Originally posted April 7 2016
Recently I was asked to reflect back 20 years to 1996. The person asking was representing an organization I belong to and they were wanting to hear what we were doing when the organization was founded. Answers were interesting to read at the event in celebration of the longevity and growth.
My response was interesting to me in that I began to realize what a pivotal time this was in the development of my love for Martial Arts. My journey began in April of 1985 attending my first Karate classes at the local Goju Kai school. Up until 1995 I had little experience outside of this style or school. During the summer three of the black belts and I attended our first major Gasshuku and learned several things that we did not know, that is to say several holes were exposed in our training to that point. That fall returning to university I began to get involved in the campus Martial Arts club. The university I attended had a great English Language program at the time and would frequently get a number of students from Japan and Korea that would continue in the the hospitality and tourism program. Several of these students would participate in the Martial Arts club sharing their experience and opening our eyes to the global nature of activity we were practicing. We had a diverse group of Martial Arts represented, mostly doing Tae Kwon Do, however we were all able to share what we had done. We attended some events and frequently worked out with clubs from neighboring universities. It was a great time of seeing different styles, new techniques and perspectives.
In 1996 I began the year filling the position of Vice president with the University Martial Arts Club. By the end of the year the group elected me president. This gave me more influence and more opportunity to meet martial arts students on campus. I went to the Major Gasshuku again this year better prepared to handle the challenges this included. One of the side classes was teaching a bo Kata during that week. The Kata was more complete than what we had been doing to that point and the practical nature was more evident, at least as practical as working with a 6 foot stick can be. This was my first exposure to Matayoshi style Kobudo the style I still practice today.
Paul, one of the black belts from my home dojo who I had attended Gasshuku with was continuing his education at my university. We would see each other on campus regularly, this usually began with him kicking me in the library which gave me great opportunities to practice my blocks. Fun times. Paul turned forty that year I seem to remember him getting grief in the dojo. Life has an interesting way of turning the tables on us.
This time was instrumental in the love for the styles I continue to practice today, and often gives me pause to reflect on how lucky I have been to have such great styles and teachers help move me forward. It is hard to believe that 20 years have passed since this time. Great leaps in growth and understanding have taken place since then but this was the loosening of the soil that allows the roots to spread, as my Tai Chi teacher put it.
Thank you all for your support of Menomonie Goju Ryu, To another 20 great years!