by Christopher M. Clarke, Ph.D, Ku Dan|
|◊ As I Remember It - 16 to 60, by Dee Dee Sorsby, Ikkyu|
|◊ A Striking Experience, by Jeanne MacDonald, Sandan|
|◊ Do: The Way, by Amanda Lowe, Ikkyu|
The following selection of writings are excerpts from the various books available
on the SKKAA Publications page.
(For full book descriptions and purchase information
please visit the SKKAA Publications page.)
News and Stories from Beisho Dojos Nationwide
|◊ Black Belt Extravaganza Event, Waltham, MA|
|◊ Dojo's Got Talent Night, Waltham, MA|
|◊ It is with great sadness that we recognize the passing of an old colleague, Craig N. Campbell, of Columbus, Ohio|
|◊ Earning Eagle, by Jack Plank|
|◊ Ohio family competes in triathlon, by Becky Edwards|
|◊ A Tour of Gettysburg with Papa Chris|
|◊ Karate Secret Video|
|◊ Effective Bunkai Search|
|◊ The Case for Kata/A Warrior's View of Fate, Iain Abernethy Video|
|◊ Joe Weider, titan of bodybuilding who mentored Arnold Schwarzenegger, dies at 93|
|◊ Jiujitsu Film Footage From 1912|
|◊ Here's One for Us Old Folks|
|◊ Two Cops vs. One MMA Fighter Training Drill|
|◊ Keiko Fukuda, the first and only woman awarded the rank of 10th dan in judo, passed away|
|◊ Practical Kata Bunkai: Takedown and Strangle, Iain Abernethy Video|
|◊ Kickboxing Champion Joe Lewis Passes Away|
|◊ The 20 Precepts of Gichin Funakoshi,Iain Abernethy Podcast |
|◊ Kayla Harrison wins women's 78K Olympic judo medal|
|◊ Tips For Success (Tip #6)|
|◊ Lyoto Machida; UFC Star and Kata Expert?|
|◊ Test your martial arts knowledge with this quick quiz|
|◊ Verbal De-escalation, Iain Abernethy Podcast|
|◊ Sachiko Yamauchi Sensei Prough|
|◊ Bob Anderson fencing master and coach to hollywood actors dies at 89|
|◊ Discipline and Defiance / Practical Karate|
|◊ Chantal Tavitian, Shodan student returns from basic training|
|◊ Newton Teen Fights Off Brutal Attack During Aruba Vacation|
|◊ Tips For Success (Tip #5)|
|◊ Realistic Bunkai to Common Shuri-te and Naha-te Derived Kata|
|◊ Article Link: Battle for the Soul of Kung Fu|
|◊ The December 4th Test at Shorin Ryu Waltham (From the Perspective of an Ikkyu), by Daniel Strauss|
|◊ Winter Seminar November 2010, by Keith Martinek|
|◊ Tips For Success (Tip #4)|
|◊ Sessa Kai|
|◊ Anton Geesink, 76, dies; Dutchman won first Olympic gold medal in judo, by Toby Sterling|
|◊ Samurai Spirit on youtube|
|◊ Tips For Success (Tip #3)|
|◊ The Journal Jissen|
|◊ Oregon Karate Camp, by Ashley Hull|
|◊ Hanshi Frank Van Lenten dies at 74|
|◊ Tips For Success (Tip #2)|
|◊ Tips For Success (Tip #1)|
|◊ IGROW Talk and Interactive Board Breaking Event|
|◊ Joy Of Jujitsu, by Dan Steinberg, The Washington Post|
|◊ Bastardization Of the Martial Arts, by Mike Pepe|
|◊ Excitement In France, by Aaron Sewall|
|◊ Everything's Going to Be Just Fine, by Xandra Reynolds, Seishin Karate Club|
|◊ The Lights Are On, and Someone's Home, by Phil Gauer, Seishin Karate Club|
|◊ Gracie In Action, by Sensei Mike Pepe, Rokudan|
|◊ Way To Go, Wyoming|
|◊ Sparring, by Ana G. R. Shook, Nikyu, Seihin Karate Club|
|◊ Japanese Puppet Theater in Boston, by Sensei Mike Pepe, Rokudan|
|◊ Welcoming New Members|
|◊ Grappling With Fear|
|◊ Sensei Mike Takes on Judo|
|◊ Beisho's Naginata Ladies Rock|
|◊ Japan Training Squadron Visits Boston, by Sensei Mike Pepe, Rokudan|
|◊ Shihan Jim True Honored|
|◊ Haiku Contest Winners|
|◊ National Martial Arts Day in Waltham, by Sensei Jim True, Rokudan|
|◊ On National Martial Arts Day the Spirit of the Warrior Prevailed, by Fran Boyle|
|◊ WKC Starting the New Year with Spirit, by Sensei Sue Theise, Yodan|
|◊ From the Dojo to the Gridiron|
|◊ Sayonara, Miyagi-san!|
|◊ A Dog of a Year|
Kilted 50 for Charity
by Mike Poole
Mike Poole, who trains out of the Hansen Family Karate Club in Granville Ohio, has worn a kilt a day for the past year to raise awareness for his charity. Read how he got involved in this venture and what he has accomplished while doing so
In 2002, I started learning how to play the bagpipes. I joined a pipe band, and don't you know their uniforms included kilts!
In January of 2009, I co-founded a grassroots organization called "Potlucks to End World Hunger." It's mission is to remind us that as we eat, there are those around the world who do not know where their next meal will come from. I've traveled around the country giving presentations on the systemic issues of hunger, and how we can help. In 2011, I founded an organization called Kilts 4 Kause, which focuses on predominantly male-oriented cancers. Cancer affects every one of us. Breast cancer has a lot of publicity, but the male side doesn't always get a lot of play, outside of the sports arena. I started doing fundraiser events which included a fashion show of guys in kilts (many for the first time!)
In the spring of 2013, I started following on Facebook a dude who was wearing a kilt everyday for a year from his 50th to his 51st birthday. Mostly because he wanted to! And I thought, "Hey... that would be great. I am turning 50 this year. But he has already done it." So I decided to wear a kilt everyday for a year in support of my charities. My wife laughed when I told her, until she realized I was serious. We had a "family meeting" and decided that now was the time. The boys were adults and had passed the point of being embarrassed by me. Our daughter was young enough that she didn't know she should be embarrassed. I spent a year wearing a kilt to raise awareness, advocacy, action, and funds to work against hunger and cancer.
Starting Day 001, I can honestly say I did not wear pants the whole year. The only times I wore bifurcated garments (pants) was when I was working out, or if we were just hangout out around the house.
People would ask me why I was wearing a kilt, especially during the coldest winter in 30 years! (OK, that's not the only question they asked, but it was one of them). I would give them the story, hand them a flyer, and ask them how they might be able to get involved. Many would ask why?
I would tell them about my coffee mug. A friend of mine got me this as a gift many years ago. It has a quote that is attributed to Gandhi, "Be the change you want to see in the world." I don't know if Gandhi ever said that or not. But it's on my coffee mug! I really try to live my life this way. I can sit around and complain about the world and everything that is wrong or I can start to try and make a change.
I think this is what martial arts has taught me. I believe in myself. I can make a difference. As I have read the stories about the ancient masters, it is about leaving things better than you found them. It is about passing it on. It is about speaking up, when others do not. And so, I risked ridicule, embarrassment, and personal sacrifice, to change the world, one kilt and one meal at a time. I met some fantastic people along the way. I heard many stories. I saw the people most affected. I changed.
On Day 366, I looked back. My kilt collection had increased from 8 to 13! The last two were given to me as gifts from a guy in Colorado. I was on Rick Baldwin's (the guy from Facebook that I got the idea from) podcast show. I traveled the country, telling my story. I raised over $5,000 along the way. I lost a close friend to cancer. I fed the homeless. There is still change to be made. But this approach definitely changed how people saw me. It became a defining event for me.
I have decided to turn Kilted 50 For Charity from a one-year fundraising project, into a perpetual charitable foundation. My hope is to assist people, projects, organizations, and groups; not just with hunger and cancer, but anything that might change the world, and leave it better than we find it now. Who knows, maybe it will catch on... changing the world one kilt at a time!
Woman, 93, strikes incredible yoga poses(Video Link)
Next time you're feeling like you're just getting too old, stiff, and sore to work out, watch this video of a now-96 year old lady yoga master! No excuses
by Mike Poole
The debate goes on in magazines, social media, videos, dojos, and in the minds of martial artists and non-martial artists: Should we be doing "Traditional Martial Arts" (whatever that means) VERSES "Mixed Martial Arts" (Whatever that means)? Should we be practicing "old-school" martial arts VERSES practicing real world techniques? Should we be doing ancient kata, basic blocks, punches and kicks, old drills VERSES preparing for the real encounters that will happen?
The theme of this year's Budo Camp was "Real World Solutions for Real World Problems". We spent the weekend looking at a wide range of practical situations, and how we might respond. Our world is a place where these situations occur. It seems they are occurring at a rapidly increasing pace. What should our training look like? What should we be doing in the dojo to prepare us for the moment we step outside the doors?
But it got me thinking... What was the world like during the formation of traditional martial arts? My study into the history of the formation of these arts, has shown that maybe their world wasn't any calmer. Maybe their world, was just as chaotic as ours, in their own way. And what was the basis of their training that prepared them for their real world??? Their traditional martial arts, that we now call ancient.
I was reading Tri Thong Dang's book, Toward the Unknown - Martial Artist, What Shall You Become? There is a section where the master in the story is teaching his students. It struck me that his teaching may apply to our VERSES dilemma.
"Something else very important is this," said the Master. "Whenever Tao is
artificially split into qualities such as good and evil or like and dislike, a duality
is created, and the spiritual life of the person who is doing the splitting is
diminished. The truth of a person is beyond the concept of duality.... One is not
able to 'do away' with such perceptions except by transcending them. ... If you are
to become one with the Tao, you must learn to accept and transcend such labels.
To become one with the Tao, you must understand that all behavior is 'natural' and
part of the One. ... The very instant you speak up in order to give something a
meaning, a definition, you limit it, you restrict it. In doing so, you pull it away from
wholeness. And you pull yourself away from being able to understand its wholeness.
Ah, the Tao is so elusive. Remember, Tao holds both opposites. Thus, with words, as
one mentions right, the very mention adheres error within itself.... Remember
this: words are limited, fixed, stationary; this is, dead. The Tao is always alive
and changing incessantly. Incessantly, without cessation. For this reason, the Tao
cannot be explained in words, and therefore words cannot be used to identify
that which cannot be defined by words." (Pages 104-106)
I believe the same can be true about what and how we study. I feel when we start to divide "old-school, traditional, ancient" study VERSES practical, real world work; we diminish not only either side of that equation, but we diminish ourselves as well. What we study in the dojo, as old as it may be does contribute to our ability to survive in the real world. What we study should be a both/and, not an either/or.
This year's camp reminded me that there is a lot to be learned about my "traditional Martial Arts", from real world application. AND (not verses) there is a lot to be learned about surviving in the real world, from my martial arts training. My journey continues with one side in each of those learning environments. I continue to strive to learn from all settings, to apply the learning to all settings. I continue my journey to be one with the world.
by Owen Davidson
I had the opportunity of going to Beisho camp this summer and last, and it was well worth my while. I've been practicing karate for about seven years now, and am a sixteen year old Shodan. I usually attend classes with other teens when I'm at my own dojo, which means I tend to be the highest student rank in the room. The reverse is true at camp, where most people are not only black belts but are also higher Dan than I am. Though I am among the lowest in rank, I felt very welcomed at camp. Everyone had a spirit of kindness and camaraderie, but at the same time they were ready to work. I found it helpful to be able to be advised by a variety of senior ranks, giving me pointers on drills, techniques and kata. The great thing about camp is that even when I feel confident in the material I know, camp exposes me to higher ranks practicing kata I've never done (or for most part even seen) with finesse I can hardly imagine, pushing me to reach farther in my journey up the mountain of knowledge and experience which is karate.
I also enjoyed the focus on real world situations. I liked being able to apply my experience to practical ends, and also learn new self defense techniques. One thing that Papa Chris mentioned was the idea of three levels of karate. The first is kata, in which you get to practice technique without another person involved, working on stances and power and timing, but without actually fighting someone. Then there are drills. These allow you to retain the rigid structure of kata, but add an opponent, along with more realism. Finally there is sparring and self defense, in which you get to apply techniques learned in the other two levels to real, dynamic situations. I like this concept of different levels of karate, and I think camp did a good job incorporating and teaching them all.
Of course, camp demands a rather high level of intensity, and I was usually sweating by the end of a session. After a taxing workout it was crucial that the camp experience outside the dojo be just as good as inside the dojo, and it was. We were very fortunate in having incredible accommodations at the hotel at which we stayed, including very comfortable beds, delicious meals, and even a refreshing swimming pool. Teens like myself were given a large degree of autonomy, able to socialize freely after class, either in our room or walking around the hotel grounds together. I greatly enjoyed the company of my age peers, but it was also nice talking to adults during meals and on the bus ride to and from camp. Ordinarily I only see other karatekas in the dojo, so it was interesting to get another perspective by talking to them in an informal setting.
Another enjoyable and informative aspect of camp outside the dojo was the tour of Gettysburg. Seeing the battlefield and imagining it as it must have been at the height of the battle was truly breathtaking. Papa Chris related the events of the three days of the battle and described the significance of the various monuments which commemorate the soldiers who fought there. I am rather fascinated by history myself, and it was nice to learn about it there, where it actually unfolded, rather than abstractly in a classroom. Papa Chris also spoke some about the history of our style, and him doing so gave an interesting layer of context to our kata and drills by allowing us to think of how they came to be.
I greatly encourage everyone, especially teens, to attend Beisho camp. I feel I benefitted immensely from seeing and interacting with higher belts, and I had a lot of fun throughout my experience.
Spring Clinic in Waltham
by Paul Shorb
The annual spring martial arts seminar was hosted at the True Martial Arts Academy the weekend of April 11-13, 2014, featuring Shihan Jayne Butram and Ed Kearney from Cleveland.
Sensei Tom Wirtanen kicked things off Friday night with a vigorous session focusing on basic technique. He also shared the dramatic story of how Sensei Alan Knepper saved his life many years ago in a medical emergency.
On Saturday and Sunday, we were treated to a rich variety of learning opportunities. Remember the twelve basic knife attacks, as shown in prior clinics and the2013 summer camp? Sensei Ed built on that, first by showing a series of two-person drills involving use of a knife to defend and counter-attack against the first five basic knife attacks.
Sensei Jayne led a session on practical self-defense, and on reaction to an emergency such as if others are attacked in a public space. This may foreshadow some of the 2014 summer camp, which we hear will have a self-defense focus.
Sensei Mike Pepe used YouTube videos of real street fights, to illustrate some dangers to avoid. For example, we practiced the "knee-on" technique, to avoid getting entangled with your opponent on the ground when onlookers may include an ally of your opponent.
Saturday night all were invited to gather at a Japanese restaurant, and a large group of adults and teens attended. The tableside chefs entertained us with precision chopping, sake volcanoes, and flipping cooked morsels long distances towards willing diners.
Back in the dojo on Sunday, Sensei Ed showed a fascinating "flow drill", consisting of twelve different empty-hand techniques for removing the knife from your attacker's hand. In the last session, he reviewed proper fighting stance, footwork, and timing.
It was a fun and stimulating weekend. To really make it worthwhile, remember what the New Yorker said to the tourist who asked, "How do I get to Carnegie Hall?" Answer: "Practice, practice, practice."
Okinawan Kobudo by Masahiro Nakamoto and students
Unfortunately in French, but Nakamoto Masahiro is a 10th dan hanshi, a regular on the teaching circuit, and one of the youngest "Intangible Cultural Assets" ever named by the Okinawa government. He supposedly is visiting Toronto, Canada next year. It would be well worth the trip to see and learn from him. In the meantime check out this video:
Introduction to Okinawan Karate
Note that the group kata contains first Gibu Sokuichi (recently deceased), Frank Hargrove (apparently in third position), Nakazato Minoru (10th dan, at about 20 sec., I think), Nakaza Seiei (at about 23 sec., recently deceased), and many other top Nakazato students. Also some nice vintage footage of early Shotokan. Nice underwear (fundoshi) on the beach. And early Uechi-ryu (at about 4:50). Unfortunately it cuts out before the end.
Vintage 1960 Video of the Late Matayoshi Shimpo doing Eku Kata
A vintage 1960 video of the late Matayoshi Shimpo doing Eku kata at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5dpMZjgtGA
Onaga Yoshimitsu Videos
Below is a link to Michiko Onaga (6th dan), daughter of Onaga Yoshimitsu, doing Passai kata.
Onaga Yoshimitsu was probably the closest student of the late Higa Yuchoku, one of Okinawa's most highly respected masters. Onaga teaches "te," the old-style body movement and application of technique that few modern masters know or understand. Videos of himself and his daughter hitting the makiwara show the incredible power they can project. Onaga is still going strong at 75, but tightly limits his number of students.
For more on Onaga, see http://www.shinjinbukan.com/onagayoshimitsu.html.
For other videos of him and his daughter, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKwO5-ji1rQ or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9BR9UHSM04
Sensei Iain Abernethy Bunkai Videos
We at Beisho think highly of Sensei Iain Abernethy and his views on bunkai. Check out three of his videos here.
VIDEO 1: Passai / Bassai-Dai "Reinforced Lower Blocks" Bunkai
This short clip looks at bunkai for the "elbow" followed by the three "reinforced lower blocks" found toward the end of Passai / Bassai-Dai. Commonly explained as a series of rapid "reinforced" kick blocks (such as one may need if attacked by an angry can-can dancer!), I would suggest that a more pragmatic way of viewing the move is simply striking the enemy, and then pulling them on for a second strike.
VIDEO 2: Tekki-Nidan Bunkai
This footage was taken at a residential course in June 2014. At the course, all participants were asked what topics they would like to cover. One suggestion was the bunkai for Shotokan's Tekki-Nidan (Naihanchi-Nidan). I'm not a Shotokan stylist and the school I originate from only practises one version of Naihanchi. Tekki-Nidan is therefore not a kata I practise or have spent much time analysing. In preparation for the course, I familiarised myself with the kata and had some initial thoughts. On the course itself we had covered the process of kata analysis in previous sessions, so this was a good opportunity to apply the process and see what the kata revealed. This clip shows what we came up with for the opening sequence.
The video starts by showing our conclusion, and then shows the exploration process in order to illustrate the underlying thinking that gave rise to the conclusions reached. It's definitely a kata I now wish to explore in more depth!
A huge thanks to Kim Dunn 8th dan for suggesting Tekki-Nidan, and for showing the kata while I walk through the bunkai next to him in the clip.
VIDEO 3: Thoughts on bunkai for Goju-Ryu / Shito-Ryu Seisan
This footage was taken at a residential course in June 2014. At the course, all participants were asked what topics they would like to cover. One suggestion was the bunkai for Goju-Ryu's Seisan. This clip shows what we came up with for all the motions prior to the first turn. Shito-Ryu's Seisan is similar, and therefore the bunkai shown would generally apply to that version too.
To me, in its "opening lessons" the kata seems to be showing a number of mutually supportive ways in which an enemy can be taken to the floor. The idea being that if one does not work, then we can flow to any of the others.
A huge thanks to Ash Nicholls for suggesting Seisan and for showing the kata in the clip. Thanks also to "uber-uke" Mike for his help with all
Attempted abduction from an elevator and how the woman fought off her attacker
Check out this attempted abduction from an elevator and how the woman fought off her attacker.http://tellmenow.com/2014/06/man-tries-to-abduct-little-girl-with-black-belt-and-did-not-see-this-coming/
They say don't kick above the waist but check out this one kick knockout in a street fight
They say don't kick above the waist but check out this one kick knockout in a street fight. http://blog.rtba.co/fight-break-down-picked-the-wrong-guy-to-bully-around-dont-blink/#.U5SeDPldWSp
Kung Fu's Identity Crisis
by Sascha Matusak
It's just after dawn on the outskirts of Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, and Li Quan is kicking a bag of sand. Water is boiling on his stove, audible above the roar of buses headed into the city. After practice, Li checks his phone for messages and pours himself a cup of tea. A few foreigners are on their way today to train with the kung fu master.
Across China, the number of martial artists like Li-people in their late 30s and 40s who hold the flame of an ancient tradition-is shrinking fast. A lucky few operate martial arts schools full of students, but the majority have day jobs as security guards, physical education teachers, truck drivers, and bodyguards. Full article at http://roadsandkingdoms.com/2014/kung-fus-identity-crisis/
10 Life Lessons From A Navy Seal. I Will Always Remember #4
by Naval Admiral William H. McRaven
Naval Admiral William H. McRaven returned to his alma mater last week and spoke to the graduates with lessons he learned from his basic SEAL training.
Here's his amazing Commencement Address at University of Texas at Austin 2014 from Business Insider.
AP Photo/The University of Texas at Austin, Marsha Miller
The University's slogan is,
"What starts here changes the world."
I have to admit-I kinda like it. "What starts here changes the world." Tonight there are almost 8,000 students graduating from UT. That great paragon of analytical rigor, Ask.Com says that the average American will meet 10,000 people in their lifetime. That's a lot of folks.
But, if every one of you changed the lives of just ten people-and each one of those folks changed the lives of another ten people-just ten-then in five generations- 125 years-the class of 2014 will have changed the lives of 800 million people.
800 million people-think of it-over twice the population of the United States. Go one more generation and you can change the entire population of the world-8 billion people.
If you think it's hard to change the lives of ten people-change their lives forever-you're wrong.
I saw it happen every day in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A young Army officer makes a decision to go left instead of right down a road in Baghdad and the ten soldiers in his squad are saved from close-in ambush.
In Kandahar province, Afghanistan, a non-commissioned officer from the Female Engagement Team senses something isn't right and directs the infantry platoon away from a 500 pound IED, saving the lives of a dozen soldiers.
But, if you think about it, not only were these soldiers saved by the decisions of one person, but their children yet unborn-were also saved. And their children's children -were saved.
Generations were saved by one decision-by one person.
But changing the world can happen anywhere and anyone can do it. So, what starts here can indeed change the world, but the question is... what will the world look like after you change it?
Well, I am confident that it will look much, much better, but if you will humor this old sailor for just a moment, I have a few suggestions that may help you on your way to a better a world.
And while these lessons were learned during my time in the military, I can assure you that it matters not whether you ever served a day in uniform. It matters not your gender, your ethnic or religious background, your orientation, or your social status.
Our struggles in this world are similar and the lessons to overcome those struggles and to move forward-changing ourselves and the world around us-will apply equally to all.
I have been a Navy SEAL for 36 years. But it all began when I left UT for Basic SEAL training in Coronado, California.
Basic SEAL training is six months of long torturous runs in the soft sand, midnight swims in the cold water off San Diego, obstacles courses, unending calisthenics, days without sleep and always being cold, wet and miserable.
It is six months of being constantly harassed by professionally trained warriors who seek to find the weak of mind and body and eliminate them from ever becoming a Navy SEAL.
But, the training also seeks to find those students who can lead in an environment of constant stress, chaos, failure and hardships.
To me basic SEAL training was a life time of challenges crammed into six months.
So, here are the ten lessons I learned from basic SEAL training that hopefully will be of value to you as you move forward in life.
Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Vietnam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed.
If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack-rack-that's Navy talk for bed.
It was a simple task-mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle hardened SEALs-but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.
If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.
By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can't do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.
And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made-that you made-and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.
#1. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.
During SEAL training the students are broken down into boat crews. Each crew is seven students-three on each side of a small rubber boat and one coxswain to help guide the dingy.
Every day your boat crew forms up on the beach and is instructed to get through the surf zone and paddle several miles down the coast. In the winter, the surf off San Diego can get to be 8 to 10 feet high and it is exceedingly difficult to paddle through the plunging surf unless everyone digs in.
Every paddle must be synchronized to the stroke count of the coxswain. Everyone must exert equal effort or the boat will turn against the wave and be unceremoniously tossed back on the beach.
For the boat to make it to its destination, everyone must paddle.
You can't change the world alone-you will need some help- and to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the good will of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide them.
#2. If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.
Over a few weeks of difficult training my SEAL class which started with 150 men was down to just 35. There were now six boat crews of seven men each.
I was in the boat with the tall guys, but the best boat crew we had was made up of the the little guys-the munchkin crew we called them-no one was over about 5- foot five.
The munchkin boat crew had one American Indian, one African American, one Polish American, one Greek American, one Italian American, and two tough kids from the mid-west.
They out paddled, out-ran, and out swam all the other boat crews. The big men in the other boat crews would always make good natured fun of the tiny little flippers the munchkins put on their tiny little feet prior to every swim. But somehow these little guys, from every corner of the Nation and the world, always had the last laugh- swimming faster than everyone and reaching the shore long before the rest of us.
SEAL training was a great equalizer. Nothing mattered but your will to succeed. Not your color, not your ethnic background, not your education and not your social status.
#3. If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.
Several times a week, the instructors would line up the class and do a uniform inspection. It was exceptionally thorough.
Your hat had to be perfectly starched, your uniform immaculately pressed and your belt buckle shiny and void of any smudges.
But it seemed that no matter how much effort you put into starching your hat, or pressing your uniform or polishing your belt buckle-- it just wasn't good enough. The instructors would find "something" wrong.
For failing the uniform inspection, the student had to run, fully clothed into the surfzone and then, wet from head to toe, roll around on the beach until every part of your body was covered with sand.
The effect was known as a "sugar cookie." You stayed in that uniform the rest of the day-cold, wet and sandy.
There were many a student who just couldn't accept the fact that all their effort was in vain. That no matter how hard they tried to get the uniform right-it was unappreciated.
Those students didn't make it through training. Those students didn't understand the purpose of the drill. You were never going to succeed. You were never going to have a perfect uniform. Sometimes no matter how well you prepare or how well you perform you still end up as a sugar cookie. It's just the way life is sometimes.
#4. If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.
Every day during training you were challenged with multiple physical events-long runs, long swims, obstacle courses, hours of calisthenics-something designed to test your mettle.
Every event had standards-times you had to meet. If you failed to meet those standards your name was posted on a list and at the end of the day those on the list were invited to-a "circus."
A circus was two hours of additional calisthenics-designed to wear you down, to break your spirit, to force you to quit. No one wanted a circus.
A circus meant that for that day you didn't measure up. A circus meant more fatigue-and more fatigue meant that the following day would be more difficult-and more circuses were likely.
But at some time during SEAL training, everyone-everyone-made the circus list.
But an interesting thing happened to those who were constantly on the list. Over time those students--who did two hours of extra calisthenics-got stronger and stronger.
The pain of the circuses built inner strength-built physical resiliency. Life is filled with circuses. You will fail. You will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core.
#5. But if you want to change the world, don't be afraid of the circuses.
At least twice a week, the trainees were required to run the obstacle course. The obstacle course contained 25 obstacles including a 10-foot high wall, a 30-foot cargo net, and a barbed wire crawl to name a few.
But the most challenging obstacle was the slide for life. It had a three level 30 foot tower at one end and a one level tower at the other. In between was a 200-foot long rope.
You had to climb the three tiered tower and once at the top, you grabbed the rope, swung underneath the rope and pulled yourself hand over hand until you got to the other end.
The record for the obstacle course had stood for years when my class began training in 1977. The record seemed unbeatable, until one day, a student decided to go down the slide for life-head first. Instead of swinging his body underneath the rope and inching his way down, he bravely mounted the TOP of the rope and thrust himself forward. It was a dangerous move-seemingly foolish, and fraught with risk. Failure could mean injury and being dropped from the training.
Without hesitation-the student slid down the rope-perilously fast, instead of several minutes, it only took him half that time and by the end of the course he had broken the record.
#6. If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first.
During the land warfare phase of training, the students are flown out to San Clemente Island which lies off the coast of San Diego.
The waters off San Clemente are a breeding ground for the great white sharks. To pass SEAL training there are a series of long swims that must be completed. One-is the night swim.
Before the swim the instructors joyfully brief the trainees on all the species of sharks that inhabit the waters off San Clemente. They assure you, however, that no student has ever been eaten by a shark-at least not recently. But, you are also taught that if a shark begins to circle your position-stand your ground. Do not swim away. Do not act afraid. And if the shark, hungry for a midnight snack, darts towards you—then summons up all your strength and punch him in the snout and he will turn and swim away. There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete the swim you will have to deal with them.
#7. So, if you want to change the world, don't back down from the sharks.
As Navy SEALs one of our jobs is to conduct underwater attacks against enemy shipping. We practiced this technique extensively during basic training.
The ship attack mission is where a pair of SEAL divers is dropped off outside an enemy harbor and then swims well over two miles-underwater-using nothing but a depth gauge and a compass to get to their target.
During the entire swim, even well below the surface there is some light that comes through. It is comforting to know that there is open water above you.
But as you approach the ship, which is tied to a pier, the light begins to fade. The steel structure of the ship blocks the moonlight-it blocks the surrounding street lamps -it blocks all ambient light.
To be successful in your mission, you have to swim under the ship and find the keel-the center line and the deepest part of the ship.
This is your objective. But the keel is also the darkest part of the ship-where you cannot see your hand in front of your face, where the noise from the ship's machinery is deafening and where it is easy to get disoriented and fail.
Every SEAL knows that under the keel, at the darkest moment of the mission-is the time when you must be calm, composed-when all your tactical skills, your physical power and all your inner strength must be brought to bear.
#8. If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment.
The ninth week of training is referred to as "Hell Week." It is six days of no sleep, constant physical and mental harassment and-one special day at the Mud Flats-the Mud Flats are an area between San Diego and Tijuana where the water runs off and creates the Tijuana slue's-a swampy patch of terrain where the mud will engulf you.
It is on Wednesday of Hell Week that you paddle down to the mud flats and spend the next 15 hours trying to survive the freezing cold mud, the howling wind and the incessant pressure to quit from the instructors.
As the sun began to set that Wednesday evening, my training class, having committed some "egregious infraction of the rules" was ordered into the mud.
The mud consumed each man till there was nothing visible but our heads. The instructors told us we could leave the mud if only five men would quit-just five men and we could get out of the oppressive cold.
Looking around the mud flat it was apparent that some students were about to give up. It was still over eight hours till the sun came up-eight more hours of bone chilling cold.
The chattering teeth and shivering moans of the trainees were so loud it was hard to hear anything and then, one voice began to echo through the night-one voice raised in song.
The song was terribly out of tune, but sung with great enthusiasm.
One voice became two and two became three and before long everyone in the class was singing.
We knew that if one man could rise above the misery then others could as well.
The instructors threatened us with more time in the mud if we kept up the singing-but the singing persisted.
And somehow-the mud seemed a little warmer, the wind a little tamer and the dawn not so far away.
If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person-Washington, Lincoln, King, Mandela and even a young girl from Pakistan-Malala-one person can change the world by giving people hope.
#9. So, if you want to change the world, start singing when you're up to your neck in mud.
Finally, in SEAL training there is a bell. A brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound for all the students to see.
All you have to do to quit-is ring the bell. Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5 o'clock. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the freezing cold swims.
Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the PT-and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training.
Just ring the bell.
#10. If you want to change the world don't ever, ever ring the bell.
To the graduating class of 2014, you are moments away from graduating. Moments away from beginning your journey through life. Moments away from starting to change the world-for the better.
It will not be easy. But, YOU are the class of 2014-the class that can affect the lives of 800 million people in the next century. Start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone.
Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often, but if you take take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up-if you do these things, then next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today and-what started here will indeed have changed the world-for the better.
Thank you very much. Hook ‘em horns.
Cover photo by Lance Iversen, San Francisco Chronicle Credit: Business Insider
Listening to the Voices
by Mike Poole
Sensei Mike Pepe traveled to Granville Ohio to train with members of the Hanson Family Karate Dojo. Senior student Mike Poole has written an essay about the weekend. Editors note: Sensei Mike had a wonderful working out on the grass, in the church and at the "Y"!
Sensei Michael Pepe came in from Boston to work out with the Hansen Family Dojo during May. We started Thursday afternoon by working on kata. We worked through Gojushiho, Hangetsu and Chinto. We had conversations about what voices we are hearing as we do kata. Do we hear our own voices reminding us of the next moves? Are we listening to the bunkai, as it influences what we are doing? Can we hear the voice of our teachers telling us what we need to concentrate on? What does the kata itself have to say to us? What voices are we hearing as we do our kata?
Thursday evening was spent teaching a taiji class at the local YMCA. The students were able to hear new voices as Sensei Michael and Sensei Jan taught the class. The students were left to solve the puzzle of why there are nine parts to the Eight Pieces of Brocade. Everyone came away with a new understanding.
We started Friday morning working on Seipai. We talked about the different voices of interpretation of this kata? How do those who study Goju-ryu see this kata? How do those of us with a Shorin-ryu background approach this kata differently? We then went onto Bassai. In the midst of kata, Sensei Jan remembered Papa Chris once asking at camp, what birds everyone could hear. Papa Chris talked about being aware of the surroundings, listening to the voices of nature. Sensei Jan then asked what we thought a particular cardinal was doing. A cardinal was sitting in a tree, in front of a particular window. Every once in a while, as someone entered the room where the window was, the cardinal would fly to the window, sit on the out window sill and peck on the window. Then the bird returned to tree, only to repeat the sequence. We discussed what voice the cardinal might be giving us.
We then spent the rest of the day breaking down Kendo No Kata. We talked about the voices of this drill. What are we saying to each other, with our actions and not words? What is our intensity saying to each other? What is the inner story of each move, each section, the entire drill? We had a conversation about how the voices of some kata/drill/material, continue to be heard, and how the voice of other material fades. Did these kata not stand the test of time? Were the voices of these drills overcome by other voices? Are the sounds of this material still with us? Sensei Michael demonstrated this intensity without words on my 16-month old daughter the whole weekend. Every time he looked her, she would cry. We told her that he was only practicing!
Saturday morning started with kata once again. We learned a new kata, Jiin. We begin to listen to the voices of these new movements. We then went on to work with Kusanku, Wankan, Wansu, Rohai, and the Pinans. Many times Sensei Michael reminded us that he wasn't necessarily yelling at us because we were wrong; he just wanted his voice to be loud enough in our heads so that we would hear it later.
The afternoon was spent working on Omori-ryu Seiza No Bu. We worked on hearing the voices in the silence. We practiced the stories, once again, of each movement, each section, the entire piece. We spent a significant amount of time outside. There was slight mist of rain. We saw a pick-up truck drive by, see us, stop, and back up to where we were. He stated the he was a student of Kendo when he was young. He still has the equipment from when he was ten years old. He stated he studies a Chinese martial art now, but would always like to get back into kendo. It was nice to hear the voice of someone from a chance encounter.
Sunday morning had a short workout before all began to travel our separate ways. During the evenings, we watched videos from days long ago. Sometimes, these videos contained voices of those who are no longer with us. It was good to hear them again.
The time spend together was very beneficial for me. But it caused a voice in my own head to ask: Who will hear my voice? What legacy will others hear from me? Am I being true to the voices that have brought me this far? With each first bow, of every class, are we listening to those who have gone before us? With the second, are we listening to each other? And with the third, are students listening to the sensei and the sensei to the students? What will be lost to the wind if we don't utter our own voices? One day, anything that I may say, will just be part of a whisper from past. But I hope this realization causes me to listen more carefully to the whispers as I continue this journey.
Okinawan Kobudo by Masahiro Nakamoto and students
(YouTube Video Link)
Check out some wonderful weapons kata preformed by Okinawan kobudo master Nakamoto Masahiro and his students.
Actor Makes a Living Getting Killed by Samurai
by Jun Hongo
In over 50 years of sword fights, Seizo Fukumoto sharpened his skills, working on flashy ways to drop dead on screen.
Seizo Fukumoto is one of Japan's top "kirareyaku" actors, stuntmen who specialize in being killed by samurai in movies and TV shows. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal he talks about his career and performs his signature move.
Basics to Bunkai
by Sensei Ed Kearney
What a concept. Seems like a pretty good idea for a seminar. Having trained for over 36 years myself, I can tell you this, basics are the key to becoming a highly skilled martial artist. So many times people that have been training for a numbers years simply overlook the basics, this is a huge mistake.
Basics seem rather simple, but if you look at everything that needs to be involved, for example, form, focus power dynamics, relaxation (breathing & muscular) flexibility (muscle & joint) live legs (rooted). These concepts will take years and years to perfect.
It seems ironic the way we first started training years ago, we did a lot of basics in our classes, you senior people can definitely relate to this, years have gone by and classes changed somewhat.
What hasn't changed is the importance of solid basics, students need to analyze their own basics and figure out how to improve them, secret (repetition, repetition, repetition). If you have access to a mirror I would highly recommend this. Also, constantly monitor yourself and work for perfect technique, this may take years maybe even a lifetime, martial arts are not a sprint but a marathon. It's a lifetime of life time of work, hard work. Working towards more polish on everything you do.
The neat thing about basics is they aren't after awhile; they become high level skilled movement through years of practice, perfect practice. This means training outside the dojo, at home, outside, wherever. If students think the training at the dojo is enough they are sadly mistaken, as instructors we also need to make sure basics aren't overlooked. This is very apparent is kata, drills, weapons, self defense, and kumite. I know sensei Jayne and I have discussed this many, many times. When we watch students train we both kind of shake our heads in confusion, wondering why certain points of interest aren't apparent. I definitely know it's not sensei Jayne's or my fault. There is nothing more disappointing as an instructor then having to say the same thing over and over.
Years ago many years ago while working with Papa Joe Hayes we were discussing fighting techniques, one of things he told me was, Eddie if you throw a technique you better make sure it's 95 to 100% effective and going to work anything less forget it. He told me if you have a punch or kick that's less than 90% forget it. (Don't use it).
I completely understood what he meant and I know what I had to do. Go back to the basics, self analyze movements, strive for perfection. Make everything 95 to 100% effective. Through the years I have taken this attitude into all I do in my training, kata, drills, weapons, constantly working to improve my skill level.
Papa Chris calls this Polish, I couldn't agree more! Well said Papa Chris. Basics formulating a solid foundation, the roots to the tree, solids roots that will become solid in all we do the seminar was great, I personally had a great time seeing and working with some old friends and some new faces. Sensei Tom Wirtanen, truly a pleasure seeing and sharing with you. Bring back memories from years ago with your "old basic" Okinawan karate training, some say those were the good old days.
I have finally seen downtown Boston after so many times visiting. That was a great evening surrounded by great company.
Sensei Tom this letter goes out to you personally, I hope you enjoy it.
Sensei Ed Kearney
by Kseniya Vaynshtok
Xenia Vaynshtok, a former student of Sensei Jaynie Butram living in Japan, has graciously offered to write periodical essays of her life there. Look for more of her articles throughout the summer.ED.
One of the first questions I'm often asked when I arrive in a new place in Japan is, "Do you have four seasons in your home country?" This question usually makes me laugh because I've always assumed that unless you live at the poles or the equator, you probably experience four seasons. So yes, my home, Chesterland, has four, very distinct seasons. In time, however, I've come to realize that's it's not really such a ridiculous question. (Well, maybe just a little). The seasons are treasured in Japan and are deeply ingrained into Japanese culture. It goes back to Japan's traditional religion, Shinto, which centers around the divinity of nature. Even today, there's a respect for and appreciation of nature in Japan that's unlike anything I've experienced in the US. Japanese people have special foods, customs, and traditions for each season.
Although all the seasons are special, spring is the most popular. It's considered the only tranquil season because of the sense of peace that comes after a long winter. A variety of beautiful flowers begin to bloom, but of those, cherry blossoms, or sakura has become the most representative of spring. Sakura trees can be found everywhere, but especially in parks and in front of many public buildings, like schools. Spring is a time of new beginnings, not just metaphorically, but in everyday life in Japan. The school year begins in spring, new hires begin work in the spring, and the fiscal year begins in spring. Because of this, people everywhere, students and adults alike, are dressed extra sharp and crisply in the spring, excited to begin their new year. Group photos are taken in front of cherry blossom trees. My school just finished taking class photos by the sakura trees in front of my school this week.
Sakura trees are so beautiful, that there is a tradition that dates back to 8th century Japan of gathering to admire the cherry blossoms. The tradition is called hanami and it translates as "looking at the blossoms." These hanami, or cherry blossom viewing parties, are extremely popular in Japan even today. Families, friends, and coworkers gather in the park to picnic under the sakura. They bring drinks and traditional lunches which include many spring-related items such as sakura mochi. Sakura mochi is a traditional confection made up of sweet, pink mochi (rice cake) mixed with red bean paste (also sweet). The mixture is shaped into a ball, and the sweetness is offset by a salty sakura leaf covering the mochi. It's delicious and is found everywhere during spring, but only in spring. Park vendors also sell sakura flavored ice cream which is also very delicious and something to look forward to that's only sold in spring.
Hanami parties are one of the highlights of the year and much talked about in Japan. Local news channels report on best cherry blossom spots, and national weather forecasts track the "cherry blossom front" as it progresses across the islands of Japan. The only problem with the famously beautiful sakura sites reported on the news is that they can get awfully crowded. Sometimes a smaller, local park is the best place to enjoy a hanami with good friends.
The beauty of cherry blossoms has inspired countless Japanese works of art, literature, and music throughout the centuries and even still today. Japan's most famous folk tale song, called "Sakura Sakura" (Wikipedia it!) is about cherry blossoms. There is also a lot of classical poetry inspired by cherry blossoms. Before I end this article, I'd like to share this classical Japanese Waka poem I found. I think it captures the imagery associated with cherry blossoms and spring in Japan quite nicely.
Mountain cherry blossoms
Trailing in the mists of spring,
Do the fading of the colors
Mean the flowers will soon scatter and fall?
Japanese Concert Culture
by Patrick Finn
I've been into Japanese since about 2007 (considered late in the game) when Koda Kumi's single BUT / 愛証 (aishou) was released. At the time, I never considered seeing any of my favorite acts, par Utada Hikaru's small American-based tour in 2010. However, I found myself heading to Japan in 2011 and have seen a little over 20 acts.
Although I never considered myself a concert enthusiast while living stateside, I've been to my share of shows, ranging from large-scale arenas to dumpy nightclubs. Compared to Japan though, the concert culture is something that took me a while to get use to. One might say I experienced culture shock, and I occasionally still do .
Why culture shock? To be frank, the Japanese concert system greatly differs from America. From the ticket purchasing system, to the fandom, it can be a bit much to take in.
Let me begin with the first thing that shocked me: the ticket purchasing process. First, buying a ticket is not always as simple as going online, clicking the performer you want to see, selecting a date, and then buying the ticket. Typically, you have to ballot for tickets months in advanced. This means you put in a request for what show you want to see, how many tickets, and then wait until they release the lottery results. Either you get chosen and are generally assigned a random seat, or you don't hit.
There are two things to mention about ticketing. First, being in performer's fanclub betters your chances of getting a ticket and gives you early access. Some shows are even fan-exclusive. You can buy tickets from re-sellers as well, but be cautious; some venues will not admit you if your ID doesn't match the name on the ticket. Also, tickets sold online that specify seat numbers may be blacklisted since reselling tickets is frowned upon.
So, you have your ticket and are at the show. What can you expect? Besides official and nonofficial goods (merchandise), sometimes there are fanclub-exclusive booths that offer presents, or rewards given for buying goods. One example is the corn potage offered at Ayumi Hamasaki's annual Countdown Live when spending a certain amount on goods.
Another thing to note is that if you attend a standing-only venue, people will begin lining up at ungodly hours. Don't bother. Chances are your ticket has a number on it and you'll be admitted in that order. This surprised me when I showed up early at Yokohama Arena to see AAA with a standing ticket, only to find myself queuing up for access to the venue.
Now for the actual show! Photography and recording audio / video is strictly prohibited. Staff will be walking around holding warning signs. Beware, you may be removed from the venue and if fans are hardcore, some may alert security.
As for what can happen during the actual show, I've been to large dome, regular arena, smaller club / hall, and restaurant-sized venues (dinner wasn't included)! Although every show is unique, I'll point out some major differences from typical American shows.
First, 振付 (furitsuke), literally choreography. Nearly every song will have a series of hand gestures the fans perform, mimicking the artist, or made up by the fans themselves. Lightsticks or 団扇 (uchiwa), Japanese fans, may be bopped along to the song's rhythm too.
This affectionate fan choreography can escalate. Whenever Aira Mitsuki would gesture as if reaching out to the audience at her COUNTDOWN "2" Aira BiRTHDAY Anniversary 2013 show (I know, that's quite a title), everyone threw themselves toward the stage, piling on one another like a crashing wave, reaching for her. This is the closest thing I've seen to moshing in Japan, but it was mild compared to America and not commonplace.
I also find that many fans don't sing along to songs unless prompted to by the performer or if lyrics are provided via video screen. In fact, most remain relatively quiet during the show, especially compared to America where there is constant whooping. However, on occasion, fans will burst into tears. For example, when the performer comes near them and appears to make eye contact, and especially during ballads. Even performers frequently tear up during signature ballads.
Finally, there will always be an encore. ALWAYS. I find this is common in all music-related performances in Japan, not just concerts.
There are likely even more things I could talk about, but have yet to experience. However, I've covered the basics of what to expect in regards to Japanese concerts. Everyone has aspects they like and dislike, but in the end, seeing your favorite performer on stage is what it's all about.
Pepe, Sensei Clinic - January 10-12, 2014
By Marta Lozano, Ikkyu, Wyoming Karate Club
The dojo was buzzing weeks before his arrival, especially amongst the teenagers. "I can't wait for him to get here", said one. "This is going to awesome", said another. Sensei Mike Pepe's visits are always met with great anticipation.
A humble teacher, Sensei Mike is a, "what you see is what you get type of person". There are no false pretenses, no hidden agendas, and he is very approachable. His January visit to the Wyoming Karate Club was a no nonsense trip. He came to Jackson to work; to share his knowledge with those who were willing to learn. His martial arts bag -of -tricks is abundant with ideas, concepts and applications.
