Today I write to thank you for your support of our Yoga Program. The past few weeks have been great is several ways! It makes my night to see interactions between participants making each other feel welcome and scrunching closer to make room for each other as classes get more full. Of course we have been doing some great work toward our goals with each class. I appreciate each of you making room in your schedule for our class, we can have many irons in the fire and it is important that you feel welcome attending and comfortable with your practice.
Over the years there have been times when I feel to busy for practice. It is during these times it is needed most. Occasionally I have tried to “multi task”, practicing while watching a webinar, or listening to a lecture. Sometimes I have felt the need to keep my phone near me to know the time or to watch for that important message. These multi-tasking strategies have impacted the experience of my practice in a way that I may call negatively. I miss the deep relaxation at the end and do not end feeling as refreshed seeming to drop right back in to the state of “chaos” I fought leaving to practice. As a “teacher” at times I have kept my phone nearby to watch for messages from participants who were running late etc. It continued to be a distraction from my ability to lead class in one way or another. Worse yet it distracted people who were close to me with sound, (even when silenced it vibrated…) and the light would draw not only my attention but that of those around me.
For me the practice has become a “mini” media fast. It is a small way I can work to keep my attention on what is happening on my mat and let the “worries” of the world melt away. The messages will be there after practice is done and amazingly and I feel more organized, my webinars get watched and the lectures find themselves listened to. I invite you to join this practice in the studio. If you are able extend this to your home practice taking note of the changes.
The Lunar New year is upon us. One tradition that my wife and I have tried to keep with the incoming new year is to do some releasing of things we no longer need. I will be going through my closet over the weekend and selecting items that no longer serve and boxing them up for a trip to Goodwill. I am excited to rip in and thin out the collection selecting out the items I really love and sharing the rest. I am thankful for the blessings these items may have been, recognize they are not required anymore and they may be of benefit to others. You may ask what does this have to do with our martial arts training? Read through the Dojo Kun: Live a plain and simple life.
In this spirit I am writing today as we have recently received an “abundance”. Some of our former dojo mates have found martial arts supplies that has graciously been donated to the dojo for anyone who can benefit. With this abundance I have sparked to clear out storage areas at the dojo as well. There are t-shirts, some sweatshirts and uniforms all in various states from new to used(All have been washed). There may be some interesting items. If you have uniforms to share you may drop them in the bin (please wash first). Look over what is in this bin and take what you can use. The remainder will be donated to Goodwill after the 10th of February.
The other day I read an article in a publication I receive talking about safety on the road entitled “Think Slow”. The author referenced a game his “friends” would play when they were in their youth where you say “think fast” while doing something that they can not avoid but can not help but react wildly. This article painted a picture of youth and mischief but made some great points.
In our Karate training we work to prepare ourselves for unpredictable things. We work to create reactions that will serve when we do not have time to formulate thoughts. (refer to the kempo hakku; Reaction must occur without conscious thought). Sanchin is at the foundation of our training; a way of forging a body and mind that is able to handle the stresses of this possibility. Sanchin is preformed slowly to develop control and focus on detail among other things. When we practice Kihon (basics) we often do them slow “for form”, then faster. It is usually stressed that we should only go to the pace where we can do the move with the form we are striving for. In kicking practice slow kicks are often stressed again for form, however we notice that slow is more difficult as it is work to hold our foot up longer and it exposes challenges to our balance we may not notice when going faster. As a student it is easy to be eager to move on to the next kata or push to get to the next level. The thirst for knowledge is a good thing but not at the expense of technique. The same thing is often stressed in strength training that the form is most important.
