Saturdays this year we will offer class once a month. In January we wprked with the Bo and this weekend we celebrated some bitrhdays 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…
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!
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.
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.
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.