Works in Progress

We’re completing our semi-annual exam cycle, something that most folks greet with mixed feelings.  On the one hand,  many members experience varying degrees of stress about the exam itself, performing in front of the class and having instructors judge them on their progress.   (Note: a bit of stress can actually be good for you.)  On the other hand, there is a sense of relief after it’s over, followed by several anxious weeks awaiting the results and hoping for promotion to the next level. Our members may train together as a cohort, but each travels his/her individual and unique journey in their study of Karate-Do. Here are three examples of differing attitudes and approaches towards exams/rank and how that impacts the path of progress in the art of Karate-Do When I enrolled my son for his first karate lesson (over 40 years ago!), I was pleasantly surprised to run into an IBM co-worker who was already training as a green belt in class.  Like most dojos, classes were held three times a week with exams every quarter.  Many students dreaded taking the exam, they all looked forward to being promoted to a higher rank.  Over time, I realized that my [...]

Your Sensei’s Know Squat

The other day, one of my friends sent me a link entitled, “The #1 Exercise To Do As You Get Older.” Found at the AARP website, I suppose that it’s very appropriate for your sensei’s we are in our seventies, haha. Well, since I know that leg exercises are especially important for us “karate kupuna”, I was guessing that it might be about Tai Chi. However, it wasn’t about an entire regimen – instead, it was specific to just one exercise…squatting. Now I’d have to say that I could never take up doing this. Even knowing about the great health benefits derived from squatting exercises, I’m sure that I’d get bored after a few reps. With that in mind, I now realize that over the past 53+ years, Sensei Peter, Wayne and I have all been “tricked” into doing hundreds of thousands of these beneficial “squatting exercises”, as every Shotokan zenkutsu/kokutsu/kiba-dachi and keri-waza involves forms of dynamic squatting movements! In other words, when we practice, besides appreciating the beauty and power of kata, learning interesting combinations, bunkai applications, and enjoying working up a sweat with our fellow karateka – we’re all doing the #1 exercise to do as we get [...]

An Aged Martial Artist

Every so often, I think about an aged martial artist I knew who passed away many years ago. He wasn’t a karateka – he was one of the very first kempo/kenpo instructors. I only knew him as a nice, quiet old man. Sensei Peter, Wayne, and I often talk about just how many more years we’ll be able to continue our journey with Shotokan Karate-Do. I would like to believe that I’ll spend my later days like this fine gentleman did. Our old-time members may remember that I wrote this note back in 2008 and resent it in 2015 – long before most of our active members joined us. So this makes the “third edition”. In any normal dojo, one always notices the sensei, the senpais, the color belts, and the white belts. It’s natural; they’re moving and kiai-ing the whole time. The folks one never really notices are those few who are sitting on the sidelines, just watching class. You know, the parents or older siblings who drove the kids to practice, or perhaps a student from another class, spouses, or friends, etc. Anyways, they’ll faithfully come and watch for so many classes and hours that they end up [...]