Often we remind of how Goju Ryu has only 12 kata. Why do you think this is? Could it be that the founders wanted you to ‘cross train’ (in all styles) so they would make this easy to become a part of a “greater” curriculum? I have seen many school advertising that they teach Goju Katas in part of their curriculum. Could it be that they had 12 levels so you only needed 12 to get all your belts or that they were so in tune with the yearly cycles there is one for each month? Could it be that there is not a lot of information to transmit so it only amounted in 12 kata? Hardly. Perhaps the founders intended us to spend more time on things and take it slow to get a full understanding of all contained information. It is said that Miyagi Sensei would teach a student Sanchin and one or two other kata depending on their body type… (Wait there are 12 but you are only going to teach me 3? And I am only going to do Sanchin for 3 years… ) As you can imagine it may not fit in the YouTube generation whos’ culture may explain why there are schools that have 40 or more kata. Even our Kobudo Curriculum may have 12 weapons but the bulk of our training time is done with the Bo, Sai and Tunkua and to a lesser degree Nunchaku. Each weapon has basics and few kata,(Bo 5, Sai 3, Tunqua 3, Nunchaku 1). Much time is dedicated to basics then progressing to kata, Perhaps to develop skills that become second nature and can occur in the absence of conscious thought. Additionally of note It has been my experience that the skills learned with these first four scaffolds to the more “advanced” weapons.
For January we will recommit to basics and Sanchin training. The more we examine even the most basic technique we find a wealth of information in an ever deepening practice. Taking our time to lay down the foundation ensures high degree of skill adaptability and proficiency. Refer back to the tortoise and the hare if you want, Slow and Steady wins the race.
It is my hope that the New Year is treating you well. We talked recently during our training about setting goals. We used the visual of an elephant with a bamboo shoot. The idea being that a bamboo shoot helps elephants focus and not get distracted as they are in parades. My hope is that answering the following questions will help you find your “bamboo shoot”.
What excites you or makes you want to jump out of bed?
What goals (if any) did you set and accomplish in 2016?
What was learned from this process?
What goals do you have for 2017?
What steps will you take to achieve these goals?
Remember when setting goals to make them Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic and with a Time frame. These are SMART goals.
Reminder of the party will be December 31 Please see the schedule below. Families are welcome and encouraged to attend, this is a social event for us to get together. We will order pizza and have punch or cider. You are welcome to bring a dish to share but don’t let that stop you from attending. Please RSVP at least with interest to help in making sure we have appropriate amount of food. Let me know if there are special dietary requests/ needs.
The schedule will be as follows.
Doors open 3:50-
4:00-5:00- Yoga (all are welcome to participate including families- please be on time if you do not plan to participate please wait until after 5:00. Thank you!
5:10-6:00- Karate in street clothes (All)
5:45-6:00- Demonstration (All Karate/ Kobudo students and Instructors)
6:00- Goal setting/limits (All)
6:30- Food, movie, visiting.
We will be doing some things to empower ourselves going forward into a New Year and demonstrating some things we have learned this year. A few years ago I asked people to get some boards for this party. If you have them prepared please bring them. If you would like to get them go to a lumber supply store get 12″ by 1″ inch pine board. Usually we cut them to 12″ x 12″ for adults. We have some on hand if you do not wish to or are not able to purchase and cut.
Once in college I sat with three of my training partners talking about trust, specifically trusting your life with. I remember without missing a beat saying I am sitting with three of them. This landed heavy for my friends and prompted much discussion. We had met in university martial arts club and over the previous two years we trained together two or three days a week and were frequently social together. They had become my closest friends and I looked so forward to class and time together. We all had different background and varied skill sets but all had experience in martial arts before meeting. We practiced things together that I would not have dreamed of without them and many of the skills gained at this time continue to impact my practice today.
There is a saying out in the martial arts world that: Those that kick together stick together. It has merit. Our training is helped by having a diverse group of training partners. As Mrs Young and I were coming up through the ranks there were groups that were practicing at similar levels so the knowledge base was magnified and there were many different body types and attitudes to try different techniques. Somethings work well for some or against some but not with others. Invite someone to attend with you, someone to practice with, and create a cohort group to grow through the ranks together. Of course not all people who try karate classes will find it for them. It is disappointing as we see our training partners drop the practice but this is a reality of most any activity. Over the years many of my cohort have dropped the practice. I have been longing for the days when we would practice into the night together, and go to Gasshuku and train all day with the group, then go back to our “quarters” to review together, discuss what we had done and apply it to our practice. Our knowledge base would grow so much because of what each of us would take away. Most of all the excitement would magnify because there were people to share it with.
