Yoga at a karate school…

Astute readers of the newsletter over the past few months will note much shifting with the (potential) Yoga offerings. I am so glad that people are reading this and noting what is happening here.  It encourages me to keep doing it…  On to my point… In looking at Yoga offerings there are many places you can choose and I appreciate your participation here.  In my academic head it does not make much sense to do something that is done in many other places. When we are the only place for Authentic Okinawan Karate in the area and no other offerings Goju Ryu Karate show up in at least 200 miles; our style of kobudo {weapons} work is not available within at least 60 miles, and Tai chi is not widely available in the region it makes sense to focus on those things. 

Yoga has been part of my personal practice to some degree since beginning karate in 1985 but since 1995 it continues to be a larger and larger part of my self- care practice.  There were some imbalances mostly in my hips or legs affecting my knees and low back that with the use of yoga were “corrected” and had me moving better in my 30’s than in my 20’s.  Then there is the mental component… this has helped more than I am able to comprehend.  I use yoga to give myself strength, mobility, flexibility and most importantly of all, rest.    Yoga continues to be a big part of my personal practice and I believe it is helpful for anyone. There are not many things that I can say are good for ANYONE.  It may not look the same from one person to another or one day to the next but it will be helpful when done with the correct mindset.  Since 2003 I have “taught” Yoga in various settings.  Since taking my first training for the use of yoga for therapy in 2006 the way I practice and teach has changed.  It has been far more well-informed.  Yoga is for inventory of our being on a physical, mental and spiritual level.  What we do with that inventory is up to us…  How we choose to work with this information can vary the outcome of the practice and our life.

My challenge has been how to get appropriate offerings for anyone on the schedule.  (Appropriateness doesn’t always follow the schedule) 

We will continue to offer high quality Authentic Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate and Kobudo classes for those interested and Tai chi classes as well as having Yoga for anyone. 

Check with us to see how we can help you using acupuncture traditional Chinese medicine or any of our classes.    

October News

Occasionally people ask about our prices and are surprised to learn how low they are.  Often they note we charge (less than) half of other schools in the area.  Some people feel it must not be worth much if it is so “cheap”.  You are welcome to pay more if you feel that way… However we have professional instructors (a couple professional teachers of young children by training/ day job) with many years of experience teaching and coaching preschool, elementary middle and high school, university and even adult education who bring those skills to bear in preparation and delivery of our classes.

 

We are passionate about our art and enjoy practicing and sharing these traditional styles with world-wide recognition.  The arts we practice are not a product, meaning we do not change with the wind or what is in the most recent popular martial arts action movie.  When coming to Menomonie Goju you will find solid traditional Okinawan martial arts taught in a way (to the best of our ability) they have been handed down over generations.  This does not mean there is not innovation or modern thought applied; Our instructors also have both traditional and modern medical training, (degree-ed Masters in Oriental Medicine / licensed massage therapist/ certified Acupuncturist / registered Yoga teacher) How is this relevant you ask.  Classes are taught with a high ability to explain the anatomical implications of the movements, prevent injury and follow in the footsteps of the founders.

 

We rejoice in students who are interested in a historical martial art and are looking for a principle based class, focusing on building skills for life and learning how to interpret what we are taught.  Of course we enjoy some fitness/ conditioning as a part of our program, but to the end of developing our ability to improve and execute our techniques. We like to have fun but do work to keep our mind on what we are doing, and why.  If you are interested in twice the program at half the price give us a call and check out our classes.

October we will work on falls…

 

During the month of October Halloween falls on the Thursday, we will no class October 31.  Many have enjoyed showing their costumes for class during the end of the month.  Dates for this to be acceptable are October 28 and November 4.  I always give “extra points” for martial arts inspired costumes, however your Gi is NOT a costume outside the dojo.

 

Testing this Monday night (September 30) good luck to all who are promoting.  Please attend if you are able to support your classmates.   We will do group photos after testing, it would be great to see your smiling face.

 

Our remaining Testing dates for 2019 will be November 7 and December 16.   Applications need to be turned in at least One week prior to testing date.  Plan accordingly if you are thinking of testing this year.

 

Schedule update:  Beginning, October 1 (this week) we will offer class on Tuesdays 5:35-6:20.  This will be our family style karate class same as Monday and Thursday nights.  We do not expect that students attend all classes but hope this additional offering will meet your needs and ease your schedule some.