I have seen the children learn the light/heavy concept by walking like bears and hopping like bunnies. In sensei Mike's class, however, the children moved across the floor like shrimp, scooting up on one hip, then the other curling up into a "C" shape. This fun technique, which sensei Mike refers to as shrimping, is teaching the tykes to safely escape from the supine position in grappling. They also had a great time with guard reversal, going from the guard to mount position (usually not so gracefully) with a simple thrust and twist of the hips. Through plenty of giggles yet another technique was learned.
At 50 something, Sensei moves adeptly about the floor kind of like a sneaky spider waiting patiently to tangle his opponent up in his web. He moves from joint locks to chokes to arm bars seamlessly. "No problem," he said, "it's like a dance". He swung his hips in one direction then in the other, transitioning from mount to half guard, to full guard then side mount; always in a position of control - even from the bottom. Most of the adults stared at him with that deer in the headlights look. The teens were delighted, barely containing their enthusiasm. They could see what their martial arts future could bring with hard work, practice and dedication.
When it was time for the adults to put the techniques into action, we warmed up with shrimping and then moved on to guard reversal. Even heavy students can be moved easily with proper technique. Thrusting the hips upward causes the mounter to lose his balance by jutting his weight forward, the arm is then captured to gain leverage, the hips and obliques are engaged for the twist, the knees bend, the shoulder extends pointing in the opposite direction , the roll begins and voila - job done!
We worked a variety of ground techniques including technical mount, side mount with arm bar and releasing the guard. We also learned how to bring our opponents down to the ground while on our backs using three different techniques including scissor feet. There were also joint locks and throws. Each time we rose from the floor, we did so properly by using sensei Mike's sit to stand technique.
Saturday night we finished the Wyoming Karate Club portion of the clinic with a sushi party at Ed's house. It was quite a spread! The fillings for the sushi rolls covered the entire counter top and we even had a professional chef demonstrate proper sushi rolling technique. Sensei Mike mused at the fact that Wyoming kids even know what knori is. "Back home" he said, "nobody would even know what that is." He rolled his sushi package and cut it into neat slices - nori and all. He sat quietly and politely but never touched his elegant creation.
I have been to several clinics over the years. I have yet to witness Sensei Mike eat more than a couple of nibbles of food at any meal or to hear him utter a single complaint. He is extremely dedicated to that which is important to him and the rest of life's stuff really doesn't matter. There is no doubt that his family is his first priority. The faces of his children smile at the world from his chest, the tattoo tucked neatly under his gi, near his heart.
His visits to Jackson have not been without sacrifice. Last time, the car broke down, another time it was the water heater. Kristen was left in Boston to take care of the mishaps as well as the kids. This time, Kristen was sick when Sensei Mike left. "She had a bad cold", he said. As it turned out, it was actually pneumonia. Sensei Mike was concerned but he tried not to let it show.
Our privilege to practice and to learn the martial arts openly has come at great sacrifice to many, even bloodshed. All great things are earned and cannot come without someone first laying the foundation and then sharing their skills. At the Wyoming Karate Club, we are grateful for Sensei Mike's visit and to all who have come before.
"Technical knowledge is not enough.
One must transcend techniques so that the
art becomes an artless art, growing
out of the unconscious."
from Zen in the Martial Arts by Joe Hymas
Jiu-Jitsu Definitely Works
By Linda Selima
I first began training shorin-ryu karate back in 1992 at age 10 under the instruction of Steve
Kaluki. Later, I trained under Sensei Dick Wolnick, Tom Wirtanen, Steve Iannetti, and Mike Pepe. When
training with Sensei Pepe, he introduced me to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It was all rolling around on the
ground, no kicks, no punches, no blocks, only positions, submissions, and chokes. I thought to myself,
"what the heck is this?" having only known karate up until that point. When I thought about it a little
more, it seemed to be a very realistic addition to my martial arts training. What were the chances that a
little person like me would get thrown to the ground in a real life situation? I figured very high, and my
punches and kicks weren't likely to help me if someone was pinning me down so I couldn't move. It
was then that I became hooked on jiu-jitsu and knew I had to find a full-time school to train aggressively.
After researching and visiting several schools in the area, I decided on Triumph BJJ in Nashua, NH, under
the instruction of black belt John Fain. Professor Fain was a student under Roberto Maia, who was
cousin of Renzo Gracie and student of Carlos Gracie, Jr. I figured the lineage was strong and I liked the
feel of Triumph's gym, which was on the 4th floor of an old mill building in downtown Nashua at the
time. No elevators, no flash, and extreme heat in the summers gave Triumph the "old-school" vibe that
I was seeking.
When I first started training at Triumph 3.5 years ago, I didn't do it because I wanted to compete or
learn cool moves. I wanted to see if jiu-jitsu worked, if there were realistic self-defense applications,
and have some challenging work-outs. I wanted to find out for myself that if I was thrown to the ground
in a theoretical real-life situation, that this jiu-jitsu stuff would get me out from under that pin, get me to
my feet, or even defeat my opponent.
I never realized just how small I was until I started training. I'm a firm believer in math, so I'll let the
numbers explain. A 150 lb person is 36% bigger than me. If you're 150 and you roll with someone 36%
bigger than you, that means you're rolling with someone who weighs 205. If you're 175 lbs rolling with
me, that's like you rolling with a 278 pounder, and if you're 200 lbs, that's equivalent to you against a
364 pounder. In fact, I have never rolled with an adult my own size! And if you're a normal size person,
imagine rolling with someone 300 lbs+ - even if they're "going easy" on you, think about trying to
sweep them, triangle their giant upper body, or arm bar their huge arm. Now imagine doing that for 10
rounds in a row... then for years in a row. And not everyone is going easy on you- some of those 300
lb'ers are trying to kill you.
I figured all of this must be an extraordinary disadvantage. I got beat up really badly when I started and
was constantly getting crushed, passed, and submitted. I spent a lot of time on the bottom of side
control. I remember one day my professor said, "no more quitting! You're quitting!" He was right. I
was quitting. I started to wonder if maybe the size differential was just too great after all. It was at that
point, however, I realized that I was not at a disadvantage after all. In fact, I had an extreme advantage
over everyone I knew. Who else could see the power of technique better than someone as small as
me? I was in the unique position to see if jiu-jitsu really worked, much more so than people of normal
size. I free-rolled for hours per week and continued to get beat badly for 2+ years. Over that time, I
learned little things along the way, go to turtle, stop the crossface, break posture, maintain and regain
guard, etc. I had little goals like maintain my guard for certain number of minutes, don't get submitted
in this round, etc. And eventually, my technique improved so I didn't get beat quite so badly.
What I can say is jiu-jitsu definitely works, and that's what I was out to prove 3.5 years ago when I
started. It takes proper distance, timing, and leverage, much like shorin-ryu. I am extremely grateful to
be part of a gym with some training partners who really try to go hard on me. I learn the most from
people trying to crush me and overpower me as that's where the power of technique comes in. I can
also say it's a great culture at Triumph for someone as small as me to be able to train so hard and never
get hurt (knock on wood)! I am thrilled to continue the jiu-jitsu journey, which I feel like I'm beginning
every day. The journey is always much more rewarding than the destination. Thanks to everyone for all
of their help along the way... and to all the small people out there, hang in there!
When it comes to teaching karate, Sensei Theise has a passion that won't quit
By Clark Forster, Jackson Hole News & Guide
Karate a passion that won't quit - Theise runs dojo by herself and takes pride in passing skills on to students
Wyoming Karate Club owner and instructor Sue Theise has spent much of her adult life teaching the sport she is so passionate about....
Read the full article here: http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/valley/people/closeup/karate-a-passion-that-won-t-quit/article_9da5af5f-bc14-59a7-8e0b-a7e9cb38970d.html#.Usj7yJTrlhg.facebook
A Life of Lessons
by Sean Batenhorst, Age 16
At the annual P.T.A pumpkin sale in October, I was running the raffle with an older woman. Once the primary rush was over we began talking, just to get to know each other and try to break the monotony of selling the tickets. At one point in the conversation the lady asked me if I did any sports. I said "yes, karate," but after I said it I felt that that was the greatest understatement of my life. Karate for me is not just some sport or hobby it is my life.
Black Belt Paper, Wyoming Karate Club
I started karate on October 1, 2002 at the age of five. My parents won a free class and I decided to do it for fun. I walked in, put on a gi and bowed in not even realizing this would become a regular occurrence for the next ten plus years. I would meet some of my best friends through this program; accomplish the greatest feats of my life; rise through the ranks to become one of the highest ranked in the dojo; teach little kids, and become a role model so that someday the same kids who look up to me can one day take my spot and be looked up too themselves. But most of all I would learn some of the most important lessons of my life.
First of all, I learned to never give up on myself. No matter how daunting the task or how hopeless it may seem, there is nothing I can't accomplish if I put my mind to it. Through karate I have found that my mind, body and spirit will find a way to overcome the feat and through practicing and teaching karate I have found this to almost always be true. Throughout karate I have had to use this lesson such an immense amount of times, I could never name them all, but I can remember the most prominent ones.
The first major time was when I was stuck on a plateau at blue belt. It felt like I wasn't moving anywhere, and when I did it was always in the wrong direction. I even contemplated quitting, but that seemed too easy. Instead I continued, and worked harder than I had ever had to work for anything in my life before. Most importantly I didn't give up and I succeeded in earning my brown belt. The other time when this became prominent was during the board breaking portion of my junior black belt test a couple of years ago. I had never really been successful in board breaking and it all seemed to come to a head at the worst possible time. I got stuck on a board at the end of my test. I tried everything, from hammer fists to kicks and elbows, but it would not break. So after what felt like the billionth try, I took a step back and meditated. I just repeated the break in my head and told myself I could do it. I couldn't give up now after so many months of hard work, I stood up and broke the board on my first try. This lesson I feel is one of the most important things I have learned in karate because it is so applicable everywhere else: school, sports and jobs all require I never give up and I hope any student who joins karate learns this simple, but important life-long lesson.
Another thing I have learned through years of karate is not necessarily an applicable lesson, but more of a mental attitude. This attitude has so many different parts I could never name them all but they all revolve around the increased ability to focus. I can't find a specific example of this focus presenting itself because, in my experience, this focus is always present no matter what I'm doing. Whether it be learning a new kata while forgetting the world around me or writing a black belt paper. This focus also helps in teaching. The ability to ignore the kids talking, playing games and constantly saying, "Sensei Sean can you help me" and focus on teaching the one kid in front of me so that he can get better. This focus is also the most helpful tool I have learned to bring outside of the dojo. Anything massive I have accomplished through my life outside of the dojo has required me to rely heavily on the ability to focus. From having a 4.0 grade point average all of my years of school, to making it to state two years in a row in high school wrestling, being accepted into National Honor Society and winning first place in a ski racing competition have all required immense focus I would not have if not for karate. I believe in my heart that this ability is the best thing a lifetime of karate has given me. I will carry this with me forever and hopefully it will help me accomplish my future goals of getting my black belt to becoming a surgeon. I know I can do anything as long as I focus.
I will admit that when I first came to karate I did consider it a sport. I was five years old, and my idea of karate was based primarily off of what I saw in Kung Fu films where Jackie Chan killed 300 Ninjas with only his pinky fingers and through being on the leadership team I see many kids think this exact same thing when they start. But then, like me, they begin to change, they realize karate is less killing Ninjas and more trying to grow both mentally and physically. That is why I feel karate is so different from regular sports. In sports such as soccer and football kids come in with idea of what it is going to be, but unlike karate as they do the sport the idea doesn't change-- it's still trying to get a touchdown or score a goal. In karate, you may come in wanting to learn to punch, kick and fight but as you go through you find that those things are not as important, they will come with the training. What is important however is the focus and never giving up, those don't just come, you have to find them for yourself and for each person they are going to be a little different, but if you don't find them then you have very little hope in rising through the ranks in karate.
I am so happy to have found karate at such a young age and equally as happy that it has taught me the lessons that have shaped me into the young man that I am today. It is the cornerstone of my life and I am glad that it will always be a part of me.
by Tige Wilson
Karate is not only about the awesome moves, the hard workouts, or gaining the ability to defend oneself. All of those parts of karate are awesome but, for me, a huge part of karate is the wealth of ideas and philosophies that define the martial art. Each of these ideas come together to define me, my karate, and my view of the world.
Black Belt Paper, Wyoming Karate Club
I believe that the moves and techniques of karate are important; however, I also believe that the discovery and understanding of the way of karate is just as important. The philosophy of Karate-do is as fundamental as learning to block and punch. In fact everyone is taught the basic principles at the same time they start to learn the techniques: karate is only for self-defense, do not show off, do not use karate to hurt people when you do not have to, do not be afraid of getting hit. I remember hearing these all the time when I first started until they were engrained in me. Without principles such as these karate quickly loses its value, becoming a mere tool of unmitigated violence. The truth of karate, and what many do not see, is that karate is a way of pacifistic principles, not violence. As a student progresses they are further taught to understand and apply the principles to foster peace. Not a peace where there is never any violence, but that violence can be dealt with when it occurs.
After a point, once a practitioner has been taught the basics, they must build upon the principles they know to create a philosophy that makes sense to them. As a 17 year old boy I have lived only a fraction of what some have which limits the scope I have on the world. However karate has been a part of my life for 11 of those years and, thanks to that, I have been able to build upon my experiences to form a philosophy in which I believe and which the world, at least thus far, has proven true. However to further my own philosophy or "do" (way) I have also listened to and tested the philosophies that others have taught me. Guests who visit have lived differently than I have and in different places they offer new insights that I would not know otherwise. Whenever I am privy to a new idea I always love learning about it and exploring it because I comes from places and thoughts I have never seen or experienced before.
For me exploring these new ideas and philosophies is much like learning new techniques, kata, or drills. I have to understand where I could use them, and practice them, and, through practice, I gain a deeper understanding of these new ideas. Just like new moves it is safer and easier to apply them first in the dojo. I always have to find out if the idea is effective and true in the real world. If it is then I know it is a worthwhile idea that can help me understand my martial art better.
One of my favorite ideas ever came from an Aikido teacher who teaches in my town of Jackson. He once said that whatever you do it should work 100% of the time. I love this idea. Not only is it powerful and fundamental, it is incredibly complex. To make something work every time it has to be near perfect. Here is an example from karate: if I want to get someone on the floor I could hit them with a punch and they might go down just from the pain or force of the punch. However, if that person has a high pain tolerance or is pumped full of adrenaline, punching them might not do a thing. However if I manage to get that same person off balance I can always manage to get them on the floor. Even if getting someone off balance ensures that I can get my opponent on the floor there is always a problem when it comes to actually off-balancing them. How can I get them off balance 100% of the time? Though it seems straight forward it turns out to be a huge riddle, but when I figure out a new piece of the riddle it is always useful.
However the power of such an idea is universal. It can be applied anywhere, not just karate. I love art and I experiment with it a lot. The idea of making things work 100% of the time applies here just as much as it would in the dojo. I always need to keep trying to make my brush strokes work in the way I want them to 100% of the time. Make them more dry, load them up with more paint, spreading it quicker or slower, or making my strokes as even as possible. By knowing how I want something to turn out I can plan for how I can make them work 100% of the time. It doesn't matter where I use it this ideology it always remains true.
Karate's principles are not only integral to the martial art and its usage. They are universal. They are not only powerful ideas that affect my practice of Karate but they are ideas that can translate into any part of my life. These principles define me, my karate, and my view of the world.
Celebrating the Wyoming Karate Club's 25th Anniversary with a Wonderful Summer Camp
by Rebecca Palazzolo
Happy 25th anniversary Wyoming Karate Club!
In late June, Sensei Sue Theise and students in Jackson Hole, Wyoming were honored to celebrate 25 years of Shorin Ryu Karate in the Tetons. It was a pleasure for me to meet and train with all the Shihan, Sensei, and students from Shorin Ryu Karate Academy (Waltham, MA), Okinawan Karate Center (Chesterland, OH), and Seishin Dojo (Columbus, OH). I will never forget the things I learned, the people I met, and the good times had together at this camp.
I've been a student of the Wyoming Karate Club for 10 years. I attended national camp in Gettysburg in 2008 and loved the experience. For months, I had been looking forward to reuniting with people I met in Gettysburg here in Jackson, as well as meeting and working with new faces. Having twin boys who have been in the Club with me for 7 years and were just recently qualified to participate in all of the events of this gathering with me was a personal thrill, as well.
At national camp in 2008, it was amazing to see so many martial artists from across the Shorin Ryu family. Here at our celebration in June, it was incredible to have the personal attention of celebrated Shihan and Sensei right here at home. There were people here that I've always heard about, and it was a pleasure to finally meet and train with them.
One morning started with a beautiful, warm, blue mountain sky. We went to Miller Park in the heart of Jackson Hole and Sensei Susan led us in an outdoor Tai Chi session. Imaginary painting with the fingers-1 fun 2 shoe 3 tree 4 core 5 alive. Sensei Susan commented how nice it was to breathe our fresh air here in our mountain valley. I often enjoy Tai Chi on top of our local mountains after an invigorating hike. Having only recently learned all of the Tai Chi short form, it was fun to do it with everyone who came out to Jackson.
Of emphasis at this camp was small circle Jiu Jitsu. With a focus on wrist and joint locks (a long-standing personal weakness of mine), the instruction of Shihan Jim and Sensei Steven were a highlight. Before beginning a session on knife defense, Shihan Jim asked how many of us know knife defense. We all raised our hands. He immediately asked how many of us really know knife defense, and no hands were raised. I liked that because it shows that you really have to practice all the time to know something and do it for years before you can say that you do.
During our lunches and dinners, it was cool to socialize with everyone in a more relaxed atmosphere. It made the dojo sessions more meaningful. I work with the people in my own dojo, which is great. This gathering was an awesome opportunity to train with new faces, too.
Being taught by Shihan Jayne is always an extraordinary thing. I love the Haganah she teaches us. For me, Haganah is straightforward, simple, and effective. Whenever Shihan Jayne comes out to Wyoming, I look forward to these Haganah sessions. Every time she teaches here, she helps me think about bunkai movements in between a beginning and ending move in a kata ("What's in between?"). This never fails to blow my mind, leaving me much to digest.
Shihan Jim treated us to an entire session on how to bunkai the simple Yoi. With this, we implemented the previous lessons on wrist and joint locks. One thing I love about Karate is that the more you learn, the greater understanding you can have of the simplicity of our art form. At the same time, its intricacies balance out Karate's enigma. Yin Yang, baby.
We enjoyed a wonderful celebration Friday night at our rec center with Bubba's famous BBQ dinner and swimming and dancing for the anniversary of the camp and for Sensei Sue's 50th birthday. Club families past and present attended. It was great to mingle with our Karate community.
I'd like to openly appreciate Sensei Sue. In my 10 years of training with her, I can honestly say that I learn something new, something different in every class. She's simply a brilliant teacher.
It takes a lot of time and money to get out here to Jackson. I'm truly thankful to everyone who came and celebrated with us. It was great for our club to host a camp of this magnitude, and I won't forget the experience.
Reflections of the Wyoming Karate Club's Summer Camp
by Ryland Sauter, Nikyu, Wyoming Karate Club, age 16
The kid's camp started on Friday morning and immediately we got to work. We split all of the karate enthusiasts attending the camp into two groups. One group went to the Karate dojo, and the other to the Aikido dojo. I joined in with the group led by Sensei Jayne at the Aikido dojo. This was my first karate camp, so I was excited to participate and help in any way I could. Watching Sensei Jayne teach was a great experience and I learned many new things. I have been assisting with the Wyoming Karate children's program for five years now, and after seeing her teach, I hope to be able to use some of the techniques I learned to gain the respect of the kids I help teach as quickly as she was able to. Sensei Jayne engaged everyone and really made us want to focus and work harder. With continued practice and observing great teachers like Sensei Jayne, I hope to one day have these same skills and influences on my students. This type of leadership cannot be taught and is something you can only achieve with experience, focus and dedication. In my mind this became the theme for the entire camp.
Experience, time and practice existed all throughout the camp and showed itself proud later that Friday afternoon with a rotation system. We separated into groups by rank and each of the visiting teachers spent forty-five minutes with each group teaching them valuable information. The fact that they all had a different teaching style also made this first camp interesting and fun. When they would rotate they would jump right into the next group without hesitation. All of them knew what they wanted to do and what they wanted to pass on. All of the teachers were ready for anything at any moment and were aware at all times. During one of the drills I was with Sensei Jim. I was working with my partner and Sensei Jim came by, he made a correction and agreeing with him I said "yah". I caught myself right away but he caught me faster with a grin. My partner who I was working with, who had been to camps before, told me I was now on the bad list and would be persistently used as the funny guy for painful demonstrations. For the rest of the camp I did not say "yah" for two reasons, one out of fear because I had not met him before, and two out of respect because he was a Sensei and I should have known better.
All the Sensei took turns teaching on Saturday and shared a wealth of knowledge from grappling to bunkai. Later in the Saturday sessions we had a guest instructor who was a black belt in Aikido. He talked and demonstrated some of the principles and techniques in Aikido, while we all sat there interested but confused. As this was my first camp I did not realize the amount of knowledge and new information that is out there. With this new knowledge, I plan to keep up on my practicing and learning so I can continue and go to the next camp.
by Amy Gulas
The air is still and the sun is just about to rise. Fighting begins north of Gettysburg on the morning of July 1, 1863 between the Union forces and the Confederacy in what will be the bloodiest battle in American History. Rumor has it that the Union was the first to fire a shot.
History fascinates me. I could sit to listen to a learned historian describe all the intricacies of our past for hours. Unfortunately, my brain usually cannot retain names and dates, so I just get the crux of the story and have to have the details filled in by written sources later. But not this time.
This year during Beisho Camp, Papa Chris gave us a guided tour of Gettysburg. There is no better individual to guide us in that his knowledge of the American Civil War is vast. As we started out on our lunchtime tour, Papa Chris handed out a folder to the bus occupants with photos of the Generals, color maps of each day of the battle and other diagrams pertinent to his conversation. I find it much easier to understand the concept of war being like a football game when I can "see the playing field", so this folder was right up my alley. We began our tour in the fields off of Chambersburg Pike where the first day's fighting commenced. It was surprisingly quiet standing in those fields even though there were plenty of other tourists around. It was as if we all understood the tragedies that happened on this land 150 years ago.
Papa Chris told us that wounded had to lie in the fields surrounded by their fallen friends and fellow soldiers for up to three days. Also, that many African Americans were hired to perform the gruesome job of burying the dead after the battle. It goes to show that war does not end for us all once the fighting is over. It is relived during the honoring of the soldiers who passed, and in the minds of those who remain.
As the sun set July 1st, Lee's armies had managed to push back Meade's men. Most of the troops of both armies had finally arrived in the area. The confederacy held Seminary Ridge on the West while the Union was laid out in the famous "fish hook" by Cemetery Hill and Cemetery Ridge.
Papa Chris told us that a good general realizes that the high ground is important. In Gettysburg, the high ground was a set of two hills. Big Round Top was heavily wooded while Little Round Top had recently been cleared. A Union Officer [ed., Meade's chief engineer, Brigadier General Gouverneur Warren] was able to ride up Little Round Top to see how important that location would be. It must be defended, as one can see the entire valley from there. The little victories, like the officer finding the clearing at the time he did, were so important in the Union winning the battle. If this officer had not been looking for a way up, he may not have realized how valuable that land would be to the Union forces, and he may not have seen the Confederate forces trying to make their way through the woods on Big Round Top. One wonders how different this battle would have been if the Confederacy took control of this hill.
July 3, 1863. Day three opens to another attack on Culp's Hill. The Confederacy tries to regain this landmark but is met with such resistance they must retreat. Lee's plan is to focus his main attention on the Union troops located on Cemetery Ridge. In the largest bombardment of the war, the Confederacy fired nearly 200 cannons for two hours in attempt to destroy the Union position. What they did not know was the Union Army was not significantly affected because of the trajectory of the cannon fire. The Union simply hid behind the ridge and stayed out of harm's way.
The field fell silent. Lee had ordered Pickett's Charge to begin. Papa Chris told us that Lieutenant General Longstreet was to give the order to begin more than 12,000 soldiers marching in formation toward the copse of trees on the ridge. This order destroyed him, both in a battlefield sense, and in an emotional sense. He could not even speak the words to give the order to send his men to sure death. The Union held their ground using artillery on Cemetery Hill and Little Round Top. The Confederacy wrongly thought they had destroyed the artillery since the commander of the Union artillery had ordered his men to hold fire. The Confederacy was able to advance to a stone fence angle near the copse of trees, but got no farther before turning and retreating.
I cannot imagine what it must have been like to have to march through that wide open field knowing you were being fired upon by thousands of troops. To watch the soldier to the left of you be dismembered by cannon fire, watch another soldier move up to take his spot, then watch that second soldier fall. We heard from Papa Chris that nearly one half of the Confederate troops that made Pickett's charge did not return.
Under cover of heavy rain on July 4, Lee decides not to risk any more casualties. He decides to leave the area to regroup south of the Pennsylvania/Maryland border. This is declared a victory for the North, causing the shift of the war to begin to favor the Union. Lee no longer was on the offence, but remained on the defense for the rest of the war.
America's casualties became over 57,000 men in this three day battle. Today, we keep this land preserved in remembrance of what had happened there in our fight to remain a strong union. Whether or not one agrees with the reasons for the war beginning or the final outcome of the war, it is chilling to stand on the same land and relive the battle through the eyes and mind of a great historian, Papa Chris.
Summer Camp as see through the eyes of an 11 year old student
by Devin Schaeffer
Devin Schaeffer from the Okinawan Karate Center relates his thoughts from his first time at camp
I was scared when I first decided to sign up for camp, I wasn't sure what to expect. I'm only 11 years old, would there be any other kids my age? I only know a few of the bo blocks and this was going to be a weapons camp, would I be able to follow along and keep up with the rest of the class? Before I even had a chance to put my bags in my hotel room, one of the students who was going to be my roommate gave me a squirt gun. Maybe this wasn't going to be so scary after all, I might even love it. Every class I learned something new. I learned more bo basics, Fuzo kumi bo, and some knife basics and drills. On Saturday and Sunday mornings we got up at 5:20 to get ready for Tai Chi class at 6:00. I enjoyed it and would like to learn more. My favorite class was the make your own weapons class. I thought it was cool to see the things we could make with the materials around the hotel. I made two, one was a newspaper rolled up with a stick through it for the handle and a rock attached. The other was a voodoo doll also made out of newspaper. I loved camp! Classes were interesting and fun, I had a great time staying up late talking to my roommates every night, the food for our meals was delicious and I learned about the Battle of Gettysburg on a tour led by Papa Chris Clarke.
I was actually sad when camp was over and we had to leave, but I'm already excited and looking forward to coming back next year!
4th kyu, Okinawan Karate Center
Budo Camp, Summer 2013
by Faith Van Horne
Once again the SKKAA gathered near Gettysburg, PA to celebrate our annual summer camp. This year, the focus for both black belt camp and budo camp was weapons. Black belt camp took place July 25th and 26th. During this time, advanced ranks got to experiment with some traditional Okinawan weapons they hadn't yet been exposed to. These were divided into long, medium and short-range weapons.
Long range included the drawn bow, shuriken and throwing knives. In addition, we practiced throwing the sai, a new endeavor even to some karateka who had been working with the sai as a short-range weapon for years. Mid-range weapons consisted of longer weapons which were not thrown. These included the familiar bo, along with the jo (short staff), bo-nunte (bo with sai-like weapon at its end), eku (oar) and naginata. I was most interested when Sensei Kristin Pepe told us that 80% of those holding rank in naginata, a pole with a sword at its end, are women.
With short-range weapons, we got back to some of the traditional five which we practice: tunfa, nunchaku, kama and sai. Of these, I've only worked with nunchaku so far, so I was eager to get the feel for some of the weapons I would be working with later, as I progressed with my kobudo practice. I also enjoyed watching Sensei Mike Pepe work with the timbe and rochin (spear and shield), though I didn't get to handle those myself. We also got to break boards with our weapons, and practice our accuracy by knocking over precise obstacles.
Budo camp started on the afternoon of the 26th and ran through the 28th. During budo camp we worked with the traditional five Okinawan weapons which SKKAA teaches. Many of us worked on sharpening technique with our existing kata and drills. Some lucky karateka got to learn new weapons kata and drills at camp. In addition to the traditional five, Sensei John also demonstrated more in-depth techniques with the jo than we got to see during black belt camp. This is probably my favorite new weapon, since it's so practical in everyday situations. Sensei Ed Kearney also taught a class on knife defense.
We had to be prepared for challenges, anytime, anyplace. The rule was that we had to have a weapon on us at all times, and be prepared to accept and give challenges to others. More than one karateka faced the shame of being caught out without a weapon, and had to face the penalty (forfeit of points). At the end of camp, the participant with the most points acquired from challenges was awarded the rank of Shogun. This honor went to Sensei Mike Giacalone.
In addition to Okinawan weapons, we also explored the uses of everyday items. We each selected a non-weapon article from the local environment and demonstrated how we could use it to attack or defend ourselves in a real-life situation. We were also tasked with creating our own weapon; not simply finding and using an existing item, but crafting one and putting it together. I was impressed by the creativity and brutality of some of the designs.
I came home from camp with calluses, bruises, new knowledge and high anticipation. As I continue to work with the bo and nunchaku, I'll also be looking forward to weapons yet to come.
The Samurai Exhibit at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts
by Deb Carappeza
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In June, a group from the True Martial Arts academy, led by Sensei Jim took a field trip to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts to view the Samurai exhibit (note: it will be on exhibit until August 4). The exhibit included armor, helmets, a display of life-size Samurai warriors on the march and on horses, a tapestry depicting a battle, saddles, and so much more. We viewed incredible face masks for both warriors and horses, weapons (bow, arrow, gold encrusted katana, and short blade). We learned that the suits were made of such materials as chain mail, iron, leather, cloth materials, lacing, and lacquered wood.
I learned some new Japanese terms such as daimyo, (meaning feudal lord), menpo (meaning half mask), bamen (horse mask). Of course, I had to ask Sensei Jim how to pronounce them. Sensei Jim also mentioned that there were, in fact, Samurai women as well, one of which we could look up and read about in Papa Chris's book, Samurai, Scoundrels and Saints - Stories from the Martial Arts.
The detail on the armor and masks included such things as horsehair for eyebrows and mustaches, crests on the front of the armor, fangs and horns on the masks, shapes of mythological animals (such as dragons - my favorite), and other fierce-looking designs. The suits were mainly from the 17th to 19th century. However, the helmets were sometimes older than the suits because they were often handed down through the generations. There was so much more to see that cannot all be described here. It was a fun, informative and time-traveling experience for us karate students.
Shorin-Ryu Karate Camp: A Teen's-Eye View
by Daniel Strauss
During my experience at karate camp, I not only became better at karate, but a better student of karate. When I arrived at camp, it was the "junior" part of junior black belt that showed; when I left, it was the "black belt."
At four in the morning, I stumbled onto the bus with my friend Jason. When we arrived in Gettysburg a little after noon, we settled into our room with Michael, our chaperone. Pretty soon, we were in our uniforms doing karate in the event hall of the hotel.
The group mostly comprised adult black belts, but there were also a fair number of teens. People came from Ohio and both Massachusetts dojos. Each day, we did seven hours of karate. At the beginning, we were in the "Black Belt Camp," which was only for black belts and junior black belts. The last two days were the "Budo Camp" which was open to the lower ranks as well. We started each of our three daily lessons with stretches, then proceeded to split into groups based roughly on rank. Some lessons we worked mainly on kata, while other times we would work on fighting. We learned and figured out a considerable amount of bunkai, or analysis of kata, which I loved. We would sometimes split into groups of mixed rank and have to compete against other teams. For example, one time we had a day or two to come up with a creative bunkai for a Pinan kata.
At camp, we not only benefited from practicing so much, but also from being exposed to different teaching styles. Papa Chris, Sensei Jim, Sensei Jayne, and Sensei Mike, as well as each of the other black belts who helped to instruct us, had unique ways of teaching, and each way was helpful.
The experience was not limited to karate, though. Each morning, we woke up early to do tai chi with Papa Chris, Sensei Jayne, and Sensei Jim. To fuel our bodies for all of the exercise, we ate lunch at a restaurant across the street, and had wonderful breakfasts and dinners prepared by the hotel staff. We ate most of our meals as a group, which let us socialize freely and make friends with the people from other dojos. One day, we took a tour of Gettysburg, led by Papa Chris.
For me, the camp was much more than a trip to Gettysburg and a lot of karate lessons. It was an experience that let me be immersed in the karate. I remember that before I attended the camp, I thought I was trying my hardest to be sharp and powerful in my movements, but I was actually sloppy. I didn't realize this until I had to spend most of my day doing karate, and only then could I correct myself and truly try my hardest.
Karate Camp 2012
by Amy Gulas
The GPS said we had five minutes to our destination when we crested a hill and I looked out over the beautiful countryside at what appeared to be ski runs and golf holes.
"Hey-I think that is it!" I said, with something like terrified joy, pointing out the window.
Maurell glanced over at the scenery and said, as seriously as she could, "I'm turning around. Can't do this. Too nervous."
She was kidding, of course, and we drove onto the property in search of a parking spot. We soon had our room key and unpacked. What do we do for two hours until our first class starts?
I had had much time to prepare at home. I asked a million questions of my fellow karate ka about the details: besides my bag of karate equipment, what else did I have to bring? Do I wear a nice outfit for dinner? (Sensei Jayne laughed at that one.) What do we do for water? Will I have to spar with someone scary? Will I have to train with someone who doesn't want to work with me because of my green belt? Where can I get lunch? And more importantly, where can I get my ice cream fix? They were all reassuring that I would have the time of my life. I even had someone who knew I was nervous watching my back. I had to remember only two things: 1. Don't be late. Ever. 2. Don't forget your belt.
We dressed for our first training session and my heart rate increased. What would this session hold? Would I be sopping wet with sweat from running? Would I have a notebook full of bunkai? Would I even be able to come up with any bunkai or would my brain freeze from the pressure? Would I be pointed to and snickered about because I was a lower belt? Would I remember the kata I have so painstakingly practiced? Would I have to do something in front of people I don't know?
As it turned out, none of the above happened, at least not that session. We bowed in as I had become accustomed to and we were asked to come forward and have a seat. Papa Chris, who is so not scary (even knowing he has a 9th degree black belt) that he could get a night job as my grandpa, discussed the history of kata and why it is the theme of this year's camp. I wished every second that I had my notebook with me. For the life of me, I cannot remember names and dates, so while his discussion was fascinating, I don't remember the details. What I do remember is that the masters of an oppressed part of Japan were able to take karate practice into the schools in the mainland in the late 1800's. They created our two basic kata, one of which had a title with the word "destroy" in it, something I thought was pretty cool so of course the government shot that name down. The children practiced this watered-down version of our karate. The masters would then choose students to practice with individually. These were usually the best students, and they received more than the basic kata. We need to remember that the kata we used are given to us from the masters who learned them from the earlier masters who learned them from the earlier masters and so forth. The kata are rich with hidden bunkai. It is our job to bring these bunkai out in this camp.
We finished our first session, ate dinner (in sweatpants, not formalwear) and returned for our night session. As the session neared the end, we got into our competition groups. We were playing karate baseball and our group had to send four karate ka to the bases to perform a kata of our choosing to be judged for points. I chose to perform Matsubayashi Ananku, and once I was done I saw the judge hold up 3 out of 4 points. WELL ALLLLLRIGHT! That felt great! However, the best thing about the whole night was soon to happen. As we were packing up for the night, one of the students from Columbus came up to me and told me that my kata was really good!! How wonderful is that?? These other students aren't scary at all. We are all here to better our karate and what better way to improve than to tell another they did well. I think I walked back to my room floating on air.
The rest of the weekend couldn't have been more challenging, more muscle numbing, and more intense. I was asked to join groups. I was able to come up with a bunkai that was halfway OK. Yes, that's right-I did it myself. I got rug burn on my shoulders. And it felt great! I was able to perform the bunkai that was being taught. Also, I felt like a team member while making up our group's kumite kata. My thoughts were taken seriously by our leader, and although they may not have been used, the ideas I had were not laughed at or pushed aside with raised eyebrows. I was even able to perform this kumite kata without much trepidation.
We finished our training sessions and lined up for the last time. I have to say that I was downright disappointed that the camp was over. I had learned so much. Not just karate, but about myself. I was able go through the difficult thought process it took me to come up with bunkai. I was able to go out in front of 50 people and perform a kata without hearing my heart beat in my ears. I lead some tai chi and didn't get nervous sweats. I can do this!
Awards were being given and I clapped for all those that went up in rank. While I didn't move up this camp, I didn't care. I was going home with so much more.
"The winner of this year's Spirit Award is...Amy Gulas." Wait; did Papa Chris just say that? That is me! I can't believe that my fears of being a lower belt were even there. I was recognized as one recipient of the one award of the camp. I don't remember running up to the front, but I do remember getting one of the famous Papa Chris hugs, and a big hug from My Sensei, Jayne. This is better than I would have ever dreamed.
While I couldn't wait to get home, I also couldn't wait to don my gi again and train in my karate.
The Seishin Dojo's September Visitor
by Michael Stonebrook
In late August, Sensei Richard McCulty announced to our class that his old friend and fellow karateka, Scott Schnell, would be joining us for training during his stay in Columbus. Sensei Schnell's friendship with Sensei McCulty dates back to The Ohio State University's now defunct karate club. After completing his graduate studies in 1993, Sensei Schnell left Ohio accepting a faculty position with the University of Iowa's Department of Anthropology where he is still employed today. Despite the lack of Matsubayashi-ryu schools where he lives, Sensei Schnell practices martial arts on his own -- having only a post as a training partner. To further his training, he makes periodic trips to the World Matsubayashi-Ryu Karate-Do Association Honbu in Urasoe City, Okinawa where he has studied under both Takayoshi Nagamine (Shoshin Nagamine's recently deceased son) and Yoshitaka Taira (the current president of the WMKA). While some of Seishin's members looked forward to reuniting with an old friend and others to making a new one, we were all eager to hear about Sensei Schnell's first-hand experiences and training in Okinawa.
On September 17th, Sensei Schnell arrived at the Columbus Seishin dojo and I found him to be a humble, dedicated and generous man. While performing "basics" that evening, many of us took notice of the explosive, full arm extension in his punch. At certain moments, I wondered if he was double-jointed because his punching arm would appear almost hyper-extended! We also noticed during kata that Sensei Schnell did not perform the first head turn in the katas. Why wasn't he looking where he was going? However, despite these few differences, one couldn't help but feel that Sensei Schnell "belonged" at Seishin because of the overwhelming similarities confirming that Matsubayashi-ryu has been well-preserved - a satisfying realization to say the least.
Throughout the evening, Sensei Schnell contributed to the class with accounts of his training in Okinawa and mid-way through class he led us through a series of three two-person arm-training drills as well as the first Yakusoko drill, which is shown in Nagamine's book. Having just met Sensei Schnell, I was pleased to practice some of these drills opposite him.
Sensei Schnell enriched our class that evening and we all enjoyed listening to his accounts of Okinawa and his impressions of the Okinawan people. He spoke fondly of Takayoshi Nagamine and his voluminous repertoire of bunkai describing a bunkai shared by him from Pinan Yodan where the fingertips hook the collarbones to pull the assailant's torso into the rising knee. When asked about the abandon with which he punches, Sensei Schnell explained that was how he has been instructed and that he was not aware of any concerns by the Okinawans of the type of joint injury that causes some practitioners to keep a small bend in their extended punching arm. He also spoke of the emphasis that the Okinawan practitioners' place on proper stance spacing and told how, in his experience, the Okinawans discretely look out of the corner of their eyes at the beginning of kata. I knew he was peeking!
As the evening drew to a close, we thanked Sensei Schnell for his contributions to our class and for sharing his evening with us. I know we all had a great time sweating side-by-side with him. Afterward, I headed for home grateful for opportunities such as this and inspired by the dedication of a lone karateka from Iowa.
The Ironman Brown Belt Streak Is Over!
by Mike Poole
It is the weekend of my 30th birthday. My youngest son has just turned two months old. Sleep-deprived and fatigued, I put on my gi for another workout, a promotional opportunity it turns out. As I stand in line, I hear my name called. I run up front, take off my blue belt, hang it around my neck, and watch as Sensei Jan ties a brown belt around my waist. That was November 6th, 1993. I am promoted to nikkyu on 6-4-94. I become an ikkyu 12-4-1994. Due to choices I wish I would have made differently, and life in general, I stop formally training in January of 1996.
But what I have learned in Karate stays with me. Not only the kata, the drills, the bunkai; but the lessons about life as well. Life brings many transitions. I retire from law enforcement, and work in several other professions. I move several times around the country, and I have opportunity to travel the world. Life brings the mountains and valleys of emotion. But during the whole journey, I find myself trying to hold on to what I have learned in Karate. I train alone. I do kata in dark parking lots. I work through my drills by myself in my living rooms. I fight a heavy bag in my basement. But with all the work, I still remember the life lessons Karate has taught me. This goes on for fifteen years!
During the summer of 2011, I receive a Face book Friend Request from Sensei Jan. It's been a long time. I accept and so we start to catch up on life. And then karate comes up. I tell her I have tried keeping up all these years. She asks how much and how well? Well..... in my visualizations of all my kata - I am spot on! In my visualizations of my drills - I rock! In my visualizations of weapons - dynamic! In my visualizations of my fighting - wicked! But the lessons Karate has taught me is that you have to open your eyes and see things as they are. So my answer - rusty and unsure. "Why don't we get together and workout, and see if we can remember it between the two of us!"
My thoughts begin to ask the questions: How many times can you do Fukiyugata Dai Ni Kumite by yourself? How many times can you blunder through the middle section of Hangetsu, not remembering how to get to the end? How many times can you whack yourself in the head with a weapon without someone to tell you how NOT to do that anymore? The lesson Karate has taught me is to say yes!
And so we start training, trying to remember, trying to forget. Sensei has a bright idea that we should go to Budo Camp in July 2012! Let's just go to see where we are, get some honest evaluations about where we need to go. I am up for that. And so we do.
We arrive for Black Belt Camp. Run into some old faces we recognize; many new faces to meet. Most of the people who were around when I was there before are gone. But, I realize how long it has been to work with others, and how good it feels. I remember the shape I used to be in, and why I should strive to get back there. I remember all the things I have done to my body. But it is a wonderful experience. I am learning once again, not only karate material, but life lessons. Papa Chris talked about spending three years on each kata. (The theme of the camp was Matsubayashi Kata). And I think to myself, I've been spending 19 years on these same kata, and I am still learning!
Black Belt Camp is coming to an end. Papa Chris is making rank adjustments before Budo Camp begins. I have to admit, I knew I wasn't getting promoted, so my mind was drifting to calculate if I could get in a swim, a shower, and a bite to eat before Camp started back up in the afternoon. And then all of a sudden, hearing my name calls me back to reality. Karate has taught me to scan and evaluate the situation.... I scan and see everyone looking at me.... I have been promoted to Black Belt! "What the hell...!" (I think I even said that out loud.) I run up and greet the senior black belts. I run back and I am greeted with a hug from Sensei Jan. How can this be? Karate has taught me to accept the realities set before, and move ahead.
It is such a surprise to me, and to Sensei Jan. We don't have a black belt for me to wear. Not a problem to me. I've worn this brown belt for 19 years. I can wear it a little longer! I pass Sensei in the hall at the break. She says meet her downstairs in 15 minutes. I do. Sensei tells me to raise my arms... as she ties a black belt around my waist! Sensei Jayne had an extra that is now mine.
Camp starts. As I walk in the room, I tell Sensei Jan that I feel uncomfortable.... I have worn that brown belt for 19 years, and what if everything I learned is in that belt? She laughs and reminds me that being a black belt is the beginning of a new journey, new learning, and new lessons to fill the belt.
Camp was a wonderful experience. I met many new people who are traveling on similar, and yet different journeys. I found a place to be myself, all that I am and all that I am not. Was I the best looking black belt - no way. Did I remember all I should - No. Was I in the shape I should be - Absolutely no. Was there judgment, animosity, or feeling left out - No. I felt I stood in a place that accepted me for who I am another pilgrim on a journey. I thank everyone for all the lessons I learned that weekend; from the Senior Black Belts to the Orange Belts. I thank you all for giving someone who has been away a long while a chance. I thank you all for sharing an experience with me that has taken a lifetime to achieve. I am positive, that I respect the achievement much more now, than I would have 19 years ago. I hope that it doesn't take me as long to make the next step. But if it does, there will be much more learning along the way. The Ironman Brown Belt streak is over at 19 years...... Let a new streak begin.......
My Nidan Test in Goju-ryu
by Seraina Eldada
Challenges sure do make one feel alive.
I went to the Los Angeles Goju-ryu seminar in November, where we had several workouts and ended with a formal rank test. The test was in front of four instructors: the head of SeiwaKai Japan, so all of SeiwaKai (Master Seiichi Fujiwara), the head of SeiwaKai Europe (Leo Lipinski), the head of SeiwaKai USA (Vassie Naidoo), and my Goju sensei, James Pounds. There isn't an exact number of times that they come over every year; however, having Sensei Fujiwara in the U.S. is not something that happens very often. The other sensei tend to travel to and throughout the U.S. a bit more (Vassie Shihan lives in California and Lipinski Shihan lives in England), but generally there aren't very many opportunities to train with them in the U.S., especially all at once.
The test itself was actually pretty short, no longer than an hour. They had already been observing us closely during the three days of the seminar, which I'm sure is a significant chunk of the testing. The formal/official test, though, is at the very end, and is "closed-door" (meaning absolutely NO ONE can even be present in the dojo other than those who are testing and the grading panel).
It's very strict and traditional. They have people come up in groups, so those who are testing for the same rank perform at the same time. There were only six of us testing, and one other person was going for nidan. For nidan, they start you out performing Sanchin (men are required take their gi tops off and fold them correctly in the traditional manner, etc. all in under one minute. Women aren't required to do this.) After each group has done this, the men put on their tops again, and then we perform Tensho with the same groups (or, in our case, simply a partner).
