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!

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

 

Humble and Kind

This was originally posted May of 2016
Recently I had a patient who is in her mid 40s who works in a local High school and sees issues with the youth population.  She and her husband like myself had grown up in this area and commented about the changes we had seen.  I guess it was an admission of our age.  She is the mother of a 20 year old boy and 17 year old girl.  This is a family I have known for a few years and have had the opportunity to work with each member of this family.  They are active athletic people and to me anyone who can raise “good” children are worthy of admiration.  During this particular visit She happened to be telling me about her daughter and how she was doing in school and athletics.  I mentioned that I had seen them after the Easter service.  She told me that I was the topic of conversation on their trip home.  She commented how they noticed that I opened the door of the car for my wife and mother.  This seems like a simple thing and should be common but in a day with the key fob button that unlocks the doors and can do multiple functions too frequently you will see a couple approach the car and he gets in his side and she in hers.
This woman and her husband discussed the scene in the parking lot with their daughter noting that if she could find a “boy” who would do this for her she should marry him.  Now this girl is on a good path as her parents are guiding her toward self respect and having others treat her the way she deserves to be treated.  Good on them.
I am always struck when I see a man remove his hat upon entering a building.  It seems like a simple thing it shows respect.  On occasion I see a few men who wear their baseball hats or fedora through church.  This goes against Hat etiquette https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=hat+etiquette but I am glad I am not sitting behind the guy in the fedora, How rude.
In (the Dojo) Martial arts training we work to humble ourselves with all participants.  We bow to each other at the beginning and end of class to show mutual respect.  We utter the statement in Japanese, “Onagashi Masu”  Meaning “Please assist me”  or “Do me this favor”.  We do this at the beginning and end of exercises no mater the partners age rank, gender or affiliation.  This is emphasized with the new white belts on their early lessons with the black belts.  The senior is also asking the junior for assistance.  Everyone removes their shoes at the door to keep the floor clean.  We all take off our jewelry.  We are required to keep our nails short.  Our uniforms should be kept relatively clean.  This is not a dress code for the sake of conservative values, it is for our protection and the protection of our classmates.  No one wants to be put into a headlock by someone who has not washed their uniform since their last grading.  It is dangerous to meet with someones toenails as they kick or step toward you.  At a minimum you may have to miss a few minutes while you clean and dress the wound.
As we travel and have time to visit like minded individuals I find it fun to watch and participate in the race to refill your companions tea before they can fill yours. It is not a race of course, but the point is to put others before yourself.  It is hard when you want a cup of tea and find the tea pot is only partly full to pour for your two neighbors and then have nothing left for your own cup.
I recently was turned on to a song by Tim Mcgraw that I really like and says a lot of this.  The link to it on Youtube is below.  Enjoy!

 


Date: Tue, 24 May 2016 12:20:02 -0700

trayounger has shared a video with you on YouTube
Tim McGraw – Humble And Kind (Official Video)
Humble and Kind is off Tim’s album DAMN COUNTRY MUSIC: …
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