Sunday, July 25, 2010

Congratulations! and Thank You!


Two students from our dojo, Fritz and Austin, were promoted to 1st Dan in Okinawa Kenpo Karate and 1st Dan Kobudo on July 10, 2010. They worked hard and did a great job at testing.

My husband was promoted to 6th Dan Karate, 6th Dan Kobudo. This was a difficult test for Tom due to chronic injuries and back pain.

I would also like to extend congratulations to fellow martial arts bloggers on their recent promotions.

Sandman was awarded his Black Belt this weekend.
SueC is now 1st Kyu Sue!
Frank was promoted to Orange Belt.

Thank You!

I would like to thank the Physical Therapy Assistant Schools blog for including my site in their list of 50 Best Karate Bloggers You Can Learn From. My blog was included in the teacher blog category.

I consider myself an accidental blogger. I was at the computer reading BobSpar's blog and I clicked on the button 'create blog'. Initially, I felt uncomfortable having information on the Internet that anyone could read. The first person I told about my blog was my sister. She told me not to worry about blogging because no one is going to read it.

Thank you to all the people who have read posts, commented, subscribed or became a follower of this blog!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Women and Martial Arts

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post titled What Women Want – Karate Version. In this post, I responded to Steve’s question “Do women want to be treated like training partners or treated like female training partners?”

In reaction to my post, an anonymous commenter makes some excellent points about strength, rank, capabilities, technique and the old masters. However, I must disagree with the conclusion of his comment.
Most women just aren’t very motivated and they tend to have completely unrealistic expectations about training: yes I want to learn how to defend myself but at the same time I don’t want to get my hands dirty or sweat too much. This is just the way things are and there’s little one can do about it. Men are by nature more drawn to physical activities and sports and are more likely to take responsibility for their own safety (who else is going to do it?) while most women couldn’t care less and will often quit when the going gets tough.

I recognize that the author of the anonymous comment used the words “most women”. However, in my experience, the women in the dojo are not worried about getting dirty or sweaty. They are in the dojo because they are taking responsibility for their own safety. Before writing this post, I called several of my female friends and family members and asked the following question. “Who is responsible for your personal safety?” Every woman responded, “I am”.

The anonymous comment reminded me of a previous post – Where Are the Men? In this post, I discuss a program taped at a local TV station. The topic of the panel discussion was women and martial arts. A male home viewer called and asked the female panel “Where are the men?” My response was simple – my personal safety and self-protection are my responsibility.

What do you think? Are men more likely to take responsibility for their own safety? Are women in the dojo afraid of sweating or getting dirty? Are men more drawn to physical activities and sports?

I also ask the women who read this blog – Who is responsible for your personal safety?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Home Alone - At What Age?

At a recent family gathering, my sister-in-law recounted a story about the first time she left her son home alone. My adult nephew was 10 or 11 years old at the time. My sister-in-law needed to run a quick errand that would take less than an hour. She went through "the rules" with my nephew and left the house. She returned home to find a police car parked in front of her house. I can only imagine the worry she felt at that moment. My nephew heard a noise and thought there was an intruder. He called 911. This happened only a few minutes after my sister-in-law left the building.

I started wondering about my own daughter. She is 11 years old and we do not leave her home alone. At what age can a child be left home alone? Is this up to the parents discretion or is there a legal age. From

The National SAFEKIDS Campaign recommends that no child under the age of 12 be left at home alone.

However, consider a child's age and maturity level. For example, if a child is extremely impulsive, it might be best to wait until he or she is older than 12.

There appear to be very few states with specific regulations about the age of a child left at home alone. However, since the number of latchkey kids is growing significantly due to 2 income parents and single parents and guardians, there is a growing movement within state agencies to set guidelines.

In Illinois, the minimum age requirement for a child to be left home alone is fourteen. In Maryland and South Carolina, the minimum age is eight. There is no minimum age limit in the state of Pennsylvania. Click here to see the chart by state.

I was in high school (13 yrs) before my parents left me home alone. My sister and I would walk home together from the bus stop. We would be home a few hours before our parents came home from work. My parents were overprotective. I was only allowed to ride my bike on the sidewalk in front of the house. My Dad logged countless hours sitting on the park bench at the playground. I was not allowed to see R-Rated movies or go to Under 21 nights at the local dance clubs. My husband lived in a neighborhood where it was easy to bike to school, to the pool or to friends. He would leave early in the day on his bicycle and return by dark. He was the youngest of four brothers and had more freedom at an earlier age.

Now that I have my own daughter...I have become my parents. I still walk her to the bus stop. I wait at soccer practice.

I am not ready to leave her home alone.

What do you think? At what age would you leave your child home alone? And for how long? Was it different when you were young?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Can You Feel…

…where your energy is coming from?

My Tai Chi instructor asked this question on Tuesday night.


The class was so quiet you could almost hear the sound of people blinking. After a long pause, one student spoke up and asked, “What happens if the answer is No?”

Three heads quickly turned to the instructor.


The instructor explained that it is something you need to feel. Students need to “go inside” and become aware. The joints open up, energy flows and movement generates from the center. Meditation, focus, practice, push hands and the form help students make connections and “feel”.


The word used by the senior student as we left the building.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What Women Want - Karate Version

I have been reading with great interest a series of articles by Steve on his site Steve BJJ Log. Steve has been training in BJJ since 2006. He asked the following question as it relates to his BJJ training.

Do women want to be treated like training partners or treated like female training partners?

