Fall Quarter ahead…

October hails a new quarter and the first full month of Autumn…October is a month of change as we transition from foliage to bareness of trees.

We will be focusing to a small degree on falls (and rolls) this month.  They are important for a myriad of reasons.  I usually work with them in the fall due to the increased possibility of falling during the winter weather months.  The benefit is not limited to that season however.  Countless times these skills have saved my bacon on coming off my bike during the usual riding season…  This year I am approaching from a perspective of how we interact with gravity.  Rolling is a great way to move our bodies in very different ways.  It exercises the physical body and gives the vestibular system a lot of input.  We will use these skills in bunkai as we look at take downs from kata.

Yoga classes will continue through the month but will be closed Oct 31.

Preparing in September…

September is upon us now and Junbi undo will be our focus for the month.  We will take time to prepare our bodies for the practice of karate…  of course we will practice karate but we will examine Junbi undo and its effects on our practice, its self defense applications and potential health benefits.

I am looking forward to Outdoor weapons day  Saturday September 16 from 10-12:00.  My hope it to have a bit of fun with traditional weapons…  We will throw various weapons and use longer weapons in ways we can’t inside.  We will end with a light lunch.  Head count  is needed so items can be prepared for you, Please let me know if you are interested and pay $10 for supplies by September 14.  Also Bring if you can, not required, a cardboard from  frozen pizza, an empty milk jug with cap, an old pair of shoes that are ready for the garbage.

Yoga:  There will be no Yoga September 19

Labor Day

Just a reminder Monday is labor day and the Dojo will be closed.  Please enjoy the day with your friends and family.  We will kick off September on the 7th.  During the month of September we will take special attention to Jumbi undo or preparatory exercises.  These are more than just warm ups, these will impact our practice in all ways as the body is specifically prepared for the motions of Karate.  Some have self defense application in themselves.  Many make us stronger or more flexible in general.

Focus on Koshi, 腰

For July we will be focusing on Koshi, 腰.  Many of you that have been training for any period of time will note that we seem to talk about this “all the time” but it pervades everything we do. The use of Koshi makes all of our techniques more efficient, more powerful.  Even the uninitiated observer will note that techniques look crisper and more powerful with the proper use of Koshi.  This can be easy to see but very difficult to implement.  It took me many years to even become aware of the use, and I am still drilled on using this more efficiently and consistently.  It is my hope that current students pick this up far faster than I did.



The character of Integrity…

Many who know me know I am an avid bicycle commuter, riding daily trough the year.  Today it was a quiet morning, a beautiful sunny day with a temperature in the mid 60’s.  To me this is a perfect morning to ride. I was riding down a road I ride multiple times a day on my way to work.  I approached approaching a four way stop that I go through multiple times daily.  Approaching the intersection I looked in all directions and saw there was no one visible in any direction.  To my left there are trees and visibility is limited but no one visible approaching or at the intersection.  I went through the stop sign without even slowing down.   As I got into the intersection a large Chevy impala approached and then stopped at the sign.  The driver respectfully said out the window, “There’s a stop sign.” I was instantly convicted.  He was right in that I did not follow the rules, or display good character.  I justify this non stop by saying how much effort it is to start back up.  I began thinking if he had made the same choice, perhaps justifying it saying it was best for his fuel mileage,  I would have likely been struck by his car and my perfect morning would have taken a very different direction.  I continued my ride thinking about character.integrity

Character is who you are when no one is looking… I continued to think about what image do you want to project.  The actions you undertake generally have effect beyond just that moment.  In may places their exists animosity between auto drivers and bicyclists.  An issue that can end badly for someone on a bike.  I certainly did not want to contribute to this.  In seeing riders who cut sharply across traffic, ride in the middle of the road or into traffic I usually want to yell at them myself.  At one time I was a few hundred feet behind an older rider who chose to make a right turn in to a traffic lane without stopping or apparently looking because he was struck by a van.  He bounced along the side of the van after he was clear the van attempted to stop.  The rider waved and said “its all right”… My response was “no its not”  you totally blew into traffic, how does that driver feel? Riders like this make all of us look bad, creating  negative image of bicyclists in the minds of auto drivers. As a rider is us usually a good idea to approach your ride like you were an auto following traffic laws.  I appreciate the use of bike paths but have taken advantage of the occasional “rolling stop”when no one is looking.

I want to thank the driver of that impala for correcting my behavior and offering a check of my character.

In karate this happens often.  We do our practice thinking we may have done it the way that is correct but a well tuned eye will catch even a minor detail.  They will call you out on what they see.  The next step is what to do with it…  Do you defend your action saying I thought… or do you take the correction and examine what was offered and find out what it has to offer?  Perhaps that correction will keep you from bouncing off the side of a van, or worse, in your future.

Memorial Day into June

Monday the 29 of May is Memorial day.  Please enjoy the holiday with your friends and family.  The dojo will be closed.

When we return from the break our Thursday class will be the first of June.  That will be our “Test day” for this month.  We will work through the full curriculum together beginning at the start of class.

Beyond That our focus for June will be a “Return to the basics”.  We will focus our efforts on Kihon, or basics using basic blocks, strikes kicks and stances.  We will continue to work with Sanchin of course but will use our kihon to further detail all Kata this month.


The second quarter runs April 1 through June 30.  It is frequent that this time of year presents more options and spring sports and weather get in better shape.  We appreciate your interest in this program and want you to know were are here year round and look forward to serving you as you like.