After those two, which I believe are required for all dan tests, comes the specific kata that you must perform for your particular Dan test. For nidan, Seyunchin is the required kata. After the three kata, you put on your gear if you like (no one moved to put on their gear when they said we could except for me, and when I noticed this I didn't either) and you spar, two matches each of traditional Goju dojo kumite. This part was the scariest for me, because I was the only girl among five huge, strong, adult men, AND no one was wearing pads. And, as you can imagine, adrenaline levels were INSANE, so the fighting was intense.
They had me go up against the two guys who were going for sandan, and it actually went very well except for one small part: I broke my nose in the first match. I had my hands down at the wrong moment and walked right into the guy's fist... great job, Seraina. So there I was, blurry-eyed and bleeding nose, trying to finish the match while wiping the blood on my hand so it wouldn't drip on the dojo floor. And then I had the second match -- got through it, finished it.
After that, we were bowed out. The grading panel, of course, gave no indication whatsoever as to whether or not they were pleased; stoic faces the entire time, taking notes and observing quietly. We had to leave the dojo immediately while the higher ranks tested (in this case there was only one, and it was my Goju sensei. He was going for 6th dan).
The guys I graded with immediately got me tissues and a cold water bottle (it's as close as we got to ice), and we stood outside waiting for my sensei's wife (also a sensei) and dojo mates to pick me up. My nose hurt and throbbed and swelled and was sooo beautifully colorful... and I was extremely happy, in all honesty. I was so glad the test was over, and I felt like I'd done the best I could. So I was just joking about it the whole time, and it was great. I didn't know a single guy I tested with -- they were from all over the country, some were even from other countries I believe, but by the end we were all buddies.
Once I got picked up, my dojo mates were in the car and had water to drink and bananas to eat ready for me, which I thought was very kind and thoughtful of them, and we ran to the hotel room where all I had time to do was change into a shirt and jeans, and then we ran to the airport. My favorite part had to have been seeing people's faces when they saw my dojo mates and little me, sweaty, tired, and holding a huge bag of ice to my bulging, colorful nose, walking around in the airport. It was awesome.
Sensei Theresa (James Pounds' wife) got a call right as we were arriving at the airport, and it was Sensei Pounds letting me know that I'd passed. Often, it can take anywhere up to several days after you test for you to find out whether or not you passed, so we found out really quickly! A little later, when we were already at the gate and I had just devoured a huuuge hamburger and mountain of fries (I was so hungry!!!), he called again to let us know he'd passed as well.
It was definitely a very cool experience, and I'm glad I had the opportunity to do it. Thank you for raising me to be a student who could work to achieve something like this; I could never have done it otherwise.
Beisho Black Belt Camp 2011,Musashi lives again
by Eric McLoney
The theme for the 2011 black belt camp was the study of Eishin-ryu Iaido and Tameshigiri. For many karateka, this was an introduction into gekiken, the way of the sword. For other students this was a chance to learn new techniques and refine, polish and gain greater insight into existing techniques.
Eishin-ryu iaido traces its lineage to the mid-1500's and techniques developed by Hayashizaki Jinsuke Minamoto No Shigenobu, who developed techniques of simultaneous drawing and cutting to avenge his father's death. These techniques were originally developed for use with samurai armor and the sword was worn with the blade down. As Japanese culture changed and new swords were developed, the older techniques required modification for everyday use. Hasegawa Eishin, the seventh generation grandmaster for whom the style is named, substantially revised Iaido by introducing the blade-up position for carrying the katana, modifying older techniques for use with the katana, and developing techniques from the tate-hiza seated position. Iaido was further revised by the seventeenth grandmaster Oe Masamichi Sikei Roshu who updated many of the techniques and systematized Iaido by introducing levels for trainees (Shoden, Chuden, and Okuden).
Our first Iaido session on Thursday afternoon included instruction on basics such as how to properly tie and wear the iaido obi and hakima. We were also instructed in proper etiquette with a sword, including how to hold your sword while bowing, kneeling, or rising. We then were introduced to the Omori-ryu seiza kata. This is an introductory iaido kata with techniques performed from seiza. Each form consisted of four techniques: simultaneously drawing and cutting (nukitsuke), cutting (kiritsuke), removing the blood from the sword (chiburi), and sheathing the sword (noto). When performing these techniques with a live sword, concentration is of utmost importance as a small slip can cause serious injury to the practitioner or surrounding people. I have found iaido an excellent way to practice concentration and focus while working to refine the details of each movement. Students who had trained with the Seitei-Kata were also given an opportunity to practice this.
While select senior sword students had an opportunity for additional iaido instruction in the Okuden (advanced or secret level techniques) on Thursday night, the majority of participants were engaged outside the hotel. We first learned how to prepare tatami mats for tameshigiri (test cutting). The mats were rolled using dowel rods as guides and were then tied. The mats were soaked in trash barrels overnight to allow the material to expand, stiffen, and become a better cutting target.
After preparing the tatami mats, we headed to the pool for an opportunity to test our samurai skills in a team competition with a variety of pool challenges. To test our endurance while running in armor, we ran through the water to reach our sword (pool noodle) and strike our opponents before they could strike us. To improve our reflexes, we stood with our back to our opponent and at a signal turned to strike down our opponent with our pool sword. To practice teamwork and reaction time, we stood facing our opponent empty-handed as a teammate threw a sword for us to catch and strike our opponent before he received his sword and attacked us. We even had the opportunity to develop our samurai horsemanship skills (and samurai horse skills) during a chicken fight. The samurai would take his sword and mount his horse by climbing onto the shoulders of a teammate. The mounted samurai then attacked to strike and dismount the opponent.
After drying off from the duel at the pool, we gathered to watch several videos that Papa Chris had provided of pre-WWII iaido and kendo masters. The kendo matches featured competition between high-level blackbelts. People who had participated in recent kendo matches were impressed by the number of clean stikes (ippons) that were landed during the events. Iaido masters were shown performing iaido kata, including the omori-ryu kata we had practiced earlier that day. There were also videos of iaido masters performing two-person drills with live blades. It was very interesting and inspiring to see the high level these techniques could be performed at and encouraged everyone to keep practicing. While most of the videos could have benefited from a more exciting sound-track, Papa Chris helped by providing excellent commentary during the videos to identify and provide additional history about many of the masters that we were watching.
To compensate for lost practice time on Thursday evening, we had the opportunity to wake up early to train on Friday morning. We met outside by the ski slopes before breakfast armed with our bokken. We were shown and given time to practice a variety of kendo strikes. After working up a little sweat, we returned inside for breakfast and to prepare for our final session of Black-belt camp.
The final Iaido session on Friday morning provided a chance for further review of the Omori-ryu kata to practice and further refine the techniques that we had been shown the previous day. Interested participants who owned a live-blade sword were also able to participate in tameshigiri outside by the ski slopes, and the mats that we had worked hard to prepare the evening before were put to use. The mats provided excellent feedback for the effectiveness of techniques. Properly executed techniques would slice through the tatami mats cleanly and with minimal resistance. Improperly performed techniques would smack against the tatami mats and fail to cut through them. I was very impressed by the effectiveness of the techniques that we had been shown and were able to try on the tatami mats. It was thrilling when a clean strike would pass effortlessly through the mats. Everyone who participated was very successful at cutting and a great time participating. To conclude the tameshigiri session, we had a second team challenge. This challenge was between an individual on each team for whom this session was the first experience with tameshigiri. I was thrilled to be able to participate in the challenge, have another opportunity to practice and to demonstrate what I had learned.
Black belt camp was a chance to catch-up with friends, train with new people, and gain a ton of knowledge to take home and practice. Thanks to everyone who was involved in planning, organizing, and running this year's blackbelt camp, it was once again a wonderful experience.
The Truth about Violence, Three Principles of Self-Defense
by Sam Harris
We thought you might benefit from this article on "Three Principles of Self-Defense." It contains a good deal of practical wisdom, as do the writings of its recommended authors.
Decade of Training Culminates in Test for Black Belt
Jackson Hole News & Guide
Nick Pampe makes grade after 2-hour ordeal at Wyoming Karate Club.
By Turner Resor
A sense of anticipation hung in the air Oct. 19 as family and friends of 16-year-old Nick Pampe quietly entered the dojo, or classroom, at the Wyoming Karate Club.
Sue Theise, a sensei or teacher at the club, appeared undistracted by the newcomers as she addressed the younger karate students standing in a neat line, respectfully at attention as their class came to an end.
"We are going to have a very special class tonight," Theise said. "This young man here is testing for his black belt." As Theise said this, she looked over to where Pampe stood.
"This could be you one day," she said. Theise gave this remark a few seconds to sink in before dismissing the youngsters, who thanked her in Japanese: "Domo arigato, sensei!" Pampe stood by thoughtfully. He wore his white uniform, or gi, and brown belt. A black band that was presented to Pampe three months ago was tied carefully around his left arm. On the band, written in Japanese kanji, were the words "Kuro Obi Ko Kei Sha," which means "black belt candidate."
"As the student ties [the black band] on before each class, it is a reminder of the arduous training he is expected to perform," Theise said. It also "lets other students in the dojo know that he has entered into the last phase of training for his Shodan test," she said. "Any advanced student can attack or challenge him at anytime during this phase."
An extraordinary amount of work has been asked of Pampe in this last step in his training. He has been training three or four times a week for the last six months, often with the help of fellow students. He has had to rehearse the many kata, or choreographed karate movements, he has learned in his 10 years at the Wyoming Karate Club.
Pampe has also been studying the history of karate. He has had to take oral and written exams, write an essay and teach karate to others. The process has been as much about his intellectual and emotional maturity as it has been about his physical abilities.
In his Shodan test, Pampe would be asked to remember a decade of karate instruction.
"This is a significant rite of passage, not just for the student but also for the sensei," Theise said.
The test lasted more than two hours. Sensei Sue and Sensei Rosie Askin-Cully sat behind a folding table at the front of the room. From there, they called on Pampe to display a wide range of skills and knowledge.
Other students were called forward to help create scenarios or act as sparring partners. At one point, Pampe was asked to perform a kata with his eyes closed, standing on top of a bench that was rocked side to side by two other students.
At other times, Pampe stood alone on the floor, demonstrating difficult katas and karate forms, with Theise setting the pace by counting out loud in Japanese.
Pampe was also asked to relate the history of particular kata.
"I am astounded at how much he knows," said Jill Pampe, the student's mother.
For his final test, Pampe set up several stations, each with a board to split and one station with a cinder block. Pampe split the first board easily with a spinning back kick while blindfolded.
Next he approached the cinder block. After a few deep breaths Pampe thrust his elbow downward at the block, but was unable to break through. He had no better luck with his second attempt.
Taking control of his breathing, Pampe broke through the boards at the other stations with ease before once again returning to the cinder block. He had a look of complete concentration.
This time his elbow followed through, breaking the cinder block into pieces and sending the room into applause. It was as though, in that culminating moment, the perseverance that has characterized Pampe over the years was captured in the breaking of the block, the last obstacle between the young man and his black belt.
"It's more impressive that you didn't break it and then had to come back and finish it," Theise said to Pampe moments before awarding the young man with his black belt.
"You have been an inspiration to work with," said Askin-Cully.
It was difficult for many to contain their emotions, including Pampe, who began to tear up as he tied the black belt around his waist. Looking to lighten the mood, Sean Batenhorst, one of Pampe's fellow students called for a group hug, bringing everyone into the center of the room to congratulate their friend.
"What a demonstration of teamwork," said Richard Pampe, the black belt's father.
At the start of the essay Pampe wrote as part of his black belt training, he said, "In life we are all given the gift of finding our passions and tracking down short- and long-term goals. ... I have been fortunate enough to have found karate at a young age and to stick with it."
Those who saw Pampe on Wednesday night know that there is substance to his words
The Cutting Party
by Faith Van Horne
"Let the blade do the work."
These were Sensei Jayne Butram's words after my first attempt at cutting through the tightly-rolled mat with a katana. This past weekend, she hosted a "cutting party", an opportunity to slice through unused sword targets after black belt camp.
The targets used for cutting, called tatami omote, consist of a woven rush straw covering wrapped around a rice straw core. For hundreds of years in Japan, flooring mats (tatami) have been used for tameshigiri, or "test cutting". The mats are rolled and soaked in water to simulate the density of a human body. Then they are mounted vertically on a base for cutting. In centuries past, skilled swordsmen would use these targets to test the sharpness of the metal of a new katana. In our case, the mats were used to test the mettle of the sword's wielder.
And my attempt had fallen short.
I pulled the blade from the tangled mess of the mat where it had stuck about halfway through. Sensei Jayne stepped onto the tarp covering her driveway, where she had mounted two wood bases for the tatami omote. She examined my work and passed on her advice.
I thanked her and tried to slice through the mat two more times. I heard her words, tried to process them. But my body rebelled. Instead of relaxing into the strike and following through, I clenched, tensing my shoulders, wrenching through the movement.
After three tries, I removed my mangled, unsliced mat and stepped off to the side. I had two mats left. For the next portion of morning, I watched the others try their blades.
My fellow karateka varied in their techniques. Sensei Alan Meadows guided his blade through the mat in broad, neat arcs. Sensei Terrence Tuy swung with fast, staccato swipes, taking off a few inches at a time. But all of them made it through the straw when they allowed themselves to relax and follow through.
As I observed, I also practiced with my blade, absorbing offered advice. Focus on making contact with the few inches of the blade at the end, not the section in the middle. Don't hack with the blade. Follow through. Sweep the sword inward at the end of the strike. Relax.
I watched cutter after cutter work their swords. Sensei Alan Knepper dispatched his mats with smooth strokes that seemed too slow to work, yet each one sliced neatly through the fibers. Then it was my turn again. I faced the tall target. The sun had risen above the trees over the course of the morning. I ignored the trickles of sweat rolling down my back, set my stance, and raised the sword.
Kesa-giri first. This strike, a diagonal cut starting at the shoulder and ending past the opposite hip, is supposed to be the easiest. The blade above my head, I brought it down, angling it at my right shoulder, remembering to relax, follow through...
And the blade sliced through the mat, taking a diagonal chunk of rice straw from the top.
Unfortunately, in my excitement, I hadn't focused enough on my stance. The katana swung through, but my body angled too far, moving me into a weak half-side stance. Sensei Knepper pointed this out, and I raised the sword again, aware of my stance.
Gyaku kesa giri this time, the strike starting at my left hip and angling upward, ending at my right shoulder. Again the sword sliced through the fibers. I kept my stance this time, ending in a solid walking stance. For my third strike I attempted ichi mon ji, a horizontal cut, slicing straight across the grain of the fibers. Failure on that try. I took some solace in the fact that ichi mon ji is supposed to be the most difficult cut.
I tried the third mat with similar results. Sensei Meadows informed me that my ichi mon ji had failed again because I had "scooped" with the blade, angling it upward at the end when I should have followed through in a horizontal line. I stored the advice in my mind for next time. After the mats had been sliced, we took the pieces and arranged them in a pile. We laid the longer pieces crosswise and worked on downward strikes.
Though not all of my strikes cut cleanly through the targets, by the end I'd learned at least a bit about how to wield a sword. And I think I'm beginning to understand how to use my body as an assist, not a hindrance, lengthening and rounding, pulling in toward the end. Not forcing, but allowing the blade to do its work.
Thoughts on Summer Camp 2011 Theme
by Faith Van Horne
What is the relationship between spontaneity, adaptation, and awareness?
Let's start with definitions. Spontaneity is action committed without forethought, a natural, unthinking impulse. Adaptive action, on the other hand, requires thinking. One considers the situation and makes changes to deal with it appropriately. But before people can respond, either with forethought or in an unthinking fashion, they must possess consciousness of the situation. They must be aware. So awareness is the prime mover here.
Once a person becomes aware of a situation, he or she can begin the process of responding. Let's say for our purposes that the stimulus is a thug swinging a metal pipe at a woman's head. The potential victim will have to move swiftly to keep from ending up unconscious (or worse). Unless she's had a particularly adventurous life, she's probably not dealt with this situation before. If she's a karateka and has learned, say, defenses against an attacker with a bat, she can hopefully adapt that knowledge here, and keep her brain box intact.
But learning to adjust to a new situation is not enough to protect our heroine. She has to do it quickly, without thinking. That's where spontaneity comes in. In order to make her unthinking reaction the correct reaction, she'll need to have conditioned her mind and body to respond to a variety of threats. She'll need proficiency that comes from repetitions and practice.
To stay safe, she'll need to bring all three of these aspects together. She'll have to maintain an ongoing awareness of her surroundings to scan for potential threats. When a threat is imminent, she'll have to adapt the knowledge she's gained to respond effectively. And that response will have to be fast enough to work. Mind and body have to work together; the adaptive response must come naturally. Practice must be undertaken with focus, adapted to a variety of situations. That is the goal and the essence of training.
The Tune of The Kata
by Nick Pampe, Age 16, Wyoming Karate Club
In life we are all given the gift of finding our passions and tracking down short and long term goals. Every person is different and thus every person finds different passions. I have been fortunate enough to have found Karate at a young age and to stick with it. Of course there have been many other things I strive to do and study. Another passion of mine is piano and as strange as it seems, I continuously find similarities between them. Of all the things though, Karate has made me who I am to this very day and who I will be in the future.
Both martial arts and piano began as things my parents made me do. Piano seemed to be something that every kid had to take and then they get some fancy electric guitar or bass if they liked music. Karate was to try and keep kids in shape and raise their confidence. But as time progressed and I dove deeper into both of these arts, different colors that I never even noticed before came out.
Let me fill you in a little on my love and passion for piano. I have played since I was about ten and have gained the skill and knowledge to now compose my own pieces as well as learn complex, long, beautiful songs. I have had to learn how to sit properly at the piano and even hold my hand correctly. Posture is a vital thing to learn to be able to play for a long time. Whenever I start a new song I learn sections of the song and then put them all together. I need to figure out the best hand positions for all the moves. Once I have the composition under my fingers I can then pick up the tempo and add dynamics. Art begins to form.
I find that very easily I get lost in the music. Not as in forgetting where I'm at in the song, but instead close my eyes and not even be aware that I'm the one playing the beautiful music. I am along for the ride. My whole body relaxes and I am performing from the soul. When this happens, you know how it should feel.
And like composing music, I find that Karate shares some of the very same art.
Karate has been in my life ever since I was little and before I started piano. I've always found kata as a fun, mental challenge. Of course my younger mind in the beginning was into the games and sparing. Eventually I found kata as a way to express the side of art in Karate. For me it's like playing music. I learn the basics of a kata, work slowly through the moves, and then piece it all together. Go through the moves until I don't have to think about it, like getting a song under my fingers. Then I can work on the power and speed. Finding where and how to make moves better. Working on the fast and slower, delicate parts. And once again, an art begins to form.
I'm always thinking of how to enhance my technique. A significant detail I have come to appreciate is connection to the floor. Anyone can muscle through a move and make it look impressive, especially fairly large people (definitely not me). The moves might appear to be powerful, but are they achieving their full potential? Is the athlete using their hips and the floor or only their muscle? I always tried to muscle moves and was strong enough to find power, or so I thought. Finding the floor as a way to generate power and speed allowed me to relax and in turn, find more power and speed. By relaxing my shoulders I am able to release more tension thus transferring power into the move. What also has helped me relax and flow is to sometimes just let my mind go blank. Let muscle memory take me through the moves. I'm simply going along for the ride. Of course my technique drops dramatically but I feel how relaxed I should be when giving it my all. Then I repeat the kata while relaxed and feel the power flow. As with piano, I can relax and perform from my soul.
All things have a beginning, middle, and an end, songs and kata alike. Songs have stories to them, a theme. Parts that dynamically change. A kata even has a theme to it. Like what style it is, or what the kata is trying to do. Bassai, for example, means "to assault a fortress" and the very first move starts out slowly and then launches forward and you feel as if you're breaking down a barrier. Songs do that a lot to, they start slowly then pick up the pace. This adds to the mood of kata. Moods can be carried throughout the performance. When songs and kata usually come to a closure, everything on the field and in the air seems to settle and you feel like nothing can move that. Endings can be very powerful. Any kata is like a song.
My whole experience and life in the dojo has contributed to who I am today. As a young child learning the basics and seeing black belts, I never thought someday I'd get to wear that belt. And I never fully respected them either, just thought "Its just a colored belt." I was just a little kid and thought everything was fun and games, but deep down inside the thought of getting a black belt tugged at me. That tug worked its way into a thought, then an addiction, and then my life. My confidence grew and I no longer told myself I'd never get a black belt. Determination has pushed me through up to my test and it will keep pushing me farther for more things than just Karate.
Budo Camp, Summer 2011
by Rosie Askin Cully
The Haiku on the back of our T-shirts read:
"The ocean wave hangs
Awareness is key"
and indeed, that was the theme of the 2011 Beisho summer Budo Camp - awareness - don't let surprise get the better of you, but instead, without thinking, be able to spontaneously adapt. At least, that's the aim, easier said than done for sure, but definitely a prime objective. An objective only reached by practice, not just once or twice, but hundreds or thousands of times over, so that we can instantly adapt to any situation without pausing that fatal second while our brains and bodies desperately try to take in, process and react to an attack.
This camp was so much fun, and so filled with great ideas, techniques, and, as always, great camaraderie and teaching, that it seemed to be over before it had hardly started. It revolved around the awareness theme. It also incorporated sessions to refine our skills, and that of course involved body awareness.
I am typically fairly nervous before camp starts, and at the start of each session. My fears included: can I keep up with the much younger participants? Will I understand/be able to do the training effectively? Will I remember all I should know in the stress of the moment? This time nerves never came into play, and perhaps that's why the camp went so fast. Being well prepared with heaps of practice before camp was of course one major factor. But I was also so totally engrossed in each session. Awareness is not one of my strengths - maybe it's a residue of growing up in (then) very safe New Zealand. Living in Jackson, Wyoming, too can lend a certain sense of complacency to every-day living, though having to keep an eye out for moose and bears on the trail definitely requires heightened alertness!
Shihan Jayne Butram led the first session, focusing on partner, 3-person and group awareness exercises. We used all our senses to "feel" an attack from behind, be ready for and try to pre-empt any sort of attack from any direction, whether it be from one person, or one or more in a tight crowd situation, with or without knives or other weapons. Throughout the day we tried to steal paper strips from each other's belts (the younger participants were particularly sneaky about this). We gained a much better feel of who was around us and what dangers might lurk. Sensei Jayne reminded us that while we shouldn't wander around in a white haze, neither did we need to live in a constant excited state of orange alert or paranoia, although certain situations (we've all been there) require extra vigilance, or should be avoided if at all possible.
In the Friday evening session we worked on self-defense with Shihan Mike Pepe. We practiced some of the more common techniques, but with some more effective variations. After doing these for a while, we were asked the important question "What if?" What if I missed the grab, or messed up in some other way (wrong hand, got the timing wrong, etc.) or if that particular technique didn't work on that person. What if? We need to be able to adapt, to spontaneously and seamlessly flow to another technique that does work. I reminded myself that while I have some favorite techniques for certain situations that almost always work, I shouldn't stick like glue to those. Be adaptable. What if? Above all, don't give up.
The early morning Tai Chi sessions are always one of my favorite parts of camp. This time we also practiced Push-hands, led by Sensei Jayne and Sensei Sue Theise - not just the usual circles, but with intent, going straight for our target. Later, we incorporated this into one of our afternoon sessions, attacking the elbow, flowing into Bagua circles, back and forth, sensing our partner's intent, adapting, spontaneously turning and changing moves and directions.
Shihan Jim True took us outside on Saturday morning where we worked our way up the hill with basics. We worked on the shoulder-hip, the elbow-knee and the hand-foot connections, feeling the connections in punches, kicks and combos, and building awareness of how correct connections and timing enhanced our techniques. We worked on awareness of who and what was around us during partner drills, and then in groups doing kata. We had to adapt to an unexpected push, a person or tree standing in the way when we turned around, an attack from behind, all while focusing on a flawless kata. We adapted and went around obstacles, knocked aside or dispatched the attacker and continued as if the attack had never happened. Occasionally we achieved an almost miraculous avoidance of the attack before it happened; more typically regrouping was required after the damage was done. Fleeing from the oppressive heat of the day, we continued inside with drills, working full-on with intent in Ippon 1, then pre-empting the attacks in Sanbon - spontaneously countering and striking, or moving into a joint-lock or throw. We then mixed it up with Ippon 1 again, where those techniques could be used by either partner to "win". It was a fun and exciting way to do drills, and certainly required a heightened awareness, alertness, and plenty of spontaneity!
Dai Sempai Eddie Kearney led his perennial camp favorite in the afternoon - sparring. We worked on timing, again with those shoulder-hip, elbow-knee and hand-foot connections, up and down the room with slide steps, jabs, punches, kicks and knees, in rapid succession with multiple variations. Sensei Eddie is a joy to watch. How I wish I could incorporate all this into my sparring - definitely heaps more practice needed! Then we worked on strikes (with attacks from lead and reverse hands) and parries, leading into posts, grabs, traps, and counters, and staying connected. Counters required making and looking for target opportunities, and this is what we worked on next, during slow sparring. I, like many others, find slow sparring extremely difficult, with the "fight" escalating and speeding up as we both get carried away. But a key objective was looking for those targets and making the most of those opportunities - not always an easy task at speed. Finally, a water-balloon fight outside on the hill provided a very welcome cooling break from the intense heat of the afternoon.
Saturday night was a Weapons class. We all joined in for Bo basics, then split up, depending on our higher weapon, into Bo, Nunchaku and Sai groups. I was privileged to be in the Sai group taught by Sensei Alan Meadows. Wow, that was a delight. Before finishing up with a Sai kata, we worked on basics with all sorts of great advice on getting the most out of our weapon, such as speeding up the hand turn, the most proficient way to strike and block, what our targets were and how best to strike them.
Sunday morning continued with basics and kata under the watchful eye of Papa Chris. Papa Chris changed up the kata patterns and timing, which opened our eyes to the numerous fun and exciting ways we can do kata back in our dojo. He shared the latest Beisho news and new directions that we would be following in the future - definitely an exciting time to be part of this karate family. We left inspired, brimming with new ideas and hopefully heightened awareness that will stay with us. Many thanks to all our fellow participants for sharing a wonderful camp, and to our superb teachers for sharing their knowledge and experience.
Passing of a Great American Jiu-Jutsu Master
by Christopher M. Clarke
Professor Wally Jay (1917 - 2011) was the grandmaster of Small Circle Jujitsu(tm). He held a 10th dan in Jujutsu and 6th dan in Judo. Through his varied martial art experience, he developed his own system called Small Circle Jujitsu(tm). He was twice inducted in the Black Belt magazine Hall of Fame.
Born in Honolulu, HI on June 15, 1917 of Chinese descent, Jay grew up a sheltered and frail child. At the age of 11, he entered a community boxing program under the tutelage of Jimmy Mitchell in order to develop both his physical body as well as his confidence and sense of security. In 1935, he started to learn Jujutsu under Paul Kaelemakule. In 1938, he continued his boxing studies under Oregon State College coach Jim Dixon. Upon returning to Hawaii in 1940, Jay began his study of Danzan-Ryu Jujutsu under Juan Gomez, one of the top instructors under the founder Henry Seishiro Okazaki. In 1944, he received his 1st dan and a year later, his 2nd dan and instructor's scroll (Mokuroku). During this time, Jay also studied the theraputic massage, Seifukujutsu, from Okazaki. In 1948, both he and his wife, Bernice attended the Okugi ("Inner Mysteries") class held by Okazaki. They both received a Kaidensho and the title, Shihan, from the founder.
During his Danzan-Ryu training, Jay also studied Judo under Hawaiian Champion Ken Kawachi. Jay credited Kawachi with teaching how to effectively use "two-way" wrist action, a fundamental principle of Small Circle Jujitsu(tm). During the early 1950's, Jay began to concentrate on coaching his Judo team on the mainland. After several embarrassing defeats by the Hokka Yudanshakai of California, Jay went back to the drawing board and figured out how to decisively beat his team's opponents. Using his strategies, Jay's team went on to gain many championships. In 1960, he was named by the Hokka Judo Yudanshakai as "Northern California Judo Coach of the Year". He produced many national, state, and regional winners. In the 1968 and 1979 National High School Judo Championships, two of his pupils won the 120 pound national titles. In 1968, David Quinonez and in 1970 Bradford Burgo were recipients of the "Yamauchi Award" for their outstanding showing when they captured the 120 pound crown.
In 1962, a young Bruce Lee sought out Wally Jay to learn how to add effective grappling techniques into the martial art he was developing. Lee and his friend James Yimm Lee spent many hours with Jay learning the Judo and Jujutsu methods he had perfected.
Over the years, Wally Jay has garnered many honors and awards. He remained very active teaching his Small Circle Jujitsu(tm) in seminars all around the world until he retired in August 2002 at the age of 85. At that time, at an official ceremony in Alameda, California, the title and responsibility of Grand Master was handed over to his son, Professor Leon Jay. Wally Jay authored two books and a video series on Small Circle Jujitsu(tm). He and Bernice are grandparents many times over and they live in Alameda, CA.
Prof Jay experienced a stroke on Tuesday May 24th and on Saturday, May 28th, as per his previous wishes, he was removed from life support. He survived another 12 hours and had family and friends with him. Prof. Jay passed away peacefully at 2:20 am California time in Redwood City Kaiser Hospital on May 29, 2011 with his family surrounding his bed.
Kyoshi Seiken Takamine Seminar
by Paul Shorb
On April 3, a Sunday, the Waltham dojo hosted a half-day seminar by Kyoshi Seiken Takamine. (Kyoshi is a high rank, translating roughly as "professor" or "philosopher".)
Kyoshi Takamine was born in Okinawa in 1945 and came to the United States in 1959. Since 1975 he has trained under Taika Seiyu Oyata, who brought to the U.S. a version of traditional Okinawan karate he calls Ryu Te. (See www.kushu.com.) Kyoshi Takamine opened his own dojo in 1990, in the town of Miller Place on Long Island. His stated areas of expertise include Ryu Te, Tuite Jitsu (joint locks), Kyusho Jitsu and Atemi Jitsu (pressure points), Bogu Kumite (full-contact sparring with protective gear), and Ryuku Kobudo (weapons). In a link to our Shorin-Ryu lineage, he and Seiyu Oyata participated in a demonstration for Shoshin and Takamine Nagamine in 1995 in Naha, Okinawa.
Kyoshi Takamine was suggested to Sensei Jim True by Renshi Don Romard, who trains in Kyoshi Takamine's dojo (Attendees at the 2010 summer camp will remember Don, who won the Spirit Award.)
It was hard to believe our guest was over 65; he looked more like a hardy, dark-haired 45-year-old. He spoke forcefully and clearly, despite a strong accent, and seemed to relish the role of lecturer. He argued strongly for grappling techniques for self-defense more than striking techniques. As part of his argument he asserted that if you damage your attacker with strikes, you are more likely to invite government prosecution, or even a civil lawsuit by an attacker injured by your strikes.
The four-hour seminar focused on integrating grabs, locks and other grappling techniques with striking techniques. The first activity was a drill called "catch the fly": Starting from a relaxed stance, pull your left foot in as you simultaneously drop your weight, rotate your torso 45 degrees to the left, and extend both hands with a relaxed, fly-grabbing quickness. The drill continued with a right step forward into an evenly-weighted "triangle stance", then rotating to the left 90 degrees, pivoting on one's heels.
We then paired off and practiced a potential application of the above movements. As your attacker punches high with his left, you evade to the outside and strike down with your right fist onto a point on his forearm, just an inch or so down from the crook of his elbow. Then step right so as to buckle his left knee with your right knee, and elbow-strike a sensitive spot against the ribs about pectoral height. Then you pivot left helps power an arm bar applied with your right forearm to his left arm, bending him over.
We had a good amount of time to practice this and one other application with a partner. The other application focused even more on joint locks rather than striking. Imagine your attacker shoving you high with both hands, or reaching for a double collar grab. Get inside position so both your forearms press out from the inside of his, one going high (say your right) and one going low. Both then continue outward in their opposite-direction circles, staying "sticky" until you cross his arms, and your left hand presses his right wrist into the crook of his left elbow. Then you slide up his left forearm to grab his left hand and rotate it internally (opposite direction from the kote gaeshi wristlock) as you sink, rotate your body left, and use your right elbow to keep his left elbow from coming up. Done right, this can lock everything from his wrist through his shoulder, and forces him to the ground.
Kyoshi Takamine also gave a lecture-demonstration of how weapons kata can train you for empty hand techniques. Specifically, he showed how hand movements for certain moves holding a staff or two sai can be translated into empty-hand self-defense bunkai, with parts of the attacker's body substituting for the weapons.
He also demonstrated a few bunkai from familiar empty-hand kata, including for the opening moves of pinan sandan and seienchei.
This participant thought the material was great. I love the jiu-jitsu-like bunkai for Shorin-Ryu kata that we have been doing at the Waltham dojo; this material was similar, with some additional twists. I felt some frustration from too much lecture-demonstration and not enough practice time in the four-hour seminar. Nevertheless, I'm grateful to all those who made the seminar possible. With so much to offer, I would have liked to see more of Kyoshi Takamine's techniques however the four-hour seminar went by so quickly, we barely scratched the surface of his knowledge.
Click the link to view pictures from the seminar Takamine Seminar Photos
by David Filipov, Globe Staff
They call themselves the Blake Estates Breakers, and once a week, they set aside their canes and walkers and suit up in black gis. They kick and block and punch. They break boards with their bare hands.
They are members of a martial arts class that has had a profound effect on its students, women in their 60s, 70s, and 80s who reside at the Blake Estates affordable housing complex in Hyde Park.
Women who had little faith in their physical ability before they started studying now brim with it. Legs they could barely move now perform side kicks. Arms they had trouble lifting now flash in quick punches and blocks. Hands that could not break anything now split wood.
Annette Cheatham, 82, is a Breaker. Not long ago, she moved around in a wheelchair. A stroke two years ago had robbed her of her strength and mobility. But on a recent Thursday, she stood and walked to a small rectangle of wood resting on two piles of cinder blocks in the center of the Blake Estates community room. She lifted her right arm and flexed her fingers slowly, as though her hand were a foreign object.
Then she clenched that hand into a hammer fist and brought it down, shattering the board. A loud cheer erupted from the nine women in the class this day. The Breakers' instructor, Tony Hanley, collected the splinters and signed the largest one with the date.
"I'm still kinda shaky when I walk,'' Cheatham said with a broad smile. "But I can break a board.''
Hanley, who has a second degree black belt in two martial arts disciplines and runs the nearby One Step Beyond martial arts school, began the class eight months ago. It is his first class geared to people ages 60 and up, and Hanley, who is 61, said part of his motivation was personal.
"I'm getting older, too, and I don't want to stop teaching,'' he said.
He tells his students that to chop wood with a bare hand is more an act of determination than one of brute strength. It is not about hitting the board; it is about visualizing the hand on the other side of the shattered surface. Smashing boards is not the point of the class. Believing it can be done is.
"The main reason is to generate confidence - confidence in yourself,'' Hanley said. "You say: 'You know what, I have just broken wood, I can do anything.' ''
Janet Younis approached the cinder blocks. She is 87 and has 29 great grandchildren. This was only her second lesson. She hesitated over the half-inch-thick square of pine.
"One, two, three,'' Hanley exhorted.
Younis's fist came down. Hanley collected the splinters and autographed the largest one. She put her hands over her heart and drew her breath. How did that feel?
"I thought it was excellent,'' she said.
Ramblings of a Middle Aged Karateka
by Marta Lozano
Ever since I was young, I've enjoyed watching martial artists. Having been amazed by their grace, speed, power and skill, I would visualize myself throwing extravagant kicks or punching with devastating force. Those were great childhood fantasies. I didn't have the courage to join Karate until I reached the ripe age of 42. Perhaps I am one of those, "late bloomers". Whatever it's called, turning 40 was liberating for me. I came to the realization that life is finite and that I needed to stop worrying about petty things. My new philosophy; prioritize, live life well, worry less and do more. One day I saw an ad for the Wyoming Karate Club in the paper offering a gi and four lessons for $29 - that was my ticket into the world of martial arts.
I went to my first class feeling confident and excited. There were several brown belts there, most of whom were approaching their senior year in high school. They were welcoming and kind. I didn't realize at the time, but despite their tender age, they had an understanding of some of the challenges that I would come to face as a Karateka. What they could not have understood are the specific challenges karate brings those of us who are decades older.
From my teen years well into my thirties, it seemed I could do anything without risk of injury. Perhaps I was oblivious to danger or just plain naïve. Over the past few years I've sustained several injuries. I've come to realize that my bones, joints, muscles and ligaments are not as forgiving as they used to be. I must practice smarter, meaning "Less brawn, more brains,"! This has been difficult to accept. Even though I'm of small stature, I've always been able to muscle my way through things. Now I must adjust my thinking and work on finesse as well as technique. I need a lot of work in those two areas for old habits die hard.
At times is seems that my brain synapses don't fire as quickly as they used to. Learning and actually remembering new material can be a challenge. The solution is simple enough, more repetition. While this may seem straight forward, middle-aged people have many responsibilities; spouses, parents, pets, work, financial obligations, (I don't have kids or that would have been first on the list) and these priorities change on a daily basis leaving less time for practice. This makes me realize how lucky I am to have the support of my family. My parents, who are elderly, support me unconditionally and my fiancé puts up with my multiple job schedules, karate schedules and my inflexibility during my precious time off. He has born the responsibility of cooking most nights, house cleaning duties and is generally supportive of my karate efforts. If it wasn't for my family, karate wouldn't be possible.
I am amazed by my fellow classmates each has a unique gift with regard to Karate. Rebecca is graceful, Ed & Edgar are powerful, Allison is wicked fast, Brady has style and Tige, Ashley and Sean are quick to learn. After all this time, I have yet to uncover my hidden talent. However, I do know that tenacity comes into play. There have been several occasions when life got in my way and I was nearly ready to hang up my uniform. With Sensei's support and sheer guts I showed back up at the dojo.
Once again, I find myself surrounded by a sea of brown-belted teenagers. I don't feel out of place - they accept me as I am. Sometimes I enjoy their youthful antics other times I find myself slightly annoyed by them. Thankfully, we can all laugh about it. Now, I appreciate the martial arts more than ever. The brutality of MMA is exhilarating and old Bruce Lee movies grip me. I didn't like the new Karate Kid as much as the old one, but I was impressed by young Jaden Smith's agility and flexibility.
Obtaining a black belt is not easy at any age. Since joining the Wyoming Karate Club in 2005, I have seen many students come and go, most reaching middle belt level and then succumbing to the demands of their everyday life. We all face individual challenges and internal demons. I am no special exception. Someday, I hope to be the first middle -aged person in many years to walk out of our dojo with a black belt. Perhaps I can help pave the way for others. When I see new students in class I will welcome them, make them feel comfortable and look at them with eyes that understand some of the challenges that they will face.
by Steven Tulimieri
My training with Professor Dave Castoldi started informally in the early 1990's. Shihan Jim True had hosted him for seminars and clinics through the years. Through their relationship I was able to take private lessons with him, and learn more about his approach to self-defense. Being drawn to the art of jujitsu, both standing and on the ground, I knew this was a good opportunity to complement to my karate training.
Professor Dave Castoldi is the founder and 10th degree Grand Master of Castoldi's Street Self Defense, while also holding the rank of 8th dan with Jujitsu America and 7th dan in Small Circle Jujitsu, under Professor Wally Jay. Professor Dave has over forty years of experience and specializes in working with local and state police, F.B.I., U.S Marshals, U.S. Secret Service and military police.
Shihan Jim and I became more consistent in our training with Professor Dave in 2005 and tested for our shodan in October 2007. Now we had reached shodan in another system, goals for both Shihan and I, What now? As you know, shodan is the first step. Are we going to continue? Are we going to go through with another of those marathon tests? See "On the Mat" by Shihan James True for details of that day.
Well, yes we did continue, and yes we went through another of those marathon tests. Professor had started to prepare us during the summer. "It is time for the two of you to test again". Those words were met with both excitement and anxiety. Test, again, for 3+ hours, being thrown, joint locked, clubbed, stabbed, and generally hit all over. Can't wait...
And really, I couldn't wait. To realize that we are now moving up through the ranks of another system and Professor feels confident in promoting us to nidan is exciting. So on October 17, 2010 we did it again.
Shihan and I were testing with five of Professors regular students, three going for godan and two for shodan. We were also testing with one of his private students from Kempo karate, also going for nidan. The format was the same. One person is attacked by each of us in turn. Each round is either empty hand or weapons defense. The defender has to block/stop attack, control opponent and weapon if one is involved, incapacitate with strikes or joint locks, exit the situation, have possession of the weapon if one is involved, then be ready for the next attack.
Some of the highlights of the day include being blindfolded for knife mugs and having to stay seated while defending yourself. My favorite part of the day was the three second rule. The second attacker counts three seconds and comes in, whether you have finished with the first or not, then the third and so on.
Being tested in these ways is great to see how well your body has learned the techniques. The fast pace takes away the ability to think, and you can only react. Usually the best defenses are the ones when the defender will attack first as a distraction to the situation.
This is why I enjoy Professor Dave's Street Self-Defense. You learn by doing, over and over. People do not attack the same and they do not react the same when countered. However, your goal is to cause them to react exactly as you want. Easier said than done, of course.
Shihan Jim and I will continue to train under Professor Dave. We are fortunate to have Sensei Reggie, a fourth dan under the Professor, with us. We will continue to have weekly jujitsu class at the dojo, with the goal of further blending our karate and jujitsu techniques to be as effective as possible. Will we test for sandan? Time will tell, but I am in no hurry.
Look for clips of Professor Dave over the years on YouTube under "Castoldi Jujitsu". There are also clips from our recent test.
Jack LaLanne dies; fitness guru helped shepherd in an era of health-consciousness
by Patricia Howard
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 24, 2011; 6:26 AM
Jack LaLanne, the jumpsuit-clad fitness dynamo who starred in one of the nation's first and most popular TV exercise shows and touted healthful eating with such relentless earnestness that he helped usher in a modern era of health-consciousness, died Sunday at age 96.
Mr. LaLanne died of respiratory failure due to pneumonia, his longtime agent, Rick Hersh, told the Associated Press.
Mr. LaLanne showcased his legendary stamina in outrageous stunts well into his senior years. Such feats involved towing boatloads of people in frigid, choppy sea water, often while handcuffed and shackled. To Mr. LaLanne, his reputation for superhuman strength was everything.
"I can't die," he said. "It would ruin my image."
Decades before Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jane Fonda, Richard Simmons and Jim Fixx exemplified the fitness craze, Mr. LaLanne was on television lecturing about the evils of sugar and the value of fruits, vegetables and exercise.
In the early years of his career, he said he often had to tell people he was "not a crackpot" and developed an early pitch, "You like your dog? Would you get your dog up in the morning and give him a cup of coffee, a cigarette and a doughnut?"
He created in the mid-1930s what is said to be the nation's first health club, which included a juice bar and health food store, and went on to expand a chain of clubs and endorse a line of health products such as a "power juicer."
"The Jack LaLanne Show," which aired from 1951 to 1985, featured no Spandex or pumped-up pop music. It took a minimalist approach, with the enthusiastic Mr. LaLanne, often accompanied by his white German shepherd, Happy, urging his viewers to exercise with him, using such equipment as a broomstick, a chair or a towel.
Viewers could be forgiven for thinking him a large man, as his trademark jumpsuit showed off his broad shoulders and muscled arms, tapering to a trim waist and narrow hips. But his publicity handouts listed his height as 5 feet 7 inches, plus an all-important extra three-quarter inches. From the start, he battled misconceptions about weightlifting, then thought to harm an athlete's speed and flexibility. Men feared getting hernias or hemorrhoids; women, if they thought of exercising at all, feared overdeveloping their muscles.
"What's really fascinating is how far ahead of his time he really was," John Eliot, an expert in the psychology of fitness and health, told USA Today in 2004. "At the time, coaches told [athletes] not to do weightlifting stuff because it was bad for them. It wasn't until the late '70s, when the Dallas Cowboys hired the first strength coach, that people paid real attention."
Far from being discouraged, Mr. LaLanne remained an indefatigable showman and pitchman.
In 1981, he gave a dramatic account of his cure from sugar addiction to Sports Illustrated , which reported: "He does an impressionable young Jack, sugar-bombed, undergoing a miraculous transformation. He clasps his hands prayerfully under his chin and looks up at the living room ceiling. They don't do this any better at Lourdes."
When a New York Times reporter phoned him for an interview in 2004, Mr. LaLanne demanded, "How often do you work out?" Told "I don't," Mr. LaLanne responded: "Are you sitting down? Then stand up. Sit down. Stand up. Sit down. . . . "
Mr. LaLanne had a mischievous side. In 2007, when he was 92, Mr. LaLanne visited Washington to receive a lifetime achievement award from the President's Council for Physical Fitness and Sports. Washington Post reporter Sally Squires, interviewing him and his wife, Elaine, in their hotel room, was shocked to find the hyper-energetic Mr. LaLanne sitting motionless, staring hollowly at a television.
He suddenly leaped up and threw himself at Squires.
"Fooled you, you sexy blond bombshell!" he chortled, hugging Squires. Nodding toward his wife, he playfully admonished Squires, "Leave a little air between us, so that she doesn't get jealous."
Over the decades, Mr. LaLanne perfected his favorite sayings: "Exercise is king. Nutrition is queen. Put them together, and you've got a kingdom." On portion control: "People are exceeding the feed limit." On diet: "If man makes it, don't eat it," and "If it tastes good, spit it out!"
At 95, he came out with his 11th book, "Live Young Forever: 12 Steps to Health, Fitness and Longevity" and had his own Web site where he marketed his exercise DVDs, books and products.
In a 2009 interview with the "CBS Early Show" to promote his book, he said that he still worked out daily, lifting weights for an hour and swimming for another half hour.
