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“What Did You Learn in School Today?”

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Many years ago, I remember coming home from school and my mom asking me the question that every mom asks of their child, “What did you learn in school today?” This is standard maternal interrogation that all of us, as young kids, experience during the first few years of elementary school. My kindergarten and first grade classes were held at Jefferson Elementary School – right across the Honolulu Zoo, on Kapahulu Avenue. The following year, re-districting found me at Ala Wai Elementary School, where I began the second grade, sharing a table with four other children, including another young student – today, you call him Sensei Peter – we were just six years old when the semester started and actually learned the rudiments of grammar and arithmetic together.  Amazing to think that just a dozen years later, as college freshmen, we’d be learning the rudiments of karate together. In similar fashion, I can recall the day that Sempai Dave walked into HISKF to sign up himself and his six-year-old son Daylen, in an attempt to pique the young boy’s interest in karate. Back then, little Daylen was more interested in drawing and talking about airplanes. Many years later, and he [...]

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The Wrist of the Story – Kotegaeshi

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I’ve mentioned before that none of the HISKF sensei’s ever entered the dojo with the dream or goal of becoming a sensei one day – each was called to it by circumstances.  By happenstance, the 1970’s would find Sensei Peter heading up a dojo in Michigan, Sensei Wayne heading one up in Oregon, and me teaching a group in VAFB California.  This was several years before Sensei Trish was born, however, by the early 2000’s, she was teaching a group of college students in Pasadena, California. No one sought this out.  Sensei Wayne was assigned by the KAH to establish a dojo in Oregon.  Sensei Peter took over the reins of a dojo in Michigan when the original instructor PCS’d away.  Sensei Trish was asked by fellow students at Bible College to establish and lead a dojo.  I was similarly asked by a group of my airmen to teach them karate, but there is a backstory to this. My first real teaching experience was due to an inadvertent (and embarrassing) display of kotegaeshi.  Imagine a very cold Air Force office (on the second floor of an old barracks) where the “hot” water radiator is barely working and the mid-morning temperature in my office is [...]

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Rikki Tikki Tavi Reflexes

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Just a quick note about a quick little childhood hero of mine. I remember, as a child, reading the story of Rikki Tikki Tavi, the brave (and very fast) mongoose who defended an English family’s home (in Indian) against deadly cobra snakes. At the young age of four, I only knew mongooses to be rather large rat/weasel/squirrel – looking pests I would occasionally see running into the bushes or across the street. They looked rather furtive and furry like their distant cousins, the cats. In the story, little Rikki was supposed to be able to fight and win his battles with the poisonous and blindingly fast snakes. I thought that Rikki made for a cute and incongruent little hero, kind of like Disney’s Mickey Mouse as a heroic musketeer. The mongoose you might spy in your neighborhood was introduced from Jamaica to Hawaii in the 1880’s to control rodents in the sugar plantations. Anyways, when I was a little older, I found out that Rikki’s battles were based upon fact – mongooses and snakes are mortal enemies and such fights do happen, with the mongoose winning more often than not. The mongoose is somewhat immune to the cobra’s poisonous bite. [...]