 

September update

September is underway and we have gotten back to our basics or Kihon.  Good basics (blocks punches kicks and stances) are the building pieces for advanced techniques.  Advanced techniques are simply basics done well. This is the way to great Kata and an ability to do bunkai or analysis of our moves.

We are and will continue working on our conditioning so we can reap the benefits of keeping our bodies mobile and strong.

 

Our next Testing date will be September 30.  Applications need to be turned in at least I week prior to testing date.  See us for application.  We have several people testing so please attend if you can to support your classmates.

 

Schedule update:  Beginning October 1 we will offer class on Tuesdays 5:35-6:20.  This will be our family style karate class same as Monday and Thursday nights.  We do not expect that students attend all classes but hope this additional offering will meet your needs and ease your schedule some.

Spring Gasshuku 2019

The Spring Gasshuku was a great weekend of training in Goju ryu. The term Gasshuku is usually interpreted as a training camp.  It also means boarding house and lodging together.  The usually accepted idea is that we are training together “under one roof”.  We spend time training but social as well.  We eat and drink after training and generally get to know each other, perhaps even meeting each others families.

The weekend of training began with some preparation exercises then we began with Sanchin… Sanchin is where it all begins, the framework for the remainder of our development.  We worked to refine Kata, doing each multiple times in various cadences and directions.  This has the opportunity to become confusing but it serves to keep us present.  We worked countless drills to further our understanding of the concepts contained within the deep style. Some of these drills were basics, meant to build our ability to do deeper bunkai (analysis of our kata).  We then worked on basic bunkai of many of our kata in a couple ways, kihon and rensoku (continuous).  We then went deeper into the oyo rensoku, or Taira Sensei’s versions of kata bunkai.  This is often confusing and is ever changing.  However he shows us the road map and gives us the tools to unpack the information that is contained with in the kata.  Ganbatte kudasai!

Our Girls Kick it…

 International Women’s Day was over a week ago, and to say it is women’s month is a bit condescending in some ways, but I was remarking at how many girls and women are part of our dojo. 75% of our children’s class, 60% of the adult class and 25% of our kobudo class, 40% of our black belts, 100% of our brown belts… are female. And range from 4-66 years of age!


These girls kick it!

Warming up to the New Year

Originally posted January 5 2016
A few weeks ago I attended an in-service on sports performance with a very prestigious method that is used by many collegiate and professional sports teams, special forces and professional emergency response organizations and Rehabilitation agencies.  Self described “as a leader in applied research and innovation to advance human performance”.  This short in service was specific to the warm ups.
 
We were running through various exercises that were thoroughly studied to provide optimal preparation for maximum sports performance.  As we worked through this set of exercises my Physical Therapist co-workers, many of whom were collegiate athletes, noticed how it seems like I do these exercises all the time, which is great since they were very similar to some of the yoga exercises and Junbi undo techniques we employ in the dojo.  

Today I am writing about Junbi Undo, one of the cornerstones of Goju Ryu.  Created by Miyagi Chojun Sensei after extensive research with medical professionals into the workings of the human body, the junbi undo of Goju-Ryu are more than a warm up but a way of instilling martial movement and building a robust body of good health
 
The exercises contained within junbi undo not only loosen the joints they promote mobility and martial movement. Relating specifically to Karate technique, the various methods gradually raise the heart rate, promote circulation, regulate the breathing, massage the internal organs, and boost the immune system.  Body-weight exercises designed to improve flexibility and strengthen the muscles and spirit of the practitioner.  Breathing exercises introduce the concept of hakkei and how to issue power using the entire body and breath. Also contained within the exercises are elements of Kiko (Qigong), the harvesting and circulation of energy in the human body. Many of the movements transfer directly into Kata demonstrating the link.  
 
My definition of Self-defense has been to protect (my/our-self) from anything that would cause us harm.  In modern days it may be complications from inactivity.  Regular practice of Junbi Undo helps to ensure we remain active, mentally alert, and energetic throughout the span of our lives.  
 
The cat may be out of the bag as we started last night, but our focus for January will be Junbi undo, Preparing the body for our Karate practice.  That is not to say we will not practice other things, but we will be paying special attention to Junbi undo and Sanchin as this is the foundation.  
 