"Anything that happens to you, good or bad, all you ladies and gentlemen, you make it happen," the voluble LaLanne told his interviewer. "A lot of people say, 'I'm fat because my dad is fat.' You're fat because you ate all that junk that your dad was eating to make him fat."
François Henri LaLanne was born Sept. 26, 1914, in San Francisco, the son of French immigrant parents. His father was a phone company employee and a dance instructor, and his mother was a maid. Mr. LaLanne grew up in Bakersfield, Calif., where his parents tried to make a living as sheep farmers but went bankrupt. They moved to Oakland, where his father died of a heart attack while Mr. LaLanne was still young.
Mr. LaLanne later said that in response to his father's death, his mother showered him with attention and rewarded him with sweets. As a consequence, he said, he grew into a "sugarholic" with a flaring temper, debilitating headaches, acne and boils. "Listen, little girls used to seek me out just to beat up on me," Mr. LaLanne told Sports Illustrated.
His mother took the troubled teen to listen to a lecture by Paul C. Bragg, a nutritionist who was also ahead of his time in advocating practices such as deep breathing, drinking natural juices, exercising and eating organic foods. Mr. LaLanne spoke of the lecture as a turning point in his life.
He said he willed himself into exercising and refraining from junk food, and that in a short period of time he was strong enough to make various sports teams. At 18, he went into business for himself, selling healthful goods baked by his mother. Combining what he learned from chiropractic college and his own study of "Gray's Anatomy," at 21 he opened Jack LaLanne's Physical Culture Studio in 1936 in Oakland, Calif. It was not an instant success.
"There was strong resistance in those days," he told Sports Illustrated in 1981. "You can't appreciate it now, in this era of Arnold Schwarzenegger . . . [but] I would get a guy about half-recruited, and he would come back to me and say that his doctor wouldn't let him join. 'You'll get a hernia,' all the doctors said then, remember? Or, 'You'll get muscle-bound.' "
He began to seek out prospective clients, snagging chubby or underweight teen boys from the local high schools and insisting they could change their lives. Contacted in 1994 by The Post, former LaLanne gym member Charles McCarl said: "His enthusiasm for exercise was infectious. He sold me on it. He sold my parents on it. . . . Later he encouraged me to go to medical school."
As other boys brought their fathers in, too, Mr. LaLanne began to prosper and to open other clubs.
Beyond barbells, the clubs offered exercise equipment that was unique to the time. Mr. LaLanne enlisted a blacksmith to build machines that are now standard in today's gyms, such as leg-extension equipment and one of the first adjustable weight machines.
"Jack's designs are legendary," Harold Zinkin, creator of the Universal Gym, told The Post. Mr. LaLanne did not patent the designs, however, and did not profit from them. In the 1980s, when his health clubs totaled more than 200, they were sold to the Bally Co., now known as Bally Total Fitness.
"The Jack LaLanne Show" debuted in 1951 on San Francisco's ABC affiliate, KGO. The show often opened with Mr. LaLanne backlighted, doing jumping jacks, before the lights came up and he began his unflagging efforts to get watchers up and moving with him. Happy, his dog, was a lure for children, whom Mr. LaLanne encouraged to go get their parents to exercise with them. An organ like those heard at old-time baseball games served as background music and aural exclamation points for his enthusiastic pep talks.
"Come on, now, girls. We're going to work on" -- he'd pat his rear -- "reducing the old back porch."
Mr. LaLanne's first marriage, to the former Irma Navarre, ended in divorce. In 1959, he married Elaine Doyle. She survives, along with a daughter from his first marriage, Yvonne; a son from his second marriage, Jon Allen; and a stepson , Dan Doyle.
In 1954, when he was 40, he began the first of a series of feats of strength performed in public: He swam the length of the Golden Gate Bridge underwater, wearing 140 pounds of scuba gear, in 55-degree water, covering the two miles in 45 minutes. The next year, he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco while handcuffed. In 1974, at 60, he did the same thing -- except this time handcuffed, shackled and towing a 1,000-pound boat.
Two years later, for the U.S. Bicentennial, he swam a mile in Long Beach harbor, again handcuffed and shackled, towing 76 people in 13 boats representing the 13 original colonies.
At 65, while handcuffed and shackled, he towed 65 boats filled with 6,500 pounds of wood pulp across the one-mile Lake Ashinoko, near Tokyo. The next year in North Miami, Fla., at 66, he towed 10 boats carrying 77 people for more than one mile in less than an hour.
And at 70?
"He swam handcuffed and shackled, towing 70 boats with 70 people inside, on his 70th birthday," said Schwarzenegger, now California governor, to a crowd in December 2008 as Mr. LaLanne and 11 others were inducted into a hall of fame for distinguished Californians.
Mr. LaLanne said exercise was not a favorite pastime, candidly calling it "a pain in the gluties. But you gotta do it. Dying is easy. living is tough. I hate working out. Hate it. But I like the results."
Harking Back to Samurai Days at Japan's Dosun Festival
by Michael Scott Moore
Friday, January 14, 2011; 2:09 PM
Japan's Dosun Festival archery contest is a pleasant Sunday outing for residents of the Miura peninsula. They load kids into strollers, pack bento lunches and make the long hike down a wooded trail to Araihama Beach to watch as athletes dressed as samurai ride armored horses at top speed along a black-sand beach to fire arrows at squares of brittle wood.
Held every spring in a coastal village south of Tokyo, the contest at first resembles a sort of Japanese Renaissance Faire, with archers wearing anachronistic hardware: 13th-century costumes of silk robes, animal-pelt skirts, cloth shoes and ribbon-tied hats. The arrows have wooden turnip-shaped heads instead of sharp points.
But mounted archery, or yabusame, isn't just nostalgic re-enactment. The Japanese admire it as a living sport. One at a time, the riders charge their steeds down a lane marked in the sand and fire arrows at a series of wooden targets, which fly apart thrillingly when clobbered with a turnip head. A hit at last year's festival earned two thumps on a ceremonial drum and a chirpy comment through a PA system by a woman in the judges' tower.
"Actually, it's simple," one spectator, a woman named Yoshie, told me. "Hit the wood."
The sport requires Buddhist virtues of concentration. A rider needs a clear mind to aim a bow with both hands and, using nothing but his legs, guide a galloping horse amid all the bouncing armor and flying sand.
"That's the best rider," Yoshie informed me as we watched another board shatter. "He's very quiet, very slow." She didn't mean the horse, which moved like a fury down the beach.
All mounted archery is a subset of kyudo, the Way of the Bow. The ultimate aim in kyudo is to reach a state of enlightenment beyond apparent opposites such as body and mind, archer and bow, arrow and target. "Confucius practiced the Way of the Bow to demonstrate how a cultured person acts," wrote the kyudo master Awa Kenzo, who died in 1939. "Confucius was not concerned with hitting the target one hundred times out of one hundred shots. He was demonstrating how one hundred shots can be one hundred perfections of character." Still, Kenzo, a master archer who was not a yabusame horseman, apparently never missed a shot.
What I saw was, technically, a kind of mounted archery called kasagake, but yabusame has become the general word for these contests. Another kind of mounted archery, known as inuoumono, is quite different. It involves firing lethal arrows at dogs.
"Inuoumono," according to a dry statement by the Takeda School of Horseback Archery, which organizes the Dosun Festival contest, "is not in practice anymore."
The Dosun Festival (or Dosun Matsuri) celebrates a shogun family that ruled the Miura peninsula until 1516. The story goes that a great warlord named Dosun Miura defended his ancestral territory until he learned that his son had been killed. Then he knew that the battle was lost, and, "fearful lest his own head should be carried across the bay," according to an account of the legend from an old issue of Popular Science Monthly, he grabbed his own hair with one hand, decapitated himself with the other, and flung his head into the sea. Ever since, the Miura peninsula has been haunted by Dosun's ghost, and a shinto ceremony before the show evidently pays respect to him.
The festival, with its archery contest, takes place each May, but it's not the largest yabusame event in Japan. That honor goes to the contest held every September at the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura. The Kamakura event may be easier for tourists to reach from the nearest train station; the black-sand beach where Dosun Miura lost his head was complicated (but not impossible) to find.
After the Dosun contest, a mass of children and other spectators collected oblong pieces of shattered wooden targets and waited in line for local officials to stamp them with an insignia for the festival, as souvenirs.
"The Japanese are very keen on this," Yoshie said. "It's part of their history."
"But it's like Americans packing lunch to watch cowboys pretend to shoot each other," I said.
"Yes, I see," Yoshie giggled, then reconsidered. "Well, perhaps not quite."
Later, on my way up the hill, I realized that she was right. The real American comparison was rodeo - a spectator sport meant to preserve a lost mounted art. And I wondered whether rodeo stars ever study Confucius.
Moore is the author, most recently, of the surfing history "Sweetness and Blood."
As China's Wealthy Grow in Numbers, So Do Their Protectors
by Keith B. Richburg
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 19, 2010; 8:06 PM
BEIJING - Perhaps the most visible sign of the explosion of private wealth in China tries hard not to be visible at all - the private bodyguard.
They work as drivers or nannies, or blend into a businessman's coterie looking like a secretary, a briefcase carrier or a toady. Unlike bodyguards in the United States, they are generally not tall and imposing; in fact, many are women, on the theory that females in the retinue attract less attention.
And also unlike in the United States, they are never armed, since private citizens in China are largely prohibited from owning firearms. Rather, Chinese bodyguards are martial arts experts, trained to disarm or subdue an attacker with a few quick thrusts, jabs and hand chops.
"In China, we don't need people who know guns," said Michael Zhe, president of Beijing VSS Security Consulting Ltd, which started in 2002 and counts itself as the country's oldest private security firm. "Bodyguards can use one or two blows to stop an attacker."
When Zhe, a national-level kung fu coach and former government security agent, started his company eight years ago, aiming to serve a high-end, wealthy clientele, he recalls there were few if any competitors in the game. By the end of last year, according to the Ministry of Public Security, the private security business had grown into a $1.2 billion industry with about 2,767 companies employing more than two million security guards.
The burgeoning personal protection industry is a reflection of the dramatic growth in prosperity here that has created a new class of wealthy Chinese - but that has also exacerbated the already-wide chasm between the haves and have-nots.
As millions of Chinese have grown richer - and often indulge in the ostentatious trappings of new money - so, too, has the resentment increased from those left behind, threatening the ruling Communist Party's stated goal of maintaining social stability. There have been stories here of kidnappings of wealthy people, contract hits being ordered by disgruntled business associates, and increasing random acts of violence. China this year has been hit by a spate of vicious attacks on kindergarten and primary school children, which some psychologists have blamed on the economic dislocation.
"The booming of the security industry reflects the rich people's worry about the safety of their families and themselves," said Ni Shoubin, professor with the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade. "The population is disgusted by how these rich people are becoming rich, and all society has started to hate rich people. And the rich people must feel that resentment, and it makes them feel insecure."
Private bodyguards now do everything from protecting wealthy celebrities and businessmen to assisting in security for such major events as the Shanghai World Expo.
That rapid growth has prompted the Chinese government to start trying to rein in the industry. Up to now, the private security firms have operated in a legal "gray area," with no guidelines, regulations or standards - and with long-established security consultants such as Zhe fretting that many are fly-by-night outfits that could tarnish the entire industry.
In April, the State Council, China's equivalent of a cabinet, announced it would be drafting regulations to bring the freewheeling security industry under control. Zhe's company is helping local police bureaus draft regulations, set industry standards and draft a textbook for training private bodyguards.
China is still a relatively safe country. But violent crime is on the rise. A report by China's respected Academy of Social Sciences this year found a "dramatic increase" in violent crime, including homicides, robbery and rape in 2009 over the previous year, with prosecutors reporting 10 percent more cases. The report said crime was likely to rise again for 2010 because of factory closings and high unemployment.
Many of China's new wealthy elite have decided to maintain a lower profile. Some are dispensing with the usual displays of luxury. And increasingly, they are turning to private security companies for protection.
"You need someone you can trust to protect your assets, to protect yourself, and protect your family," said Patrick Pun, who returned to Shanghai from Seattle and three years ago started Newcogs Co. Ltd, a successful online marketing company. Pun signed a contract with Zhe's VSS firm for round-the-clock security for his home and office.
"The wealth gap in China is getting bigger and bigger," Pun said. "A few people are getting wealthier and wealthier, and a majority of the people are poor. It's a painful stage for any developing country."
Pun added that he tries to keep a low profile, and it helps to have a bodyguard who doubles as a driver. "I don't think it's a good option for me to have a group of security guards around me," he said. "If you do that, the crowds will start to pay attention to you."
Chen Yongching, 27, a former military martial arts expert who started his security company, Tianjiao Special Protection, in 2008, said the trend in China is for the bodyguards to be smaller in stature. "If they're too big, it would be too obvious," Chen said. " We can get lost in a crowd - you don't recognize us."
Chen said about 40 percent of his bodyguards are women. One, Chai Chang, 25, stands just 5 feet and 4 inches tall, and weighs 121 pounds. But she is trained in martial arts and freestyle fighting, and says, "When we practice, I fight two guys, no problem."
Chang studied computer science in college, and her parents expected her to follow the family tradition and become a teacher. She tried it for a while, but thought the bodyguard life would be more exciting - and now she accompanies Chinese and Hong Kong celebrities around town.
As China opens more to the world, it is also becoming a destination for international celebrities - rock stars and rappers, basketball and tennis players, actors and globe-trotting billionaires - and all of them require 24/7 protection, an additional boost to the private security industry.
For some of these visitors, the local bodyguards initially seem too small, occasionally making for a cultural clash. Chen Zhen, director of player development for the China Open tennis tournament, has been contracting with VSS since 2004 to provide bodyguards for the players.
For tennis players, bodyguards should be at least 6 feet. "It's a must for them to wear a black suit and earphones, because that's the professional look for bodyguards," she said. The smaller guards, she said, "just don't give them a sense of security."
Staff researcher Liu Liu in Beijing contributed to this report.
Beisho Budo Black Belt & Summer Camp Experience 7/29 - 8/1/2010
by Renshi Don Romard
My journey to Beisho's annual summer Budo camp for 2010 actually started in October of 2009 when my wife and I spent a long weekend in Boston and Cape Cod, MA. I sent an e-mail to my friend, Jim True, and we made arrangements to get together for dinner one night. I was really looking forward to seeing Jim as we hadn't seen each other for a number of years. We met at the Black Rose near Quincy Market in Boston and enjoyed some good food and traditional Irish music. I told Jim that after a number of years of not training in karate I was looking for somewhere to train again. Jim knew my situation and that I had walked away from my long term sensei years earlier due to some issues we had. I also recall speaking with 'Papa' Chris Clarke about the difficulties I was experiencing at Summer Budo camp in 2002. ('Papa' Chris touches on this general subject, of how senseis and their students sometimes have growing pains similar to parents when their children grow and become adults, in his latest book Ramblings from a Ten Foot Square Hut.)
As our night together wound down, Jim told me that he had an assignment for me. Since he knew we were going to Cape Cod the next day he said that I had to do a kata on the beach, and that he knew which kata I would perform. I laughed and said "How do you know what kata, if any, that I'll do". But I also realized what he was doing was giving me some inspiration to help me get back on my martial arts journey. Sensei Jim is a wise instructor and a good friend, he was right on both counts. I was inspired and did my favorite kata, Chinto, on the beach at Chatham. Sadly I couldn't remember all the moves, but they would come back to me over time.
Shortly thereafter I found a very talented sensei to train with, he didn't teach Matsubayashi-ryu. His kata lineage was Okinawan Kempo, thus very similar. They do the Pinan and Naihanchi kata very similar to ours. I was happy that I was training regularly again, and I sent Jim a note.
As Spring came I made the decision to attend the Beisho Summer Budo Camp. I got the dates from Jim and all the logistical info off the website. Kristen Pepe was a big help in getting me registered on the web site as I joined the Beisho organization, ordered some books, and registered for camp. While I was training again I wasn't doing my Matsubayashi-ryu kata, and I missed that, as kata was my favorite part of training. So I was really looking forward to getting together with fellow Matsubayshi-ryu karateka. Jim had always welcomed me in his dojo and to attend camp, so I had met some of the senior sensei and some of Jim's students over the years, and there was always mutual courtesy and respect.
As the long anticipated weekend finally arrived I packed my gi, clothes, filled the gas tank, and I was ready to go. My wonderful wife made sure I had drinks and snacks for the trip. While she would miss me, and I her, for the long weekend, she was happy for me and encouraged me to go. I left my house on Eastern Long Island, NY at 6 am Thursday morning for the 6 hour drive to try to beat some of the rush hour traffic getting over the bridges and past New York City. It was a beautiful sunny day and I enjoyed the scenery as I passed NY Harbor, into New Jersey, and then more and more into the more rustic countryside of eastern NJ, and Pennsylvania. I felt like I was on my way to a family reunion with members I hadn't seen in many years.
Finally I was there; the resort is nestled in the mountains and surrounded by countryside. What a scenic natural and beautiful inspiration it is. I checked in, got to my room and met my roommate Paul Shorb for the first time. We chatted a bit and then got ready for the first training session.
Black Belt camp started out with Sensei Jayne Butram leading us through some very interesting self defense drills. It was very realistic, up close and personal and to the point! I saw and picked up some "knowledge nuggets". Then Sensei Mike Pepe showed us some ground grappling and choking techniques. I had little experience in this area, so I focused on trying to remember some of these new techniques.
Friday morning it was Sensei Jim True's turn to lead us through some jiuiutsu arm bars, hand, and finger locks. While I had been exposed to some things along these lines in the past I certainly was no expert, so I was eager to add to my repertoire of techniques and/or practice some familiar ones.
I was having fun, among a group of karateka that had a lot of experience and in a variety of specialty areas. Everyone was friendly and willing to share information and practice together. While I was a formal member of the Beisho organization, I still did not have that patch on my gi, and I still felt like a guest, albeit a guest that was being treated very nicely.
After lunch for the Friday afternoon session, "Papa" Chris said it's so nice outside that we're going outside to train, so go get sneakers, and meet outside ASAP. So we all hustled to get whatever we needed and assembled outside on the grass at the base of one of the ski slopes. We then broke up into three large groups and went to different areas to perform kata. I had trained outside before on the grass in a park or on the beach, but never on the slopes of a ski mountain before. So that was an interesting challenge. Sensei Jim also had our group in among the pine trees lining the side of the ski slope. It was a beautiful sunny day, warm but not stifling hot. It was great to be training and working up a sweat outside. I tried the best I could to follow along with some of the higher kata, but unfortunately having not done them for years I struggled to remember many of the moves. I just followed along as best I could; I was determined to re-learn my kata. Here was an opportunity to do that, and a very large part of the reason why I came to camp in the first place. So I wasn't going to waste that time.
After dinner Friday evening we had another session that "Papa" Chris led which he called the "Agony of De Feet," a cute name for a focus area where he showed us many interesting strikes with your feet to your opponents lower legs, ankles and feet. I am sure I was not the only one that had never really considered many of these opportunities.
Saturday morning started off with the traditional Taiji at 6 am. I would rather be sleeping at that hour, but like everyone else I dragged my half-awake body outside. I had asked Jim once was it mandatory, and got the answer, "Yes it is," so even though I know almost nothing about I participated. Recently I asked Jim what happens if you don't make it, and over-sleep. Well, suffice to say that the consequences of that are far worse than being half asleep doing Taiji at dawn outside. Grudgingly I have to admit, it is good stuff. I learned and even enjoyed some of it.
After breakfast our morning session was focused on bunkai, which was the theme for the entire Black Belt, and regular Budo camp. There were some interesting interpretations of various kata elements shown by "Papa" Chris, and we got to practice them with partners. This is one aspect of the entire camp that I have to mention is a very good way to learn. You partner with whoever you want to, but you constantly change to new partners at various points in the day. So this does two really good things; you get to know more people, and when you cross train with different people of different sizes, different skill levels, ranks, etc. you learn how to deal with those differences.
While I knew I had missed training, I had kind of put it aside in my mind as I focused on other things in life. But now here I was really enjoying doing kata, drills, partner exercises, etc. again.
Sunday morning came and there we all were again, half asleep, doing Taiji at 6 am. O.K., I can see the benefit to my overall training. I may even look for a place where I can take some lessons and pick up some more expertise in this area. But it won't be at dawn. :)
After breakfast there were the team demonstrations, and everyone did a superb job at demonstrating their particular things. Then there was some individual kata by at least one fellow testing for his shodan rank. I could relate. I had been there once myself, and had certainly participated in overseeing rank reviews, and remembered the joy of teaching students and seeing them progress. Just this time, I was strictly an observer, so I enjoyed it vicariously for, and with, all involved.
The camp concluded with the awarding of some rank to various people. This was very nice because everyone got to see and be happy for the person that was being recognized. There were some other recognition awards as well.
I reflected on how much fun I had over the weekend, how much I was accepted and assisted by everyone, and I began to think I'm not a guest here anymore I'm a member of this great organization and am going to do my best to be a good participating member of it instead of an occasional guest. Over many years of training I have had the opportunity to meet many great martial artists, I have been a member of some good organizations, been to good--and not-so-good--seminars and tournaments. I've learned to discern the good from the not-so-good, and I'm not just talking about talent. There are a lot of very talented martial artist in the world, and not a few of them have very large egos, some of them larger than reality warrants. Thankfully that is not always the case, and certainly is not the case within the Beisho organization.
Then I heard "Papa" Chris say, "We don't normally award the Spirit award for Summer Camp to an outsider of the organization"? My mind raced, and I thought, "Are they going to award me something" Is there another guest here? Why me among such a talented hard working group?" And then "Papa" Chris called my name. I was a little in shock, I was moved, I was very honored. I came to the front of "Papa" Chris and bowed deeply and respectfully. He is a great martial artist and we are lucky to have him. As I gave him the Beisho traditional hug, I said to him, "Thanks for having me". I then gave my friend, Shihan James True, a very deep and respectful bow. He is a great martial artist, a friend, and I am thankful for his encouragement and guidance at times when I needed it. Another requisite hug. I then paid similar respects to Sensei Ed Kearney, Jayne, and Mike.
I guess it hit me afterwards that it had been a difficult time period for me. I had been a ronin for quite a few years. I kept looking for a way to get back into training my martial arts. There was an empty part of me for quite some time. An opportunity came my way and I found a new sensei, and that was part of getting me back on the right path. Attending this year's summer camp was the conclusion to that rough period of time for me. I was "back in the saddle" and on the next phase of my martial arts journey.
Next time you see me I'll be wearing a Beisho patch.
Yours in Karatedo,
Renshi Don Romard
by Amy Hull, Wyoming Karate Club
At summer budo camp, bunkai was the big idea. The three days at camp were filled with endless fruitful learning. The first day was about kata outside. We went and did all of our kata on the hill behind the resort. Most of us were bare foot, and doing kata up, down, and sideways on the ski slope was interesting. Stepping on rocks, punching under trees, and kicking up hill put an edge on being aware of your surroundings. This also made us aware of how we did our kata.
The second part of day was started with the "agony of the feet". This section focused on the lower body, and where the feet and legs can be kicked to create pain. There are seams that you can kick with the heel or the toes for pain. We practiced these in pairs with socks on to protect each other. I am sure most of us were glad our partner brought their pair. We then moved on to various bunkai for kata. Papa Chris made sure we all knew that no move is wasted; a step could be a kick, or a stomp.
The second day was started with "startle moves". These moves were for when you are first attacked and you're startled. We moved on to more bunkai for kata. This consisted of chokes and grabs to punches and kicks. We added some throws and some pain-giving holds. The last class of the day after supper, we were split into three groups and did rotations to do different things. About half way through class, Papa Chris pulled all the kids aside and let us watch the new karate kid movie. Thank you!
Through out the days of work out, certain pairs were given the privilege to carry the spirit award for the workout for working well together and working to get the most out of the class. I was one of these. It was me, a green belt, and my partner, a blue belt. We got the spirit award on the second day after lunch. On the last day, each of the pairs came up and did something from the class for which they won the award to recap for everyone. We did two of the take downs and bunkai for kicks. After the pairs, we were all able to see Papa Chris and Sensei Jim demonstrate a few original moves from the old kata when a commoner might be attacked by a samurai. They were empty-handed defenses against various sword attacks. We then all did our kata and I am sure we all saw the difference in our kata because of the thinking about and practicing of bunkai . Overall camp was filled with some pain, humor, and lessons. As a first time goer, I am glad I went. I loved how we ate, slept, and talked karate for the weekend.
A Soft Breeze of Taiji
by Sharon Skapura, Okinawan Karate Center
How many of you plant a garden every year? What do your plants need to survive? They need sun, water, food, soil, and space to grow. Do you talk to your houseplants or play music? Do fertilize your plants? As a kindergarten teacher, I view Taiji as fertilizer for my students. Every day my students arrive in the classroom and get ready for the day. The bell rings, we recite the Pledge of Allegiance, take attendance and then do the Eight Pieces of Silk. Can you imagine starting your day with the serenity of piano music and the slow movements of qigong?
However, my day did not always start with the tranquility of the Eight Pieces of Brocade. I've taught kindergarten for 26 years. For the past 6 years I've taught the all day every day kindergarten program. This was the answer to many questions about the best way for a child to begin their educational journey. I now had the time to help my students develop social and communication skills. I could read my class a story...just for fun! We could have a science experiment at their request! Yet, it also opened the door to new problems to solve. The academic goals have changed. Our young children are expected to perform tasks intended for a more mature participant. I'm sure you'll be surprised to know that I had students who couldn't sit still by the afternoon; some who slept through their 20 minute rest time and right past our noisy math exploration hour; as well as one student who chewed his sleeve off! My students are expected to master the Academic Content Standards for Ohio before entering first grade.
As part of my personal training with karate and Taiji, I decided to explore the effect of specific types of movement (the Eight Pieces of Brocade) to help my students gain self control and develop greater neurological and cognitive growth. The first plan was to initiate an extra weekly physical education time in the gymnasium with the classroom teacher. I learned that 5 year old children aren't as excited about Taiji as I am. So, the next plan was to teach Taiji as entertainment for parents at a Japanese Tea Ceremony. The parents loved it, but it still didn't solve my problem in the classroom. I made the mistake of using Taiji as an "extra" activity. The third year proved more successful. I made Taiji part of the morning routine. Every day my students did the Eight Pieces of Brocade with soft music playing. After a few months of that, a few of my students asked to lead the stretches. We called them "Taiji Masters". I even had students who could substitute for the "Taiji Masters"! They did the stretches slowly and followed along with the leaders (never racing each other!). It was a wonderful way to start the day!
I discovered that my students were more ready to learn on the days that we did Taiji. Overall; they behaved more calmly and began to demonstrate more self control in school. The class that I taught this past year was younger than other years (many summer birthdays) and quite immature. Their behavior improved dramatically over time as noticed by the art, music, media and physical education specialists. The school psychologist noticed a difference in behavior with my students as compared to other classes throughout the district. My students are also given a standardized test, Developmental Indicators of Based Early Literacy Skills, 3 times per year. After a year of daily Tai Chi, the class of 2009/2010 got a class median score of 57 for the testing probe, Phonological Segmentation Fluency, at the end of the year. The class of 2006/2007 (no Taiji experience) ended the year with a class median score of 46 with the same testing probe. That is an 11 point increase!
think the trick was to make Taiji part of the morning routine. Just like Jayne, sensei says, "It should be so much a part of your routine like brushing your teeth." My students would complain to me if we had to cancel Taiji to go to a school assembly! My autistic student would ask me to play "that music" while doing class work. Taiji is like a soft breeze that just settles everyone and brings us together for an enlightening learning experience.
Reflections On Forty Years In The Martial Arts: Part One
by Tom Wirtanen
It was like a dream, emblazoned in the memory which seems like yesterday, yet so long ago. June 10, 1970 was graduation day at Chelmsford High School, and the seniors were assembled on the old football field for the ceremony that reflected the most profound change we had ever experienced in our lives. Fully expecting the endless speeches and droning in anticlimax to receiving our diplomas, we were delighted to see a large white tail deer prancing about the practice field while the speaker droned on, then surrendering to the spectacle that nature had provided.
The next night, my sweetheart and I, Diane E. Dutney, climbed the stairs above Father John's Medicine at 99 Market Street in Lowell where the long ascent ended at the Merrimack Valley Uechi-Ryu Karate Association in Lowell. Diane and I were in love and had charted our course together. We were inseparable, with the Lane Cherry Hope Chest filling nicely and both of us heading to the Ohio State University for the next stage of our lives and fulfillment. Since we did everything together, it was only natural that we climbed those stairs and were greeted at the top by Sensei Frank Dumont.
Sensei Frank was a police officer with the Lowell Police Department and was extremely cordial at our inquiries. He knew that we were just kids, but that we had a plan and seemed headed in the right direction. He was also a no-nonsense character and after signing us up, brought us into the dojo for our first class.
From the first moment, respect, conditioning and control were emphasized as critical components of the training. Sensei Frank was the epitome of all three of these aspects and notwithstanding that we were young and fit by our definition, the reverse sit-ups left us with a lasting impression that they had a different definition and that we would be severely challenged to keep up with the class.
There was no coddling or easing into the training, and Sensei Frank insisted that we participate in kumite from the very first night. Fighting was something I had not done at Chelmsford High School, and Sensei Frank was virtually impossible to hit. In a flash, I was stunned with a spinning back kick (spin kick) expertly delivered and perfectly controlled. I was amazed at how strong and powerful the technique was, yet how perfectly directed and controlled so that there would be no injury. Sensei Frank sensed that I was stunned and my first kumite was abruptly ended. He had accomplished his task. In one move, he had delivered his message and applied what we had learned on the floor that night. More importantly, he knew that I would never forget that kick while he could not possibly know that I would take that kick west to a system where the kick was unknown.
In any event we were hooked, and continued together on our path of Karate-do. We trained fanatically that summer, and in so doing,met some of the most remarkable people we could ever meet. The late Sensei Al Ford was the Chief Instructor who we seldom trained with. The Black belts had names like Montminy, Laforrest, and McQueen, with the students including Foster, Brox and the father/son team Giorato. We were treated like adopted children, united with them in the intensity of the training. The Spirit of Karate-do was ever present, yet seldom discussed. It was something that we had to sense, which would permeate our beings.
It was inevitable that August 7, 1970 would arrive. Diane and I were off to Columbus for orientation at the Ohio State University. These were turbulent times, as on May 4, 1970 four students had been killed at nearby Kent State University. This had happened on our Senior Skip Day and upon receiving word of it at Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, we left the beach silently and returned to Chelmsford. Ohio State had been ravaged by riots and was to re-open that day. After our first adventure with Allegheny Airlines, we arrived at Morrill Tower for our first day of orientation. The kids from the midwest were very cordial, friendly and were fascinated with my accent. Diane and I met Les Johnson and Marty Ackerman almost immediately and together we travelled to the twenty-third floor of Morrill Tower, peering out at the sprawl that is the Ohio State University for the first time.
We looked across the rugby fields to the rear of the old dance hall and saw them. One of the endless squalls was pounding Columbus with pouring rain, yet there they were. Our Uechi-Ryu training yielded only scant clues, but they were in Jigotai dachi performing endless repetitions of Jodan-uke ( straddle stance with high blocks). Diane and I wondered out loud if it was Karate, and sensing same the four of us took off down the tower and out to see what was going on. By the time we reached the rear of the old dance hall, they were doing knuckle push-ups in the mud. We introduced ourselves to Senseis Feinstein and Watts, who seemed mildly amused yet totally focused on the training. It was indeed a Karate class, and their style was called Shorin-Ryu Karate Do. They invited us to join September 30 when the trimester would begin and we parted sensing that we would accept and not knowing what would result.
Back home and at the Lowell dojo, we recounted our experience and turned to Sensei Frank for advice. Without hesitation, Sensei Frank told us not to get hung up on style, then imparting the advice of a lifetime. He told us that the quality of our experience and training would be determined by the quality of our instructors and what we were willing to put into it, so by all means continue training. He also told us that, no matter what the result, we would always be welcome at their dojo.
We trained hard in Uechi-Ryu until we left for Columbus. On September 30, 1970, we walked into the Old Dance Hall at the Ohio State University, met Sensei Paul D. Keller and took our first steps on the path that is Shorin-Ryu Karate-do. The experience was and remained intense from the very beginning. The Sensei would bow us in and go non-stop for two and a half hours. It was sink or swim training at its finest, assuring that the few that stayed with it were serious about karate-do. It was perfectly suited for us, as people who did not know the meaning of the words quit or surrender.
As time went on, regrettably Diane and I grew apart, with our parting becoming final when I was promoted to brown belt. I accepted responsibility for this and continued training albeit alone. Despite my numerous shortcomings, I followed the path to assistant instructor at Ohio Weslyan University, President of the Ohio State Univeristy Karate Club, Kendo training with Master Shigeharu Yoshii, Dave Ruppart and the Columbus Karate Academy.
On May 30, 1974, the day had finally arrived. I had languished at ikkyu for fourteen months. My two oldest students at Ohio Weslyan had made black belt. Shelly Cowen had just arrived at the Academy, and when asked about her black belt test, she said..."it was murder... they even asked me what mizu-no- kokoru meant".
I knew I had heard the term and plowed through the materials until I found Nishiyama's concept, which refers to the need to make the mind "like the surface of calm water". It was what I had been missing, and as I stood on the floor drenched in sweat after performing eighteen kata, all of the basics and was beaten with a shinai before Hixson, Keller, Watts and Feinstein, Watts told me to remove the blindfold. The instant that I complied, he threw a super ball at me. I hit it with a reverse punch as hard as I could, propelling it into the fluorescent light fixture smashing the bulbs and raining glass shards onto the floor. It was over. I was a Shodan, First Degree Black Belt. Much later I learned that they thought that they would never hear from me again, that having made Black belt I would simply go home and disappear. This reality was followed by six and one half years of utter abandonment.
Returning home, Sensei Frank and the Uechi school extended a warm welcome as always. The students had excelled and Sensei Frank chose me to lead a team to the 1974 New Hampshire State Championships at Laconia. Ma and Dad owned a camp at Meredith, so it seemed like a perfect fit.
Sensei Frank had given us excellent guidance and I have always prayed that I never disappointed him. He taught us respect and control and that nothing else mattered without these two fundamental concepts. He taught us to never give up, to put maximum effort into our training, and gave us the tools to realize that the more we learned, the more we would realize that we did not know. These were life lessons that were priceless and I am forever in his debt.
Years later came the City Elections in Lowell of 2009. I was the former Chairman of the Election Commission of the City of Lowell and out driving around seeing the sights. I drove to the Reilly School in Belvidere where most of the candidates could be found and to my utter amazement and delight, there was Sensei Frank holding a sign for a candidate. It was the perfect opportunity to reflect and show respect.
My friends, the people you met through karate-do are among the best people you will ever meet in your life. There is a shared commitment to excellence that is very rare these days, which permeates your being and benefits you in all aspects of life. This is best exemplified by the collective Spirit of Beisho Karate-Do to this day.
by Christopher M. Clarke
Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Hoppy, the Cisco Kid, Wild Bill Hickok, the Lone Ranger, and now Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone... One by one, the "heroes" of my youth have disappeared. Fess Parker, who played both Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone in the 1950s and 1960s, passed away in March at the age of 85. Of course, Autry, Rogers, Clayton Moore, and Parker were celluloid heroes, representing a fictional past that never occurred and was sanitized for a much more innocent time. But the character traits, behavior, and values they represented shaped the outlook of a generation of boys who couldn't wait to get their own 'coonskin cap, "Old Betsy" rifle, moccasins, Davy Crockett lunch box, coloring book, board game, powder horn, trading cards, bubble gum, ring, and some 3,000 other spin-off products. So popular did the 'coonskin caps become that the price of raccoon hides shot from 25 cents a pound to $8 dollars during the run of the show in 1954-55. Kids were so despondent when the third of three planned episodes showed Crockett dying at the Alamo-one of the few historically accurate elements of the show-that Disney was forced to bring Davy back the next year for episodes the next year, including Davy's famous keelboat race down the Mississippi with arch-enemy, Mike Fink.
Why were they role models? Was it because they played hard, fought fair, and treated their women with respect and their horses with affection. Was it because so many of them lived, rather than preached, "family values"? "Roy Rogers" (Leonard Slye) was married to his wife and pardner, Dale Evans, for 51 years, raised nine children, including four they adopted, some of them with special needs. Autry was married to his first wife from 1932 until her death in 1980. Fess Parker is survived by his wife of 50 years, two children, 11 grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter.
Gene Autry (Left), Roy Rogers (Right)
It was a simpler time, when kids could really believe in honor, "doing the right thing." Crockett (the real Crockett) supposedly lived by the motto, "Always be sure you are right, then go ahead," an axiom repeated by the TV replica. Slow to anger but invincible in the pursuit of justice, they were always willing to help the weak and right a wrong. The real Crockett was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1826. As a Congressman, he supported the rights of squatters, who were barred from buying land in the West without already owning property. He also opposed President Andrew Jackson's barbaric and back-stabbing Indian Removal Act, and his opposition to Jackson caused his defeat when he ran for re-election in 1830. Crockett, however, won when he ran again in 1832. As he explained, "I bark at no man's bid. I will never come and go, and fetch and carry, at the whistle of the great man in the White House no matter who he is." Some of these scenes and events were portrayed-albeit with cinematic license-in the Disney series, highlighting a simple man who was willing to stand up to the entire government for justice, even at the cost of his seat in Congress. Ever controversial for standing on his principles of looking out for the common man and refusing to waste taxpayer money, Crockett ran again in 1834, saying before losing the election that "I told the people of my district that I would serve them as faithfully as I had done; but if not [i.e., if they don't agree]... you may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas." Following his defeat, he did just that. And the rest is history: Crockett died defending the Alamo in 1836. Of course, Disney's TV version was "G-rated," but his sentiment of "doing the right thing" at whatever cost came through clearly, as did his contempt for self-serving politicians.
The celluloid cowboy heroes of my youth represented the ethos of the martial arts, long before most Americans had ever heard of them. Skilled with hands, rifles, or six-guns, these "heroes" always fought fair--and always won. Gene Autry authored what he called the "Cowboy Code":
1. Never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.
2. Never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.
3. Always tell the truth.
4. Be gentle with children, the elderly and animals.
5. Not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.
6. Help people in distress.
7. Be a good worker.
8. Keep himself clean in thought, speech, action and personal habits.
9. Respect women, parents and his nation's laws.
10. Be a patriot.
A number of them actually lived by this code. Parker, 6'6", joined the Marines late in World War II, but was deemed too tall to be a pilot. He reportedly served in the mopping up campaigns in the Philippines. Autry served in the Army Air Forces, flying dangerous missions over the Himalayas between Burma and China, helping to sustain the Chinese war effort against Japan. Rogers continued to make films during the War. From 1943 through 1954, he was the number one ranked Cowboy Star, based on box office receipts, and for a few years, he even ranked in the top ten for all movie stars. A patriot who loved his flag and country, however, he sold millions of dollars worth of War Bonds during World War II and made numerous USO tours of military bases with Trigger. Years later he also made a tour of Vietnam.
Perhaps not coincidentally, many of the "cowboy heroes" were highly successful businessmen when they retired from the screen. Roy Rogers became a multi-millionaire entertainer, restaurateur and land developer, despite having only a 10th grade education. Gene Autry also became a millionaire from his films, music recordings, and investments, eventually buying the Los Angeles Major League Baseball franchise, variously known as the Los Angles/Anaheim/California Angels. Fess Parker retired from the entertainment industry and successfully invested in luxury hotels, mobile homes, and his favorite endeavor, a California vineyard that produced award-winning wines. In his later years, he could often be found in the vineyard's wine shop, always willing to discuss Davy Crockett and the impact of his show on Americans of the 1950s.
Who's to say if their business success had anything to do with the principles they represented on TV-and for the most part, in real life. In an age when most TV and movie "sidekicks" were laughable, clumsy buffoons --remember the Cisco Kid's Pancho, Hoppy's Gabby Hays, Roy's Pat Brady or Wild Bill's Andy Divine? Who can ever forget, "Hey Wild Bill! Wait for me!" or "Oh, Pancho." "Oh, Ceesco!"-- several of these cinematic cowboys were considerably ahead of their time socially. Almost alone among the "Western" stars on the small screen, the Lone Ranger stood out as unique for having as his "side kick" a proud Native American, Jay Silverheels, whom he treated with respect and comradeship and consulted about plans and performing important missions. "Tonto" called the Lone Ranger "Kemo Sabe" ("Trusty Scout"), as if their roles were reversed and saved his life more than once. Most remarkably, he was actually played by a Native American! This, in the days when virtually no Native American played a part of any consequence in either television or movie Westerns, and most Indian roles were unidimensional caricatures or racist stereotypes.
Lone Ranger and Tonto
Fess Parker's "Daniel Boone" also had an Indian companion, Mingo, who was portrayed as an Oxford University educated half-Cherokee who spoke the King's English and could even pass as an English Army officer. Although the actor, Ed Ames, was actually a popular singer and child of Russian Jewish immigrants, he portrayed Boone's Native American partner with dignity and depth. Despite Roy Roger's goofy pal, "Pat Brady," his wife, Dale Evans played a full, and sometimes crucial role, not as a damsel in distress, but as someone who could ride, and even shoot, with the best of the bad guys.
So what if the reality of the Old West didn't quite match the half-hour, black-and-white, made-in-Hollywood version? America's view of history has always been as much about its ideals as the reality, and never more so than in the '50s. And so, in my mind's eye, I still see the Lone Ranger aboard that fiery steed with the speed of light, once again rearing up in a cloud of dust, and shouting a hearty "Hi Yo Silver, Away!" For me, the Lone Ranger will always ride again. And from time to time, I'll remember the good old days, when life was simple and heroes were uncomplicated, and I'll hum to myself:
Born on a mountain top in Tennessee
The greenest state in the land of the free
Raised in the woods so's he knew ev'ry tree
Kilt him a b'ar when he was only three
Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier!
Pinciples Of Combat
by Sensei Mike Pepe
This article hopes to shed some light on the mindset of a cerebral fighter. One who understands the laws of motion and balance and uses them effectively during a fighting situation.
Essential principles of combat
As two antagonists lock together in mutual combat, each has the expressed physical intention of forcing the other to surrender to their dominance. While we as spectators watch, our primal instincts take over as we accept facial cuts and injuries as primary factors in deciding who dominated whom. However, other dynamics come into play providing a clear assessment as to who controlled the other and thereby dominated the fight.
As their bodies collide, the combatants bring forth a myriad of principles. Motion, balance, and leverage are but some of the formulas the winning fighter will have to harness in order to seize the day.
Initially, the combatants might grab each other and like two bulls locking horns, attempt to drive one other backward in an attempt to dominate the with shear physical strength.
However, in order to unbalance an opponent, our intelligent fighter must understand the structure of a well-balanced individual. to do this, visualize an isosceles triangle whose base runs from ankle to ankle and whose sides travel from there, to the persons natural center of gravity within the pelvis. This center point is found slightly below the bellybutton, and is seated approximately two-thirds inward toward the spine. This structure is very stable until one of two actions occurs. In the first, the person wishes to move or step and leans forward, moving his hips, the center point, of his body, past its base at the feet. As he starts to lose his balance, he must move his leg forward and establish a new triangle slightly ahead of the last and if left unobstructed, regains his balance. In the same light, if an outside force pulls this same person, his center of gravity has once again moved and he must re-adjust his base by moving his foot forward.
Controlling an opponents balance using math and science
Let us assume that Joe is larger than Dave is. We could then say that Joe is more rooted or stable, merely due to gravity pulling his larger mass into the earth, which causes increased friction between his feet and the ground. In order to create motion and gain a small advantage against the larger opponent, Dave, who is lighter, cannot push against his larger opponent and expect to win. If both are aggressively pushing, the larger of the two will always win. Therefore, Dave, who is smaller, must yield to the larger by pulling, the precise moment the larger pushes. The theory can be clearly seen in this way; If the larger person pushes using seven units of force and the smaller were to pull using only three units of force, he harnesses the combined force of both bodies, ten units, and can easily topple the much larger opponent.
When the heaver fighter pushes, he uses weight and motion creating momentum. However, momentum can become a problem for the larger person if it is used against him. First, the larger person has more difficulty stopping once he has gained momentum and he falls faster once momentum is introduced. He also depletes more energy trying to reestablish a stable posture than would a smaller sized person.
Causing one to fall by interrupting balance
As the combatants tussle and the smaller gains control of the others movement and balance through good strategy, he need only to block or sweep the hip or leg to send his opponent to the mat. When a leg is blocked or swept as it attempts to regain a base, the brain tells the body to readjust to the sudden interruption of balance. However, due to the precision of the block, the body cannot react in time. Once movement occurs between the two, the ideal moment, that causes one to tumble, evolves until it peaks, and once past, the moment is lost and a new opportunity must be cultivated. There is one and only one moment that causes the opponent to fall with the thrower using minimal effort. Any attempted throw on either side of this peak moment demands the use of added muscular effort, compounded by the time past the peak. It is not impossible to accomplish the throw but it becomes more difficult if the moment is not used and the opponent regains any stability.
Seizing the moment
Where was the man when he jumped off the bridge? Not on the bridge, that was before he jumped. Not in the air, that was after he jumped. The thought process used in answering this question can be used again in finding the solution to the question, When is the right moment to throw an opponent?
The moment of time, when it is best to sweep or block the leg, leading to a successful throw, is born when the opponent begins to place his foot on the mat in an attempt to regain balance, the moment peaks when he has placed half his weight on the advancing foot and has past the instant after. When his foot is not on the mat, is not the moment and when his foot rests firmly on the mat the peak moment has also past. The intelligent competitor must master this moment in time in order to use minimal effort, in toppling a lager opponent.
The use of levers and fulcrums
Greek philosopher Archimedes once declared, Give me a firm place on which to stand, and with a lever I can lift the world. Not only would our friend Archimedes need a firm place to stand, he would also need a solid lever that would not snap!
A lever is a something used to lift an object. Placing an object under our lever helps gain lift. This object forms a fulcrum at the point where it meets the lever. The closer the fulcrum is to the weight, the easier it is to lift.
