Fall 2020

Fall is officially here and the colors are about to be vibrant and show one of the best parts of living in this area. I took occasion to go Mountain biking with a friend over the past weekend and found the fall colors to be just where I like them.  It was a lovely day to be out.

Back in the Dojo I reflect on our space.   I have been in deep thought after talking this summer with a client who was expressing appreciation of how “non- Boujie” it is here.  Her assertion was it is not off putting in its environment or the people in it.  She said she felt comfortable with Yoga here and enjoyed that her child could take classes without feeling out of place.  I would agree and add it is my favorite place.  I love how we have a family style dojo that is accessible to everyone.  I say our space because this has been built as an effort of many who have been involved from the students who helped paint; the families who donated to allow for the purchase the mirrors; the participants who offered their help getting digital and online things up and running; the instructors who make the classes happen- especially the children’s classes.  We have truly a special dojo- Group of people.  Thank you all!

2020… Wow

Well 2020 is off and running, but who could have seen this coming.  Well our in person classes are on hold until further notice.  This is unfortunate but it has offered the oppertunity for some reworking of things as we go over the curriculum.  For students we are doing our best to post videos on the YouTube channel.  Well we do not encourage “online training” or the YouTube Dojo we encourage you to remain safe, Healthy and active.  We will be posting new videos as often as possible but this is the perfect time to practice earnestly with creativity.  Hopefully we will be able to share the floor together soon.   

Saturdays

Saturdays this year we will offer class once a month. In January we worked with the Bo and this weekend we celebrated some birthdays and worked out with the cane…. I mean sai. We worked with hojo undo and learned the first sai kata. The best part was the social time to follow. Look forward to March and our Tonfa clinic on the 14 and April twin sticks…?on the 11th. In May we hope to take it outside…

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!