Friday, March 30, 2012

What Would You Do?

Last weekend, I led a small group session on the topic of women’s self-defense. The group was great because they added to the discussion and asked good questions. The exchange prompted me to remember and share an incident which happened years ago.

I have been thinking about it and wonder if/how our reaction to the situation would be different today. It could be a great scenario for John Quinones series Primetime: What Would You Do?  It is a hidden camera show that captures how people react to real-life ethical dilemmas that call for action.  Excellent show.


A few of my family members went on a day trip to Atlantic City. We left early in the morning and were not expected to arrive home until well after midnight. Since we were getting home late, we decided to stay over night at my parent’s house. We woke to a loud banging at the front door. My Aunt thought it was my sister coming home late. My sister was asleep in her bed.

It was a man standing alone on the porch pounding on the front door with his fist. It was 3:00 a.m. He was yelling “Domestic violence! Domestic violence!” Now the whole household was awake - except for my Dad who can sleep through anything. Looking out the window, there was no one else in the street.

What would you do?

I would love to hear your comments!  I will share how the incident played out for us in the next post.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Smorgasbord has been three weeks since I posted!  Once again, I am working too much.

 A few thoughts:

1.  Green Belt Students and Stances:   A 6th kyu green belt in our dojo has approximately 12-15 months of training. Expectations are elevated and weapons training begins. It is no coincidence that this also happens to be the same time frame where students decided to take a break or stop training.  We work on stances (directly and indirectly) in every karate class - drills, kata, explanation, details.   In kobudo, stances change based on the range of the weapon. The green belt students seem to be having a difficult time transitioning from the kobudo stance to the karate stance.

You can read an excellent article on kobudo stances written by IKKF President Hanshi Heilman here and here(Side note - A 13 year younger version of me is in a few of the illustration photos). 

2.  Women's Self-Defense/Awareness/Prevention Classes:  I taught a session last weekend.  It was a nice group.  The only problem - way too short.  Several women want additional training.  Personally, the hardest part about teaching these sessions is the brief length compared to the amount of information.  I hope the prevention/awareness portion of the class will prompt the participants to think further about their own personal prevention and awareness strategies. 

3. Kyu Rank Testing:  We had a scheduled kyu rank testing on March 15th.   The group did well. 

4.  Daughter Update:  My daughter has not missed a karate class.  I do not prompt or remind her to attend.  Karate is her decision.  I will help/guide when asked.

5. Lenten Challenge Update:  I am doing pretty good with the challenge.  There was one week I missed a few days but I am back on track.

6. Congratulations to Ariel and A Journey to Shodan on their recent promotions.

That's all for now....

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Basic / Advanced

These words are used regularly in a dojo setting. We practice basics, drill basics, learn advanced techniques, attend advanced class, basic bunkai, advanced bunkai and so on...

Basic - of, relating to, or forming the base or essence: fundamental

Advanced - far on in time or course, being beyond others in progress or ideas

Do you remember your first karate lesson? During my first class, a black belt was pulled out of class to work with me individually. He showed me how to punch, a few stances, blocks. We walked through the first kata and waza. Mr. Z explained the dojo layout, dojo etiquette and the elements of a typical class. It was an important day in my karate journey.  After 19 years, I am still practicing and refining the lessons learned on the first day.

As a class instructor, I have another perspective. Have you ever told the "advanced" class the focus of the session would be on basics? Did you take notice to the reaction? I have seen green/brown belt students practically deflate at the mention of basics. Some students become so focused on "advanced" or "new" material that basics are neglected.  They can demonstrate the next kata but struggle with first kata. Do the students hear the word basic and think boring and repetitive? 

In a mixed class of beginners and advanced kyu rank students, the students should be practicing at their level.  The beginner who is just learning a technique may be focused on pattern, direction or sequence of movement.  A more experienced practitioner can work on the same technique and focus on breath, intent, timing and visualization.

In my opinion, it is important to utilize practice time to its fullest potential.

Welcome new blog follower Gina from Ginger Snaps and Ryan from Ryukyu Martial arts!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

10kyu x 4 = ?

I handed my 12 year old daughter a crisp new gi and white belt.  If my calculations are correct, this will be her fourth uniform.  The gi have ranged in size from 00 - 2.  She has progressed through 8th kyu twice and almost made it to yellow belt.

We have been down this path before.  

Perhaps she needs a little non-parental encouragement...

If you were given the task of encouraging a potential student to learn karate, what would you say?