The two combatants have now landed on the ground and have entered the final stage of the battle. The knowledgeable fighter must now think like a master of applied science. With two different sized, three-dimensional bodies, there are an infinite number of ways to apply principles of leverage, but our smart fighter has chosen juji-gatame or cross arm lock as it might be called in Judo. Older schools of Jiu-jitsu called it ude nate, arm break, nonetheless, attacking the arm.
With the larger man now on his back the smaller of the two sits beside, facing him and places both his legs across the chest and neck, the larger mans arm now stuck between them. Pressing the backs of both legs to the mat the smaller man now pins the larger and at the same time, squeezes his knees together, trapping the arm. It is not impossible to escape the arm but it becomes more difficult. The big mans arm now becomes our lever, the smaller mans hips, and the fulcrum. In getting the hips as close as possible to the heavy mans body, we make it easier to lift. Grasping the end of the lever (the mans wrist) the smaller man now leans back straightening the arm and locking it into this extended position. Since our intention is not really to lift the weight of our opponents body, our legs hold downward pressure, then, by applying pressure under the arm and lifting the hips we hyperextend the arm breaking it at the weakest point, the elbow.
If a fighter uses only brawn to overcome an adversary, he may or may not win. If the fighter knows nothing of the principles of combat he can push, pull, and shove, but these tactics will be random and therefore be very ineffective.
However, one, who understands the laws that govern movement and balance then puts to use, these essential principles of combat, has the knowledge and tools to use in their quest to control a larger opponent and with minimal effort and thereby defeat him.
For further information:
The Secrets of Judo; A text for instructors and students; Jiichi Watanabe and Lindy Avakian, 1960, 2001
Judo Unleashed; Neil Ohlenkamp, 2006
Martial Arts - The Spiritual Dimension, Peter Payne, 1981
Secrets of The Samurai, Oscar Ratti/Adele Westbrook, 1973
"We thought you might be interested in this Washington Post story on the traditional martial arts games of Mongolia. Enjoy!"
Steppe Lively: Mongolia's Naadam Games
by Michael Shapiro
Sunday, April 11, 2010; F06
When President Nixon visited China in 1972, he said that it takes a great people to build a Great Wall. In Mongolia they countered: It takes an even greater people to make them want to build it. That warrior pride is on full display at the Naadam festival.
Featuring contests in the "manly" sports of wrestling, horseback riding and archery, Mongolia's Naadam Games date back eight centuries to the era of Genghis Khan. Before embarking on a 10-day, 300-mile mountain-bike tour of Mongolia's steppes, our cycling group spent two days at the games, held annually on July 11-12.
Arriving at the national stadium in Ulan Bator just moments before the official start of the Naadam, my buddy Walt and I encountered a carnival atmosphere. Archers wearing traditional Mongolian robes, called dels, were warming up by flexing their bowstrings.
Burly wrestlers, clad in sky blue or magenta briefs with frilly matching jackets, were stretching and practicing their takedown moves. Lamb sizzling over pit barbecues cast a heavenly scent across the dusty paths.
The games originated in 1206, when Genghis Khan (pronounced Chinggis Khan in Mongolia) founded the Mongolian empire, naming himself "universal king." Once a training ground for Mongolia's warriors, the Naadam festival today is a national gala celebrating the country's heritage and resurgent independence after seven decades under Soviet communism.
In a way, Naadam is Mongolia's Super Bowl, a bacchanal spotlighting the country's beloved pop and hip-hop singers, soldiers high-stepping to martial music, a pageant of demons in fearsome masks, the celestially lovely Miss Mongolia and dancing maidens. Just as in the Olympics, they all parade around an oval track in the games' opening ceremonies.
And here's the amazing thing: Unlike at the security-obsessed Olympics or a U.S. football game, you can get close to everyone. I greeted Miss Mongolia and she held out her hand, silken to the touch.
I wandered over to the archery practice field. After most of the arrow slingers had completed their warm-ups, an elderly, bespectacled archer beckoned me over and asked whether I'd like to try out his hand-hewn bow.
I grasped the bow, ornately painted with horse designs, placed the arrow in it, aimed for a target about 80 yards away and shot. I missed, but came close. The archer straightened out my left arm and I shot again, coming even closer to the small wooden targets perched on a log. He flashed me a thumbs-up and a big grin. I gave him a little money, which he gratefully accepted, offering me in return a shot of whiskey from his bottle.
An odd thing about the manly games: Wrestling is the sole event in which only men can compete. This is a progressive society: Women participate in the archery contests. And the jockeys are boys, typically about 6 to 12 years old, because they're light enough for the horses to manage over the 14.3-mile course.
We drove about an hour west of the capital to watch the grueling horse races. Some horses don't make it across the finish line, collapsing under the heat of the midday sun. We saw a boy walk in front of his horse, pulling the bedraggled beast across the finish line by the reins.
All around us, nomads who had traveled vast distances on horseback greeted friends they hadn't seen in a year. They clasped hands, hugged and caught up on recent events. Most don't have phones, and they're certainly not online, so this annual gathering is their time for sharing their news and hearing how old friends are doing.
Near the finish line, I joined a group of nomads for lamb and potato stew cooked in a metal jug with hot stones, a genuine Mongolian barbecue.
"Good?" asked the cook, a sun-browned woman with rosy cheeks and a crinkly smile. I smiled and gave her a thumbs-up, a common gesture of approval in Mongolia. Through our translator she said that it's like "hunted meat," rich, hearty and nutritious. "You eat just a little bit and feel full." She was right.
Back at the stadium that afternoon, nine pairs of wrestlers grunted and tugged at one another simultaneously. It's an elimination tournament with 512 men; the loser is out, the winner moves to the next round. There's a single objective: to take down your opponent. A wrestler doesn't have to pin his adversary: If a competitor's knee hits the ground, the match is over.
Contests have been known to go on for hours. A few years ago, one spectator told me effusively in English, one match went on so long that at dusk, a dozen cars drove into the stadium, surrounded the wrestlers and shone their headlights on them to keep the match going until one of the exhausted men collapsed.
Unlike in sumo, there's no ring. Wrestlers spiraled out like a beast with four legs. Referees, clad in burgundy robes with gold sashes, followed the beast as it twirled across the field. At the end of each match, the winner bowed to the referee and danced like a steppe eagle, flapping his arms in a gesture of victory.
After two days, the field was down to the two strongest wrestlers in Mongolia. Each man had thousands of howling fans exhorting him. As the late afternoon match commenced, lightning shattered a gunmetal sky. The atmosphere was literally electric.
The wrestlers feinted and grabbed each other's shoulders. After 10 minutes of pressing and pushing and leg strikes, the beefier man got his chest atop the other man's back. The smaller man resisted and appeared to be on the verge of escape.
The top man exerted a final forceful push, the smaller man buckled, and his knee hit the ground with a dusty thud. Mongolia had a new champion.
Thousands of spectators thrust their arms skyward, hollering and hooting. Then they leaned back in their seats and exhaled, appearing as spent as the wrestlers, and just about everyone around me lit a cigarette.
Michael Shapiro is the author of "A Sense of Place: Great Travel Writers Talk About Their Craft, Lives, and Inspiration" and co-author of "Guatemala: A Journey Through the Land of the Maya," His Web site is http://www.michaelshapiro.net.
by Sensei Mike Pepe
When a student has earned the privilege and has been invited to participate in an Iaido training session they have probably gone through many "doors" to get the opportunity. It usually starts many years earlier learning the nunchucku and bo.
After mastering these, the student progresses to the sai and tonfa and finally a bladed weapon called the kama. During these training days the student becomes familiar with extending their power to the end of each weapon. They feel how the force of the weapon affects their stance. They also will learn how to strike and block. Mastering these "lower" weapons may take many years.
Then one night they are asked to stay late by the sensei. It is then that the student will enter the matrix called Iaido (the art of drawing the sword).
This may be the first time the student gets to put on a hakama (flowing pleated pants) and put it on and on and on again until they learn to do it correctly. An embarrassing but necessary beginning since it is the obi and hakama that hold the saya (scabbard) in place during practice (when not using a sageo or "string" that attaches the scabbard to the obi). Never before has the student had to "dress up" to take a class and this makes the class all the more serious.
You will make a connection with your sword the first time you pick it up. It is yours. It will become a part of you, and you will become a part of it. This is why it is called "the soul of the samurai". They are not just words on paper to sensationalize the weapon. If you do not feel this change come over you put the katana down and wait another year or two.
Treat your sword like a loaded gun. Never point the blade at anyone. "You would never let anyone open your head and touch your brain, so do not let anyone pull your sword from its saya and touch the skin".(1) Your sword will have a name and will develop a personality much like yours.
The sword is aerodynamic and like the perfect punch, which drops a person face down where they stand and not on their back, the air sliding off a moving sword creates no wake and leaves a beautiful musical sound in the gap of the parting air. This musical tone was the last sound heard by many samurai just before they died.
Sword training is not about the physical, it is about what you project out, what you take in, the eyes, maai (distance) and kime (focus-proper technique, posture). (2) These are the five Iaido attitudes. Study each of these for three years.
Now you can see, it is not at all about killing anymore, you are past all that. You and your sword are the same. You do not strike or cut with it. You reposition yourself in the cosmos.
You are not striking out at your opponent. Opponents are just molecules in front of you. Your sword does not cut flesh, sinew or bone. It merely travels to its destination -- and your opponents are defeated in the process.
As in kendo, you must focus. If you think about blocking you are already dead. If you think about being cut you already are. Your opponent's attacking sword is just a ripple in the universe. Too much yang. You sense it and you deal with it... Then you move on.
If you ever find yourself in a life and death struggle against a master swordsman and you suddenly hear a beautiful musical note, you will know as with this article, you have reached.... The end.
"Study all weapons in this manner."
Sensei Mike Pepe
1) IAI: The Art of Drawing the Sword by Darrell Craig
2) As passed down by Sensei Paul Keller and Sensei Chris Clarke
Mu To Yu
by Sensei Mike Pepe
Congratulations! You're now wearing karate's white belt, proudly displaying that you have entered the gates of martial arts training. You've learned a few words too! You know you must "rei" when entering and exiting the "dojo". You can count to ten and you know the teachers name is "sensei". But who are you? Universally, white is the color of purity of newness, something that is unsoiled. Your belt along with your beginner's mind is full of nothing, in Japanese the term is "mu". A "mudansha" then, is someone who knows "nothing". Well! Isn't that a slap in the face!
However, upon closer inspection of the word we see the first syllable, "mu". It means nothing or emptiness. The second syllable is "dan". Hey, I've seen that before! It means rank or level. Last in this one word sentence is "sha", and that means person. Therefore, a mudansha is a "person who has no dan rank".
So this word isn't the same one you've seen or heard of before? There is another word more often used. "Nyumonsha". The "sha", now known to us is again, a person. The middle syllable, "mon", can mean a crest as a family coat of arms, but the kanji drawn differently refers to a gate, and closer inspection of Beisho's Nyumonsha book shows kanji that looks like a double swinging door of the old west. A double gate! To finish off deciphering the word we see the "Nyu" which means, "to enter". You are a nyumonsha. One who has now "entered the gate" of martial arts to begin training. Simply put...A beginner.
But don't fret! One day you may become a black belt. Then you can call yourself a "yudansha". Yup! A person - rank-- to have! Congratulations! You are now a person who has rank!
Back to Basics - Forward Into the 21st Century
by Ed Thulin and Jaron Shook
[Editor's note: The following narrative accompanied the presentation of Team One at the 2009 Beisho Summer Budo Camp, July 26, 2009. The theme of the camp was "Back to Basics - Forward Into the 21st Century." While all four teams gave excellent presentations, only Team One had a prepared narrative. It is presented here to help those who were unable to attend camp get the flavor of the outstanding experience enjoyed by more than 60 Beisho members and family from July 23-26, 2009.]
The journey into the 21st century is rooted in the footprints of our history
Things change, technology changes. Societies change, people change, but (with some people anyway) not that much.
When someone uses violence to impose their will over us....and we decide not to submit, we may be forced to respond with violence.
We personally have chosen Karate-do to prepare for such situations, which we hope will never occur.
One of the best ways of knowing where you are is knowing where you've been.
Karate-do, like all bodies of knowledge, is built on the work of those who came before us.
However, the history of karate-do is cloudy at best.
In World War Two, unfortunately, much of the history (with its)karate masters were lost.
Thus while Okinawan martial arts must have had a rich past, our written record only goes back a few lifetimes, if that.
What we do know is that in the Ryu Kyu islands what we now call Okinawa, karate had its origins in Te.
The knowledge of Te was passed along from father to son, to select military guards, from teacher to student in a very carefully controlled manner.
Fast forward to the 20th century.
With the advent of World War Two, the Japanese adopted many of the Okinawan styles for their military forces before the war, and to help rejuvenate their youth after.
[Group Arm banging]
The small number of teachers and the large numbers of individuals to be taught required a more regimented method of instruction.
Several methods of karate instruction were invented or reformulated and brought to bear by the masters such as Nagamine Sensei, Funakoshi Sensei, Nakazato Sensei and so many others to whom we are grateful.
One of these methods is the drill.
To correctly and consistently achieve good performance of karate-do techniques required good STANCES, proper FORMS, RELAXATION and REPETITION.
With each repetition of a drill, students should learn to judge distance from their opponent, not to anticipate the opponent's attack, and to identify or create an opening in the opponent.
Another method of instruction passed on is Kata
Kata enables the novice to learn the physical movements, to hone the neural track so that the movements become second nature, and like layers of an onion, revealing more and more as the student progresses in their skill and understanding.
Imbedded within the sequence of kata movements are applied techniques, many invisible to the uninitiated.
These are the bunkai.
Knowledge is power. The knowledge to incapacitate someone very powerful indeed. So these hidden techniques were not generally revealed willy-nilly.
Point sparring :
Another method used in karate training is sparring. Though sparring, one learns timing, how to see and capitalize on an opponent's openings in a more fluid situation than in drills; in short, how to hit, and be hit yet still continue on.
In the latter half of the twentieth century, Mixed Martial Arts competitions started becoming popular; MMA participants draw upon the rich traditions of wrestling, jujitsu, judo, boxing, karate and other arts. In our training , we can draw upon these as well.
Ultimately what we must remember we are training for, however, is the grim situation that we may need to use violence to stop violence, protecting ourselves, family and loved ones.
The old Okinawans eschewed violence. In that tradition, we will also be reluctant combatants-we will avoid violence when we can, but we will train to be a devastating force if we need to be as we move forward in this 21st century.
To The Land Of The Rising Sun
by Molly Kempton, Okinawan Karate Center
My friends and I talked about taking a trip to Japan for many years. Finally the day came when we were sitting on the plane heading to the place we had been dreaming of. We spent two weeks visiting Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Gobo. Luckily, one of my friends speaks Japanese, and had previously lived there for a year.
While in Tokyo, we visited Tokyo Tower, many districts such as Ginza, Shinjuku, Hanajuku, and Shibuya. We had fun shopping, sightseeing, and attempting karaoke.
When we were getting ready to leave Tokyo we stepped out to get something to drink and there ended up being a karate dojo next to the vending machine. One of my friends and I had started to walk up to the third floor when we ran into a man halfway up who happened to be the Dai Sempai of the dojo. My friend, who spoke Japanese, had explained that I also train and he gladly invited us up.
When the sensei arrived he asked if we wanted to stay for the next class but unfortunately our time was limited since we had to be at our next destination by a certain time. We did stay as long as we could though and while we were there the Dai Sempai started to ask me questions about Goju kata. I was not only happy to understand the word 'Goju' out of anything he said but I got to go through kata Sanchin with him.
It was interesting using kata as a way of talking. The entire time we were going through the kata I was very nervous about messing up, I tried my hardest to stay in stance, keep my elbows in, and my core compressed. From the eyes of a sankyu it looked as if our kata were very similar, his was much more focused than mine though. As we left we thanked them very much for their hospitality and taking time for us.
The most amazing culture and history of Japan was in Kyoto. There were quite a few temples, shrines, and ancient structures to see in Kyoto. We couldn't see them all unfortunately but we had a great time at the ones we visited. Some of the places we got to see were Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kiyomizu Dera, Sanjusangen-do (Rengeo-in temple), and the Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion). While visiting Kyoto we were in time for one of the festivals called the Gion festival. We were very excited as we walked through the streets eating traditional Japanese food like kakigouri, okonomiaki, yaki soba, and watching interesting and elegantly preformed shows.
While we spent a majority of the time in bigger cities we did go out to Gobo, which is a small town in the Wakayama prefecture, to visit my friend's host family. While we were there we met up with my friend's old taiko group who took us out to eat. They had a good time watching us eat some pretty strange food like sweet bean paste, cow stomach, tiny sardine-like fish, raw chicken liver, and raw chicken heart. They even invited us to a festival that they were performing in the next day. We gladly accepted! Taiko are traditional Japanese drums that I had never heard until then, and the next day at the festival I was left in amazement after watching their performance. Everyone in Gobo was very nice including my friend's host family who took us to the beach. While we didn't go swimming we did have a wonderful time looking at the spectacular scenery.
All in all the experiences we had in Japan were good ones. We met a lot of nice people, learned more about the culture, and ate a lot of really good food. I have to say that I saw and did a lot of fun things in the two weeks I spent there, but there is still a lot more things I would like to do. This will NOT be my last trip!
Saifa - More Than Just A Kata
by Frankie Cardillo, True Martial Arts Academy
This summer I took a trip to Europe with the People to People Student Ambassador program. We visited Italy, France and England over the course of twenty-one days. During the course of my trip, I learned much about myself and grew exponentially as a person. However, the most profound experience of my trip occurred at the shores of Normandy.
My group and I went to visit Omaha Beach to see the memorial for the allied soldiers who fought their way ashore on D-Day. It was a surreal experience. And, with the skies overcast, the mayor of the nearby town of Saint L held a memorial ceremony for us and a few other ambassadorial groups. She read a speech in English and French and then the flags of each of the allied countries were raised one after the other, each accompanied by their respective national anthems.
After the ceremony we were given some leisure time to stroll along the beach and reflect upon what had happened there. It was during this leisure time that the sudden urge to do some karate came upon me. It had been a while since I'd had the time or the space to do any of my kata, and I was itching to take advantage of this situation. But, something stopped me from doing this. I felt that it would be irreverent to ignore the gravity of the sacrifices made by the men who gave their lives on June 6, 1944. I felt that it would be wrong to treat Omaha beach like it wasn't special.
As I sat there thinking about how foolish I had just been the thought came to me: "why not dedicate a kata to the soldiers?" That way I could get in some much desired practice and make amends for my selfish thoughts. After having realized this loophole came the big decision, which kata would I perform?
I spent much time deliberating about which kata it would be, debating the pros and cons of each of them. Eventually I decided upon Saifa. It seemed so perfect to me, the slow approaches, the sudden explosiveness, it was a perfect metaphor for the battle that had ensued. Not only that, but Saifa can be translated to mean "the aftermath of the storming of the castle," which is exactly what I felt standing on that beach. One could feel that something harrowing had happened on that spot. The sensation was almost eerie in a way. So, I stepped into my yoi, took a deep breath, and let the moves flow forth.
I can't describe the way that I felt performing that kata on that beach. It was a state of total peace. Everything else fell away from me, and I was totally focused on each technique. I have never attained such focus before or since that day. It was simply amazing, and it made me come away with a different perspective.
I can finally appreciate kata in a fuller way. I not only see the movements and their applications, I see the beauty and the sorrow that they contain. I see the faces of the masters who painstakingly spent hour upon hour working to perfect them before me. I see the way of the martial artist.
Rolling With Royce
by Jim McDonald, Gokyu, Sessa Kai
On Thursday, May 15th, Sensei Mike Pepe and I attended a Jiu Jitsu seminar in Newton, Mass hosted by Royce Gracie. (As some of you know Sensei Mike has been studying Brazilian Jiu Jitsu on his own for several years and teaching a small group of students at the Sessa Kai dojo a couple of nights each month. Last year Sensei Mike began taking formal lessons at a Gracie Jiu Jitsu school here in Massachusetts and his teacher quickly realized that Sensei was not a beginner and told him that he needed to come to the seminars so Royce could see him in action.
The class was great, much smaller than I was expecting. Hearing Royce would be there I expected dozens if not hundreds of fans and admirers. But it turned out that there were only 20 or so people with the majority being Gracie students from Brighton and Connecticut. I think it was just me and one other guy who were walk-ons. (Unless you want to count the two groupies!!)
I planned on coming in with the attitude that I was just here to learn some secret BJJ techniques but while I was getting my gear together in the parking lot Royce and Jim Hughes parked next to me and I was momentarily star struck. "That's Royce Gracie!!," the original Ultimate Fighting Champion! I sat in my truck until they had entered the gym.
After we took care of the important paper work, signing a liability waiver and handing over my $60, I headed into a small workout area to wait for the class to start. As I looked around at the small clusters of students I thought I had better claim some space before the real crowd showed up, thinking any minute that a huge group of attendees was going to show up and squish me into the back of the room.
They never came; it turned out that the only people who knew he was coming were his local students and subscribers to the Gracie newsletter. (And those of us fortunate enough to know someone who studies at the Gracie school. Thanks Sensei Mike!) How perfect was this; me, Sensei Mike and Royce?!!!
Another wave of butterflies hit me as Royce entered the room to begin the class, but instead of taking his place at the front of the class, Royce walked slowly through the room and introduced himself and shook hands with each and every one of us. The butterflies dissipated as I realized this living legend was a really nice guy. After that he walked to the middle of the room, grabbed a volunteer and started showing us technique. It was like watching one of his video tapes and much like Sensei Mike had described the Gracie classes. A detailed demo and then grab a partner and do it. The students from the two schools paired with one another and I settled for the other walk-on. As we practiced the technique, Royce and Jim walked the room and provided individual instruction, and that's when I stopped seeing the celebrity and started seeing the teacher.
Royce would watch a pair of students practice the techniques and if necessary he would take one of the student's positions to demonstrate the correct technique. Occasionally Royce would call a timeout and tell everyone to watch as he demonstrated on another volunteer a correction that he saw many of us needed. (His teaching style reminded me of Sensei Mike's: show us what to do, let us try it out then show us again to highlight a detail we missed or to correct a mistake we were all making.)
We only learned a handful of techniques: a takedown, an attack from the guard, an attack from side control, an attack from the mount, and a mount reversal, pretty standard stuff. But the magic of the techniques was as fascinating now as it was 16 months ago when I first met Sensei Mike at a grappling clinic that he was hosting. (The seminar was on a Saturday, I became a Sessa Kai student on Monday!) started partnering with the other walk on and would have stuck with him throughout the seminar but with each new technique Royce said "change partners" so I switched to the next available student. When the call came to switch again it seemed I would be back with the other walk-on, nice guy and all, but not very skilled. Sensei Mike came over and mentioned that I was missing an opportunity to train with some higher level students. Realizing how right he was, I rudely jumped between two students as they were preparing to partner and grabbed a white belt with a bunch of stripes. After that I switched to the biggest guy in reach, at least 8 inches taller than I was, and found the techniques worked just as well on him once I had them right.
I was not as lucky as some of the students, I did not get to roll with Royce, instead I was mildly reprimanded by him. My first interaction was a simple correction, "switch legs," I had one leg sprawled and one knee tight to my partner; problem was they were supposed to be the other way around. I switched legs and did the technique-"Good." We changed places and my partner tried the technique. He was having difficulty so Royce took my place and worked with my partner. Later when I was working with the big guy Royce came over, told my partner he was doing it wrong and again took my place and rolled with my partner. Here's where I got my first reprimand, as Royce worked the technique with my partner he pointed out that he would not be able to roll me if I wasn't being so nice. So Royce did the technique, got up and told me to do it again but "stop being so nice." He watched us do the technique again and he walked off and said, "Good. No more nice!"
OK so I wasn't the only one who didn't get to roll with him, but that was the second time he rolled with my partner instead of me. Now I should be happy that I was getting the techniques, but I couldn't help but feel slighted. Should I goof up on purpose? Never!!!
So then we got to try an exercise using a combination of our new skills; one partner took the mount and tried to get a cross collar choke or cross arm bar while the other partner used the defensive techniques we learned to prevent it. Was I psyched when I saw an opening and swung into a cross arm-bar, I hadn't even set it in when again Royce turned his attention to me and said "Hey, go easy on him, he doesn't know as much!" I felt a little bad so I cut my pace and resumed the drill, but I couldn't help thinking, "Doesn't he realize that I don't know that much either?"
The clock was approaching 9:30, the end of the seminar, when Royce asked that we all line up against the far wall. I figured it was time for thank yous and good byes but instead Royce had the blue belts pair off and take the floor and instructed them to continue the drill we had all been doing. It was interesting to see the higher belts work, it was not a high flying acrobatic display, instead they worked slowly and methodically and most attempts ended in stalemates.
After a short period he asked for white belts with more than one year of training to pair up and work the same drill. Now I have a vested interest as my Sensei is on the floor, so I focus my attention on him and his partner. There was a substantial size difference with Sensei Mike looking to be about a half a foot and 50 pounds smaller than his partner. Well that was OK, but what wasn't OK was that at some point his partner changed the rules. Instead of the drill that we had been instructed to do he would switch to free style whenever Sensei Mike started to be successful in working the intended technique. I started watching the other pairs and saw that they were still doing the drill, not free-styling when they couldn't hold their position! After a few minutes of this Royce called timeout and told the blue belts to partner with a white belt. Then it became free wrestling with specific goals, "start in this position but you can only win with this technique"
Now it got interesting, I watched as Sensei Mike paired up with a blue belt with four stripes! In the Gracie Ju Jitsu system the fourth stripe is followed by the next belt so this guy was the highest ranking of the blue belts on the floor. As they squared off, Royce would call out conditions for the contest: "Start in the guard," "start on your knees," "you can only win with a guillotine," "you can only win with a rear naked choke," etc. Royce walked around the room and watched the matches, I stood against the wall and watched Sensei Mike's match. Things went back and forth pretty evenly but it seemed to me that the blue belt was showing some fatigue while Sensei Mike looked like he just guzzled a case of Mountain Dew. As Royce started to approach the pair the blue belt was trying for Sensei Mike's back, but just as Royce turned his attention Sensei did one of his acrobatic moves, a combination somersault and spin that got him back into the guard position. Royce said "time out" and pointed to Sensei Mike and a couple of other white belts and said "put on a blue belt"!!
Then all of these tough guy jiu jitsu fighters turned into idol worshipping teen-agers!!! Digital cameras started popping up everywhere and Royce accommodated everyone with a pose.
What a night; I meet a celebrity, pick up some new techniques, make a couple of friends and watch my Sensei earn his blue belt in Gracie Jiu Jitsu!!!
Jackson Japanese Fire Festival
by Sue Theise, Yodan, WKC
I remember years ago talking to Sensei Mike Pepe before he went on his much anticipated trip to visit Japan. He was telling me all the locations he hoped to go to, and then he added, "And I really want to catch some of the festivals!" Over the years on the SKKAA email list serve he would educate us on some of the festivals that occur in Japan. Some of these celebrate boys, girls, the cherry blossom trees in bloom, or honor the spirits of their ancestors.
A festival that I hadn't heard of before is the Fire Festival. There are several Fire Festivals in Japan, but one of the most famous is the Yoshida no Himatsuri or Fujiyoshida Fire Festival which is held every year on August 26th in the city of Fujiyoshida in Yamanashi Prefecture. Fujiyoshida is a mountain city of 60,000 people, and is one of the gateways into Mt. Fuji national park.
The festival has several objectives for the community. It wishes to connect the community to nature and express gratitude. It wishes for no fires; for safe pregnancies and births; and for success in business. However the main wish is to appease the fire spirit goddess of Mt. Fuji whom the Japanese believe have control over the volcanic eruptions on Mt. Fuji, and to keep the volcano from erupting for an other year.
Mt. Fuji's last major eruption was 800 years ago. After that the Japanese started building shrines and doing pilgrimages to the mountain. The last eruption was in 1707 and it blew out the side of the mountain. The eruption was so large and destructive that it may have altered Fuji's underground structure, throwing the mountain off what was once a more regular cycle of eruptions. Judging from geological and historical records, Mt. Fuji has erupted at least 75 times in the last 2,200 years. That means an average interval of 30 years between eruptions. According to experts, the long intervals of quiet may be well within the natural variance of such a cycle. But in the last 300 years there has been no eruption. With the past level of activity in mind, 300 years of repose is a pretty long time.
The festival also serves as the closing ceremony of the Mt. Fuji summer climbing season. Named one of Japan's three most unique festivals and celebrated for over 500 years, the two-day festival attracts over 100,000 tourists who visit this otherwise quiet city to watch the burning of 80 large taimatsu torches and the parade of two large Mikoshi through the streets.
The origin of Himatsuri is based on the story of the Goddess Deity of Mt. Fuji Konohanasakuya Hime no Mikoto, who becomes pregnant and is accused of having an affair by her deity husband. To prove her innocence she locks herself in a room of the shrine and sets it afire . If the child lives it will show her suspicious husband that it is his child because it could supernaturally endure the heat. According to the story, the goddesses' child was born in the middle of the flames, which proved to her doubting husband that he was indeed the father. The flames made by the taimatsu torches at the Fire Festival represent the fire started by the Goddess of Mt. Fuji to prove her innocence.
Jackson Wyoming is the headquarters of an organization called Vista 360 whose goal is to organize partnerships between mountain people and communities from around the world. A few years ago Jackson entered into a partnership with Fujiyoshida and its people. One of the outcomes of this partnership was for Jackson to host its own version of the Fire Festival. Its objectives were to marvel at the beautiful natural world of our valley, and to celebrate the community and traditions that inhabit it. Jackson Hole has inherited a remarkable legacy from pioneers, mountain men, conservationists, ranchers, climbers, naturalists and artists who have all been inspired by this place.
Last year WKC student Tige Wilson was privileged to accompany his parents to Fujiyoshida. Tige's dad Andrew was to spend over a week learning how to make the taimatsu torches. In Japan there are six torch builders whose job each year is to make the 80 torches, each three meters high, in 25 days. The ages of these men range from the 60's to the 80's. In Jackson we had about a dozen folks a lot younger diligently working to make 8 torches each two meters high over two long weekends.
The two-day Fire Festival started on June 20, which was also the Summer Solstice. A delegation of 17 people from Fujiyoshida were on hand to help with the festivities and to help convert our western town square into a Japanese Market and Carnival. Although the Elk Antler Arches and Million Dollar Cowboy Bar were still very much in sight of the town square, the large Japanese torches filled the closed streets along with Yatai booths selling everyday Japanese arts, crafts and food.
One could walk the streets with a fresh cup of green tea or sake, purchasing maneki neko (happy cat statues), daruma dolls, furoshiki (clothes), and a variety of fans, masks and toys. The smell of yakitori (skewered grilled chicken), yakisoba (fried noodles), okonomiyaki (pizza), and udon (white noodles) filled the air. All the while, Taiko drummers were playing on a stage and occasionally wearing kabuki masks and telling stories of Japanese warriors. Later in the evening there was Japanese dancing and singing. We were all invited on stage to perform the traditional dances. One could not help notice the karate moves done very slowly and without power with each step of the dance.
The highlight for the WKC was the honor of carrying the kid's Mikoshi. During the Japanese festivals rooted in Shinto traditions, the deity (or its spirit) is believed to come down to spend time and interact with the local community. Mikoshi is a sacred vehicle for the spirit, carried by the local community members on their shoulders. The shape of the Mikoshi varies, but the most traditional and common shape seems to be a miniature Shinto shrine building. Fujiyoshida's Fire Festival has traditional Mikoshi as well as Mikoshi in the shape of Mt. Fuji in red.
Shinto is the native religion of Japan and was once its state religion. It is a type of polytheism, and involves the worship of kami, or deities/spirits. Some kami are local and can be regarded as the spiritual being/spirit or genius of a particular place, but others represent major natural objects and processes: for example, Amaterasu, the Sun goddess, or Mount Fuji. The most significant theme in Shinto is love and reverence for Nature in all its forms. Thus a waterfall, the moon, and awe inspiring view, or even an oddly shaped rock might come to be regarded as a kami as well as abstract entities like growth and fertility.
Jackson's two Mikoshi were tree trunks sculptured locally to resemble the Grand Teton, our version of Mt. Fuji. Lead by the delegation from Japan, 33 WKC youth students carried the smaller Mikoshi in a parade around the town square shouting "Wasshoi!"
"Wasshoi" is a chant to keep rhythm and possibly comes from the words "wa" meaning "peace" and "shoi" meaning "to bear."
The second day of the festival was aimed mainly at the kids who got to join in on the taiko drumming, fold origami, write their name in kanji, and do water color paintings of nature. There were panel discussions on the town of Fujiyoshida and the Fire Festival; Japanese cooking classes; and a lecture on Chado, the Japanese way of tea. For those of us who participated, it wasn't exactly like going to Japan but was a great taste of it. All of us at the WKC are looking forward to an even bigger and better festival next year!
For more information visit the following websites; http://www.city.fujiyoshida.yamanashi.jp/div/english/html/firefest.html; http://www.vista360.org/fire-festival/ http://www.jacksonholenews.com/article.php?art_id=3232 (Photos: Sue Theise)
by Faith Van Horne, Sankyu, Seishin Karate Club
Recently I've discovered a new pastime: skim boarding. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, I'll give a quick description. A skim board is flat, smaller and thinner than a surfboard. It can be made from wood or various foam and/or fiberglass constructions. To use it, you find a section of shoreline (preferably at the ocean, but in Ohio one has to make do) with only a thin film of water wa shing over the sand. Then, the fun begins.
You run, holding the skim board at your side, until you reach the water. At that point you drop the board alongside yourself and run onto it. If you do it properly (a skill which I am still working on), you hydroplane on your board, gliding gracefully over the shallow water. Once this basic move is mastered, you can begin doing fancy tricks. If you skim at the ocean, where waves roll in, you can even skim out and ride on the waves, surfing majestically.
So what does all this have to do with karate? Quite a bit, as I discovered. Many of the skills I learned in karate helped me to become more comfortable with skim boarding than if I had never trained. First and foremost of these is the ability to fall. As one could guess, when trying to land on a board moving quickly over water, falling occurs fairly frequently. My experience with jiu-jitsu practice came in handy here. I was able to land on the sand without injury or incident.
Several combined factors also came into play when I began landing on the board with more frequency. Lots of karate basics arise. Balance is essential. For good balance and control, you have to keep your knees bent. Weight must always be centered; if you rock back on your heels or lean forward, you get pitched off. Visualization is also important; by picturing myself successfully riding across the water, I am more often able to realize that vision. This is a skill I also use when doing solo drills and kata. All of these skills have helped me to begin to take on this new venture.
The two most important things I've learned in karate are also necessary to gain proficiency on a skim board. The first is the necessity of repetition. To even get on the board, you have to perform dozens of throws (at least, I did). To get a basic ride down, hundreds more are required. Each time, you have to focus, visualize, and give it your all. That leads to the other vital required ability: perseverance. I've spoken to plenty of people who have tried skim boarding once, and vowed to never try again. Getting pitched off can be scary and humiliating, particularly if you are practicing in a public place where everyone can see. But, just like in karate, if you keep it up, you begin to reap the rewards. There's no other feeling like successfully landing on the board and skimming along on a long, cool ride.
In The Ring
by Andrew Mohler
I never even saw his hands move. Breathe. Everything in my body tells me to stay on the
mat but I stand. Breathe. Focus.
Damn... they called it. I lost.
Saturday night, I stepped into the ring for my first mixed martial arts fight. Mine was one
of 12 bouts at an amateur show in front of about 300 people. Jen and I arrived at the
venue around 3:00 pm. The weigh-ins began about an hour later. I was scheduled to fight
in the 160-166.9 pound class. I weighed in at 162 and my opponent at 171.
Although I was annoyed my opponent didn't make his weight, I told the promoter I still
wanted the fight. Unfortunately, the state athletic commission regulations prohibit a
weight difference between two fighters of greater than 7 pounds, due to safety concerns.
Our weight difference was 9 pounds and it was too close to the start of the show for my
opponent to cut weight. With passive approval from the promoter, I jumped on the scale
again-this time in a full sweat suit with cans of soda and bottles of water in my pockets.
That was the easiest 7 pounds I ever gained.
The fight was on.
I was surprised at how slow my heart was beating during the pre-fight medical exam. I
thought I would be more nervous. And
the rules meeting seemed more like a casual conversation than a lecture on the methods
by which you could legally attempt to physically destroy your opponent. I was feeling
good. Before I knew it, the first bout had begun. I watched for a few minutes from
backstage and then returned to the locker room. I began to stretch and proceeded through
my normal warm up routine. I
could hear the crowd cheer. I could hear the sound of a body being slammed onto the
mat. I could hear the bell save a struggling fighter from the grips of a tightening
I expected a wave of nervousness-a sense of panic-but there was none. My name
echoed from the speakers. The crowd cheered as I walked down the corridor. After a last
minute check from the assistant referee, I climbed into the ring. A surge from the
screaming crowd announced the arrival of my opponent. I looked at Jen in my corner and
smiled. A feeling of peace washed over me. The lead ref called my opponent and me to
the center of the mat. After he issued one final set of reminders, he sent us back to our
The bell rang and we stepped out. As I approached the center of the ring I calmly
extended my arm to touch gloves but my opponent scowled at me and shook his head
"no". The whole crowd booed him as he assumed a fighting posture. It was hilarious.
My main strategy was to capitalize on my height by staying on the outside. I was
prepared for a close-quarters battle though too. In training for this fight, Naihanchi had
become my favorite kata.
Focus. See. Feel. Don't over react.
Before I could even move, he slammed me with a powerful barrage of strikes. Cover up.
Keep moving. I managed to slip some of the punches and pull into a clinch. Because I
was still dazed from his blasts, my opponent easily wrestled me to the ground-not a
technical take down, more like a sloppy tackle. The moment I hit the mat, I told myself I
was fine. I could taste the blood in my mouth and feel it streaming from my nose.
Breathe. Think. Hold on to the half-guard; don't let him mount. My opponent battled
into side-control. I countered his armbar attempt. Breathe. Tuck the chin. I avoided a
choke. I threw a couple of strikes from the bottom in a failed attempt to create an
opening. When he postured up, I knew he was about to rain down some bombs.
Don't over commit. Relax. I blocked all but a few and tied up his arms. I tried to sweep
him but couldn't. He's moving... He's moving... As my opponent pivoted into north-
south, he tried to lock in a kimura. I defended his submission attempt and threw a knee
from the bottom. He spun again. I tied him up and tried to relax.
Breathe. Then the ref stood us up with less than a minute left in the round. I had to
remind myself to swallow as blood slid down the back of my throat. Judge the
I fired a front kick into his hip joint trying to break his stance. I never even saw his hands
Breathe. Everything in my body tells me to stay on the mat, but I stand. Breathe.
Damn... they called it. I lost.
Although it was an intense experience, I didn't suffer any significant damage. I had a
small cut on my forehead, a scratch below my left eye, and my lips were a little cut up.
Other than that, I'm was sexy as ever.
Looking back at my MMA debut, I'm still not certain what went wrong-other than the
fact I let him hit me. Mentally I was calm and focused. Everything was so clear during
warm-ups and even during the bout. Physically I was in the best shape of my life. I was
faster and stronger than I've ever been before. Has my training been worthwhile? Is my
karate really effective? Am I prepared to defend myself? I still have so many questions.
While I may never find the answers, I take comfort in the fact I'm not afraid to ask.
I'd like to thank Papa Chris, Sensei Mike, and Sensei Jen for helping me cultivate this
sense of purpose and courage. "Above all, the Way of the Samurai should be in being
aware that you do not know what is going to happen next, and in querying every item day
and night. Victory and defeat are matters of the temporary force of circumstances. The
way of avoiding shame is different. It is simply in death." - Yamamoto Tsunetomo well
These are my rambling thoughts that cover most of the questions you all asked...
I decided to compete in an MMA tournament because I wanted to test myself. The test
wasn't just one battle, one bout. The test was choosing to push myself to be stronger than
ever before. The test was choosing to push myself to be faster than ever before. The test
was to choosing to eat healthier than ever before. The test was choosing to accept,
confront, feel, hate, and love a powerful fear. I didn't train to be better than you. I didn't
train to be better than him. I trained to be better than me.
Karate is amazing. But, if we are all honest, on average modern "karate" is not alive like
the modern art of Brazilian Jujutsu or the traditional art of judo. To some degree, most
karateka have to play the what-if game. We don't go full speed or full force for obvious
reasons (we can't and we shouldn't). I know I can break bricks. I wonder what would
happen if I hit an attacker like that? I know I can focus during a kata. I wonder if I could
focus when an attacker tried to mug me? I can control my breathing during a dojo
sparring session. I wonder if I can remain calm in a life or death struggle? Although my
bout was in no way like a real fight, it gave me a ton of material to consider regarding the
reality of my training- in both a mental and a physical sense. I don't have all the answers.
In fact, I think I have more questions now than before I accepted this bout. However, I
feel more connected to my training, to my karate. It feels alive.
Going full contact in the fight felt natural. It was difficult to get to that point though. I
don't think I can fully explain it. Nor do I think the "natural" feeling I achieved is a
permanent state for my karate. During my training (which was 99% the same as my
regular workouts -- just a little more intense) I focused on identifying the universal
elements that connect karate. Our kata, our drills, our self-defense, and our sparring
should all be based on the same principles. The formats may be different. The purposes
may vary. But, the principles are the foundation. I fought full force because I chose to rip
out thousands of kata in full force. I fought full force because I completed drills with full
commitment, although I pulled the techniques short. I fought with full force because the
makiwara looks naked without a little blood. In training, it's hard to go all in, but that's
what it takes.
I don't always honor my karate with full commitment of my body and mind, but that's
always my goal. "Whatever you do, do it with all of your heart." My parents and my
Sunday school teacher would be so proud. Some workouts are for your body and some
are for your mind. Either way, you better leave it all on the floor. Because I made the
conscious choice (attempt) to train with full "force," going full contact in the fight felt
natural. There's some animalistic element involved as well. We all know how to fight.
That has nothing to do with karate. Karate simply gives us a channel for these instincts.
One of the most satisfying and sickening feelings for me is accepting the dual reality that
I committed 100% of my soul to this experience and that my best was not good enough --
not even close. I didn't want to change my training for this fight. I didn't want to emulate
someone else's style. I wanted to test myself -- the real me. I didn't want to work on
techniques I wouldn't use in the real world--in a real confrontation. I didn't want to
abandon my traditional karate for MMA techniques. I stepped into the ring to see who I
I'm not sure if I will fight MMA again. It was a test. Everyday is a test though. If I do
fight again, I'll probably train the same way. Sure, I'll focus on my weaknesses. I'll try to
improve. That's part of the fun, part of the challenge. But, I'm going to be true to what I
believe is important. I fought in a show. I didn't put on a show.
On The Mat
by Shihan James A. True, Jr.
On October 28th Shihan Jim and Dai Sempai Steve Tulimieri tested for Shodan in
Professor Dave Castoldi's Street Self Defense, a Jujitsu based system specializing in
defense against street weapons, such as the knife, gun, club and empty hand.
Professor Dave Castoldi is the founder and 10th degree Grand Master of Castoldi's Street
Self Defense, while also holding the rank of 8th dan with Jujitsu America and 7th dan in
Small Circle Jujitsu, under Professor Wally Jay. Professor Dave has over forty years of
experience and specializes in working with local and state police, F.B.I., U.S Marshals,
U.S. Secret Service and military police.
Shihan Jim has know Professor Dave since 1980 and has trained off and on over the
years. It was only in the past seven years that both Dai Sempai and Shihan began to
undertake the training a little more through group and private lessons. Eventually it led to
just private lesson and one day last year the Professor let us know that we would be
testing by the end of the year. Wow! "Really, did he say that? He must mean next year,"
was our first thought. The idea of testing and achieving another rank within the martial
arts has always been something both Dai Sempai and I have wanted to achieve at some
point in our training, I guess now was the time.
In reality, it was the test itself that would bear the fruit of all the training we've done with
He had told us it would be a couple of hours working within a group doing our attacks
and techniques. "You'll be outta there by noon," he said, based on a 9 am start time.
Well, noon came and went and we were still being thrown, choked, stabbed, shot,
clubbed and punched. The test turned out to be a four hour pedal to the metal full throttle
shugyo. There were nine students involved all but one testing for dan ranks, from Shodan
to Yodan .
We bowed in and formed a circle. One student at a time was in the middle and had to go
through each of the other eight attackers and then in turn be an uke themselves. The
Professor told us we would have to defend against each attack and control the attacker to
a point of submission using our jujitsu techniques.
We started with gun defense and did about three to four per person, a total of about 24
32 defenses. We moved to standing mugging attacks with the knife: in your face, under
your nose, across your throat, and in your belly, another 32 defenses. Meanwhile, as soon
as you finish defending all eight you're being thrown and slammed and choked out on the
next round as an attacker. Next came moving knife attacks, about 16 different defenses.
This provided for a nice flow with the stabbing and slashing movements of the knife.
Next up on the menu was blind-folded knife attacks from standing mugging positions.
Using two different attackers we had to do a total of twelve, three on the right side of the
face and body and three on left side. This was actually very peaceful, you couldn't see
and thus needed to rely on your other senses. I thought this was a nice way to end the test.
Yeah, right! We were just getting started.
Things really got moving with club attacks from any direction or in front as a threat.
These proved to be the hardest to defend against as of yet because there was more
resistance with the larger weapon and with the defense of the frontal threat, you had to
close the gap with a kick or distraction, then work striking into jujitsu locking techniques
to successfully disarm the club attacker. Oh, how many you ask? About 24 fights total.
Well, I guess I stand corrected: next came 32 to 40 empty handed attacks consisting of,
grabs, chokes, bear hug, head lock, punches, and simultaneous choke and punch to the
face. This was exhausting for sure and provided a good sense of where you stood in
relationship to the other dans testing.
