Some good advice here for all Ligo Dojo students. Please read. You’ll note that I’m discussing a particular group, but the advice applies to everyone, and there’s come critical advice here within. Read below.
This morning was our 4th Saturday, 6 AM, seeing what we can do to form a Ligo Dojo Technical Committee class. A fancy term, but all it means is forming a contact group that moves a step beyond and takes the technical aspect of the training to a new level. We started with five adults, and now have four. The expectation is that we meet once a week for 2 hours for a year, that students never miss a class, and that it’s always a 3rd class per week, i.e. that they’re always present in at least 2 regular classes per week, so that they can help raise the standard in the regular classes by example. In theory, any adult students that can make that commitment are welcome to join. More on that below, because there are a couple strict requirements. This group plans to go to Japan next year for the instructors seminar with Kancho Royama.
First off, let me interrupt this discussion to complement some significant progress that my various classes have made since our tournament last month. Clearly there were some things to fix, but I think we’re certainly on the road. Here are shots of our Durham dojo class, the one I taught Thursday night, and my Friday night class last night, in Chapel Hill. Nice job folks! Stay regular making it to class, and our dojos will have a great future!
Click here to see the Ligo Dojo of Budo Karate Website.
The Technical Committee Content
1. Buki-jutsu is weapons training. Let me state loud and clear, that the primary reason to practice with Japan’s traditional weapons (bo, sai, tonfa, jo, boken) is to enhance our karate training. Karate (kicks and punches) emerged during this century in Japan from Okinawan styles of buki-jutsu in which law enforcement officers (and others) practiced with bo, sai, tonfa, jo, etc. in order to be able to defend against criminals who had swords (carrying swords became illegal in Japan in 1900). Prior to that time, Karate didn’t make sense, because if you wanted to defend yourself you picked up a sword. Karate, as we know it, was very much a 20th century development, and all of our kata, kicks, bunkai, and punches were born of Okinawan buki-jutsu (weapons training). Therefore we practice with Japan’s traditional weapons, NOT thinking that we’ll ever have to use them, but rather to better understand karate’s roots, hence deepening our knowledge of karate as we know it.
2. Kata and Bunkai. White belts in my adult classes are already learning Sanchin and Naifanchin kata. In addition to the normal sequence of Taikyoku and Pinan kata, we try, every night, to practice Sanchin and Naifanchin shodan. The white belts struggle to keep up with Naifanchin, but at least it’s an introduction. Here, for the past 4 Saturdays we have practiced many repetitions of these two kata. We will move on from here to add others, and to add bunkai.
3. Ikken. Ikken is a parallel, Chinese martial art heavily stressed by Kancho Royama and other instructors during Kyokushin-kan’s seminars. At its foundation is the training of ki energy. Westerners who’ve never seen Ikken might think it similar to Tai Chi, although it is very self-defense oriented (one might say combat-oriented) in that the goal is to learn destructive (and therefore defensive) physical power that transcends the normal sources that we tend to think of when looking for power (i.e. our muscular system). For more information please see the essays I’ve written on Ikken at the Instructors Seminars in Japan tab above.
4. Taikyokuken. More later on taikyokuken.
Technical Committee Participation Requirements
On the first day of training I gave these students a printed list of what we would focus on in this special training. See #’s 1-4 above. However, the very top of this list, above these four, there was actually another. I told them that first and foremost, we would work on the refinement of the sempai-koohai relationship. I told them, and I’m 100% serious, that I care far more about this aspect of their training (and this goes for all my students) than I do for their kicks and their punches, their kata, and their fighting ability. Why?
Because if my students master the sempai-koohai relationship, in learning from me, they can learn 10x more from me than they would otherwise and THEREFORE their kicks, punches, kata and kumite will be 10x better. All my students should take note:
I would love for all of my adult students to train with me in this manner: a third (or more) class per week in which we work together on more high level things. The problem is that it doesn’t make sense for students to work on high level things if they’re not first applying themselves correctly to the usual, basic level things. All of my adult students are close, but not quite there yet. I recommend a couple things to focus on, before you ask me if you can join these special classes:
1. Remove “coaxing” from the relationship you share with your sempais (and me). This means figure out how not to be told the same thing over and over again. One verbal correction should result in one actual, physical correction. If you’re a beginner, and it takes you 10 or even 100 corrections, that’s fine, PROVIDED that you don’t make that your learning-method in which you become dependent on that coxing. By the time you’re an orange belt, you should start to shed your dependency on this crutch. Colored belts, higher than orange belt, who are still having to be coaxed along, are not yet eligible for special training, and need to fix their learning-method even for the regular classes. A hint: Pushing yourself harder, in the wrong way, is NOT the answer; you’ll just have a head ache. Relax a little bit, enjoy, realize that your teachers are on your same side, and you will get there PROVIDED you train regularly.
2. Make karate something that you’ll cancel other things for, not the thing that you always cancel when other things come up. This is HUGE. If you can make this adjustment, you will still be spending the same number of hours devoted to karate each week, but the quality of your devotion will quadruple. These students train only 6 hours per week (at minimum) and yet they’ve committed to making their Technical Committee training their 3rd class (at minimum) rather than lessening what they’re already doing, in order to do something else. Remember that we recommend a minimum of 2 classes per week for all students in order to progress normally. NOTE! Students who don’t participate in 2 or more class CAN STILL PROGRESS, but please understand that the reason for most of your hardship in class is because of the infrequency of your training and your progress will feel more comfortable if you are regular. Now, remember also that being regular will create in you rhythms of “how to train”, and once you have the correct ones, they will be yours for life. Therefore, if you’re karate training is interrupted, even for a month or more, you can step right back into training, and it will be like you’ve never left PROVIDED you’ve established those rhythms. However, it’s the beginners, struggling to establish those rhythms who really owe it to themselves to be in at least twice per week.
3. Keep your issues out of the dojo. Poker face, poker face, poker face. Please. The dojo is not the place you come to offload your emotional stuff. Of course, I take that back . . . you CAN offload your emotional stuff as long as you do it through sweat, and punches, and strong training. Just don’t show in in your face, or interaction with your sempais. Don’t ever mope in the dojo. Don’t hang your head, or have a weak voice. Remember that learning karate is about persevering through hardship. That means learning self-denial, which means showing strong behavior in the face of weak feelings/emotions, too.
I would love to have more and more adult students joining this class. Will it always be Saturday’s at 6 AM? No, on the contrary, we’ll make it whenever the participants can get together. It just so happens that those of us who are participating can most easily get together thus far at 6 on Saturday mornings. Next week we have our first conflict (one student will be out of town) so we’re working on an alternate class time. Adult, students, YES PLEASE, come join these trainings, BUT make sure that you’re ready! We have a lot of fun and learn A LOT, because the atmosphere is very strict. Is it strict because I am? No, it’s strict because the students are strict with themselves. This is as it should be. Participation is by invitation only, in a sense. Talk to me if you’re interested. I’ll tell you if you’re ready.
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