Sunday, February 19, 2012

TRAINING IN TRADITIONAL SHORIN-RYU KARATE & KOBUDO


Stretching to the limit. Here I train at the
University of Wyoming while stretching with my
foot above my head.
Martial arts are about teaching self-confidence and self-respect as well as respect for others. It is about proving to yourself that you are super-human of sorts. Things we do in karate are not the things we imagine are possible for ourselves - take stretching, I don't like to stretch, but when I train at the local 24-hour fitness gym in Chandler or in Gilbert, I will stretch to take a break to catch my wind between sets of weight lifting. 

Stretching is good for developing kicks that reach high to the face, but personally, I'd rather kick someone in the knee, groin, or stomach. Kicking high leaves you open to falling on ice (if you live in Wyoming), leg sweeps from other martial artists, and many other things that are not so good. The stability of a high kick is less than that of a low kick (its been a long time since I took physics, but if I remember correctly, entropy is all about dissapating energy to try to reach a level of stability), so why not go for some of those excellent targets below the belt.

I like to lift weights and I use to lift more than I'm suppose to based on my body weight. I remember I use to train with a curl bar with two 45 pound discs (about 125 pounds total).  Not bad for a skinny guy at 160 pounds at the time.

A 400-pound squat at the University of Wyoming.
Photo was taken for an article on martial arts
training.
One time, while exercising at the University of Wyoming, I watched a guy in the corner of the weight room whose thoughts were freely flowing from his mind - "if that skinny guy can lift that, I should be able to". After I abandoned the curl bar, I watched him walk up to the bar and he looked as if he pulled every muscle in his arm. He quickly dropped the bar wincing in pain, massaging his bicep and exited from the weight room.  I use to also perform free squats with a lot of weight as this gave me a good foundation for karate stances. I really miss squats.

When I was still the University of Wyoming, I would squat 400 pounds every other day while at a body weight of 160 to 170 pounds. Periodically I would show off and squat 600 pounds. One of my students insists that he saw me squat 800 pounds once, but I'm not sure that I lifted that much.

This worked fine until the day my back rebelled. I pulled some muscles in my right lower back that should never be pulled and ever since that time, the same muscles complain over and over again until I finally had to give up squats with free weights so I could walk normally again.

I still like to push weights on a squat machine. Last year when I was training and getting my thighs back in shape before the 2012 JKI National Clinic, I tried putting 850 pounds on the squat machine. I can do this much weight without killing myself because my back is supported by a chair attached to the machine - but it is nowhere as difficult and useful as squatting 400 pounds of free weight. I was working on my thighs and knees because in the previous year (2011) I had a bucket handle tear in the meniscus in my left knee that had to be repaired by a surgeon: my knee never quite felt the same. I suspect my doctor would have given me a time out for trying to lift this much weight - and you guessed it, I hurt the other knee - ugh! Now neither is quite right.

Accepting a full force roundhouse kick to
ribs from Sensei Gillespie at University
of Wyoming basketball game.
After I left surgery on a Friday in 2011, I was required to be wheeled to the door of the hospital in a wheel chair. At the door, I was given crutches and told I would need them. I never used them. The following day, I was ready to head to the gym, but my wife talked me out of it and so I waited until Monday to head back to the gym. I was also enrolled in physical therapy at Diamondback and was told that they only had one other person ever be able to as much as I could after this kind of surgery and he was an active Phoenix Suns professional basketball player - where I had about 40 years on him. The physical therapist wanted to know what my secret was - I told him it was no secret - it was just my weekly training in traditional martial arts that made all of the difference.

Nowadays, when I lift I warm up for 40 minutes in the aerobics room.  My regimen begins push-ups and sit-ups, then followed by kata, and groups of self-defense applications (shadow boxing) using hands and finishing with a few kicks. How many I do depends on how I feel that particular day. Other days, I may just do kata - typically 35 different kata and by the time I'm done, I've produced enough sweat for everyone else in the gym - I cannot think of anything that is better than kata for overall physical fitness. I would also add kobudo kata, but the gym frowns on weapons - but if they just had a bo (6-foot staff or dowel) that would be very helpful.

When I do push-ups, I do between 100 and 250. Sit ups, I do a minimum of 300 and periodically have done as many as 1200 (I quit at this number only because sit ups get boring). Not too long ago, while teaching at my dojo in Mesa Arizona across the street from Gilbert and Chandler, Arizona, I had a visitor from Florida who had trained in martial arts elsewhere. He and a young lady were watching as we warmed up. At the beginning of the class, we often do a set of 20 push ups and 30 to 50 sit ups. I was told after the class by our visitors that they thought it was entertaining that an older person with gray hair (me), was doing these exercises at ease, while my students (nearly all younger than me) were struggling. This is because I practice sit ups and push ups so often.

I like to do kata during warm-ups at the gym. I warm up with 4 or 5 kata. When I run through the kata, each and every strike, block and kick are done with full, explosive force.