Ok, we are almost done, last but not least was seated defense against knife attacks on the
body and face. We had to disarm several attackers using three different attacks and bring
them to a point of tapping out without getting up out of the chair.
The test was now over, four hours and almost 150 defenses later. It was great! It was
truly a great experience on our martial arts journey. I thank Dai Sempai Steve for being
my partner over the years we've been training and thanks to the Professor for the time,
patience and care he has taken in helping Steven and me along the way.
Japanese culture in comics-- not just for kids
by Faith Van Horne, Sankyu, Seishin Karate Club, Columbus, Ohio
A couple of months ago, I mentioned to Sensei Jo McCulty that I was beginning to
become more interested in martial arts sword work, in part because of the role of swords
in the anime series "Bleach." At the mention of "anime," I sparked a negative emotion;
wasn't anime those silly cartoons where lightning bolts shoot from the characters' hands?
Sensei Jo buried her face in her hands, presumably in shame. Sensei Terrence said
something to the effect of, "If I were you, I wouldn't admit I learned things from
This limited attitude towards animation as a "real" art form (certainly not
something that sophisticated adults could learn from), most likely stems from the
traditional definition of "cartoons." Cartoons are seen as simple children's shows.
Graphic novels are "comic books," featuring juvenile superheroes. But the truth is, while
these juvenile media are popular, there are many graphic novels aimed at older teens and
adults. These more mature books cover a wide variety of topics, including Japanese
While I could devote much space to Japanese culture in manga (printed comics
from Japan), I will limit my focus here to one excellent American graphic novel series--
Usagi Yojimbo. The comic, whose Japanese title translates to "Rabbit Bodyguard," is
written and illustrated by Stan Sakai. Set during Japan's early Edo period in the 17th
century, its main character is an anthropomorphic rabbit ronin named Miyamoto Usagi. If
his name sounds familiar, it should; Usagi is heavily inspired by the legendary Miyamoto
Musashi. The stories and action are influenced by Akira Kurosawa's filmmaking. While
the more complex themes will be of interest to adults, the action sequences make it fun
for younger readers as well.
Sakai is a dedicated researcher of Japanese culture, which shines through in his
work. His illustrations of dress, architecture, etc., are richly drawn and accurate to the
period. His writing also deals with complex themes of feudal Japan, history, and
In particular, one issue opens with a lovely graphic retelling of the Shinto creation myth.
Don't let the fact that Usagi Yojimbo is a "comic" drive you away. Sakai's series
is entertaining, educational, and accessible. Next time you stop at your local bookstore,
give it a look. Who knows, maybe you'll learn something from a cartoon.
Dancing with the Stars
by Rick Ellis, Nidan, Seishin Karate Club, Columbus, Ohio
The music plays! The spotlight shines! It's Dancing with the Stars! Except for the
moment, it isn't the famous celebrities or amazing professionals dancing - it's me! On
January 4, my wife, Tess, and I competed in a Dancing with the Stars qualifying event at
the local Arthur Murray studio, where we have taken lessons for the past year. At that
event we were among 10 couples chosen to dance in a pre-show competition when the
Dancing with the Stars tour played in Columbus on January 9. After performing in front
of the audience, two couples would be selected by one of the professional dancers to
perform in the second act of the DWTS show.
On the night of the show, all of us dancers met at Nationwide Arena (home of the
Columbus Blue Jackets hockey team). We were escorted into the arena before the
audience was allowed to enter. We practiced on the dance floor and received our
instructions from the DWTS coordinator. Then we had time to relax while the audience
entered - of course, who can relax in front of 5,000-6,000 people?!
The moment arrived. We met Brian Fortuna, the professional dancer who was the host for
the pre-show. (He was the only professional we would actually meet). Brian opened the
show and introduced Alec Mazo, the professional dancer who would judge the
competition. We were called to the floor as a group and danced the Cha-Cha-Cha. While
we only danced for a minute or so, imagine doing a kata in front of 5,000 people!
Drawing upon my 10 years of karate experience, including evaluations and camps, I
calmed my nerves and led my wife through our Cha-Cha routine.
The music stopped and Alec began to read the numbers of the six couples who made the
first cut. If you haven't seen a dance competition, numbers are pinned to the man's back.
We were number 9 out of the 10. Naturally Alec started from the low numbers! We were
the last of the six couples chosen to compete in the second dance. We lined up on the
stage as instructed and Brian came down to speak to each couple. He asked us where we
lived and how long we have danced together.
With that our time in the spotlight was over and the six couples returned to the floor for
the Jive. The music played and we were dancing again. It was over so quickly. Alec had
made his choice and was ready to announce the two winners who would complete later in
My wife and I have danced together literally from the day we met in a country bar 17
years ago! We have taken country and ballroom lessons from various parks & recreations
types of groups. But that only gave us a few lessons at a time. We always seemed to have
months or years between these lessons. Imagine learning a kata and not doing it again for
a year - how good would you be?
We finally decided to get serious and signed up for lessons through Arthur Murray. In
their structure we are taking classes (private and group) about every week, very similar to
karate. In fact, over the past year I have found many similarities between ballroom
dancing and karate.
The first thing I noticed was the program. Arthur Murray offers introductory programs
for beginners or people who want to practice for a special event, like a wedding. But the
"serious" dancers take the Bronze level course. In the bronze course, dancers are taught
through progressive stages of development. The bronze course takes about 4 years to
complete. There are 10 levels that students are tested on throughout the program. Sounds
a lot like the kyu ranks to me! I figure we are somewhere around a 7th or 8th kyu in
dancing right now. There are also Silver and Gold levels, which I equate to the dan ranks.
We learn moves, called school figures, plus variations on those moves. Compare this to
karate basics. Just like karate basics are the building blocks used in kata, the school
figures are used during dances. One of my favorite similarities is a tango figure where I
step back into something like a back stance! But we also learn various techniques that are
not included in the beginners programs. It starts with how to step heel first or toe first.
Much like karate, how you step can make a big difference in performance. Listen for
Len, Bruno, and Carrie Ann (the judges on the DWTS show) when they talk about the
The ability to shift and control your weight is very important, just like in karate. You
even find segmentation - doing one thing with your lower body and something different
with your upper body. In karate we start learning segmentation with the Naihanchi kata
to learn different ways of applying power to our technique. In ballroom dancing it is a
technique that is applied to some of the school figures and adds flair and drama.
Some things may not compare well - I'm not sure I know what the karate equivalent of
Cuban motion would be! For the non-dancers, Cuban motion is the moving hips and
torsos that you see in the Latin dances (like Cha-Cha-Cha, Rumba, Samba, etc.).
One of the benefits of dancing in the DWTS pre-show competition is that we received
great seats for the show, and for nothing more than dancing a little! The show by the
celebrities and professional dancers is great. It is wonderful entertainment that I would
probably pay for if I cannot dance my way in again. The professional dancers are
particularly fun to watch. They seem to be having so much fun while also maintaining an
incredibly high level of dancing. I highly recommend it if you get a chance to see the
So what would Alec say - would we dance in the main show? Sadly no, we weren't in
the final two couples. We didn't really expect to get that far and the two couples selected
were pretty good. But we did our best that evening, just like we strive for in karate. We
danced our two dances and then enjoyed the wonderful show. We are more energized
about our dancing and are looking forward to learning more. After all, there is always
Waltham Soldier Awarded Bronze Star
Waltham Daily Tribune
WALTHAM - Staff Sgt. Steven Farrell is taking a well-deserved break after returning from his first tour of duty in Iraq.
For the most part, Farrell said he remembers his tour in Iraq as a time of mixed emotion.
"It was exciting and nervous. (You're) not sure what to expect. There's a wide range of emotions," he said. "For me it was a great experience. After about a month there, you get to know the area a little more and you get a lot more confident."
A member of the Massachusetts National Guard, 1st Battalion 101st Field Artillery, Farrell, 31, was awarded the Bronze Star for service while protecting a UN diplomat during the past year.
According to the document that accompanied the award, Farrell led the personal security detail for Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, during his initial visit to Baghdad in March 2007. The Secretary General was considered a high value target and was fired upon during a speaking engagement. Staff Sgt. Farrell remained calm during in his security command during the attack, according to the military document.
Farrell joined the Army right after graduating from Waltham High School in 1995 and has served three years of active duty. The recent tour was his first.
After a lengthy leadership training at Fort Dix in New Jersey, which included exercises in case they were taken captive, Farrell and his platoon flew out to Iraq in September 2006.
"Flying over there ... we were all actually excited. The stewardess said she had never seen a unit so excited to go over there," he said. "It was a lot of people's first deployment. Everyone was excited about getting that first deployment out of their military career."
Farrell said he spent 20 days in Kuwait training and honing his skills before his squad began protecting the secretary general.
Farrell said his first mission called for he and his comrades to travel to Katameya. "We were looking for a road that wasn't in existence...it was all busted up," he said. "We were lost for almost three hours and it was starting to get a little edgy...you never know what's going to happen."
Another mission Farrell remembers was at the Iranian Embassy where his platoon was fired on by insurgents. "We started taking small-arms fire...One of my guys noticed a guy on the opposite side on a fifth floor balcony of a hotel," he said. "This guy had cell phones, binoculars and a video camera...it's a major sign he was up to no good. I had my designated (sniper) take the guy out after (we were shot at again)."
Now that he's back in Waltham, Farrell said he plans to take it easy for a few months and will soon begin to look for work as an automotive technician.
His mother, Ann, said she is thrilled to have him home safe on Caughey Street. "(It's) wonderful," she said. "It was really hard. I'm glad to have him home."
Meeting a Master, Butokukai Seminar with Shihan Fumio Demura
by Shihan James A. True, Jr.
On June 28, 2007, I had the chance to attend the 28th Zen Bei Butoku-Kai International summer camp in Guelph Ontario, Canada, with guest instructor Shihan Fumio Demura. If you have never met him he is quite an amazing martial artist, so let me give you some background information first, then a word about our training.
Shihan Demura is a ninth dan and serves as director and chief instructor for the Shito-ryu Genbu-kai International. He began his martial arts training at the age of eight in kendo and studied a little bit of karate at the time. Later he trained in karate with Ryusho Sakagami Sensei and in kobudo with Shinken Taira Sensei.
Shihan Demura is well know for his movie work, including as a stunt double for Pat Morita in the "Karate Kid" series of movies. He has also been featured in "Rising Sun," "Mortal Kombat" and "Walker, Texas Ranger."
Besides running seminars, camps, and teaching at his Santa Ana, California dojo, his newest endeavor, for the past ten years, has been to develop and implement a padded-weapons training system for use in tournaments.
The seminar was attended by over one hundred and twenty students and was divided into two sessions, empty hand in the morning and kobudo in the afternoon. The morning session started with an introduction to "What is karate-do?." Shihan Demura explained that the do was a way of life, but more so, an attitude of how one carries himself or herself as a martial artist. He said that he could tell exactly how well and how long you have trained by just watching you bow.
He mentioned that his instructor always wanted things done a certain way, but that "Each karateka is different. This fact must be accepted. Many people complain about the way they were trained but never change the methods when they become teachers. They don't like it, but when they themselves become black belts...they do the very same thing. I don't do it that way. If something disturbs me about the teaching, the training...I will change it."
Shihan spent several minutes on the lineage and influence from southern China to Naha and Northern China to Shuri, as well as mentioning the combined influence on Tomari. He also talked briefly about the difference between Okinawa and Japan in relationship to their karate and about the history of how it was introduced to Japan by Funakoshi Sensei. He spent time on the difference between our Pinan Nidan and Shotokan's Heian Shodan. He said he does our Pinan Nidan [ed. note: the traditional Okinawan way]. Shihan Demura spoke briefly about the different levels of bunkai, and in particular the hidden techniques. From there we moved right into some bunkai of Pinan Nidan. One interpretation in particular had us do the first five moves and end up with the opponent's arm in a hammerlock in a seated position. We concluded the morning session with some good hard basics and then bowed out, headed to lunch and looking forward to the afternoon kobudo class.
The kobudo class started with an introduction about kobudo as a system. Shihan Demura said that many people say they do "kobudo": "I do bo. I do sai." "Well if you just do bo then you do bo-jitsu, and if you do sai, you do sai-jitsu. He stated that the five Okinawan weapons bo, nunchaku, sai, tonfa and kama along with the eku (oar) and tinbe (shield) are what should comprise a complete kobudo system.
The workout begin with... Well, what else, bo warm-ups (just like Papa Chris), then went to...bo basics (just like Papa Chris). Believe it or not, we then went to bo against bo (again just like Papa Chris), empty hand against bo (Do you see a common pattern here?), and, yes, bo against empty handed attacks. In the warm-ups, Shihan Demura had us do the basic pool cue jab through the index finger and thumbhole, no big deal. We watched as he demonstrated, again no big deal. Although he was at least six feet away, he nailed the first two, then three. I thought, "Not bad." Then four, five, six, seven in a row. O.K., now you have my attention! He must have completed at least a dozen jabs before he said, "Go practice." It certainly was not as easy as he made it look!
The bo against bo was spirited, back and forth, with each exchange ending in a takedown or finishing strike. Empty hand against bo was similar to ours, with takedowns and joint locking. The final set was bo against empty hand attacks. We hold the bo like a walking staff, and the attacker grabbed a lapel with a single hand. Then we tried a double-hand grab. We applied various locks and counters, ending in takedowns.
The class ended with final closing remarks and awarding of Summer Camp and Seminar Certificates. In the evening we attended a banquet that featured the theme "Christmas in June," complete with melting snow on the stairs to the hall, and inside, a sleigh, snow machine, Christmas trees, music, Santa, gift giving, and a turkey diner with all the trimmings. About half way through the evening Sensei Brian Ricci, who had invited me to the camp, came up to me and said, "Now. Go sit with him." I looked over and there was Shihan Demura alone! What a chance! With no hesitation I went, and was introduced by Sensei Ricci. Earlier that day at lunch I had presented Shihan with a gift, one of Papa Chris' books, signed of course. He smiled and again thanked me for the book. The next thirty minutes was spent talking just about karate: It's history, his sensei, where certain kata came from, his love for kobudo, his thoughts on a kobudo system, and his work on developing kobudo tournaments. It was tournament he was very spirited about. He said "First, we had padded weapon against padded weapon, you could use, bo, nunchaku, tonfa, tinbe, bokken, any weapon against another. But then one guy kept using bokken. That was too quick against others, and he kept winning. So I let him use the bokken in first match. He wins. Then I say, "Now, use another weapon." He lost. That fixed that problem". His favorite thing was when the student used the padded nunchaku, "Oh, nunchaku up side the head, make big sound! Nice thud!"
We concluded our talk with a handshake, then bowed. It truly was a memorable moment, a great day of karate and kobudo and I left with great admiration for a remarkable karate sensei. Thank you, Demura Sensei!
by Joseph Daddario, Okinawan Karate Center
Unlike many of the SKKAA members who went to winter camp, I went to the Junior Olympics for fencing. Instead of T'ai Chi in the morning, I was eating a big breakfast to have energy for the challenging day ahead of me. Instead of jabbing people in the face for sparring, I was stabbing people in the body for points. As I explain this, many of you might wonder what fencing is. Fencing isn't just stabbing people. It has grace and techniques, just as karate does.
In fencing there are three weapons, the epee, foil and saber. Foil is my main weapon. The foil is a thin, rapier-like "sword." The target area is the entire torso from the shoulders to the waist and groin, but you cannot hit the arms. The big challenge in foil is that you have a very important rule called "right of way," which means who attacked first and who has the "rights" to hit a person. An example of this is when both people hit at the same time and both sets of lights go up. Whoever had the right of way either gets the point or got the off-target, which means they didn't hit on-target and we start over where we stopped.
In the competition we were put into pools where we fenced against everyone else. I won only one of my bouts (or matches). After we had our pools, the directors took all the results and gave them to the bout committee. For the results, the bout committee takes your touches scored and subtracts your touches received to see what your indicator is: the higher the better. The bout committee then listed the highest score to the lowest score and only 80% moved on into direct eliminations. Luckily, I moved on with 7 or 8 people below me and had an indicator of -9.
In direct eliminations you fence to 15 points, compared to the pools where you fence to only 5. After you fence in your direct elimination, you move on if you win or you're done if you lose. I lost.
Overall I had fun and was glad I was able to go. I placed in 171st out of 280 people, so I didn't do that badly. I did a little worse than I wanted, though luckily, the bad moments, if you could call them bad, had their good moments. Hopefully, I will be able to do better in the Summer Nationals which are coming up at the end of June.
by Dee Dee Sorsby, Wyoming Karate Club
Who would think that my last 10 years of training in Shorin-ryu would have anything to do with horses? After my rank of shodan recently how would I ever expect a relationship between my many learned skills and the world of horses? Now granted - the skills of karate do fall into the realm of life skills; however, many times these skills pop up in the most unexpected places. And so this happened in a course to be certified in equine massage.
It all started while looking through some books in Barnes & Noble and spotting schools that train in horse massage. Since I had thought of this idea for many years, this find just spurred me on. Within a short amount of time I was enrolled and awaiting start day. From my first hour in the course I started to notice a very curious overlap - it was as though all my karate exposure had readied me for my next adventure in life.
My first lesson was that both the horse and person carry meridians of chi or energy - which when overlapped or felt or combined can be used for control and harmony. Say what? Where have I heard about this before? They went on with speaking about and experiencing focus, relaxation, and meditation. They stressed how important breathing was to allow the body to react and harmonize with the horse. This mental aspect of dealing with the horse was not spoken about slightly; the horse has an innate ability to sense your energy and mental state many times more than another human. Thus, to relate with this equine and meet success needs first a very positive chi and a very aware eye. The course had only started and the relationship seemed stronger than ever between equine and martial arts. Could there be more I asked myself?
The answer was a solid "Yes." As the time passed, I learned karate chop, keeping fingers together, heel palm, straight punch, eagle beak, elbow, inside block, shuto, single knuckle. The front stance was used primarily in almost all the techniques with legs and hips providing the power. Both reverse and lunge techniques were used. One and two hands were put into use. I was taught a massage sequence much like a kata that moved me from head to tail with approximately 50 + moves. I learned that as I practiced, the movements became more and more precise with an exact target in mind. I learned that there was a rhythm and timing that had to be taken into consideration. Others in the class struggled with these skills; however I found myself taking to them "like a duck to water."
I have found another avenue of service and pleasure in my life. I believe the most valuable correlation is in the mental. With all the talk about horse whispering and natural horsemanship and natural training, I feel I have taken a step closer to my equine friends. And on the other hand, I have also grown to appreciate a little bit more the principles in Shorin-ryu. I am very fortunate to be able to experience both of them.
Farewell To An Old Friend
by Christopher M. Clarke, Ph.D, Ku Dan
Papa Joe Hays was one of a kind. He was always robust and prided himself on his strength, so it was a huge shock when we learned just over a year ago that Papa Joe had been stricken with Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a progressive debilitating disease that slowly takes away control of your muscles. The idea of Papa Joe in a wheelchair was almost inconceivable. Yet a little over a year after his diagnosis, Papa Joe was gone.
I first met Papa Joe in late 1972 or early 1973. I was stationed at Rickenbacker Air Force Base, just south of Columbus, Ohio. New in the area and hoping to link up with other Shorin-ryu stylists, I found an advertisement in a local paper for the upcoming (March 1973) "Open Heart Fund Karate Tournament," which listed Papa Joe as a contact. I called and received directions to his "dojo," one half of a side-by-side house. Only a few of his students were practicing kata; most were sparring or practicing with their nunchaku, most of which had been hand-made by Papa Joe. Later, as our friendship warmed, Papa Joe made me two pairs of nunchaku, which I still use today.
Through Papa Joe, I soon met several other Shorin-ryu black belts, including Papa Joe's instructor, Mike Hixson, and Paul Keller, who ran the Ohio State University karate club. Mike's and Paul's classes and workouts better fit my schedule and-frankly-my approach to karate. I lost touch with Papa Joe.
My first impression of Papa Joe and his school had not been entirely favorable. His focus was on fighting; my interest was mainly kata and weaponry. He came from the "street"; I came from a suburban family. I'm sure he thought I was just a kata dancer; I more or less wrote him off as a tough guy without much depth.
When we reconnected seven or eight years later, both of us had a moment of enlightenment: we each began to see in each other the same understanding of body dynamics, movement, and spirit. I think we were both shocked that someone so different could be so alike.
Papa Joe's dedication to karate was amazing. He converted his house-and later, in Florida, his garage-into a dojo. When the ASKA first began to hold summer camps in 1982, Papa Joe organized them and arranged for hotels in the Daytona Beach, Florida area. The first few years were rough. We were a newly reorganized and growing association with a limited membership and were still developing relationships between the senior black belts. Several times in the early 1980s, we had so few people come to camp that we considered giving up. Papa Joe wouldn't hear of it, and often subsidized (heavily, I suspect) the camp from his own pocket. He never told anyone he had done so. That was his idea of commitment and loyalty to his friends and his art.
Papa Joe encouraged me all along the way as we developed a full curriculum of kata, drills, sparring, self-defense, and weaponry. We each had our niche, and we complimented each other-the yin and yang of the association.
We had some wild and crazy times. Like the day I was demonstrating how you could throw nunchaku like a bolo to wrap up someone's feet. I planted a bo in the ground and walked back quite a way. Papa Joe stood off to the side to watch. I warmed up, swinging the nunchaku around, then let go. But I had held on just a fraction too long, and the nunchaku veered off course-and wrapped themselves around Papa Joe's legs. You should have seen Papa Joe dance-then all of us break up laughing. That was Papa Joe: deadly serious about his art but ready to laugh and have fun anytime.
Those of us who knew him are the richer for it. We will all miss his laugh, the crazy ways he would look at you, his dedication, his toughness, and especially his love.
by Lynda St. James, Sandan
I can't remember exactly when I first met Papa Joe. It might have been at a seminar or camp way back in 1992 or 93. What I do remember is that when I met him, we were like two magnets - drawn and stuck to each other from then on. He reminded me of the men in my own family: small, wiry, arrogant, huge chip on the shoulder, a tease, a scrapper, intelligent, big talker, great teacher, filled with love and hugs. He was 5'5" and bigger than life.
Go take a look at his biography in the old ASKA handbook. It's been cleaned up a bit: ... he and his fellow students... became known as the "John L. Sullivan Gang." They traveled the Midwest in the days of bare-knuckle free-fighting competition. Papa Joe confided that they also trolled the streets and bars in search of some good ole "bare-knuckle fighting." He loved a good fight. Rolling on the ground, taking a man down. Getting good and dirty doing it.
He also loved his Harley. And his bikers. They were his family as much as his actual family was. They loved him right back. Fiercely. No one in their right mind would toy with Papa Joe - not if they cared to live without pain. He taught his "boys and girls" judo, karate, ground fighting. He gave many of them a place to crash. Straightened out more than a few young boys. And a couple young girls, too.
The first time Papa Joe met my mom, he fell in love. He didn't even wait to be introduced. Just walked up, said "Hi, Mom," and wrapped her in a bear hug. Mom was a wee shy and quite embarrassed. But Papa Joe had won her over by supper and had her laughing in spite of herself.
Papa Joe wasn't much for kata, or breaking things down scientifically. He just knew how to do it, and he showed you. He was so fast. He reminded me of that old joke: a guy says "Wanna see how fast I am?" but he doesn't move. Then says "Wanna see that again?" That was Papa Joe - except he DID move, and it WAS that fast; so fast you never saw it. Ask any black belt who ever sparred with him.
When he did explain something, we'd have at least 10 minutes of down time while he regaled us with anecdotes - from his past, from his family, from other students, from his bikers. Papa Joe just loved to talk. And talk, and talk. I for one loved to listen. Because if you followed the stream of his ramblings, you'd find the path to his heart. His very big heart.
Papa Joe was nothing if not passionate: toward everyone who ever crossed his path, good and bad. His love was real. It was permanent. You knew when he was pleased with you. You also knew when he wasn't. But that was only for a moment. The next moment was a different one, and Papa Joe never lingered long in any given moment.
Papa Joe Hays. He was a feisty bugger. I spoke to Papa Joe not too long ago. He was wheelchair bound already. The disease that took him (ALS) is aggressive and unforgiving. Yet even in his worst personal moments, he had me laughing as he told me how he had to relearn his house. "Everything is dented," he said, "especially the frig. And there's this guy who rides one of those BMX bikes who wants to race me!" I cradled the phone having visions of him racing some bearded Harley guy across a parking lot in his wheelchair. We reminisced, and cried, and laughed some more, then he got tired. That was the last time we spoke. I hung up knowing I'd never see him again. God, how I loved him. Rest in peace, Papa Joe. At least give the others up there with you a little peace - after you give them all a big hug.
An Overview Of My Kendo Experience
by Susan Hollobaugh, Shodan
Learning the art of kendo was new territory for me. The use of the shinai and learning the basics is one thing, but the real emphasis was hitting your opponent with proper technique and follow through. Sensei Mike Pepe gave us the background information about kendo and how it evolved. With the theme of "unity and distance" (ai and maai), we learned about the unity of the martial artist with the shinai and the distances between opponents. Having partners to measure different distances with the strikes helped with this theme. For me, it is better to learn the strikes on something or someone, as opposed to an "in the air" technique. When I first used my shinai, there was a great distance between us. After training with Sensei Mike, that distance has decreased.
We learned to tie our hakama next. Thank goodness for partners. Everyone was able to help those around them to make sure their hakama were correct. Once all the kinks were out, we went over proper hand position on our shinai. The target areas, MEN, DO, and KOTE (head, body, and wrist), were practiced over and over. Learning about the three kiai made these techniques more complete. With the announcement of the target, I was able to feel more confident about the technique. I found that helped to enhance proper breathing also.
With the proper striking, stepping and using the angles was next. We were able to practice this on someone who had all the bogu (practice armor) on. This helped me with following through and using full power on my strikes. Sensei Mike went over strategies to attacks and counterattacks. There were many combinations, which opened my eyes for when it was time to spar one-on-one.
The climax was the sparring. I was very nervous, and trying to remember all that we had learned was making my head crazy. Once the first strike was launched, that nervousness went away. Everyone seemed to have fun and focused on the learning aspect, as opposed to trying to kill their opponent. Sensei Mike would comment on someone's nice moves or attacks, so we could all try that when it was out turn.
It was awesome on Sunday when we all demonstrated what we had learned. Talk about unity! We were unified and our techniques were synchronized. The distance we had in the beginning had decreased. I had a lot of fun and I am sure everyone else did also. Thank you, Sensei Mike Pepe for a wonderful experience.
Kendo - Then And Now
by Alan Knepper, Yodan
We got the notice about Summer Budo Camp and the preceding black belt camp. The subject of the black belt camp was to be Iaido and Kendo !! This was going to be different ! New ! Exciting ! I've-never-done-this-before-will-I-make-a-fool-of-myself !!??
Soon we found out we would have to have certain equipment and clothing - I have to wear a hakama !? and it's supposed to be tied how ? Hoooh-boy, here we go.
Let me back up in time a bit. I first became acquainted with our style of karate in the early 70's when I was in college with a certain senior member of our association. I actually had attended a couple of karate classes but not continued. My roommate, however, was heavily involved in it and I was available to take pictures of him as he practiced. Having done some of that, when a tournament came around, he had me go with him to take a few memento pictures. It was here that I first got introduced to kendo. In fact, below is a picture I took at the time. Looked pretty scary to me, all that chasing each other and whacking on the head. But it was still interesting and intriguing to watch as the tournament progressed and the contestants did their stuff on the floor. It would be neat to be able to do that sometime. Well, the tournament was interesting, but it would be many years before I had occasion to encounter kendo again. Now that time was here and I was going to be the whacker and/or the whackee ! To say I was a little nervous would be close to accurate.
Ok, now it's time to start getting stuff together, so what do I need ? I need a shinai, a hakama; the armor will already be there. Now I have the shinai-kind of cool actually. Imagine I could scare the be-jabers out of someone with it. Now for the hakama. I was able to secure the loan of one from another black belt who couldn't attend, so I now have the requisite equipment. I don't mind saying that it felt completely foreign and uncomfortable to me, but this is another step in training so by golly, I'm going to do it !
The first session at camp was memorable. Making sure the hakama was tied correctly, was the first step and that took some practice. I'd gotten a book about Kendo and discovered there are many ways to tie it on, so I wasn't sure until we got to camp how this was to be done. Sensei Pepe showed me how to do it and I practiced. I got that part done, I hoped, and now it's time to go to the first session.
All of us were in the room and lined up. Sensei Pepe bowed us in. He checked out the way we had tied our hakama and we passed. We were given some information about Kendo and Sensei Pepe's background in kendo. Then he got a bag and pulled out a bunch of what looked like handkerchiefs. He told us this is a cloth to be worn on the head underneath the helmet and that it is put on in a certain way. He showed us how to fold it and put it on our heads without any knots. That was interesting. At this point, I was thinking about how structured this seemed to be and that I really didn't want to see what I looked like in a mirror.
During the rest of this session and succeeding ones, we learned how to hold the shinai, the different stances, the target areas of an opponent, and the names of those targets. I found it new and different to be yelling the name of my target each time I attempted to strike it, and hard to remember to do each time. I also had some trouble yelling the right name of that target instead of the name of another target area. I told myself, this is new and I am just like I was when I walked into a dojo for the first time - that is, I don't know anything and all of it is new and going to require the concentration and determination to learn it that I'd had to bring to karate when I first started.
There had been four sets of armor, or "bogu," as we learned it is called, sitting in the front of the room and we finally got to put it on. Here again is more specific structure. There is a certain order and way to put these items on so we had to be schooled in that and practice it. Now we have two pairs of people with armor on and it's time to begin the whacking part.
I was excited and anxious because I was looking forward to it but realized too, that I would get hit. I wondered what it is going to feel like with this armor on. Here comes the first hit to my head, or "men" as the head target is called. Wow ! That was hard and I only felt jarred, and not hurt or shaken up ! This is going to be a LOT of FUN !! And it was a lot of fun, doing the exercises with a partner, chasing each other around trying to see if you could actually strike one of the target areas. We had more to learn and every session was full enough that the time went by very quickly. Not enough time to do as much as I'd like to have done.
At the last session, Sensei Pepe had us sit down on the floor and passed out some sheets of paper. On the paper were the Japanese characters for kendo. Sensei Pepe had brought these so we could see how it was written and so we could try it and practice it. Sensei Pepe very carefully took us through the strokes for each character because, here again, is a certain order to how each is written. They have to be done correctly because it's possible to see the beginning and end of each stroke. Looking back at my notes on this, I'm counting ten strokes in the first character and eleven in the second. Hope that's right. The Japanese characters are very intriguing and I find it mysterious how they ever came up with them. Maybe they wonder the same thing about our writing ?
We worked on this for awhile and I think everyone enjoyed having the opportunity for this as well as getting to try it. Sensei Pepe did a great job getting us to this point.
The final part was different. Sensei Pepe had told us he had a story about his experience in kendo and now it was time for it. As a bonus, there was video to go with it ! Sensei Pepe had entered a kendo tournament a few years ago and we were going to hear about that experience. The video, plus his narration and story, was not only entertaining but was also an example of what one person can do when they decide to learn something. Sensei Pepe had gotten an initial lesson in kendo from Papa Chris, and then on his own had practiced. He'd gotten some friends to help him with his practice, but there'd been no dojo training, no formal instruction. Just the determination to practice what he'd been taught.
Sensei Pepe told us that we needed to wear our hakama to the Sunday morning session because we would do a demonstration of what we'd learned. Sunday morning came and we were there in our hakama, ready for the next phase.
First, we did kata. I had never attempted kata in the hakama and now wondered if I was going to trip on it and fall flat on my face. I didn't, and I don't think anybody else did either. I know I was pleasantly surprised.
We finally came to the part for our demonstration. We all lined up and did our strikes, calling the names of the targets each time. We did another drill in the air and then four people put on the bogu, or armor. They took the floor and demonstrated the drills that can be done with a partner and then did some "free-style." It was impressive and there were some nice photos taken. Then our time was done and it was time for the next portion of the program. Sunday morning's session concluded and another budo camp was behind us. That morning, I took away something that felt like a treat. It was a great camp.
By the way, the result of Sensei Pepe's kendo tournament ? He won..... So are we.
Beisho !! Karatedo!!
by Amanda Lowe, Shodan
I am comforted by organization. Preparedness is something I am good at, setting out and planning each day out to the best of my ability. Knowing I have time and energy to do everything I need to do for all activities is a reassuring tone in the discord of an otherwise hectic day. From school to home to karate to work to studying to the library and back again, my mind races to remember where and when I have to go. However, my desire to ensure I have enough reserves to tackle the rest of homework assignments and bothersome teenage drama (midnight phone calls, anyone?) has proved an unfortunate roadblock in one area I place great emphasis on: karate.
Unlike many people, technique has never been a problem for me. Fine-tuning is always needed, but the basics do not usually present a serious issue. I do, nevertheless, have trouble with one thing my fellows grasp immediately.
There is no intensity.
There is willpower and skill, but my karate lacks in its soul. A depressing thought, shocking and upsetting to me, for I've always tried to put passion into everything I've done. Denier - I skirted the obvious for so long with the fear that I might be wrong and there would be one area of failure, one thing I could not claim to excel at. And this, this admittance that I was falling behind... this was crushing. It was truth, though, and there was no avoiding it now that I had realized it was so.
The trouble can be traced back to my early days of training, as well. I vividly remember being told, time and time again by nearly everyone in the entire dojo that I needed to put more power and more intensity into kata and drills. I remember not quite understanding, but trying, then failing. Now that I stood facing it, I needed to seek the answers to this problem.
But why would I not put enough intensity into my training? Was there no desire, or was it some other subconscious problem? It could not be lack of inspiration, for there was, without a doubt, that endless craving to reach the goal of shodan. Therefore, I took a closer look at any and all influences on my life and the processes I went through.
Orderliness was at the root of the issue. I was holding myself back with all the worrying and planning. I wanted to save energy to continue the day after class, keeping some reserves "in case of emergency." I was worried and afraid of letting go and putting my all into what I was doing. Preoccupied with what was to come and what had already been done, I was ignoring what needed to be accomplished in the present.
Now, letting go of all that planning and saving of power is becoming easier. At first, the very idea of going home completely exhausted was alarming. I didn't want to feel inept and addled in the head when I still usually had two hours or so of homework to do. As with all habits, breaking this one is a slow process. Putting a bit more vigor into this kata, pushing my partner in drills, doing basics like it was the only chance I had; it's all played a part.
There is a long way to go, no doubt. Improvement never ends, but it must start somewhere. As Pearl S. Buck said, "What has seemed new and frightening assumes its place in the unfolding of knowledge." Intensity is new and difficult to keep up on some days. The progression of unfeeling to passionate was frightening, as letting go of what I had thought were reserves of strength was not something I was entirely happy to do. At this point intensity is easier, and to be honest, it makes the day go much better. I feel refreshed and a sense of accomplishment after class, instead of the dreaded and anticipated exhaustion. Amazing, how something seeming so easy could be the main obstacle in my training. Amazing, how I'd never had the courage to fix it before. In retrospect it should have been done before instead of practicing so long without spirit.
Aut disce aut discede - either learn or leave. And I cannot, will not, leave. Learning to be intense is the only way forward.
[ Note: This is the black belt paper submitted by Amanda Lowe for her test for shodan at the Wyoming Karate Club, June 21, 2006.]
by Mitch Lewis, Shodan
I took karate lessons for a summer at the age of eight. I don't even remember what style it was. Due to family situations and money, it would be another 25 years before I would start taking lessons again. In 1997 at the age of 33, my wife signed me up. She new of my strong interest in the martial arts and thought it would be good for me both physically and mentally to start. It would help me to stay in shape and was a good outlet for my stress. I attended class for about a year, and then we moved back to Jackson early in 1998. After settling into a new house and job, my wife signed me up again in1999 at the Wyoming Karate Club.
I started taking karate again with the same shallow view. Karate was keeping me in shape and training me to defend myself and my family should the need arise. It was also a great outlet for my stress. I continued to improve my kicking and punching abilities and learn more kata. I did not enjoy kata, to me it was just a means to and end. I made a conscious discovery after receiving my brown belt promotion. The demands of karate were not only developing my physical abilities, they were also developing my mental abilities. I was no longer just training in the martial arts; I was becoming a martial artist. Seeking balance and perfection of movement in the dojo was paralleling my endeavor to seek balance in life.
The physical challenges and interpretation of movement, especially from kata and drills, required focused concentrated freedom of thought. I realized that it takes a balanced relationship between mental discipline and physical conditioning to achieve harmony in movement while striving for perfected interpretation. I've always been able to push myself and stay focused to achieve my goals, but I've learned that true mental discipline is not the same as enthusiasm or just pushing oneself to achieve a desired goal. Mental discipline takes more of an internal or spiritual path that produces a deliberate calm approach. The result is a more peaceful state of mind. I was no longer just exercising this state of mind in the dojo; I was exercising this state of mind outside the dojo.
The changing weight of life's challenges, responsibilities, and the passing of time constantly requires me to re-evaluate my priorities. The ranking priorities of my life consist of family, karate, and career. Listing and ranking these priorities is the easy part. Actually living by this ranking often seems impossible at times. Life often rearranges these priorities and at times, I find myself loosing site of them. Seeking balance with the things I love to do with the things I have to do is a never ending endeavor. However, this balancing act seems to be more manageable with a deliberate calm approach as a result of a peaceful mind through mental discipline.
The martial arts have become a personal and spiritual means, which helps me to seek balance in all that I do in life. The constant pursuit of perfected balanced movement in the martial arts and balancing life's priorities are the ultimate unattainable goals. If these goals are unattainable, why keep pursuing them? Attaining balance is not a destination but a journey, a journey of constant self-improvement.
[ Note: This is the black belt paper submitted by Mitch Lewis for his test for shodan at Wyoming Karate Club, on June 21, 2006.]
The Eye Of The Martial Artist
by Meghan Boyle
The students sat, waiting impatiently on the cold, hard wood floor. Small candles emitted a feeble light on the dojo's walls. Once or twice a shadow would move near them. One student stood and walked to the door. He sat by it, keeping one eye open, and slowly hummed to himself.
His humming seemed to pierce the silence of uncertainty. Yet, the other five students still sat in the circle. After awhile the candles died altogether, leaving them in pitch-blackness.
When the student by the door had fallen asleep, the oak door slid open. The students weren't aware of the tall, creeping shadows. Once more, the five students remained in a tight-knit circle.
"What? Who could that be?" asked the purple belt student, to the brown belt girl beside him. Similar whispers were being passed through the dojo, between the five students. Then another voice sounded through the small hall.
"Strike quick and true, students!" called their master's familiar voice. One by one they rose. They fought the shadows, not quite knowing where the enemy was. Then, by pure instinct they closed their eyes, and were aware.
When the master lit the candles again, the opponents had fallen. "Master, what happened? Why were we more aware with our eyes closed?" asked one green belt student. "A martial artists relies on instinct when his eyes fail him. He relies on his other senses when one fails. You had no vision, so your hearing and instinct took over. In life, sometimes a problem can be solved by thinking it out with someone else beside you, instead of worrying," explained the master, "We call that the Eye of the Martial Artist."
~ At the end of each pitch- black tunnel, is the light we seek ~
The Ancient Fire
by Meghan Boyle
"Within each of you, burns a fire. That fire is your passion for the martial arts. "Don't lose that fire on your quest to learn this art," said the master on this cold, January morning. Despite the cold snow outside, it was not bad out Apparently, the instructor thought so too. So, instead of the morning sparring, they ran outside in the snow.
They ran, then decided to make a whole lesson of this. They fought on old, rickety logs, learning balance. They did kata on the smooth rocks in the creek. One student's "fire" for the martial arts was fading that day. The young blue belt was tired of waiting for everything; he joined martial arts for the ability to beat up the people who had once tormented him.
He sat by a frosted-over tree and stayed behind from the group. He remembered the old master's words, "Hatred spawns war. War creates destruction. Though someone has wronged you in the past..." the student stopped. "Don't wrong them now. Hmm... Perhaps I should go back..." he said.
Fear washed over him. He shivered when he realized he was lost. He stood up and walked to a small clearing. The bushes rustled and the faint sound of voices broke the silence.
"Who's there?" he asked, holding a large pine branch. In a moment masked warriors, all empty-handed surrounded him. One stood at the front, holding a bo-staff by his side. The student stood in fear.
"What now, what now? Umm..." the student thought. "KIAI!" he shouted, hoping to scare them. He swung the branch and they all backed up an inch.
The leader stepped up and snapped the branch in half with his bo-staff. The student punched at him, but was trapped by the staff again.
"Do you see now, why martial arts isn't about revenge?" asked the familiar voice. "Master...?" asked the student. The master nodded. "Oh, thank you. My fire almost went out," said the student.
The instructors all took off their masks. "I know what it's like. Your instructor told me that your light was dying," said the master. "Why? How do you know?" asked the student. "It happens to all of us. Some more than others," replied the master, slowly walking back to the dojo.
~ Endurance is a skill worth possessing ~ Meghan Boyle
Where To Take Karate
by Christopher M. Clarke, Ph.D, Ku Dan
Selecting a karate school
Here are a few suggestions for what to look for--and what to look out for-when picking a martial arts school for yourself or your child:
-- A school with a qualified instructor. Ranks, diplomas, and trophies are not much help in assessing this. You might ask who the person's instructor is and for some background on his style of karate. Fumbling on these kinds of questions should raise questions about the instructor's legitimacy. (I use "him" and "he", but there are many good woman teachers. Don't let that be a factor.) You can also ask if the instructor is part of a larger association and what activities he participates in with that association. A "solo" school can have a very good teacher but will lack resources (such as higher level instruction and training opportunities) for the student. You might also ask if the instructor is still studying with his instructor (especially if the person is below 5th or 6th degree black belt). If not still learning and receiving on-going evaluation, even a good instructor can become stale.
-- An instructor who can relate to various levels, ages and abilities of students. Not everyone learns at the same pace. Some require more patience than others. A 15-year-old may become frustrated in classes aimed mainly either at young children or older adults. Teenagers' interests and abilities differ from those of other age groups. Be sure to talk to the instructor to figure out where you or your child would be best placed. Also, an instructor who teaches only to the top part of the class will leave the other students behind. An instructor with a short temper will only intimidate students from learning. Learning the martial arts should be fun, fair, and demanding. I'd avoid both extremes: a drill sergeant as well as an instructor who is too informal or chummy with the students. Part of learning karate is learning discipline and respect (for yourself and others). This requires a certain level of formality.
-- A school with an adequate, safe and clean training environment. A school doesn't need to have wall-to-ceiling mirrors or showers to provide good instruction, but the cost of training should reflect the quality of the surroundings. Recreational programs in a school gym, church recreation room, or other informal setting are fine, so long as the training area is clean and safe. And they are likely to be a bargain. This kind of school can be a relatively low-cost way to find out if you or your child is seriously interested in training. It will give the student a head start if he or she later chooses to enroll in a commercial school.
A few things to look out for:
-- 20 year-old 9th degree black belts. It takes time to achieve ability, which should be reflected in rank. It is rare to find a legitimate 5th or 6th degree black belt under 30 or 35. If someone claims high rank, ask how long they've trained, where, and with whom. You won't learn much from someone who vastly inflates their resume.
-- People who claim expertise in everything from Kung Fu to Judo. Each martial art requires long and intense training as well as good instruction. Many people do know and can teach more than one martial art, but they usually have been training for a long time.
-- Someone who's in it mainly for the money. Everyone deserves to make a decent living, and to a certain extent in martial arts schools, as elsewhere, you get what you pay for. (Unfortunately, this is not always true.) But think carefully about signing long-term contracts (longer than three months for a beginner). Price shop among schools and see which you think gives the best value for your money. Check for hidden or non-tuition costs such as uniforms, sparring equipment, etc. These are expectable, but know what you're getting into. Ask if there are testing fees and if so, how much they are, how often tests take place, and what happens if the student fails the test (will you be charged to re-test?). Some schools can charge as much as $200-300 to test for a black belt, for example. And that's in addition to the money you've put out for tuition. Testing fees can add up a lot over a couple of years. Ask if students are required to participate in other activities such as tournaments. If so, get an idea of what kind of expense will be involved. Be aware of schools that promise rank or instructor status after a certain period of training. Don't waste your time on an instructor who trades rank or status for money.
-- Schools where heavy contact is regularly practiced or safety appears not to be a very high concern. Some schools teach "mixed martial arts" for "full contact" competition, like you may have seen on TV. Fine -- for those who want to go that route. Most students want a program that provides good physical exercise, some competition, continued learning, and a mutually respectful environment. Make sure that's what you'll be getting.
-- Sadly, in this day and age, we also have to be careful who our children associate with and who they spend time with. The vast majority of martial arts schools are safe environments, and most instructors have a good character and high moral standards. Unfortunately, however, there have been cases where students have been exploited or abused, or exposed to unwanted influences, attitudes, or habits. It can be hard to tell in advance whether these might be issues, so keep close watch on your child's classes, observe what kinds of students are attracted to the school, what kind of person the teacher is after and before class, and whether your son will be left unsupervised with teachers or older students. Be sure you are permitted to watch your child's classes. Be very careful about allowing your child to travel with the instructor unaccompanied.
The bottom line:
Shop around. Visit schools and ask to sit and watch several classes. Try to take the measure of the teacher's expertise, sincerity, and maturity. Find a teacher with depth who embodies your aspirations, one who "walks his or her talk," one whose opinions you respect. A good teacher will exhibit and pass along good technique, good spirit, discipline, and respect. Karate is a deep and rewarding art of self-transformation, not just kicking and punching. Expect the teacher to challenge your views, to push you beyond what you perceive as your limits, to care for you, to talk to you, to advise you, and to be honest with you. A common mistake is to view a teacher as a saint or guru who has transcended all human weakness and error or who is an expert to advise you in every aspect of your life. Another common mistake is to accept a teacher's abuses without complaint. As you look for a place to study karate, remember that a karate teacher should be a good teacher - nothing more, and nothing less. According to an old maxim, it's better to spend three years looking for the right teacher than to train for three years with the wrong teacher
Talk to parents of currently enrolled students--or the students themselves. Watch a class with older children to see how the teacher handles them and what your child can and will develop into. In the final analysis, it really doesn't make much difference what style you chose--or even what martial art you learn.