Over the years It has been asked why I continue to do this. Mrs Young and I could train together and most likely gain skills. I do this and offer it publicly because someone did it for me. These experiences had a huge impact on my life, and while I long for the cohort of my youth, it is my sincere hope to provide that opportunity for a new generation to find.
Today is giving Tuesday, and in the spirit of giving we have a gifting challenge for you.
Over the years of doing this we have been blessed by many great people to share the martial arts with. Part of that blessing comes in the form of gifts at the end of the year. We always appreciate when you remember us. We appreciate gestures and gifts that show this but please feel no obligation to give any gift.
We often receive gifts from students this time of the year. This year we have ornaments on our tree from the Dunn County Humane Society Paws for a cause. Read more about it here http://dunncountyhumanesociety.org/christmas-paws-for-a-cause-ornaments-sale/
By purchasing one of these ornaments you are making a donation to the Humane society of Dunn County. This would be a gift that goes much farther than an “arch card” to making the holidays bright for our family. Please consider this opportunity in lieu of gifts to us. Purchase one from the tree and give it to someone you know who appreciates animals.
To fuel this challenge, I will match donations if all ornaments “sell”.
Thank you for considering this option for holiday giving.
A few weeks ago we were talking In class about how to remember the curriculum. I suggested daily practice. The importance of this discussion was driven home to me during an event where the head instructor was talking about the importance of keeping up with your own training. He was explaining that a couple senior instructors failed a recent promotion grading due to not keeping up with their own practice. November has been a bit of an effort to assist in that understanding that the answers are on the floor and repeating our training. The Student workbook is out and available for you to assist in your notes. Please note that as revisions are made active students will receive up to date copies so write all over it and use it to support your learning.
Some of you have asked for additional time to practice and receive instruction. During the winter ahead we will return to open dojo on Wednesday nights from 7:00-8:00 pm. This means the dojo is open and I am available to ask questions. This is a time of self directed practice with support. In addition to this we will offer Special Saturday training once a month. This will be an opportunity for you to work on anything you would like to catch up or as specified.
Please mark the dates on your calendar. RSVP for the classes are appreciated and you are welcome to request material to be covered. This will be directed training time (class instruction).
As we look forward at November our focus will be “Numbers”. We will find creative ways to count and use our numbers. “Numbers” is not just about counting, but repetition. Last writing I talked about the answers are on the floor. This is true, you must get on the floor and practice, practice repeat. We will be selecting a few “moves” and doing them over and over during our class. This is done to develop good form and movements that happen without conscious thought. The other function is that we will work to keep form even when the motion is tired. This may be an example of less is more in some ways.
In Karate we will possibly use; “Simple” Kihon, Kihon 2, 3, 4 Kihon Ido, Keri ido and even Kata with this idea.
As far as Kobudo the same applies, we may repeatedly do our Kihon or Hojo undo, Kata, even Bunkai…
In Yoga we may use more repeating sequences with the hope of building strength and possibly getting a deeper experience of positions.
Practice Practice, Repeat.
Your participation in our program is appreciated, Thank you.
October 31 falls on Monday this year. It has been my experience that attendance is very low when that falls on a class day. In an effort to enjoy the festive nature and see the creative costumes students (and families) are invited to wear their costumes next week Monday October 24. (Personally I hope to see some creative martial arts inspired costumes). We will take a group picture at 6:25 after the children’s class. If you are not able to attend that night (or want to wear it again) wear it on Thursday October 27.
Two rules: Your uniform is a special garment for karate training and should not be used as a costume (outside the dojo). The second no dangerous or breakable parts will be allowed during class. If there is some touch up that needs to happen there will be a minute or two before the photos.
Some may ask “What is the value in this?” From time to time it is important to practice in clothes that are not our Gis to see how this affects our ability to move. We will of course go gentle on the costumes. Most of all we are hoping to have some FUN together.
Please join us these nights regardless of your costume and enjoy the time together.