With that said we are into April, the fourth month.  We will be working on four directions.  It is not about north, south, east and west but finding ways to pivot both 90 degrees and 180.  Pivoting helps us find ways to not only face different directions but tests and corrects stances and shines a light on our posture.  For those who use their student manual we will build toward Kihon 4 a set of turning exercises that will cover the four directions.  Our kata are very good exercises to get us moving in different directions with different techniques so we will draw inspiration from them.  Shisochin or “four directional fighting” puts specific focus on getting us pivoting in the four directions and using angles to set up defense.  With all these exercises we will get more in touch with our hips and how to utilize them in practice.  As we draw out bunkai we will find good self defense applications using these concepts.  We have begun the “Kicking or Balancing kata” where we balance and kick in the four directions.  This is a sure way to strengthen our hips and test our balance.  We are creative in how we get up and down incorporating the pivoting.  This month is sure to challenge…






Shisochin “Four Gates” or “Four Directions of Conflict” Shisochin translates as “Four Gates” or “Four Directions of Conflict”. To leave it at that discounts a truer …


Looking forward to practicing with you all this month.





A local high visibility Martial arts school has recently and suddenly closed to the dismay of their loyal students.  As an active member of Menomonie for most of my life it saddens me to find out about this development in our community.  They have provided an important service to this area giving children and adults alike options in activity for those who are less interested in “conventional” sports.  I have seen several students impacted positively by participation in Martial Arts and their loss will be felt.

This being said Menomonie Goju is the longest standing dojo in Menomonie.  We have been active since 1984 when we began as SMAF at the Leisure service center.  Unfortunately we too experienced the abrupt loss of our instructor and were left floundering in the late 90s.  We have been under the current leadership since 2001 and in the same “new” location 1807 Wilson St NE Menomonie since 2003.  We are run by local resident professionals committed to the community of Menomonie and keeping options for children teens and adults who appreciate a traditional non-sport oriented martial arts experience.  This is not to say our option is for everyone and that is why the loss of this dojo is unfortunate.  If you are looking for additional martial Arts classes you are welcome to check us out on our website for the most information http://menomoniegoju.com/ or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/menomoniegoju/ Email menomoniegoju@hotmail.com

Do you Spar?

The most common question people ask when they call is, “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 and how these drills help us gain more information from our training.  I find it seems like it often falls on deaf ears.  That is OK, this is why we interview each other.  If sparing 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.  One parent put it this way:

“The lack of sparring is exactly why I chose Menomonie Goju Ryu.  Sparring can be counter productive, time consuming, and caters to those who want just “fighting”. Your approach is much more refined. The Okinawan karate was created for the purpose of defense. Sparring can interject offense that can lead to unacceptable behaviors outside of the dojo.  We appreciate that the focus of the classes are on technique, preparation and fitness.”

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.

Karate is my Art, Peace is my Way, Perfection is my Goal

“Open dojo” is a term we use that I define and a time of self-directed practice with support.  This is an outcropping of our understanding of how the Okinawan dojo works.   The first time we traveled to Okinawa we were informed we were not going for class, we were going to experience the training environment.  Our job would be to go the building, change into our Gi, get on the floor and start practicing (something/ anything).  If we were left alone that could mean one of two things; one was we were doing well and did not require assistance.  The other was a bit more subjective but basically we haProgress-Not-Perfectiond done something wrong.  Basically as long as we were not standing around someone would stop by and offer assistance.   The effort comes from within as a way of showing the students strengths and areas they need help.  What we did with the assistance is what determined the result.  If we set to work on it and integrated the new information we may get more attention.  Students who did not would get passed over on future rounds.  Now the most frustrating part of this was not always being able to perform the correction the way the senior wanted to see it.  The good thing is they “grade” on effort not on being perfect.  My first and very memorable experience with this idea was when I was lucky enough to be in the Jundokan dojo at at time it was not very busy. The ladies of our group had gone to a dancing class others went for a walk to the beach.  I went to the dojo, put on my uniform, got on the floor and began practicing Shisochin kata.  After about 30 minutes of working by myself, Iha Koshin Sensei walked by.  We had seen him perform in a large public demonstration of persons designated as cultural living treasures a few days before and had met him on the street later with one of our seniors.  I was aware he was in the building but had not seen him more than to know he was there.  As he walked by He stopped and looked at me for a moment watching me practice.  He made an adjustment to my kata, watched me do it a couple times and walked away leaving me to integrate this information.  I continued to work for a while by myself until I was ready to go.  Every time I get to that part of the kata I remember this adjustment and hope I am making him proud.


Contrast this with the following: My asking a friend to show me a kata I did not yet know in exchange for one I knew but he did not. His response was basically “Sensei will show us when we are ready”. Or maybe my asking one of my seniors to help with some exercises where his response was “Did Sensei show you that?”  Senior students should not be “teaching” new things.


Our first Instructor would make us recite our “Karate Oath” which follows “Karate is my Art, Peace is my Way, Perfection is my Goal” Perfection is a goal.  If any of us were perfect there would be no reason to continue.  At one point I trained with a guy who suggested in his dojo of origin you could earn your next rank by beating the person who was higher than you.  That is one way to advance but it values only certain attributes.  For example: if Mike Tyson (dated reference I know) were there he would be the senior unless you wanted to try him out.  Each person brings something special to the dojo, all are valued.  The role of Sensei is to provide drills that help all students develop skills, become their best and achieve the goals they set.  The students’ job is to put in the effort and integrate the information not become “perfect”.