Following is a list of questions you should ask when you are considering.
- How long has the school existed?
- Has there been frequent turn-over in the teaching staff?
- Are some of the current students long-term? Have they been training at the same school for over 2, 4, or 6 years?
- Is the school conveniently located?
- Does the school have a class schedule that works well for me?
- Are there classes aimed at my age or abilities?
- How large are the classes?
- What is the student to teacher ratio?
- Is the curriculum rich in material and diversity?
- Can I watch classes anytime?
- Do the students look like they are having fun, being challenged and learning?
- Do the students smile and help each other?
- Do you see many injured students in the class?
- Do you like the instructors? Are they patient and clear in their teaching?
- Do you feel welcomed?
- Does the school feel right to you?
- Is the school clean, and well cared for?
- How long have the instructors trained, and where?
- For how long have the instructors taught?
- What rank are the instructors? Who gave them their rank?
- Are the instructors still studying and progressing themselves?
- Who are the instructor's teachers?
- Is the school a chartered member of a larger organization?
- Who authorizes rank adjustments, and what are their qualifications?
A Striking Experience
by Jeanne MacDonald, Sandan
[Editors note: This was a message from Jeanne
McDonald to Sensei Mike Pepe, who recently taught a six-week
introductory kendo class. Sensei Mike has trained for more than
10 years in kendo and iaido, and won the kendo division
1996 Choi Yong Soon Championships. Sensei Mike has also trained in kyudo in
additional to karate and Okinawan Kobudo.]
"No more excuses." Here are my thoughts on
your kendo class. By the way, Im not
sure if it was the kendo or your style that 'kicked me in gear' (maybe
both), but nevertheless I benefited and enjoyed the experience.
"Imagine being a goalie
fending off a hockey puck zooming straight at you. How cool is that?," Sensei
Mike asked on our first day of kendo training. I knew virtually
nothing about kendo before I took the introductory course. I heard it
meant the Way of the Sword and knew it had to do with samurai and
warriors. I remember seeing a
videotape of the senior ranks practicing kendo on the beach.
I always thought it was something cool that
was reserved for advanced belts. Sensei
explained that young children practice kendo in Japan like American
kids take gym class. I've seen shinai
before; after all, Sensei Jim kept shinai at his dojo.
I knew they were lightweight, flexible, made
of bamboo and used for sword training.
"Crack!" is the
loud sound I heard the shinai make as it hit the hardwood floor years
earlier as a reminder to adjust my stance.
Kristen told me Sensei Mike was going to be teaching a kendo class
and said she was looking forward to it.
I got caught up in her excitement because I had no clue what to expect
so I just agreed. My friends were taking the class; I already experienced gains
in my skills and confidence training at Sessa Kai dojo regularly since
the fall (including breakfalls with Sensei Mike's judo techniques),
so I didn't hesitate to sign up. I heard, "How cool is that?" and decided,
kendo would be!
So every class I approached
with anticipation. The very first day
we were given our own shinai not just to use, but to keep. "How
cool is that!?" I immediately
tagged my initials on "my" shinai. Sensei Mike explained our shinai were shorter on
purpose due to physical restrictions such as the ceiling height at the dojo (even
though the lights were raised to avoid a blow out).
After all the reading I was duly encouraged to do, I found out
there are regulations for the size (height and weight) of the shinai in
competition. Looking at the shinai you
see it is made of four straps of bamboo bound at the end by leather (referred
to as a tsuka in the kendo literature).Sensei had us slide a round
hand-guard held in place with
a rubber washer that we slipped on over the tsuka to create "the
I remember Sensei saying
the hand-guard and washer would need to be replaced due to use over time with
practice. Sensei Mike also said we
could oil the shinai if necessary.
When we lined up or anytime not using the shinai to strike we
held it in our left hand on the left side holding the string-side up and having
the end of the shinai hang toward the floor.Sensei showed us how to grip the shinai (similar
to some of the other weapons, exerting more strength starting with your pinky);
Hold the shinai in such a way that you'd be fly-fishing, is how he
referred to the stroke. I remember the
first day we got to hit a fortress of mats.
We all surrounded those mats and pads and got the call to just keep
hitting. What a thunderous sound.
"How cool is that!?"
Then we were introduced slowly
and steadily to the formalities and rituals that prepare the body and spirit for kendo.
Sensei had extra hakama for us to wear.
That was the first in many "battles" I would experience in
tying the equipment. We were presented
with yet another gift, a tenugui.
It looked like a bandana. They
were maroon (red happens to be my favorite color so that was cool) and had
Japanese characters we learned meant kendo. We got to practice writing the kanji
for the characters of kendo in an attempt to "Master the Pen."
The tenugui was supposed to be used
to keep your hair and sweat from impeding your vision. There is a special way to tie the tenugui
on your head. ("Ugh."
This presented to be a true challenge for me.) During one of my matches with Sensei
Donny Wong, my tenugui slipped and actually covered my eyes.
So I learned that preparation was key. When you weren't wearing the equipment you
tied the hachimaki around your head like a bandana. (Ah, success! I
could do that.)
It looked ceremonious the way
the equipment (bogu) was laid out in front of you while you knelt in seiza.
The tenugui was draped over the equipment and would be wrapped around your
head. (I already knew I needed more practice.) The tare (waist protector) only
needed to be tied once. (Even I figured this out.) When tying
the do (chest protector), we learned how to toss the himo (cords)
from one side to the other and tie the top first with a slipknot (that took me
six weeks to figure out), then loosely tie the bottom. It was inevitable that once
the men (headgear) was in place, someone would get an itchy nose.
Lastly we put on the kote (gloves) and we were ready. The equipment was made of
bamboo and heavy fabric so it wasn't weighted, but I felt
protected. All the equipment was on and we looked ready for battle.
"How cool is that?
We practiced doing drills, then matches, with an opponent. The
drills focused first on foot movement. (I need much more practice on moving
quicker and in longer strides.) Especially
after watching Sensei Mike I decided I need more powerful footwork to
move; he looks like a superhero launching and leaping forward). I was so focused on
keeping the right foot ahead and the left foot a short distance behind and ready to
push off that I didn't realize I could step through and not just burst
(so much more to learn).
"Step around the
opponent!," I heard Sensei call out after one of the others threw a
strike to the do. "We can step with the left foot?," I
asked, only to discover this toward the end of the training. During one of the drills
we struck at the opponent's shinai one side then the other while our opponent moved back
holding the shinai straight up in front of us, an exercise for us to
learn to strike to the sides of the men. We also moved the opponent back, striking
continuously to the men, preparing from a jodan no kame (high) position.
After practicing strikes to the targets (men,
side of men, kote, and do), we tried to get combinations
to flow (e.g., kote-men) using (or at least trying to) the footwork to
guide the strikes.
Just like in karate,
it was easier to strike during the drills than while free sparring. We'd
prepare in a ready position, chudan no kame with the shinai pointed
toward the opponent's throat. It was
difficult to keep the shinai pointed toward the opponent's throat
because my reaction (and that of others I saw) was to bring the shinai up
to avoid strikes coming down. (This actually created an opening.)
Then we would attack forward. Even if we sidestepped to move around opponent
we would turn to drive him back. The
immediate focus was strike, later we learned to parry, only to get your
opponent's shinai out of the way so we could strike. We also saw blocks,
but again the emphasis was on striking. Sensei told us
that it was the opposite reaction to empty-hand fighting where you would use
your elbows to protect your ribs. It
was a hard habit for some to overcome; your chest was already protected with
the do, but your elbows would be smashed by the shinai if you
used them to block.
"No excuses!," was the battle theme chanted. It doesn't matter if your
opponent is taller, his shinai
is longer, he is stronger, bigger, faster, smarter, your gloves are ripped,
your tenugui is in your face...
Sensei told us the emphasis
must be on moving forward and making the "cut".
Now I heard Sensei Mike and Kristen
call out that I need to "snap the shinai back" and have a
recoil like fly fishing, but it was hard to put it into practice. I also got to
see how the shinai would wrap around the men. (Not from me, at
least not yet.) The magic of zanshin
would be when the strike, foot and target all landed in unison.
We were inspired by the videotape of Sensei
Mike's championship kendo match in addition to the videos of the
seniors training and kendo matches in Japan. During the matches, Sensei
would call out, "Hit!" When I heard him, I hit. ( But I think it
was meant for my opponent. Oh, well.)
I also heard Sensei call
out, "Courage!" Sensei told
us about soldiers being trained in kendo so they would be fearless in
battle. Kendo teaches courage.
"How cool is that!?"
One of the lessons that I
learned from kendo was to move ("Courage"). The major reaction of
fear is to freeze. Fear can also teach
you to give up. Sensei explained, "Your thoughts become your
actions." My thoughts will become
my actions if I move. It makes sense to prepare, but what I got out of this
training was: "No excuses. Move!"
Arigato gozaimashita, Sensei Mike.
Do: The Way
by Amanda Lowe, Ikkyu
[Editors note: Amanda Lowe, from the Wyoming
Karate Club, is 15 years old and received Honorable Mention for the Spirit
Award at the 2005 SKKAA Winter Camp.]
I was asked to define do, but the answer is not as simple as it seems.
It is difficult to tell what exactly do is. As it was put,
"Westerners don't have an exact translation." There's no single
explanation of the path a martial artist travels. At first it seems exactly
that, after all, do does mean "the path." Do is a
process, a course that one follows. It can be of anything, but it requires
immersing yourself in what you are doing. The path of do does not
necessarily end; it fades into the distance with a distant goal, but the road
is shrouded. As one progresses, the road becomes clear, but only to a certain
distance. One must advance in order to uncover the secrets of the farther parts
of the path.
Do is spiritual forging; development not only in
technique, but in mind and spirit as well. It is not just the accumulation of
moves and kata, not just a programming of reflex. It is the unlocking of
parts of yourself that you didn't know before. Through the focus put on your
actions, a sort of Zen descends and your emotions and personality become
clearer. This is do, the journey of the soul as well as the honing of
skill. Those pieces of you that are discovered may or may not be good; one of
the things I've realized is that I am, by nature, not that nice. But when this
is grasped, the traveler can work to improve those things that need improving,
to further better themselves. Accepting those parts that are less than
desirable is another part of do. The changing of attitude is difficult
and requires work and effort. But it is necessary, even on the days one doesn't
feel like putting the effort into it. You cannot continue on the path of do
unless you come to terms with yourself.
So what am I practicing for? The answer, in simplest terms, is that I practice
because I am practicing. Of course, those are not the most adequate words to
describe what I do. Like do, the reason one follows the way is
complicated, and differs for many people. It may be because of a passion for
whatever path you are taking, or because something at the end of that path
calls. Perhaps you are just swept up in the path after testing it out,
tentative at first, but recognizing that this is something wanted, you
continue. For me, the reason why I follow the way is a mixture of all of these
things. There is something at the end of the path of martial arts that I hope
to attain. What lies at the end is a more complete understanding of myself. It
is also, I have to admit, a desire to be able to fully protect myself. For
others, the goal at the end of the long path is different, but their reasons
are their own.
The way of do is long and difficult. For any action, whether it be
calligraphy or art, dancing or martial arts, reaching the end requires effort
and time. It cannot be done in one night, or even one year. You may also find
that the path never truly ends. Instead, there will always be something more to
learn, something new to discover. Dedication is key in following the way, but
the end for some can come quicker than for others. It depends on what the final
objective is. The way of do is different for many people, but the
meaning is the same.
As I Remember It - 16 to 60
by Dee Dee Sorsby
A journey of over 40 years is very long for any purpose. I look back over my life and realize that the martial arts have interested me since I was 16. Maybe this interest formed because my grandfather was a state boxing champion and as a teenager one often picks an idol with whom to identify. So, idol worship might have played a part in starting my interest in the martial arts. Why then, did I dismiss my training for so long? Looking deeply, I believe that lack of confidence in myself and my Virgo personality of exactness and control to be the underlying reasons it has taken me 40+ years to approach the milestone of my shodan test.
I started my journey, however, with very little or no thought about why I was interested in the martial arts. I had no explanation for why a self defense book always was on my shelf or why karate movies were high on my "to see" list. In my teens I struggled with weekly judo lessons and remember thinking that there must be more to this art than being thrown. It seems to me now that what really made me struggle was that I could not admit to myself that I felt not good enough and therefore I lacked confidence and control.
It is amazing to me that my interest in the martial arts lay dormant for so many years, only to reestablish itself in my 50's. Yet in the years between my frustrations as a teenaged judo student and my retirement, I developed a very insidious and subtle lack of confidence. Unless I could control the outcome, I wasn't interested in trying anything. In every aspect of my life - college, teaching, investments, vacations, health, retirement - I made sure my goals were always attainable. Thus, a pre-programmable life in all avenues was developed. Failure was not an option and whenever I did fail, frustration and anxiety were the stressful outcomes.
So upon retiring from teaching I set myself the preset, attainable, and controllable goal of becoming a black belt in martial arts. I did not realize that the greatest obstacle to reaching my goal would be my poor self-image. All that I recognized, with blinders on, was one more attainable goal. (The unattainable was not in the program.) As I started training in Goju-ryu and as a white belt, I felt safe, accomplished, and confident. After six months I moved to Wyoming and continued my study in Shorin-ryu. The time passed and with it the color of my belt changed. With the passing years my knowledge expanded to nine, 10,11 kata - five, 6, 7 drills. I learned to use weapons - bo and nunchaku; I practiced self-defense of all kinds. Oh my, at times I felt way over my head, wondering if my goal was slipping away.
Martial arts were a natural extension of my professional life in physical education. I was always intrigued by the physical movements in karate. I always knew in my profession that I needed to improve the reaction time and flow in my movements. This continued to be the case in karate - as pointed out by my instructors - because my performance of katas was robotic. I noticed that even as I progressed I continued in my robotic and stiff fashion. As I grew into more intricate katas I found myself embracing the philosophy of the kata and began linking my physical movements to a more relaxed delivery. It was then I began to feel within me the oneness and harmony with each progressive kata.
Then came ikkyu - one step before shodan. My efforts up to this point had been right on course. I was truly pushing my physical abilities to their limits. Shodan was within sight; the goal was right within my grasp; I had everything under control. Up until this point my thoughts were on learning in a step-by-step A-B-C fashion. I didn't give much thought on total body development, especially to my emotional journey. I had everything under control. And then came an unexpected, unplanned and uncontrollable event: cancer.
The word still gives me a cold shiver and yet this was the one event in my life that shook me to my foundation. In the blink of an eye it showed me how all my lofty goals had been attained under the facade of confidence and control. Feeling like a bomb had hit, I no longer had it within my ability to control the outcome. It was at this point in my life that I looked at my "shodan journey" in quite a different light. I now see the emotional aspects of my training much more clearly. Now I see attaining shodan as one way of accepting and recognizing that even when I lack confidence, I can pull on an inner strength to do something positive. If attacked by several opponents or in an unusual manner, rather than consider defeat, I need to pull on that which is known. An opponent may not always be controlled, but something positive can always be done. Muscle tension and loss of focus have been major problems in my training and recognizing them allows me to battle them. Relaxing and maintaining my concentration brings a greater smoothness to my bunkai and sparring. During my hospital recuperation I found time pass slowly and my mind filled with many negative thoughts. Karate helped me develop my own type of meditation by slowly focusing mentally and visualizing my kata and drills in "tai chi speed". I learned firsthand how mind effects the body. The process calmed and allowed healing to occur. This "meditation" has been used since with sleep, health, and learning.
It seems to me that my journey has taken me up the jagged stairs of insecurity to the plateau of confidence, balance and fluidity that is seen in my katas. I never felt qualities such as these would be possible but through my steps upward they have seen some attainment in my black belt journey. So in retrospect, I admit that even being near the level of shodan amazes me. As a teen and as an adult I looked at the level of "black belt" as something really special or for someone else. Now I am here, ready to take the step up- not in fantasy or dreams - but in reality. I believe I still have some serious learning and training ahead. I picture myself getting to the stage of letting my mind become smooth and quiet and my body moving relaxed and efficient. This picture is sort of out of a Buddhist manual, but I do feel it is attainable even with inevitable setbacks. This picture is in my karate as well as every aspect of my life. I have a goal and when I am ready I will attain it. My journey has also opened to me a greater social and spiritual life. In training I feel an increased interaction with other karateka. Thus life has helped karate and karate has helped life. An old Okinawan folk song relates "Even though we take different roads to ascend the wooden mountain, each of us can achieve our goal and appreciate the moon when we reach the top". As shodan I feel I will be "appreciating the moon" by having karate help me become me and develop a more positive, accepting, and relaxed life.
Climbing the Mountain - In Search of the Soul of Karate
Clicking on book title (above) will take you to the SKKAA Publications page, which contains full book descriptions and purchase information.
More than 60 karateka gathered expectantly on June 24 for the annual Ohio Budo Camp at Mohican State Park. This Camp was special in many ways, but not least because it had a dual theme. Papa Chris had already chosen a theme for the Camp, along with supporting selections for reading, when he learned that the famous Kyokushinkai master, Oyama Masutatsu, had recently passed away. As a teenager, Papa Chris had been inspired to take up the martial arts as a result of Master Oyama's exploits, and spent more than a year-and-a-half trying to learn karate from Oyama's What Is Karate? before ever setting foot in a dojo. Papa Chris wanted others to share the enthusiasm Oyama had inspired in him, and so dedicated the Camp to the spirit of Oyama.
Kamikaze! The Divine Wind and the Spirit of the Martial Arts
Clicking on book title (above) will take you to the SKKAA Publications page, which contains full book descriptions and purchase information.
This book is about Kamikaze, the "Divine Wind" that twice saved Japan from invasion in the 1200s and, in 1945, rained down terrible destruction on another invasion force. For 500 years, Kamikaze, the martial arts, and Okinawa have been intimately intertwined. In 1272, as Kubilai Khan was preparing for his invasion of Japan, he sent envoys to Okinawa to demand submission. His demands were rejected. Four years later, as his armies embarked on their ill-fated first expedition against Japan, he again sent diplomats to demand Okinawan homage. Again his demands were scorned. "This time the envoys from China made a show of force, but were driven off," making the Ryukyuan kingdom more successful in dealing with the Mongols than the Japanese empire. During the Mongol invasions of Japan, the samurai, of course, displayed not only the individual martial arts skills, but the courage, loyalty, and self-sacrifice, for which Japanese warriors have become justly famous.
Five hundred years later, Okinawa and kamikaze were to become even more intimately and permanently fused in history. The use of kamikaze pilots reached its peak -- and its most tragic -- during the final climactic battle of World War II, the Battle for Okinawa, from April to June, 1945. Not only did kamikaze pilots wreak havoc on the US Navy's invasion and support fleet, but the Japanese military unleashed an array of suicide weapons, including boats, human torpedoes, and piloted rocket-bombs that killed and injured thousands of US servicemen and damaged or destroyed hundreds of ships in the waters around the Ryukyu Islands.
Samurai, Scoundrels and Saints: Stories From The Martial Arts
Clicking on book title (above) will take you to the SKKAA Publications page, which contains full book descriptions and purchase information.
Following is one of the many stories contained in Samurai, Soundrels and Saints
On Being Alert
Around the turn of the last millennium lived a "king of robbers" by the name of Hakamadare ("Drooping Hakama"). Strong, swift, and clever, Hakamadare liked to prey upon unsuspecting travelers along the highway.
One day, just out of prison and completely broke, Hakamadare came upon the idea of lying naked beside the highway, appearing to be dead. In this way, he thought he might find an opportunity to rob someone.
Passersby looked and hurried on, whispering to each other, "Look! There's a dead man there. I don't see any wounds. I wonder what killed him."
After a while, a samurai rode up, accompanied by a whole squad of retainers, baggage carriers, and messengers. The warrior, spotting the naked "corpse" lying by the roadway, overheard someone say he was dead. With a sidelong glance, he spurred his horse and quickly trotted off. The crowd laughed and shouted after him, "What's the matter? Afraid of a dead man? Some fierce warrior you are!"
A short while later, another samurai came along, but this fellow was traveling alone. The crowd had dispersed as nightfall was coming on. The samurai noticed the man and dismounted.
"What's this?," he asked himself out loud.
Walking up to the body, he began to poke it with the tip of his bow, when suddenly Hakamadare snatched the bow from his hands and wrestled the warrior, nearly paralyzed with surprise and fear, to the ground. The thief stripped off the samurai's hakama and jacket, took his bow and quiver, and jumped on his horse. Howling with laughter, he spurred the horse down the highway, leaving the still dazed samurai by the roadside wondering what kind of demon he had just encountered.
Warriors and Wisemen: More Stories From The Martial Arts
Clicking on book title (above) will take you to the SKKAA Publications page, which contains full book descriptions and purchase information.
The Emperor's Clothes
Yamaoka Tesshu (1836-1888) was one of Japan's most famous swordsmen, perhaps the last in the long line of legendary "sword saints." He was also known for being a bit eccentric. Both a master of swordsmanship and Zen, he was a tutor to the emperor.
Tesshu was well known for dressing shabbily, the result of often giving away his clothes to the needy. One day, the emperor noticed how worn Tesshu's garments were. He ordered his steward to give Tesshu some money to buy a new set of clothes. Shortly thereafter, Tesshu returned to the palace to see the emperor-wearing the same shabby garment.
"What happened to the new clothes I ordered be bought for you?," inquired the emperor.
"I provided a new set of clothes for one of the children of Your Majesty," Tesshu replied.
Monks, Madmen and Martial Masters
Clicking on book title (above) will take you to the SKKAA Publications page, which contains full book descriptions and purchase information.
From "Have a Cup of Tea!"
The grizzled old warrior moved with surprising grace. Gently lifting the ladle, he poured a small amount of water into a rustic bowl and briskly mixed in the powered tea with a bamboo whisk. "This is how you do it," he told the teenager kneeling next to him in the little hut. He turned to the youngster and instructed him:
Tea may be an amusement from one point of view, but you will find that the same principles are implicit in it as in the military art. Cha-no-yu [the tea ceremony] insists on the unity of things, and also on the most carefully attention to details, in that the most unremitting vigilance must be exercised in every small point of the ceremony. It also taxes the fertility of a man's resources when, as often happens, a situation crops up that is not provided for in the fixed rules. If you are proficient in these things you are not likely to be found wanting in any military problem.
Little Dragons and Tigers
Clicking on book title (above) will take you to the SKKAA Publications page, which contains full book descriptions and purchase information.
From "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Karate kids" by Jayne Butram
How does karate build character, make kids act responsibly, and help them to set and achieve goals? What can we do as parents and sensei to teach these attributes to our kids? I've found that many useful hints are contained in the book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Steven R. Covey.
Now, I'm sure Mr. Covey never envisioned some of his ideas to be used exactly in this way. These habits are actually deep, life-changing principles and we're introducing them in a simplified form, but if we can get youngsters to start to use them early on a simple level, they can later learn to integrate them more fully in their lives.
Habit Number One - Be Proactive. If I had to pick only one of the seven habits to make youngsters more effective, this would be the one. Being proactive means being responsible for our own lives. Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our condition. We have the ability and responsibility to make things happen. Karate training helps kids see that all actions have consequences: if they practice, they progress. They are the ones responsible for being prepared for class. No more, "My Mom forgot to pack my mouth guard." Without their pads, they can't spar. If they lose their gear, they have to pay to replace it from their allowance or by doing chores around the house to earn the money.
I ask the kids to think of things they know need to be done (karate practice, chores, homework) and see if they can get them done before they're asked to do them. They begin to see that they have a choice in how they respond when reprimanded by Mom or Dad. They can choose how to respond to name-calling or bullying by other kids.
Clicking on book title (above) will take you to the SKKAA Publications page, which contains full book descriptions and purchase information.
From "Seeds of Future Greatness"
All went well, with the two men successfully poling the raft toward the far shore, but the current was rapidly pushing them downstream. In an effort to slow their descent toward the confluence that becomes the Ohio River, the major thrust his pole out as far as he could reach downstream and attempted to keep the boat from drifting in that direction. But the current was too powerful. Quickly the raft pushed toward, then over the pole, severely jolting the raft. Gist was knocked from his feet, but the blow threw the major overboard into the freezing water. As the major flailed against the current and reached for the raft, Gist rushed to the side and grasped his hand, pulling him back on board.
Both men had lost their poles; the raft could only float aimlessly downstream, taking the two men to their uncertain fate. Both, but especially the major, were soaked with freezing water and exposed to the bitterly cold air. Both knew that survival was chancy. Just as hope was waning, they spied a small island in the middle of
the river. Gist began frantically paddling with his hands, and by luck they struck the shore. Hastily building a fire, they attempted to thaw their frostbitten hands and feet and return their body temperatures to normal. In the morning, after a harrowing tightrope walk across fallen timber, they reached the other side.
I Remember When
Clicking on book title (above) will take you to the SKKAA Publications page, which contains full book descriptions and purchase information.
From "Fun and Sun" by Mike Pepe
Those are the biggest pigeons I've ever seen!" Oh, we laughed so hard when Steve Kalucki said that! "Pigeons?! Those are pelicans!," we shouted through our laughter! "Hey," he said, "I'm from New Jersey. There are no pelicans there!"
My sensei, Jim True, black belt Steven Kalucki and I had flown to Daytona Beach the day after Labor Day for one of the first Summer Camps... way back in 1983 or 1984. We arrived on Tuesday for the first workout and went home on Sunday afternoon. This gave us six days and five nights of training! I remember this very well. We got fourteen hours sleep that week! Fourteen hours in five nights.
"See that pier?" "Yes." "Run and touch the pier then run back." That's how the six a.m. class started. Everyone ran the three-mile loop which took about a half hour. Then it was a half an hour of Tai Chi. Tai Chi went something like this. Push going forward, pull through shiko dachi going backward. Up the beach, down the beach. This was before anyone knew the Tai Chi short form. Push, pull, push, and pull--it seemed it would never end! But then it does, and we all have fun dive bombing the waves with kicks and punches! Another time we were on each other's shoulders having a chicken fight free-for-all!
I Remember II
Clicking on book title (above) will take you to the SKKAA Publications page, which contains full book descriptions and purchase information.
From "How Did I Get Here?" by Stephen Iannetti
Well, I never did get that second private lesson. The next day I was in the group class. In those days, at the Waltham dojo, the low ranks lined up to Sensei's left, and I took my place in the back. But who was this guy leading the class? Not Sensei True. He said he was Dai Sempai, whatever that means. I left that night thinking, "Dai Sempai must mean something like 'He who is fond of torture'." Push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, then begin again. Now try them with a partner! This guy was insane, but he was pushing me and that's just what I needed.
Clicking on book title (above) will take you to the SKKAA Publications page, which contains full book descriptions and purchase information.
This is a fierce samurai, a Japanese warrior from the past. He's waving a war fan to tell his soldiers when to attack. Can you find his helmet? His sword?
Clicking on book title (above) will take you to the SKKAA Publications page, which contains full book descriptions and purchase information.
A Cool Chinese Dragon Project
(Note: Illustrations provided in the book.)
- A paper egg carton
- A hole punch
- Craft paint, crayons, or markers
- White cotton balls
- (Optional: wiggly eyes, red felt scrap, glue, jingle bells)
Now here's what you do:
- Cut the cups apart on the egg carton. Even out the edges so the cups will sit flat when you turn them upside down on a table.
- Color the inside of one cup black. This will be the mouth.
- Paint the outsides of the other cups whatever colors you want. Yellow dragons are always lucky.
- Paint or color dots of various colors on the painted cups.
- Use the hole punch to put two holes in each cup. They should be straight across from each other on the cup. Don't tie on the head yet.
- Lace the ribbon through the holes.
- Now, if you want to, tie jingle bells on each end of your dragon.
- Take a little piece of red ribbon or some red felt scraps to make a tongue. If you don't have those, you can use red construction paper. Glue the tongue inside the mouth.
- To make your dragon even cooler, add wiggle eyes. Glue one cotton ball over each eye to make bushy eyebrows. Now tie on the head.
- If you want, you can make a leash with a piece of string or ribbon, put it through the hole in the dragon's head, and take him for a walk!
Black Belt Extravaganza Event
The True Martial Arts Academy held a black belt extravaganza promotional on Dec. 7th from 1-3 pm at the Plympton Elementary School in Waltham, Ma. With over 60 parents, grand parents and friends and 25 students in attendance for various ranks from Green belt to Black belt.
The testing started with warm ups, running, crawling, break falling and calisthenics around the gym, followed by dividing into different rank groups with a black belt advisor instructing them through the basics. This lead to drills, kata with bunkai and then self-defense against empty hand and then with knife, gun and club.
The final elements of the test were various methods of kumite against different sized students, large to small, multiple attackers and then against the adult Black Belts. We finished up with board breaking for all the black belt and Jr. Black Belt candidates and as expected it was a smashing success!
Congratulations to all the students who were promoted: (See Awards and Promotions Page)
Dojo's Got Talent Night
March 8th the True Martial Arts Academy hosted its first Dojo's Got Talent event!
The evening featured over twenty students aged 8 to 14 showing off their collective talents from comedic to musical instruments to dance to singing to amazing stuntman fighting. The laughs and applause where followed by pizza and then an excellent Jackie Chan and Jet Li movie "The Forbidden Kingdom".
Thanks to all the teens that helped make the evening a huge success, I look forward to the next one!
It is with great sadness that we recognize the passing of an old colleague, Craig N. Campbell, of Columbus, Ohio
For decades, Craig was a practitioner and teacher of Isshin-ryu karate. He was also a senior student in Kohgen Itto-ryu kendo and iaido under Kotaka Sadao Sensei. He eventually reached the rank of 6th dan in kendo and later replaced Kotaka Sensei as head of the Ohio State University's Kohbukan Kendo Club. He had also been the Scout Master of Troop #28 since 2005. A graduate of The Ohio State University, Craig, age 61, passed away on Sunday, February 9, 2014 in Columbus. He is survived by his mother, Eleanor Campbell; Janet, his wife of 30 years; children, Meghan (Johnathan) Hagelstein, Ian (Kristen) Campbell and Caitlin (Garrett) Kelly; grandchildren, Alice and Matthew, Morgan and Liam; brother, Scott Campbell; and sister, Krista (Kent Nielsen) Campbell. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations can be Troop 28 at North Broadway United Methodist Church, 48 E. N. Broadway, 43214. A friendly soul with a lively mind and a love for the martial arts, Craig has left us too soon. He will be missed by his family and many friends.
-- Papa Chris
by Jack Plank
I'm Jack Plank. I'm a 16 year-old junior at West Geauga High School, and I've been a member of troop 193 for six years, though Scouting has been a part of my life for much longer. It was in the first grade that I joined as a cub scout with about two dozen of my classmates. Back then it was nothing special. I wasn't too interested in learning about the outdoors; it was really just another place to spend time with my friends once a week after school. And yet here I am, ten years later, almost ready to earn the highest rank in Boy Scouting.
To become an Eagle Scout, in addition to all the required service hours, merit badges, and scouting experience, one must plan and carry out to completion their "Eagle Scout Project", a major service project to the benefit of his community.
Over the summer I undertook the task of installing a huge sign in front of my high school to fulfill this requirement. It measures 130' by 10', with 6' by 4' letters spelling out "West Geauga High School". As seen in the picture, wooden frames filled with gravel painted blue make up the letters while the rest of the sign is filled with a thin layer of white limestone. The project used a total of about twenty yards of gravel and hundreds of wooden boards. Countless tons of dirt were also moved in the process of landscaping. The project took several hundred combined man hours from me, my friends, and members of my scout troop over the summer. I am just about done now, with the only remaining step being the planting of a few trees near the sign.
It's been a lot of work, getting where I am now in scouting. Not just with this project, but over the last few years. Only about 2-3% of boys who join scouting attain the rank of Eagle. Most drop out when they are given actual responsibility, when they realize that there is work to do and it's not all fun and games. I'm glad I didn't. I've learned a lot through scouting, not only about camping and nature but about preparedness, diligence, determination, problem solving, leadership, and more.
Karate and Boy Scouts have always been the two major extracurricular devotions of my life. After having recently hit a huge milestone in my training with my promotion to Shodan, it is just as satisfying to know that I am soon to hit an equally great milestone in scouting.
Ohio family competes in triathlon
by Becky Edwards
When Becky Edwards got her boys Zachary and Gabe into running she never expected this outcome! Ed.
My boys and I started a program in March to prepare us to run a 5k (3.1 miles) in June. A daunting task for an 8 and 10 year old, not to mention their mother! We would run intervals during the week (jog/walk) and meet with others in our group on Saturday mornings to run a little longer. One of the mentors in our group is an Ultra Marathoner (more than your typical 26 mile marathon) and told me that the boys had natural talent. They began running the full 3 miles that a 5k involves very early on in our training. By the time we came to our race in June, they were well equipped for the challenge.
Zachary (10) had already run a 5k trail run and came in 3rd in his age division. Talk about proud! Zach and Gabe both did very well in our scheduled June run, that had nearly 1000 runners in it. They asked if they could do it again, because they enjoyed it so much. So I looked online and found there were other events, not just the 5k events that we had been running in previously. I found a youth triathlon, that was in conjunction with the Greater Cleveland Triathlon/Duathlon that includes a Swim, bike and run.
I knew they would be fine at the biking and running, but was unsure of the swim. As it turned out, the swim was cancelled due to Lake Erie being too choppy the morning of the event. I was thrilled! They should have both been in the junior division, 7-10 year olds, but as it turns out, things are run differently in the triathlon community. Ages are determined by how old the participant will be at the end of the year. So Zach was moved up to the senior division, which was double the distance that we had been training for! Gabe's group was first, with a 1/2 mile run, 3 mile bike ride and 1/2 mile run to finish (technically a duathlon). He did very well, finishing in 22 minutes. Then it was Zach's turn. 1 mile run, 6 mile bike and finishing with another 1 mile run.
He was so nervous that he couldn't do it. But, amazingly, he did it in 41 minutes, 1st place in his age bracket. Both boys received finisher's medals and said it was one of the hardest things they've ever done.
And they want to do it again!
This mama couldn't be prouder!
A Tour of Gettysburg with Papa Chris
Pictured here: Papa Chris gives a tour of Gettysburg, PA during Summer Budo Camp
Karate Secret Video
Folks might want to check out this short introductory video advertising a longer set of DVDs for sale. It includes footage of the late, great Master Onaga Yoshimitsu of Shorin-ryu, Higa Yuchoku's top student; Shinjo Kiyohide, 9th dan Uechi-ryu and multi-year winner of the all-Okinawa tournament in kata and kumite; and Senaha Sensei, 9th dan Goju-ryu. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E58PenmA-dY
Effective Bunkai Search
For those interested in creative, effective bunkai (applications) to their kata, search Youtube for the videos of Konstantin Drobyshevsky. Some very interesting ideas.
The Case for Kata/A Warrior's View of Fate, Iain Abernethy Video
In this month's podcast we cover two topics!The first thing we cover is "The Case for Kata" The question is often asked if kata itself plays a meaningful role in practise. If kata is nothing more than a repository for bunkai, then why not just practise the applications and do away with kata? Does keeping the solo forms, and devoting time to their practise, serve any meaningful purpose? Naturally, I think the solo form does have an important role to play; and in the first section I explain why. The second section of this podcast looks at "A Warrior's View of Fate"
Also New Online Videos: Karate Throws, An Arm-Lock Flow-Drill, Enpi / Wanshu Bunkai
Since last month's newsletter 30 minutes of new online bunkai videos have been added to the website and my "Practical Kata Bunkai" YouTube channel. The videos cover a number of karate throws, an arm-lock flow drill, and some bunkai from Wanshu / Enpi kata. To make them as easy as possible to find for newsletter subscribers, I have put all the videos on this webpage:
Joe Weider, titan of bodybuilding who mentored Arnold Schwarzenegger, dies at 93
The Washington Post, Published: March 24
Joe Weider, titan of bodybuilding who mentored Arnold Schwarzenegger, dies at 93." Joe Weider was a legendary figure in bodybuilding who helped popularize the sport worldwide, one of the founders of the modern strength and fitness movement. For more on his career, see http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/joe-weider-titan-of-bodybuilding-who-mentored-arnold-schwarzenegger-dies-at-93/2013/03/24/fed77bfe-9490-11e2-ae32-9ef60436f5c1_story.html
Jiujitsu Film Footage From 1912
From The Bartitsu Society
Here's a really cool website that contains footage from 1912 of Japanese martial arts and a demonstration of several formal jiujitsu techniques, look familiar, enjoy.
Here's One for Us Old Folks
Hopkins becomes oldest boxer to win major title
By Denis Gorman, AP
The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) - Add another name to Bernard Hopkins' list of victims.
Hopkins became the oldest boxer to win a major title on Saturday night, scoring a 12-round unanimous decision over Tavoris Cloud to claim the IBF light heavyweight championship.
``It feels good. It feels real good,'' Hopkins said. ``I'm going to Junior's (Restaurant and) I'm going to have cheesecake.''
The 48-year-old Hopkins broke the record he set by beating Jean Pascal for the WBC light heavyweight title on May 21, 2011. When asked which fight meant more, Hopkins said ``tonight was better. Because I'm older. (It's) more gratifying.
``Tonight was one of the bigger fights (in my career).''
And while he reveled in what he accomplished, he was looking toward the future. Hopkins, who was adamant that he will not fight past 50, laid a challenge at the feet of the 175-pound and 168-pound divisions.
``I'm motivated to do it,'' Hopkins said. ``I don't believe anybody in the 175(-pound) weight class and possibly the 168(-pound) class can beat me.''
Hopkins, fighting his 19th title bout, improved to 53-6-2 in the main event of an eight-fight card at the Barclays Center. The 30-year-old Cloud fell to 19-1.
``It was great to break (in) the Barclays Center with a (legendary) performance,'' Hopkins said.
With Hopkins forcing a patient, technical match, Cloud was unable to press the issue and Hopkins circled him, landing jabs to his face, eventually opening a cut above his left eye.
``I have to throw a lot of substance (into fights). I'm fighting old school in a new world. (I) have to learn to adapt to what (the judges) are looking for,'' Hopkins said. ``We knew a 30-year-old guy was not going to run from a 48-year-old guy.''
Hopkins connected on 169 of 417 punches. Cloud landed 139 of 650.
``I was only average tonight,'' Cloud said. ``He hit me with an elbow but I'm not complaining. It is what it is.''
Two Cops vs. One MMA Fighter Training Drill
In this video you'll see several of the techniques taught in the GST Level 2 Instructor Certification Course demonstrated by Rener Gracie. Then, you'll see an Arrest Simulation Drill that was conducted on the last day of training. Two officers were randomly selected from the group and were told to arrest Brian "T-City" Ortega (Pro MMA Fighter) who would resist them with all his might. Although normally the officers would spend much more time verbally commanding the subject, since this drill was specifically designed to test their hands-on arrest and control procedures, they were instructed not to spend any time talking to the subject. Also, with knowledge of Brian's Fighting Prowess, these officers could have easily justify escalating his force, but once again, these officers were exclusively testing their hands-on arrest techniques on a trained MMA fighter. Notice how the officers were able to overcome Brian without having to escalate to strikes, batons, etc.
*Editors Note; The above paragraph is taken from the text on the You Tube video.
Enjoy the video below!
Keiko Fukuda, the first and only woman awarded the rank of 10th dan in judo, passed away
Keiko Fukuda, the first and only woman awarded the rank of 10th dan in judo, passed away February 11, 2013 in San Francisco. She was 99.
The last surviving student of the founder of judo, Kano Jigoro, Fukuda broke from tradition as a young woman, choosing to train in judo under Kano rather than marry. Fukuda eventually followed Kano's wish that she and other students teach judo around the world. She came to the United States to do just that in 1966 and later settled here permanently. She became a leader in women's rights by example and voice.
Fukuda's promotion to judos highest rank came as a "total surprise," according to her caretaker, Shelley Fernandez. Then came a sense of great pride, "especially knowing that this promotion would help women's judo," Fukuda told Fernandez. "This is a dream come true," Fukuda said. She was awarded judo's highest rank by USA Judo, the national governing body for the Olympic sport in the United States in the summer of 2011.
Fukuda is the subject of a recent documentary, Mrs. Judo: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful. You can see her still teaching well into her 90s at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2hWr0WPe7o or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_HJkekcAvQ
Practical Kata Bunkai: Takedown and Strangle, Iain Abernethy Video
British sensei Iain Abernethy has come out with another nice (free!), quick bunkai application you may enjoy trying. Check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWmpsj82skw
Kickboxing Champion Joe Lewis Passes Away
Famed martial artist Joe Lewis has passed away after a battle with cancer. He was 68 years old. Sensei Lewis served in the Marine Corps in 1962 and was one of the first marines to be stationed in Vietnam. While in Okinawa Joe began his training in Shorin-ryu karate under Grandmaster Shimabuku Eizo, earning his black belt. Upon his return home, Lewis trained and competed in the '60s and '70s in full contact Kickboxing and point tournaments, becoming United States heavy weight Kickboxing Champion among other titles. He competed in many tournaments against the likes of Chuck Norris, Frank Hargrove and Skipper Mullins and is known as "the father or American Kickboxing." Mr. Lewis was voted "greatest fighter in karate history" and inducted into over a dozen different martial arts halls of fame. Joe went on to write several books on fighting and strategies as well as dabbling in films. He may be best known for his part in "Force Five," among other movies. Mr. Lewis developed his own fighting system-"Joe Lewis Fighting Systems"-teaching thousands, sharing his knowledge with others. A true pioneer of the early martial arts in America, he will be missed. Read more about karate pioneer Joe Lewis here: http://joelewisart.com/biography-2/
The 20 Precepts of Gichin Funakoshi, Iain Abernethy Podcast
We think you will enjoy the latest podcast by Iain Abernethy. "The 20 Precepts of Gichin Funakoshi"
The twenty precepts are interesting and wide ranging and they give me an opportunity to talk about martial ethics, pre-emption, the importance of the correct martial mindset, the impact of the martial arts on life outside the dojo, the need for regular training, principles over techniques, the importance of avoiding conflict, awareness vs. paranoia, the purpose of stances, the application of kata in actual conflict, the difference between practicing and doing, the importance of mindful training, and more!" You can find it at http://iainabernethy.co.uk/content/20-precepts-gichin-funakoshi-podcast
Kayla Harrison wins women's 78K Olympic judo medal
LONDON (AP) - Kayla Harrison gave the U.S. its first judo gold medal in Olympic history, taking the 78-kilogram title Thursday at the London Games.
Harrison defeated Britain's Gemma Gibbons in a final she dominated from the start, getting a stronger grip on Gibbons and managing to throw her twice.
Her medal is the U.S.' second in judo this week: Teammate Marti Malloy won a bronze in the women's 57-kilogram division.
Harrison, world No. 4 and a former world champion, was in top form, dispatching many of her opponents with a match-ending ippon move, one in less than a minute. Harrison said she was focused on the gold.
"This is my purpose," she said.
The bronze medals were won by Audrey Tcheumeo of France and Mayra Aguiar of Brazil.
Tips For Success (Tip #6)
The credit belongs to those who are actually in the arena, who strive valiantly, who know the great enthusiasm, the great devotions, and spend themselves in a worthy cause; who at the best, know the triumph of high achievement, and who ,at the worst, if they fail, fail while daring greatly, so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
- Theodore Roosevelt
Lyoto Machida; UFC Star and Kata Expert?
Lyoto Machida is a famous mixed martial artist who competes in the UFC, however, he began his training in Shotokan karate where he holds a 3rd degree black belt. watch him perform Shotokan kata Shochin for the paparazzi.
Test your martial arts knowledge with this quick quiz
Just for fun, take this quick Karate Quiz! 10 questions to test your martial arts knowledge, but be careful!
If that quiz got your knowledge cells happy, heres another place to choose from a variety of quick quizzes rated easy to difficult!
Verbal De-escalation, Iain Abernethy Podcast
Some of you may be interested in Iain Abernethy's latest offerings. Listen to his Podcast on "Verbal De-escalation" at http://iainabernethy.co.uk/content/verbal-de-escalation-podcast. Also of interest is the Online lecture on the history of karate by Charles Goodin and Pat Nakata at http://iainabernethy.co.uk/content/cgoodin-and-pnakata-history-karate
Sachiko Yamauchi Sensei Prough
The President of the United States Naginata Federation (USNF), Sachiko Prough has passed away in New Jersey at the young age of 52. She leaves her husband, well known Iaido expert, Sensei John Prough. Yamauchi Sensei, as she was known, grew up in Shikoku, Japan where she reached Naginata Shodan by the age of 16. She competed in various All Japan College Naginata Tournaments while in school often placing in the top 10% or better. Eventually she placed first in every All Japan level tournaments through high school, college and as an adult. Yamauchi Sensei went on to teach, coach and referee many Naginata tournaments. She held many offices including, Director of Ehime Naginata Federation and Advisor to All Japan College Naginata Federation in Japan. In America she was the President of the United States Naginata Federation and founded the Greater New York Naginata Federation. Yamauchi Sensei was promoted to the rank of Kyoshi in 1996, the second highest rank in Naginata and was one of the youngest ever to hold this title.
*Beisho members Kristen Pepe, Marisa Cimino and Jeanne McDonald of Waltham, trained often with Yamauchi Sensei in their tenure as members of the USNF.
Bob Anderson Fencing Master and Coach to Hollywood Actors Dies at 89
By T. Rees Shapiro, The Washington Post, Published: January 2
Bob Anderson taught swordsmanship to everyone from Eroll Flynn (the "original" Robin Hood) and Sean Connery to Olympic champions and the man who wielded the light-saber as Darth Vader. Read more about this remarkable swordsman and teacher, who died in January at "Bob Anderson, fencing master and coach to Hollywood actors, dies at 89." or cut and paste the following into your browser:
Discipline and Defiance / Practical Karate
Another interesting podcast by one of Britain's leading martial arts authorities, Iain Abernethy. Enjoy.
