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!
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!