I am a karate practitioner and the only thing I know about BJJ is what I read on Steve's excellent blog. I know his question was directed to women who study BJJ. However, it made me think about my karate training and what I wanted as a female karate practitioner. The most surprising thing was that I did not have an immediate clear cut answer. What did I want...?

When I walk into a dojo, I see people in karate uniforms. I does not matter if they are male or female. I admit...most of my training partners are men. When I first started karate there were only a few adult women in the dojo. Most of the female students were kids or teenagers. I tested for shodan in 1996 with three male training partners. Steve's post made me wonder what my training partners think of me. Do they think of me as a "training partner" or a "female training partner"? I am going to ask them.

In my opinion, in regard to open hand and weapon kata, I have not experienced a great difference between the genders as training partners. But what about sparring? Is this where we see a distinction of male and female? In our dojo, I have watched my fair share of sparring rounds. The male/male and the female/female rounds were often more intense than the male/female rounds. Is it about gender? Size/weight? Preconceived societal norms? There have been a few male students who initially refuse to spar a females. They said, "I don't hit girls".

Back to Steve's question...Do women wanted to be treated as training partners or treated like a female training partner?

I can only answer for myself as a karate practitioner.

I want to be treated as a training partner who happens to be female. I want the opportunity to train, share ideas, make mistakes, correct mistakes and try new techniques. I want training partners that push me to be the best I can. I will do the same in return. I want to learn, experiment and test my limits. I want a training partner who understands my limits are mine to determine. I want training partners who understand basic anatomical differences between men and women.

Above all else, training partners should communicate what they want...regardless of gender.

Thanks to Steve for discussing this topic on his blog.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Thanks For Serving

In February, my family drove to Florida only hours ahead of the Washington DC blizzard. We got in our car and headed down I-95. Our plan was to drive as long as we could in order to avoid most of the snow. We made it to Fayetteville, NC when we stopped for the night.

The next morning I called my parents to check on the weather conditions in Pennsylvania. I told my parents we were in Fayetteville. My Dad was in the background. I could hear him talking fast and asking questions. He was talking about a museum and catalogs. Finally, my Mom handed him the phone.

My Dad served in the 82nd Airborne from 1948-1954. He served as a paratrooper and made 52 jumps in the US, Philippines and Japan. He was stationed in NC and GA for over three years. He spent 6 months in the Philippines and 18 months on Okinawa. My Dad asked if we could get him a catalog from the Airborne museum. I told him I did not know what our schedule was for the day but I would see what I could do.

I found information on the Airborne and Special Operations Museum. We drove to Historic Downtown Fayetteville and found the museum. It was great. The exhibits were excellent and the volunteers were friendly and willing to share stories. I bought my Dad a baseball hat with the 82nd Airborne logo. He loves his hat and wears it often.

Thursday July 1

My family and I went to a minor league baseball game. We stood in line waiting to hand in our tickets. The man collecting the tickets paused to talk to my Dad. My Dad was wearing his favorite hat. The man said, "82nd Airborne. Thanks for serving".

My Dad smiled and nodded to the man. Simple words of thanks that made an impact.

Happy 4th of July!

I posted a few of my Dad's pictures from the military in previous posts. Please stop by and check the out the photographs.

82nd Airborne 1948-1954 - Photos

The note on the back of the photo reads "It is only 250 feet from the ground - not so high. They take us up and drop us. The parachute drops us about 16-20 feet per second. When you hit the ground you hit like a sack of potatoes but it is sand and you don't hurt yourself too much."

Close-up - Top of Tower

Getting ready to jump.

Inside the plane.

82nd Airborne 1948-1954 - Photos ll

My Dad in front of his barracks.

Training - How to exit the plane

Training - How to exit the plane.

Close up of training tower.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Okinawa 1951

My Dad took these photos around 1951 on Okinawa. He lived on Okinawa for 18 months during his time in the Army.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Life Without Martial Arts

Martial arts have been part of my life since, learning, teaching. My husband opened his dojo in 1995. Currently we have classes three days a week. I attend monthly workouts at the Honbu and regularly attend Federation training events. I had two lapses in training...during pregnancy and after ACL surgery. When I was pregnant, I stopped teaching at 6 months because I was making the students nervous. They were concerned about losing weapons and accidentally hitting me. I was off the dojo floor for three months after ACL surgery. I returned with a long list of restrictions.

For the past three weeks, I feel like I have been on a karate vacation and have spent considerably less time on martial arts. My tai chi instructor is out of the country. My husband has taught all the karate classes due to black belt test preparation. I work full time and my evenings are spent helping a community theater group. My daughter is in a play and the practices are in the evenings from 6:00-9:00. Parent involvement is essential. Jobs range from costumes to scenery to raffle sales. It is almost 10:00 p.m. by the time we arrive home.

Now I must confess... I have practiced a little. I went to one seminar in Altoona, attended the monthly Honbu workout and worked on the Yang long form with some of the other tai chi students.

Have you ever thought about stopping completely? What would life be like without martial arts? What would fill up my time? Would it be easy to stop training? I think about the last few weeks and this it what life is like without martial arts....

Rick Matz from Cook Ding's Kitchen commented on a previous post that martial arts training is like gravity. I has only been a few weeks and I can feel the tug back to the dojo. I am counting down the two weeks left of play rehearsals. I look foward to tai chi class next week when my instructor returns. I am planning to participate in the last few sessions of black belt testing at our dojo. Next weekend, I will be at a 3 day Federation seminar.

Thank goodness for gravity!