Two of my favorite all time martial artists at
the University of Wyoming. Sensei Katie and
Sensei Kris. They married after college, and
both developed a reputation for powerful
technique. Katie also developed excellent
jujutsu waza such that most guys were
concerned about having to train with her.
Periodically, other martial artist show up in the aerobics room at 24-hour fitness in Chandler, Arizona. Some have a serious attitude problem, and I've yet to see any that impress me - but it's because of the way they train and their disregard for courtesy, which is a must for martial arts. It is obvious these people have a lack of understanding of martial arts. I assume they are trying to make up for a lack of power and focus by adding a chip on their shoulders, when all they would have to do is learn how to focus and be a little courteous. Most of us can do this, but apparently few martial arts instructors teach a method whereby their students can learn power and also learn respect.

Anyway,I watched one martial artist as he kicked, punched and blocked with no focus, acceleration or power in any technique. He did do a lot of exercies trying to conserve energy, but it was more like a demonstration of aerobic kick boxing classes for overweight housewives that I've seen at Gold's Gym. Motion, but no power. Don't conserve energy! Put some power in your technique!

In karate (and martial arts in general), if you want to be above average, you cannot conserve energy. Instead you must put yourself into the hands of Uncle Albert and focus on his formula E=MC2. You must erupt like an atom bomb during every technique. While generating focus and power, one must also be aware of time (another of Uncle Albert's concepts). Time is relative, and it is wise to move from technique to technique considering ma (distancing and timing)!


A few decades ago, when I attended my first Juko Kai International Clinic in Florida, I was asked by my Sensei (Dai-Soke Sacharnoski) to demonstrate every empty hand kata I knew. This was done in front of 250 black belts. At the end, I probably lost 5 pounds of water from sweating, but I established a name for myself.

Many came up afterwards to tell me it was one of the best performances they had seen. One black belt (a 7th dan) indicated he had never seen another in his system with so much power. Another (a 5th dan) told me that so much power emanated from my technique, that the building actually shook every time I punched or blocked (of course it didn't, but that was the impression).

Teaching my students to break rocks at the University of Wyoming. Rocks
are much cheaper than boards or rebreakable boards and much more
difficult to break.
This is the type of focus and power I teach my students. Nearly all are adults, but I have a couple of kids that one family watched one Wednesday afternoon. The lady told me these two kids had so much power she would be fearful of being hit by them (they were 6 and 8 years old). I would have to agree. They have more focus and power than most black belts I've seen in Arizona.

I also emphasize body hardening to students so they can learn to break rocks with the hands, knuckles, feet and head as well as accept and dish out powerful blocks, strikes and kicks. I use to allow my top students to punch me in the stomach until they got tired. I have some good blocking exercises I teach so I can get my students to make powerful blocks as well as learn to accept pain and power of such blocks. After a few sessions of these kinds of exercises, our students love to show off their bruises to one another.

One of my female students (Paula) recently had a physical. The doctor's eyes got real big when he saw the bruises on her arms. Apparently, it took some talking to convince the doctor that her husband was not really abusing her and he should not call the sheriff. She was just taking traditional karate. Not sure why, but I've had a group of really tough women black belts over the years. One was a petite young lady at the University of Wyoming named Katie. She loved jujutsu and loved to rough up the guys. One of my male students actually quit training in the jujutsu classes because he was afraid of her.

One of my powerful hitters, Sensei Paula Borea
loves to hit. Paula is actually of Japanese
samurai lineage.
I thought my body hardening techniques were intense until I joined Juko Kai International. When I was at the Black Eagle Federation Kyokushin Kai dojo as a teenager and later at a Wado-Ryu dojo as an undergraduate in the local university, kumite was pretty much all we learned. We had only a cup and nothing more for protection. Still, when you got kicked in the nads, it dropped you. So, when I met Dai-Soke Sacharnoski of Juko Kai International, I was absolutely amazed at the heights he had taken body hardening to. Nothing came close - he was superhuman! I had to learn this art. His martial artists were striking each other in places you don't even want to think about and smile! Places where we had been taught in other schools to be killing blows. But the JKI martial artists were smiling while being totally exposed and unprotected!

After I started learning this art in 1996, our university club presented a couple of karate demonstrations at half-time at the university basketball games. There was one demonstration that stood out. At the end, my hardest kicker, Sensei Donette Gillespie, 3rd dan, was to kick me in the groin while I was totally unprotected. I was not wearing a cup, and believe me, after being kicked there numerous times during full contact training in Kyokushin Kai, Wado, Kempo, Shorin-Ryu and Shotokan karate, it doesn't help anyhow.

The UW crowd was going wild as Sensei Gillespie did her warm up kick to show what was going to happen. There were more cheers than during the basketball game. The audience wanted to see me fall. As Sensei Gillespie got ready to do her kick, I told her to kick me as hard as she could and try to lift me off the ground. She then focused. She got a look like "I'm going to kick your nads into the rafters". The stare was so intense that I smiled - then she kicked!

Ted's famous photo of Sensei Gillespie kicking me
at a basketball game (University of Wyoming
Photo Service)
The crowd went crazy and there were lots of oooooooooohhs in the audience from the males. And did I survive? 

The next day, