Thursday, June 30, 2011

19 Days

Last night was my first night on the dojo floor in nineteen days.  I was surprised when I checked my calendar and counted off the days.  Has it really been that long?

June has historically been a slow karate month for me.  The beginning of the month is busy with end of school activities for my daughter.  In the middle of the month, we drove to Miami to go on the Cruise I won at the AAA travel show. During the past week, I was busy procuring items for a raffle to benefit a local children's theater.

Time flies...

There was a time when missing time in the dojo would make me feel bad or a bit guilty.  I don't want to feel that way about karate.   I accept there will be times when I am able to practice more....and sometimes practice less.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Anonymous...or Not?

Six months ago....

The phone rang at midnight.  Late night phone calls startle me. I immediately think there is something terribly wrong.  I rushed to answer the call.

I did not recognize the voice on the other end of the phone.  After a long pause, a person began talking but did not disclose their name.   The person asked me a series of questions.  I did not respond other than to ask "Who are you?"

I was about to hang up the phone but the next question froze my hand to my ear.  The caller made a specific reference to a post I wrote on this blog. 

The caller knew who I was but I had no idea who they were.

I hung up the phone.

How did the caller connect my blog to the dojo phone number?  After hours of online searching, I figured out how the person found the phone number. 


A setting was automatically changed which listed my site URL on the public profile page.  In a few clicks and searches, I was able to connect the blog-dojo-organization-instructors-work information.  I corrected the setting.

When I started my blog, I decided to be semi-anonymous.  Yes...Michele is my real first name but I try to be cautious about disclosing too much information.  It was months before I told family members about my site.  I am sure their are nuggets of information scattered throughout blog posts and comments which could connect all the pieces. 

Are you anonymous?  Do you blog using your full name?  Is it even possible to be semi-anonymous or anonymous?  Has anyone tracked you down through your blog?  In the age of social networking and instant connections...does it even matter?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Graftbolt: ACL Surgery

Interesting article about a new "bolt" for ACL Surgery:
GraftBolt aims to improve the patient’s quality of life by successfully repairing their injury first time and improving the quality of bonding of the graft to the bone, which speeds up the healing of the graft implant and hence improves the patient’s rehabilitation,’ said Wang.
Read more:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens

Hello Readers! 

I am back from a road trip to Miami (approximately 2300 miles round trip).   It was great to get away but it is nice to be home. Here are a few photos from the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, FL.  

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Ohiopyle 2011

Whenever I download pictures from my camera, there are usually a few pictures of paths or roads.  I like the point in the image where you can no longer see where the path goes.  Where is the path going to take me?  I need to keep moving along to find out.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Parents: Should They Stay or Should They Go?

When parents/guardians bring their children to their first karate class, they sit on the sidelines and watch the session.  Our dojo is open so the parents can see and hear what is happening in class. The parents talk to the instructors and ask questions about the class, style, dojo and policies.  One question often asked:

Do I have to stay during class?

When I taught at the dance studio, which was located in a mall, most of the parents dropped off their kids and went shopping.  The  teaching space was behind closed doors with a glass observation window.  It was the worst space I ever taught karate.  The owner of the studio liked to put me in the "gym" room complete with purple walls and a trampoline.   I taught very young kids (3-6) a pre-karate program.  We worked on balance and co-ordination.  I liked to keep my door open so the parents could hear what I was teaching their children.  The owner wanted the door closed at all times.   So...I invited the parents in the room when I felt they should hear what I was teaching.

I took my daughter (who was 5 at the time) for dance lessons at the same studio.  I would stay and watch the classes.   A few of the karate parents of the youngest karate group would stay all the time.  (Thank you!) One mom dropped her 3 year old son off and left each class.  He always needed to go to the bathroom during class.  The studio policy was that if the parent was not in the waiting room...the entire class had to escort the child and wait outside the bathroom.  These classes were only a half hour long and we spent 10 minutes each session in the lobby outside the bathroom....waiting. 

In the 16 years since our dojo has opened, we had a wide range of parents.

Sit and wait. (largest group of parents in our dojo)
Sit and wait but eventually join class.  :)
Sit with friend - talk and wait.
Sit and wait - work on computer.
Sit and wait for a portion of class - take a short walk outside.
Drop off
Drop off and go fishing at the lake.

So...what is my answer to the question...Do we have to stay?

It is really up to the parent/guardian and the child.  If I felt strongly that a parent should stay, for whatever reason, I would tell the parent individually.

