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The Lingua Franca of Karate (Video of Asai Sensei Teaching in Russia)

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Well, I’ve now been working from home for a month.  This is also the longest I’ve been away from the dojo in over thirty years.  Anyways, I pray that everyone is doing well, staying healthy and safe.  We’re all probably spending more time than ever on our televisions, iPhones, iPads, and computers, eh?  So here’s a short (12 minute) video of my karate idol, the late Tetsuhiko Asai.  If you take a few minutes to watch it, I suspect everyone will learn at least one new thing about the art and perhaps gain some appreciation for his amazing abilities and teaching personality.  In my last note, I mentioned that Mori Sensei always emphasized basics, basics, basics.  Asai Sensei’s teaching style would seamlessly demonstrate the different layers of meaning hidden in every basic move. We are so fortunate that both masters were the teachers of our sensei, Kenneth Funakoshi. This video of Asai Sensei was taken in 1997 (he was around 62 then) of a seminar he gave in Russia.  In the first several exchanges, you get a chance to see how quick he was and the excellent timing and control he possessed.  Although the basis of his techniques came from [...]

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Sensei Masataka Mori

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Well, it’s been several weeks of hunkering down and I’m sure that many of you are beginning to feel rather stifled, being stuck in your homes. Me too! Although I’m teleworking from home which means that I do have required work activities from home, it’s not the same as driving in heavy traffic to and from work each weekday. And without karate on Saturdays and church on Sundays, I lose many of the markers that define my usual week. The days are beginning to blend from one into another. I pray that each of you is doing well and staying healthy. In the past, I’ve written and talked about the foundations of our karate club. While Sensei’s Peter, Wayne, Trish and I were direct students of Sensei Kenneth Funakoshi, he, in turn, was the direct student of two Shotokan legends, Sensei’s Kanazawa and Asai. As you know, they were both All-JKA champions and later led large global karate organizations of their own. I have written about them before. There was, however, a third JKA pillar of Shotokan in Hawaii that I have rarely ever mentioned. Sensei Masataka Mori took charge of the KAH after Sensei Kanazawa left and taught our [...]

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Online, Online, and Online

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Covid19 is continuously in the news and every day seems to bring so much change.  All of the stores, restaurants, bars, flights, and workplaces that are either shutting down or reducing services are focused on one aspect of fighting the spread of the contagion – keeping one’s distance from others.  In place of going out for any non-essential activities, the recommendation is to “hunker down” at home and make use of technology to accomplish what normally takes place face-to-face or in crowded spaces. We are encouraged to do online shopping, online food orders, online classrooms, online work, and so on and on. Fortunately, in today’s world, aspects of karate training are now possible via the internet too.  So, since none of us can come to class for the time being, I wanted to say a few words about the value and caveats of learning karate online.  There’s a myriad of “karateducational” videos to choose from on the internet, but which ones are worthy of your time?  Well, you may not be aware of it, but each of you has already developed an “eye for good karate” which can help you to discern good karate from not-so-good karate.  This should prevent [...]