Chantal Tavitian, Shodan Student Returns From Basic Training
PV 2 Chantal Tavitian, United States Army MOS -25B (IT Specialist) who had recently been promoted to shodan in June of 2011 has returned from her basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, followed by her AIT Training at fort Gordon, Georgia.
Pictured here with Shihan Jim at the True Martial Arts Academy, her appearance was a surprise for her younger brother Shant, who was promoted to Jr. Gold Belt.
Congratulations to both and thank you for you service to our country.
PV2 TAVITIAN CHANTAL
UNITED STATES ARMY
MOS- 25B (IT SPECIALIST)
BASIC TRAINING AT FORT JACKSON, SOUTH CAROLINA
AIT TRAINING AT FORT GORDON, GEORGIA
Newton Teen Fights Off Brutal Attack During Aruba Vacation
Tips For Success (Tip #5)
Champions arrive early and stay late. They know what they're there for. They don't have to be told five times to do something or be given a five-minute lecture on how to do it. You give them the challenge, and they get it done.
There are people who work at 50 percent of their ability and who are successful. Then there are the ones who give 110 percent of everything they've got and barely make it. Which ones would you want? I'd rather have the people who give it their all and walk off the field knowing that. In business as in athletics, a champion is the person who at the end says, " I gave it everything I had ; win or lose, you got the best I can give.
- James Williams
paralypian, table tennis
Realistic Bunkai to Common Shuri-te and Naha-te Derived Kata
"For those of you especially interested in realistic bunkai to common Shuri-te and Naha-te derived kata, be sure to keep up with Sensei Iain Abernethey's many posts, youtube videos, and podcasts. His latest can be found at http://iainabernethy.co.uk/news/all-practical-kata-bunkai-pad-drill-videos-july-8th. You can also sign up for his e-newsletter at www.iainabernethy.com, which will inform you of new postings as well as his many public appearances, including in the US. He's on Twitter (http://twitter.com/iainabernethyand Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/iainabernethy) too. Abernethy is one of the few--and among the very best--at interpreting traditional kata with bunkai that really work and make sense (if you can understand his North England accent). I heartily endorse what he's doing and recommend his work to you.
- Papa Chris
Article Link: Battle for the Soul of Kung Fu
Be sure to check out the terrific article,"Battle for the Soul of Kung Fu" in the March 2011 issue of National Geographic (http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/03/shaolin-kung-fu/gwin-text). It's about the original Shaolin Monastety and has a lot of wonderful pictures as well as an interesting story."
The December 4th Test at Shorin Ryu Waltham (From the Perspective of an Ikkyu)
by Daniel Strauss
It's Saturday, December 4, 2010. You're about to attempt to get a stripe, or possibly even a belt. There's a tension in you; you know you'll get the promotion, but you still aren't sure you are going to feel like you earned it. Then you think back to all the other times that you've tested and you've felt worth it afterwards. You feel more confident now. But still, you have that tiny bit of tension nagging at you. Nagging at you for the testing to begin.
We all entered the dojo, which was mirrored on two of the three walls. One of the other two walls supported the shomen, the other was covered in equipment, and the floor was padded and green. To start, we did warm-ups. But these weren't quite our average warm-ups. In place of the usual things we would do in class or during other testings, we had to do a set amount of a specified technique, like 50 jab-reverses at our own speed. Also unlike most testings, there was a theme. It was "one step at a time." What this meant was that you had to complete every move in some kind of sequence as if you would be done with the sequence after that move. Suppose that this move was a punch. What Sensei would say to everybody was, "You just have to make one good punch." Until we had finished that move, we did not have to worry about the move that would come next. My gi, which was totally white, had to snap every time I did my "one good ________."
Another part of the procedure was when our group had to line up in front of each of the other groups in turn. What they would do was to put us in different grabs, and we had to escape. We also had to bunkai Fukyu Kata Dai Ichi, which means we had to figure out what the moves were doing to an enemy. There were five of us: four arranged in a diamond and the remaining one in the middle. We also had a higher-ranked adult overseeing us. We took turns going into the middle, and when we were in the center we were performing the kata. The rest of the group, in the diamond formation, was attacking and reacting to our moves from their respective directions. The highest kata we had to perform was Rohai, which we did not have to bunkai.
But these are only the things the people about my age and rank did. Other groups had alternate tasks to perform. The groups included those testing for the rank of kobudo deshi (student of weaponry), junior black belts, and black stripes on a brown belt. My group was the last of those three. There were also adults who were not testing. They were there to lead the test and make sure things went smoothly.
At the end, Sensei asked everybody to say how long they'd been taking karate and what karate had done for them. We went our separate ways after that, and I can just about guarantee that every one of us was extremely satisfied.
Winter Seminar November 2010
by Keith Martinek
On November 6th and 7th the members of the True Martial Arts Academy in Waltham were honored by the arrival of Sensei Ed Kearney and Sensei Jayne Butram. They came to Massachusetts and, along with Sensei Jim, lead our annual winter seminar. The main topics were close-quarter fighting and knife fighting techniques.
During the fighting seminar we spent time reviewing some basic strikes, and then worked them into a variety of combinations. We focused on jabs and reverse punches using angles to get in close, and then added leg strikes. For those that worked with Sensei Ed before and felt the pain of the "tom toi" kick this was a real reminder of how devastating this kick can be. Prior to the seminar we were cautioned to bring our shin pads. Thankfully for many participants Sensei Jim had some extra pairs. Everyone paired off and began to work combinations of jab, reverse, knee strikes and the tom toi kick.
For many of the participants this was a continuation of their training from previous knife fighting seminars, for others it was our first exposure. The group spent time reviewing some basics: proper grip, attitude, posture, strategy and strikes. We paired off to practice the distance and timing for cutting and thrusts. Sensei Ed took us thru a variety of drills and combinations designed to build our coordination with the knife. In this process we learned both techniques for offense and defense with the knife. The drills became very dynamic where in one drill the attacker worked a second attack after the defender seemingly blocked the strike. Another drill had both partners working a rhythm drill, roll and pick. Here one participant would decide to break the rhythm and initiate the attack
After the seminar, Sensei Jim hosted a gathering at his home. It was a very pleasant evening spent talking with friends and sharing karate stories. We spent time watching many old videos from past Beisho seminars and camps. It was fun to see bits of our history (and some of our most senior ranks as shodans and nidans) that has led us to where our karate is today.
There was a lot of hard work this weekend and many great memories. Thank you to Sensei Jim, Jayne, Ed, and all the SKKAA members that made this Winter Seminar possible.
Tips For Success (Tip #4)
The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital.
- Coach Joe Paterno
Mary Ann Vacherweill
As the name implies, Sessa Kai dojo grew out of a dedication to constant hard work and improvement on the part of Sensei Michael Pepe. Although the small space that held it for many years is closing for now, the Sessa Kai spirit did not begin, nor does it end on Waverley Avenue in Watertown. Sensei Mike's unusual spirit of tireless labor in combination with freely shared intellectual curiosity and passion for the martial arts was crafted over many years. He built these character traits in many different rooms with or without mats and mirrors. No matter the place, this spirit will continue to grow in the many who have trained with him. They take it with them to other dojos, driveways, libraries, gyms, and basements. And Sensei Mike will, no doubt, continue to unselfishly share the wealth of his knowledge where ever he is teaching.
Arigato gozai masu, Sensei. - Mary Ann Vacherweill
Click here to view Sessa Kai tribute pictures
[Editor's note: Say it ain't so! For those of us who began the martial arts in the 1960s, Anton Geesink was a hero and a role model, living proof that a Westerner could beat the best Japanese at their own game. Now he's gone! And he was 76! For me (and many others) he will always be the robust youngster who took on the best Japanese, and world, champions and beat them all, the first "foreigner" to win a Gold Medal at the Olympics, and at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics at that. Hail and farewell, honored warrior!]
Anton Geesink, 76, dies; Dutchman won first Olympic gold medal in judo
Tuesday, August 31, 2010; B06
Anton Geesink, 76, a member of the International Olympic Committee who won the first Olympic gold medal in judo, died Aug. 28 after several weeks in a hospital in his home town of Utrecht, Netherlands. No cause of death was reported.
The International Olympic Committee praised Geesink as a "great athlete" who "dedicated his entire career to the promotion of sport and its values." Mr. Geesink had been a member of the IOC since 1987.
The 6-foot-6 Dutchman stunned Japan by becoming the first Westerner to win the world judo championship in 1961 in Paris, and then won his Olympic gold in 1964 in Tokyo. He won another world title in Rio de Janeiro in 1965, along with a record 21 European championships.
Anton Geesink winning the 1964 Heavyweight Gold Medal in Judo at the Tokyo Olympics.
"Everybody will remember the gigantic stature of this Dutch figure whose size was equivalent to his kindness," the International Judo Federation said in a statement. "Anton Geesink never stopped fighting for the development of sport throughout the world."
Mr. Geesink was the first European to become a ninth-dan judoka in 1987 and was awarded the 10th degree in 1997 by the International Judo Federation.
The blue uniform worn by one competitor in international matches so that judges, referees and spectators can tell the athletes apart more easily arose from a suggestion made by Mr. Geesink at an International Judo Federation meeting in 1986.
"Today, Judo is a universal activity, thanks to the 'way of education' that Jigoro Kano created at the end of the 19th century," the judo federation's statement said. "But for sure, it would not have been possible if, first of all, Anton Geesink had not been the great champion he was and secondly, he had not become such a fantastic ambassador during and after his sports career."
Survivors include Mr. Geesink's wife, Jans, and their three children.
-- Associated Press
Samurai Spirit on Youtube
"We'd like to thank Sue Theise of the Wyoming Karate Club for drawing our attention to a fascinating series of short programs on the "Samurai Spirit," originally run on NHK World Television.
The first episode can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XasE9DbHC_Y&feature=related.
It should lead you to the other episodes. Enjoy!"
Tips For Success (Tip #3)
Life doesn't require that we be the best, only that we try our best.
- H.Jackson Brown
The Journal Jissen
We'd like to call your attention to a free on-line magazine aimed at those who are interested in what its authors term "pragmatic traditionalism." The journal, Jissen, focuses on applications of traditional karate techniques to modern self-defense situations, including bunkai of traditional kata. While most articles are by Shotokan or Wado-ryu practitioners, their ideas are highly stimulating and have great applicability for Shorin-ryu practitioners. The magazine is run and edited by Iain Abernethy, one of the foremost experts on the realistic interpretation and practice of traditional karate. While we do not endorse products and cannot vouch for everything in Jissen, we encourage you to take a look at this free-bee. It's a real bargain! You can find it at http://www.jissenmag.com.
Oregon Karate Camp
by Ashley Hull, 5th kyu, Wyoming Karate Club
The drive from Jackson, WY to Oregon camp, in Neskown, is long; but it was completely worth it. We arrived in the area a day early and slept in Master Jim Null's dojo in Beaverton, OR. Master Null has a 6th degree in Taekwondo and is a good friend of Sensei Sue Theise. The next day we got the chance to train with him a bit. He taught us new stretches and a new warm up, called Tabata, that we are now starting to use in our dojo.
Before camp started we were also able to go see Sensei Lance and Delinda Morgan's dojo; the dojo is basically in their back yard. While visiting we learned that you shouldn't touch other people's weapons before asking. At camp, Sensei Lance taught the kid's part of camp. Sensei Lance, from Oregon Family Karate, was the host and without him and his wife Delinda (who did all the cooking) we wouldn't have gotten the chance to go.
We got the chance to meet Sensei Gonzo Flores, a Godan in Okinawan Kenpo, who was the head sensei at camp. Sensei Gonzo taught everyone Kenjo Seiko Bo-Bo Kumite as well as the kata Seisan. Kenjo Seiko Bo-Bo Kumite is a partner kumite, using bo, with an attacking and defending side. We all got the chance to learn both sides. Sensei Gonzo told us about the history of the kumite. It is originally from China, from around 600 A.D., and was used for military training.
Sensei Gonzo has a wealth of knowledge and was kind enough to share it with us. At the end of the first day we all gathered around and he shared some of what he knows with us. He went through a whole lineage of karate and was explaining how directly his style could be traced back. When he taught us Seisan he also told us how he could trace it back to Southern China; he is able to tell this because of the style of the moves.
Sensei Lance's son, Cole, taught us Saifa. We learned the kata in a short amount of time so we don't have it quite as well as Kenjo Seiko Bo-Bo Kumite, which we had two days to learn, though the WKC boys, Tige, Edgar, and Sean, really enjoy the kata. The timing of the kata is interesting and we are still trying to figure it out.
There were a little over twenty people at camp total. There were three groups that attended; Sensei Gonzo's, Sensei Sue's, and Sensei Lance's. Sensei Gonzo had one student, who earned the spirit award. We met a lot of other people who love doing karate and made some good friends.
At camp we learned Kenjo Seiko Bo-Bo Kumite; and two kata, Saifa and Seisan. But those weren't the only things that we worked on. We also had "focus drills", such as when a dog ran through our group or we stepped on a twig. Class on the beach was a memorable experience. Oregon summer camp was definitely one to experience, and a great personal first karate camp experience.
Hanshi Frank Van Lenten dies at 74
Beisho is sad to announce the unexpected death of Goju-ryu Hanshi Frank Van Lenten (12/4/35-7/1/2010) in Old Lyme, Connecticut. Hanshi Van Lenten trained with most of the major masters in Okinawa during multiple tours there with the U.S. Marine Corps and was dubbed the "strongest fighter" he had ever seen by Isshin-ryu founder Shimbakuku Tatsuo. Van Lenten was the only American ever to win both the kata and kumite divisions in an Okinawa championship tournament and holds the record in Okinawa for breaking the most tiles with a single strike. He held master level rank in Shorin-ryu, Isshin-ryu, and Goju-ryu, and had extensive experience in Okinawan Kobudo. Master Van Lenten had over 50 years experience in martial arts and was a pioneer in introducing the martial arts to the US.
Frank Van Lenten, 1935-2010
Van Lenten founded and for many years led the Goshindo Karatedo Association, which still has a number of schools in the east and northeast United States, before returning to his Goju-ryu roots and becoming a senior student of the late Shinjo Masunobu. He headed, and was later advisor to, the Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate-do GoshinKai and the Ryukyuan Kobudo International.
He retired from the Marine Corps with over 20 years of service in the 1980s, which included serving as a Hand-to-hand Combat and Bayonet Fighting Instructor and Drill Instructor. In 1984, he was the guest of honor of the Governor of Okinawa in recognition of his propagation of Okinawan karate. Over the years, he received many honors in the martial arts. He was featured on the cover of Official Karate magazine and in 1986, was inducted into their Legion of Honor, Karate's Hall of Fame. He retired from active teaching at his dojo in Florida and spent some 20 years with the Tower Labs company in Connecticut prior to his retirement this past April.
Hanshi Van Lenten practing Goju-ryu techniques with a partner
Surviving him is his wife of 52 years, Felicidad (Faye) Van Lenten of Niceville, Florida, his half-sister, Caresse Morse of NJ, and two half-brothers, Tab Morse, of NJ and Roger Morse of CA. A Memorial service is scheduled for Sunday, July 25th at 3:00pm at the Centerbrook Meeting House, 51 Main St., Centerbrook, CT. Burial and ceremony will be at Arlington National Cemetery on August 18th.
Frank Van Lenten practicing Chinto kata in Isshin-ryu founder Shimabuku Tatsuo's courtyard in the 1960s
On a personal note, Papa Chris had the opportunity several times in the 1970s to train with Master Van Lenten. He was an imposing and powerful figure who combined enormous strength with considerable grace and a willingness to teach and encourage others to become better martial artists. While never seeking the fame or fortune of some of American karate's other pioneers, Van Lenten remained true to his principles and to the Okinawan way of hard training and striving for perfection and made major contributions to the introduction and improvement of the Okinawan martial arts in the United States.
Tips For Success (Tip #2)
Let your performance do the talking.
- H.Jackson Brown
Tips For Success (Tip #1)
One of my favorite sayings I got off a soda bottle: NO DEPOSIT, NO RETURN. To me that means you'll get out of life about what you're willing to put in. All champions have made great sacrifices to win their victories. So when someone talks to me about their goals and dreams, I ask them one question: " What are you willing to do about it?."
- John Naber
Four-time Olympic Gold Medalist, swimming
IGROW Talk and Interactive Board Breaking Event
March 4th Shihan Jim had the opportunity to speak at an event for Adolescent Wellness, Inc
Adolescent Wellness, a non-profit 501c3 organization, was founded to help deal with the growing problem of preventing depression and suicide among young people. A primary activity is creating awareness of prevention resources available to youth. Another activity is piloting programs for duplication by other communities. Participants are parents, peer leaders, clergy and educators.
The kick off event was dubbed the "Winter Blues," held at the Wellesley College Club in Wellesley Ma. The evening featured a blues and jazz band, an introduction of the leaders involved and an explanation of the IGROW program, (Interfaith Teens Gathering Round Our Wellness), facilitated by Dr. Nadja Reilly a psychologist from Childrens Hospital Boston. The IGROW program promotes wellness for teens through a series of four meetings, each called a TEAGOT (teens enjoying a good ol' time). Topics such as creative problem solving, developing coping skills, and stress relief are discussed, and interactive work is done with the teens by health care professionals and experts to achieve the desired outcome.
Talks were given by a yoga instructor and Shihan Jim on how mindfulness and relaxation can reduce stress. As an example to highlight the upcoming TEAGOT event on March 7th, Shihan Jim had three volunteers break a board on which each of them had written a worry or stress-related fear in order to break through. All three broke their boards and the evening was a great success.
Over 70 teens met for the TEAGOT program on Sunday with a choice of martial arts training, walking the labyrinth, and yoga, for the first half hour, followed by mural painting, massage and a smoothie bar. Twenty-six teens participated in karate, with the focus point being able to break a board by the end of the session. Each teen was given a board and asked to write a worry or stress-related thought on their board in order to break through the issue that concerned them. Shihan Jim had three sets of 8-9 teens come up and break simultaneously, all with a resounding kiai! Each set was successful and made for a very powerful demonstration.
All the teens had a fantastic time as the evening ended with a brief mediation and poem by the pastor of the church.
The success of the IGROW program in Wellesley will be next modeled in Waltham.
For more information check out their web site at www.adolescentwellness.org
Joy of jiu-jitsu helps Adam Dunn happily stay at first base
The Washington Post
Friday, February 5, 2010; D02
No one has ever accused Adam Dunn of being Willie Mays with his glove, but the Nats' slugger has repeatedly said how much he enjoys playing defense. And with first base his anointed position heading into 2010, a few Nats fans had their interest piqued when Manager Jim Riggleman said Dunn was learning jiujitsu this offseason to help improve his agility.
"Adam can play good defense at first base," Riggleman told MASN on Dec. 19, when breaking the jiujitsu news. "Dunn is the least of our concerns."
Dunn was in town last week for the Nats' winter caravan, offering me my first opportunity to ask him about the Brazilian martial art and how it would help his job performance at first base this spring.
(Before I explain, let me note that Dec. 19 was also the date of the last Washington Snowvechkin. That means every time this city is under snowy siege, Nats fans are treated to Dunn jiujitsu news. I'd just as soon forsake the Dunn martial arts updates in exchange for not having to watch 17 "Max & Ruby" episodes from a snowbound house once a month, but I guess that's not up to me.)
Anyhow, the Dunn jiujitsu tale is possibly overblown, inasmuch as he's studied the sport off and on since he was 14, at the prompting of a childhood friend. He tapered off over the past four years, but got back into it this winter since his longtime gym is now more convenient to his offseason home.
He said the flexibility offered by the sport could theoretically help him at first, but that's not his primary motivation. But he said he was surprised how much he enjoyed playing first base, with the ability to chat an added benefit. For example?
"Depends who it is," he said. "I've got my buddies, and we've got a lot of things to talk about. Other people, I have no idea what to talk about. For instance, say Brian McCann was over there, I would probably make some sort of fat joke, something like that. I would talk to David Wright about how he can't hit homers any more. It depends."
Dunn reiterated his desire to spend his entire career in the National League, saying he's fine with designated hitting during interleague play but he never wants to do it full time.
"No chance," he said. "It's pinch-hitting four times. Pinch-hitting's hard."
And he also reiterated his desire to sign an extension with the Nats, despite the team's poor showing during his first year in D.C.
"Everything's looking up," he said. "They're doing everything they can. Before where I was, I didn't feel like they did everything they could to get better every year. Just one offseason on this team, they've done a lot of things to straighten out a lot of our problems. . . . . It wasn't that we kept running out bad players. If guys weren't getting the job done, WHOOO, they were out of here. They're trying to get all the right pieces."
Dunn loves MMA -- "people just see all the blood and that's what they think, but it's so tactical," he said -- and he enjoys the jiujitsu sessions, which could happen anywhere from one time to four times a week during the offseason. But he said he has no desire to get into a ring himself, finding first base a superior destination.
"I don't like getting hit in the face," he noted. "I don't care how big you are, you get hit in the face, it hurts."
Bastardization Of The Martial Arts
Let us say for the sake of argument that martial arts were put on the map when Soken Matusmura systemized his
techniques in 1830.
This makes all "modern" martial arts approximately 175
years old. Still young by historic standards.
Still, the martial arts have developed as quickly as
technology did after the invention of the microchip.
Only problem is, the microchip made technology better
unlike the martial arts, which now I fear, is in a sad state.
In any martial arts, system there would have been a
founder or Soke living in the 1900's. I give you Itosu
Yatsasune, Kano Jigoro, Choki Motobu, Choshin Chibana,
Funakoshi, Ueshiba and Nagamine to name a few. The list
of Soke would be a dozen.
A quick look in BlackBelt magazine reveals many videos
and DVDs depicting masters in sweatpants, muscle shirts,
camouflage clothing, wrestling pants and more. Long gone
are "traditional" masters in a neat white gi displaying a nice
Sport karate has taken traditional karate techniques and
turned them into a gymnastics routine that only students of
Olympic caliber can attempt. Traditional weapons have been
shaved and colored to make them pretty and faster all to the
oos and aaahhs of the audience. Screaming and yelling
are now accepted as the "old fashioned" kiai.
Americans with little patience have turned their original style
(the style they started in) into "American combat techniques"
and "reality systems" of "karate". These systems, forged
with little discipline, have broken away from the idea of
posture and stance. If it works then it must be good. Photos
of large men with scowling faces overpowering an opponent
grace the pages of every magazine cover. Sadly, they miss
the point that it is hard for smaller people to "overpower"
anyone. Reality systems manhandle muscle and overpower
opponents claiming these are "techniques" of said system.
Mixed martial arts (MMA) which started with Helio Gracie
as the founder have accelerated the decline of the
traditional martial artist. Whereas the Gracie system uses
proven techniques using a gi, the "modern" MMA are
anything but. Long gone, from 10 years ago, are the clean
white gi and now only tight wrestling pants are worn. Martial
artists assume their system has nothing to offer and jump on
the jitsu bandwagon. Traditional Jiu-jitsu students now
practice a few years of boxing, Muay Tai, and other systems
to add to what was once a traditional style. People are
happy to "add" to their style, the next best thing since the
last thing they added to their style. The striking artist now
rushes to learn ground techniques to even the score.
There is no pure Jiujitsu-pure boxing-pure Shotokan
Martial artists now embarrassed to show their "traditional"
self defense technique, call upon jujitsu,
Chin-na, wrestling, boxing, Muay Tai or any other "reality"
system rather than their time proven techniques.
There are not many schools around using a bear paw or
chicken beak. Long gone are the traditional stances of
Shotokan to make way for the (lazy) American fighting
stance. The low Sheiko dachi of Goju has now become a
stand up side fighting stance. These "traditional" techniques
I fear will soon become extinct in the martial arts community
only to be replaced with mauling techniques like head
grabbing elbows and knees.
The move toward reality and away from traditional martial
arts I fear will be the death knell for karate, as we know it.
Zero Mostel sang about it on "Fiddler on the roof" how to
cope with change that you can't stop.
Sadly, people break from their original style because it is
lacking in certain areas. Sometimes students break because
their style is to stiff feeling the style is so structured it leaves
no room for growth.
Modern martial arts can only be called "karate" in the
loosest sense of the word. The new form of the old karate is
now called Mixed Martial Arts.
"Students" who lacked patience or were rough to the
likens of Chotku Motobu disliked bowing, standing at
attention and washing the floor. They quickly dismiss these
things as unneeded. Students lacking the discipline to
practice scoff at time-honored kata.
Granted, people join karate for modern reasons none of
which is to learn a "traditional" Japanese art.
To think that by taking a Kempo style and adding some gun
defenses and calling it mike-ryu makes it legitimate seems
ok to these many entrepreneurs. There are literally
hundreds of these new systems on the market. Their only
claim to fame is they are reality based and the guy on the
cover is a Soke.
My feelings are that the more the X generation wants this
reality the less need there will be for Traditional schools
practicing an old art form. Enrolments will dwindle and
traditional dojo will dry up all becoming little club dojos with
only a few followers.
Consumers don't want the old stuff. They want the new. The
young and restless won't flock to a traditional dojo whereas
a more seasoned, mature adult might. The older consumer
understands what the younger seems to miss. I suppose
seeing someone being raked in the eyes in a photo will also
turn off a mature consumer!
A student, who bends his style, may somehow include
techniques that are not really his system, but where does
he/she start to break from the style hence having to rename
I understand the round kick was shockingly new when it
came from China and I know Sensei Tom Wirtenan took the
spin kick to Ohio when he went off to college with
devastating results. However, did these things break from
These so-called masters all seem to have reinvented the
wheel. Get in, rake the eyes, knee, and do a wristlock or
Man, it will be hard to decide where or when "traditional"
started. If we knew who "stole" from whom first it might make
things a lot easier.
A handful of styles consider themselves Koryu styles or
"ancient" styles. Author Dave Lowery to name one. There
are ancient styles of weapons, Iaido, karate and more.
These systems do not add to their system. They only teach
what the old master taught....Maybe in modern eyes they
don't have much to offer but maybe that is not their goal.
Beikoku Shorin Karate Do? Far from a Koryu style...I
remember a student wearing satin pants and a red, white,
and blue gi! He even introduced gymnastics kata in Kumite
kata nidan! LOL!
Where did traditional start? Could it be pre 1980? Before
1960? Was it 1500? I can do my karate using a traditional
jiujitsu move or a traditional small circle technique or a
traditional karate technique or a throw from the traditional
Kodokan series. Am I traditional?
The wheel takes a big turn. I was once a modern karateka
now the modern systems have passed me by (surpassed?)
Now I am considered traditional compared to the "now"
karate. Another time if I'm still around my style may become
fashionable again and I'll be the "now" karate.
Until then I'll keep my gi on thank you.
Excitement In France
[Editor's note: Sensei Lance Morgan received the following email account from his black belt student, Aaron Sewall, who has been teaching English in France for the past two years;]
[Additional information provided by Sensei Morgan: Aaron is a 25 year old Nidan, about 5'7" and 145 lbs.]
So, I have my first self defense story, and with a happy ending.
I was coming home from teaching Wednesday night, on the train. Before getting off in Chartres, two guys tried to rob me, or something. One started to say something to me, and then told me to give him some money. I told him I didn't have anything, so he slapped me. I jumped on him and popped him five or six times, then I backed off, which turned out to be a mistake. His friend got up and they both came after me.
I ended up slipping on the stairs of the double decker train, and they both jumped on top of me and tried to choke me while I was on the ground. I managed to push them off and get to the top of the stairs. I told them to stay where they were, but they followed me up. I got out the other side of the car, onto the platform. The one I had laid into didn't come off, but the other one followed me off and pulled a knife on me. Thankfully a cop with a dog was on the platform, and the guy ran off, the other one not far behind him. They were chased down and arrested.
When Steph picked me up at the train station, she was a little shocked because my clothes were covered in blood, though none of it was mine. Later at the police station, the police also congratulated me for being able to fight back, and doing something to them that they aren't allowed to do. I heard one of the cops say, "Those jerks didn't realize they had picked a fight with Chuck Norris."
It turns out, that the two had been robbing people for drug money. They stole an ipod from a 13 year old kid just after he got out of school. Then on monday, they robbed a girl at knifepoint and cut her hand. Apparently they thought I would be an easy target...
The trial was really quick. They were arrested on Wednesday night, and I spent all afternoon at the courthouse today. Quite an experience, considering that I've never been to a trial in the US, and to experience it in another country and another language is something else. During the trial they changed their story (they had confessed to the police when they were arrested) and tried to say that I had started a fight with them, insulting them, and then beating the larger of the two.
Needless to say, no one believed them, not even their own lawyers. The prosecutor said "I have a hard time believing that an expatriated English teacher coming home from work would decide to start a fight on the train with two unsavory characters such as these." They were both sentenced to 4 years in prison for attempted armed robbery.
So, thank you for the years of teaching, it helped me, the other people who were victims, and, if they hadn't been stopped, surely other people they would have hurt as well.
Everything's Going to Be Just Fine
Karate is very grounding and centering for me. I used to go into 'karate withdrawal' any time I missed a class due to insurmountable college deadlines, and now I go into that withdrawal when a holiday interrupts the regular karate schedule. I need it. It is a joyful part of my life. I am attached!
There have been just a few times when I felt I didn't want to go--thinking I wouldn't be up to it for feeling overwhelmed with or just plain exhausted from the many things in my 'life outside of martial arts,' but the first time that happened, I told myself to have an open mind. I went anyway and I felt really great afterward! I told myself never to forget that feeling and I always remember that those rare times when I didn't feel like going were the times I especially needed to go! It quickly became apparent to me that I do not have a life outside of martial arts, for I have integrated it into so much I do in all aspects of my life.
On a physical level, I sensed that rolling around under my car to replace the exhaust system was not unlike a spell of Jujitsu, only my opponent was not a person, it was the car! I also felt I could not have lasted as long as I did unless my abs were toned from conditioning for class, although my neck muscles were quite sore from defying gravity for those few hours. Is there karate for the neck as well?!
Psychologically, karate has taught me how to want to fit in and fit well into other realms of my life. Once I finished college, I worried about not having some new slot to fill, be it grad school or a firm, etc. I was very thankful that karate class was a well-established normalcy to which I could keep belonging even though all of my other routines were fast dissipating with no new ones cropping up in the foreseeable future. When thinking about karate, I find a calm realization that all I have to do is figure out what the next step in my life has to be and why, just as I stand on the floor listening to Sensei Richard, thinking about the next step he tells me to take in a kata and why I am taking it.
So, when everything becomes overwhelming, I leave my uncertainties out in the parking lot and once I come out of the dojo, calm with smiles blanket me. 'Everything is going to be just fine' I catch myself saying as I drive the car back into the unknown.
The Lights Are On, and Someone's Home
This is a short story that helped me realize my daughters are paying attention in class. I've been training with Sensei Richard and Jo McCulty for just over one and a half years. This past summer I had two of my daughters, Julia (15) and Samantha (13), join our club. It is great to be with them in class, but for the most part we train separately during class. (For the sake of not embarrassing them to death, I almost never pair-up with them during partner training). So, I'm not always sure that everything we cover in class is sinking in. This little story demonstrates that I need not worry.
Samantha was recently at a large public gathering at one of the parks in our neighborhood. She had gone over to the park with our other daughter, Lily (8), looking for some of her friends (my wife and I were across the street at my parents' home). Two boys, probably about Samantha's age (but she did not know them), came up to her and told her it was "National Hug Day," and could they have a hug? Samantha told them something like "I don't think so," and turned and walked away with Lily. No big deal, and I think Sam handled the situation perfectly.
Later, when Samantha was telling my wife this little story, my wife warned Samantha never to fall for such a lame come-on from a stranger. My wife explained that once someone is in close enough for a hug, they could easily take advantage and turn the hug into a "grope." She told Samantha to always be ready to "knee a boy in the crotch." (I didn't know my wife thinks along those lines, but I'm glad to learn that she does).
Julia was quietly listening in on this conversation between Samantha and my wife. Then Julia weighed-in and added that before "kneeing" someone in the crotch, it's actually better to first distract them with some type of hand-fake to the face or throat, and then "knee" them in crotch. (I know this may sound a little weird, but I felt very proud of my "little girl" at that moment). As a result of the excellent training we've been receiving in class, Julia has improved upon a tried-and-true self-defense technique handed down from mother to daughter probably for many generations.
Incidentally, I just attended a weekend-long seminar in Cleveland with Sensei Jim True. We practiced many various wrist locks and arm-bar techniques, and most of the techniques begin with some type of distraction to the face of your opponent. Julia and Samantha were not with me at the seminar, but it's nice to know that both of them are thinking along the same lines as what Sensei True was teaching. It is a great comfort for a father to know that his daughters know how to take care of themselves if the situation calls for it.
Gracie In Action
Sensei Mike Pepe
Royce Gracie held a clinic in Newton, Massachusetts this past weekend. Jim McDonald and I went to his class, He showed great takedowns and ground work to about two dozen of us.
Imagine, this is the guy on TV in 1993 fighting these huge guys - and this 6'2" guy beat them all without throwing a punch!
During the clinic, Royce beckons me into his guard and applies a choke variation till I tap (but can't stop smiling!) Imagine, I watched this guy on my TV 15 years ago and today I'm in his guard!! How'd I get here!
At the end of the clinic he points to me and others, one at a time, and says "Put on a blue belt." Man! how could that happen! I watched him on TV with 5 or 6 friends and somehow life went on till our training crossed in Newton, Massachusetts, the class was small enough, and maybe I or someone made the right mistake for him to show it better, and the class was small enough for him to be near me and motion me into his guard.
Man, what a ride it's been!!
Way to Go, Wyoming
Two students from the WKC traveled to Green River, WY on May 17 to compete at the annual Western Wyoming Karate Championship. Zoe Curran took first place in kata in the eight-year-old beginner division and Nancy Morales Perez took fourth in the eight-year-old intermediate contest. Overall, 250 competitors from six states and numerous karate styles vied for honors.
Ana G. R. Shook
The last night in the old dojo facility, I became aware of how the smell of sweat on a wet karate gi encompassed the essence of a dojo.
I bow to my partner,
acknowledging their spirit and power
I can smell the sweat on their karate gi,
wet from a previous match
A new challenge has arrived.
I breathe deep to tame the rush emotion.
Adrenaline is necessary,
but control and direction
are essential for peace.
To discover the secret for survival,
I must relax with every breath.
The challenger has a new secret.
A noetic lesson from a skillful fighter
Not driven by cold pure logic but,
instinctual responses evolving from years
of accepting new challenges.
Can I learn the control and precision
by breathing in the smell of sweat.
A karate gi wet from a previous match.
Japanese Puppet Theater in Boston
Sensei Mike Pepe
Bunraku, Japan's internationally renowned puppet theater from Osaka, returned this fall to Boston for the first time in more than twenty years and some Sessa Kai students were lucky enough to find tickets. One of Japan's most celebrated traditional art forms, each puppet is 3/4-life size and is manipulated by three puppeteers, moving together in such seamless coordination that the puppets seem human in all their actions and emotions. The dialog of all puppets, in Japanese mind you, is narrated by one person and the emotion is heightened by music played on a Shamisen (a kind on Japanese guitar). Students were treated to two plays approximately one hour each. A wonderful time was had by all!
Welcoming New Members
Beisho continues to grow, recruiting its members younger and younger. On June 9, Sensei Jen and Andrew Mohler recruited Denali Grace Mohler. (That makes "Papa Chris" "Grandpapa Chris"!) Jen is also finishing a Masters degree from George Washington University as a Physician Assistant.
Sensei Brian Farrell and wife Teleia had another baby boy Monday, October 14. Brody MacMaster Farrell arrived three weeks early, at 20 inches long and 7lbs.
Grappling with Fear
The North American Grappling Association (NAGA) held a tournament in Rhode Island the weekend of June 23. Two students from Sessa-kai's Wednesday night grappling class worked up the courage to compete.
Jim McDonald competed in two divisions, fighting once in each and receiving a second place. Linda Selima also fought in two divisions, fighting four matches. In the gi division, she lost to an armbar while ahead on points 6 to 0. The loss dropped her to fourth place.
Congratulations to both for having the courage to venture out and compete! Sensei Mike Pepe
Sensei Mike takes on Judo
Sensei Michael Pepe recently won third place in a judo tournament in February. Not bad, since he had never competed in judo before and entered after only a few lessons.
Beisho's Naginata Ladies Rock!
Sensei Kristen Pepe placed third in Engi (prearranged two-person forms) at the 2007 New York Naginata Championships. She was partnered with someone she had never worked with before and beat out competitors whose main pursuit is naginata. Very impressive! At an October 2007 seminar, Jeanne McDonald, Marisa Cimino, and Kristen Pepe, all received promotions two-step promotions in naginatado! Jeanne and Marissa went to nikyu and Kristen to ikkyu.
Japan Training Squadron Visits Boston
Sensei Mike Pepe
In June, two Japanese "Self-defense Forces" vessels visited Boston. The ships Yamagiri and the Amagiri docked from June 23rd -26th. On board were recently graduated cadets practicing their seafaring skills and touring the world. The ships were opened to the public, and cadets with kendo experience joined with local kendo enthusiasts in Medford to present an exhibition and to train alongside their American kendo counterparts.
Some members of the Sessa Kai dojo in Watertown were lucky enough to watch the presentation.
Entrance to the demo was free and we were presented with a display of kendo which began with warm ups, basics, freestyle shiai and point shiai. It was truly wonderful to hear the resounding whack! of the shinai and the spirited shouts of men! kote! and do! (head, wrist, chest), as each target was struck. We wish the Japanese sailors good luck and calm waters in their future travels on the open seas.
Shihan Jim True Honored
Shihan Jim True was recently nominated and accepted to the Middlesex Human Services Agency, Inc. Board of Directors. The MHSA is a non-profit agency that provides services for the following: Bristol Lodge Men's and Women's shelters, Sandra's House, Mary's House, Olivia's Place Family Shelters, Bristol Lodge Soup Kitchen, Answer House, Sullivan House, Project Outreach and Prospect Terrace Children's Center.
Shihan Jim's responsibility will include being a direct link to the community providing balance and structure necessary to meet public demands, while carrying on the commitment to the services MHSA provides.
The second major area of responsibility is formulating, guiding and overseeing the development of regulatory policies that will affect the operation of the agency. This is a task that carries the burden and responsibility of safeguarding the rights, welfare and quality of life for people who need its services. Finally, as an ambassador to the community, Shihan Jim will be involved with fund raising and assisting the agency in special events and projects.
The MHSA programs are funded in part by federal, state and municipal monies, while the remainder of donations are from civic, church and synagogue, corporate and individual donors. Shihan Jim looks forward to his involvement in developing the MHSA to be the best possible for the people and community that require it's services.
Haiku Contest Winners
The SKKAA is proud to name the winners of our spring and summer Haiku contest:
Adult division-Dan Glass, True Martial Arts Academy
Ancient roots, new leaves
This tree has grown since last spring
Ancient words, new truths
Runner-up-Ana Shook, Seishin Dojo
In heat of passion
Lost is the path through thicket
Cool rain clear the road!
Junior division-Meghan Boyle (age 11), True Martial Arts Academy
It knows the pathway
Flowing forward, never back
A deep, moonlit path.
National Martial Arts Day in Waltham
Sensei Jim True
The True Martial Arts Academy invited all community members, students, and parents to celebrate National Martial Arts Day on Saturday, October 15th, with an Open House full of events for students and community members. The day began with morning karate classes (including Preschool, Children, Teen & Family classes) open to the community after a week of Bring-A-Friend to karate.
At noon, separate Safety Awareness and Anti-Abduction Seminars for children ages 5-14 and for Teen and Adult Women were held. The inte ractive safety seminars raised awareness about dangerous situations, and focused on developing appropriate responses to danger, including setting verbal boundaries and learning some basic escape strategies, in a fun and safe setting. Officer Anne from The Waltham Police Department came to the Academy to provide Child Safety Kits with Photo ID's. After the safety seminars, students were invited to participate in karate games, such as Danger Ball, and the True Martial Arts Academy Demo Team gave an enthusiastic and fantastic performance. The day culminated with the "Kicks Against Katrina" Kick-A-Thon fundraiser to raise money for the American Red Cross for Hurricane Katrina survivors (see article below). In all, the day was a great success, and we thank everyone who participated and had fun that day!
On National Martial Arts Day the Spirit of the Warrior Prevailed
On October 15, 2005, the Waltham True Martial Arts Academy celebrated National Martial Arts Day with a Kick-a-Thon to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The idea was to have participants kick as many times as possible for 15 minutes, while family and friends sponsored them with a pledge either per-kick or a flat rate. All money raised was donated to The Massachusetts Bay Red Cross Katrina Relief Fund. With over 16,000 kicks recorded and $1,941.50 raised, I'm sure most of us were glad we opted for the flat rate!
Although the event was a physical challenge especially for the younger members of the Shorin-Ryu family it also challenged the spirit. When Sensei Jim first announced the Kick-a-Thon we all thought it was a great idea, but later when I found out that the event was to coincide with National Martial Arts Day the significance of the fund raiser took on a greater meaning.
To me the idea of a warrior is one who holds certain beliefs and ethics, a code of honor like those of the medieval knights. We have tried to teach our daughter that her training consists of more than just a physical ability but also a spiritual responsibility. Without this duality of purpose the possibility to train highly skilled bullies would be very real. Which is why I am sure there is so much emphasis placed on the teaching of conflict avoidance and resolution techniques. The Kick-a-Thon provided a spiritual link to the warriors of old; it was an opportunity for these modern day knights to practice their own code of honor and to reach out to those in need and serve the greater good, a lesson that was not lost on any of those who participated in the "Kicks Against Katrina".
WKC Starting the New Year with Spirit
Sensei Sue Theise
Members of the Wyoming Karate Club embraced the challenge set forth for them at their first class of the New Year - to do 2006 techniques. Other than the youngest students, everyone worked their hardest to accomplish the goal and go beyond. The 52 students who were at these classes threw a combined 130,000+ techniques. A variety of kicks, hand techniques, elbow and knees were done. Adult students were given the added challenge of using weights, cinderblocks, and hitting pads or makiwara. Thousands of push-ups, crunches, and jumps were added in for fun, but didn't count towards the goal.
Many youth students chose to stay longer to reach their personal goals. Special kudos go out to the following purple belts: 8-year-old Sean Batenhorst for throwing 400 beautiful jump kicks. 10-year-old Luke Meagher and 9-year-old Joseph Kravetsky, who led the kids with 5306 techniques, followed by 7-year-old Peter Frank at 4224. Brooke Jarvie and Malayna Jacobson set the pace for the adults with an amazing 6406 techniques. Also special recognition to the Adult Advanced class who, after they accomplished their 2006 techniques, elected to top it off with Shihan Jayne's torture high-middle-low multiple front kick set, which added 3300 techniques in just over 30 minutes.
From the Dojo to the Gridiron
This fall, Cole and Wyatt Morgan took their dedication, hard work, and martial spirit from the training mat to the football field, helping their team reach the second round of the State playoffs for the first time since 1972! Running back/outside linebacker Cole (17, photo at right) was named to the first team the All-League as running back and second team for defense. Wyatt (18, catching a pass below) made second team as a receiver and honorable mention on defense. During the hard-fought and narrowly-won first playoff round, Wyatt made three catches, gaining 40 years. Cole, a graduating senior, carried the ball 15 times and racked up 105 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown, helping his team, Yamhill-Carlton High School, win 33-28.
In the second round game, YCHS started off strong, leading at the half by 15-6. Hard hitting by the opponents, however, took out one YCHS wide receiver with a concussion. The kicker was also taken out of the game after being hit in the leg. The combination of injuries to his teammates apparently rattled the YCHS quarterback, affecting his passing accuracy and causing him to fumble the snap twice. Both fumbles resulted in touchdowns by the opposition, leaving YCHS behind 26-15 as time ran out. Congratulations to Cole and Wyatt for a great season. Now, it's on to basketball...
Before there were Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, before there were Power Rangers, there were Mr. Miyagi and Daniel-san. The Karate Kid (1984) was one of the first movies to attempt to convey authentic Okinawan culture and show the true spirit of the martial arts. Miyagi-san passed away on Thanksgiving Day, 2005 at the age of 73. His real life was almost as fascinating as that of his mysterious karate character.
Pat Morita was born in California in 1928 to a family of migrant fruit pickers, a period when discrimination against Asians was at a high point. Morita spent much of his childhood in the hospital with spinal tuberculosis, and was shipped off to an internment camp during World War II. After the war, Morita took a job working on computers for an aerospace company, but by age 30, he had decided to pursue his passion-working as a stand-up comedian, the self-styled "Hip Nip." Morita also spanned two generations of film roles for Asians-from the stereotyped Fu Manchu and pidgin English-speaking servant to the honored sensei. "Miyagi's" example influenced countless students to take up karate and look deeper at Asian culture. Morita's last role may be his best. In a yet-to-be-released movie-"Only the Brave"-Morita played a Buddhist priest imprisoned in Hawaii after Pearl Harbor. The film is about the famous and highly-decorated Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team, told from the viewpoint of a Japanese-American.
A Dog of a Year
Xinnian Kuaile! Gonghei Fachoi. Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu! Seh heh bok mani bat uh seyo! Chzc M?ng Nam M?I! No matter how you say it, throughout the Chinese cultural world people will soon be wishing each other a "Happy New Year" as the Year of the Dog formally begins on February 4, 2006. According to Chinese reckoning, this is the year 4703. Those born in the Year of the Dog-1910, 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006-are loyal and honest and make excellent listeners. They are responsible and inspire confidence in others, have a compassionate personality, and offer kind words, advice, and assistance to friends and family. Dog-year people can also sometimes be narrow-minded and stubborn. Many worry a lot, underestimate their own abilities, and become introverted. They can be pessimistic-and sometimes nosy. Dog-year people can have a tough time finding the right match, but are most compatible with people born in the years of the Horse (1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002) and Tiger (1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998).
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