On a related note our Yoga class is on for tonight if you are looking less to instill Martial Movement but still like the ideas of promoting mobility, increasing circulation, boosting immune function and stabilizing joints with body-weight exercises.  Additionally we will work to connect with breath and calm focus the mind.  We will also begin some dedicated time for supplemental exercises, with implements to help with strength.   
 
Looking forward to a great 2016!  

Twenty Years…

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!  

Live a plain and simple life

Originally posted January 20 2017

The Lunar New year is upon us.  One tradition that I have tried to keep with the incoming new year is to do some releasing of things no longer needed.  I will be going through my closet over the weekend and selecting items that no longer serve and boxing them up for a trip to Goodwill.  I am excited to rip in and thin out the collection selecting out the items I really love and sharing the rest.  I am thankful for the blessings these items may have been, recognize they are not required anymore and they may be of benefit to others.   You may ask what does this have to do with our martial arts training?  Read through the Dojo Kun: Live a plain and simple life.

Follow Through

Originally posted Feb 6 2017

Today I write about Follow through,

A few weeks ago I meet with one of my first Karate instructors for the first time in 10 years.  I met with him and his wife in the midst of my longing for the time when he lead our class and taught from his experience.  We talked about family and the general catch up things.  Then the term follow through came up.

In the year 2001 I moved back to the area.  As I returned to classes it was apparent our instructor had gotten busy with his job and was not able to regularly lead classes.  There was no clear communication about person or persons to fill in when he was unable to be there, some nights class were being led by green or brown belts, whoever showed up.  For years we had been aware of holes in our training and many of the black belts had petitioned the original head instructor for opportunities to advance.   The petition had met with no result and the holes were growing.  Seeing the problems identified a board meeting was called to discuss different things relating to the direction of the group.   With assistance from Mrs. Young I demonstrated things I had learned, proposed additions to the curriculum and taking leadership to help move in a slightly new direction.  This was based on experience training with some senior instructors.  My Goal at that time was to fill in holes in the curriculum, move our knowledge base forward, give a clearer understanding of our techniques and create a structure that would help ensure the knowledge would continue to grow.  Mrs. Young and I traveled to seminars and classes with people who could help us move things in the identified direction.  We brought in  senior instructors to help all participants see the benefit of this style of training.  We expanded class offerings and moved to our own space that allows us more flexibility in class times, an ability to set up a “dojo”, have training equipment and implements, and be free from many of the distractions that were frequent in our old space.   With these goals met we began working on the weapons curriculum that had been all but abandoned allowing us to focus on Goju Ryu.  

Over the years there have been numerous students training here learning skills and gaining confidence,  several have made black belt.  There have been growing and changing pains and there continue to be transitions but there will be follow through on my part.  I again invite you to make goals that are Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic and give them a Time frame (SMART).  Set step that will help you move toward those goals, maybe involving your training partners or someone else in helping keep you accountable and go after your goals with focus.  

Do you spar?

Originally posted March 10 2017

Today I am writing with regards to sparing.  It is the most common question people ask when they call, “do you spar?”  My response for years has been no. I usually talk about the drills we do and how they develop skills and reactions.  I find it seems like it usually falls on deaf ears.  That is OK, this is why we interview each other.  If that is what you want this is not your school.  If you want to learn an authentic Okinawan Martial Art (or two) the way they have been done traditionally this is the school for you.

As a student in the past we did jiu kumete or free sparing.  We would spend about 1/4 of our class time on this exercise.  When I was going to classes 4 and 5 times a week this amounted to several hours each week.  I learned several things including that I could block and take an incredible amount of punishment.  I often hated it, I hated that we were not learning martial arts in my opinion.  We were not gaining an understanding of the concepts in the gifts we had been given of the katas thoughtfully crafted and carefully handed down.  It is this experience that brought me back to Okinawan style Goju Ryu and informed the response above.  Goju Ryu is a practical art developed by people whose lives depended on fighting or at least being prepared.  Kata are packages to transmit information, our job is to unpack the concepts they transmitted and develop them for use.

Here is an article Mr. Hagen shared on the subject.

http://www.karateobsession.com/2017/03/why-doesnt-kata-look-like-fighting.html