As an instructor my preference is for the parents of young children (5-8) to stay.  I think it is important for the parents to hear what their children are learning.  They learn appropriate age level self-defense.  I think it is also important the parents know we tell the children that karate practice is to be done in the dojo with an instructor for safety reasons.  There is no practicing on parents, friends, brothers/sisters or pets.

One other consideration for our dojo is the proximity of the local Fire Company.  The Fire Company social hall is only 100 yards down the street.   A few parents have asked if it was ok if they hang out at the Fire Company when their children are in class.  They usually add this tidbit of information after I tell them staying is up to the parent.   I know they serve food at the social hall but when most people are hanging out...they hang out at the bar.

What do you think...should parents stay or should they go?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Summer of No and Less

I have declared this to be my Summer of No and Less.  My revelation happened when I was cleaning out a wardrobe closet looking for a specific item of clothing for my daughter.  I emptied the closet and was surprised by what I found:  6 hand made baby blankets (my daughter is 12), 1 cheerleader shoe from 1st grade, tap shoes from kindergarten, a Hess truck, 3 Halloween costumes, 2 comforters, a beach towel, 2 sleeping bags, a Pooh clock and 4 parasols.  Why does my daughter have 4 parasols?

Of course, I did not find the item I was looking for.  There is too much stuff in our house.  The attic is full of plastic tubs.  The garage is lined with storage boxes.  My goal for the summer is to go through the boxes and plastic bins and decide what I should keep.  One bag of clothes was sent to the Goodwill already.  There are two more bags waiting in the hallway.  :)  I am dusting off my eBay account and ready to sell. 

I also need to practice saying "No".  I have one "No" on the books already for the summer.  My daughter had to choose between softball and soccer as her fall sport. I said "No" to trying to do both.  I think it is important for her to focus on doing one sport well.   She chose softball.   We have been warned that 7th grade is challenging...more homework, science fair projects and Confirmation preparation.

I am looking forward to this summer!  I hope I will have more room, less stuff and a few extra dollars in my pocket.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Things to Avoid at Black Belt Testing

The dojo has two students preparing for dan rank testing in July.  During the weeks leading up to black belt testing, I am always asked questions about my testing experiences.  I have shared advice on this blog about Preparing for Black Belt Testing.  Today, I am going to recommend some things to avoid. :)

1.  Ocular Migraine:  A few hours before formal testing, I got an ocular migraine.  I was seeing flashes of lights and stars.  I went home to rest for an hour.  I honestly did not think I would even be able to drive back to the testing site. Luckily, the migraine subsided and I was able to test.  To this day, it was my first and only ocular migraine. 

2.  Bunkai partner MIA.  It was my turn to demonstrate open hand bunkai.  My partner and I practiced for weeks.  I looked around the room for my bunkai partner and she was no where to be found.  She was in the bathroom!  I did not want to make the testing board wait so I asked another person to work with me from the crowd. I will always be grateful to my replacement bunkai partner.  :)

3.  Scheduling surgery.   After my daughter was born I was diagnosed with gall stones.  Surgery was recommended but there was no hurry.  A few weeks later I was told that I would be testing in a few months.  I scheduled surgery two days after testing.  :)

4. Short preparation time.  Keep training and practicing.  You never know when you will get testing notice.  I have had anywhere from a year to 5 weeks notice.

5.  For female readers only...Does black belt testing always coincide at the worst time?  Seriously...

The above list is from my personal testing experience.  The good news....despite all the unplanned things that happened...I made it through each of my tests. 

I am sure you have more suggestions. Please add to the list!

Best of luck to all those preparing for testing!  To the students in our dojo preparing for Nidan and Sandan...keep up the good work!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Poll: Training

Summer is around the corner!   The kids are out of school and vacations are planned.   Some people may find it harder to maintain their regular training schedule.  For others, the summer provides more opportunities to train and attend seminars.

Question 1:  Do you have more time to devote to training in the summer?

Question 2:  Besides a dojo/training hall, name another location you practiced karate.

My answers: 
Question 1:  I should have more time to devote to training in the summer. In addition, I am planning on attending a seminar in July.

Question 2:  When I was a kyu rank, a small group would go out to eat after class on Thursday nights.  This was many years before my daughter was born. There were many late-night impromptu practice sessions in the parking lot of the pizza shop.  Questions were asked and answered, kata reviewed and a bo form was taught.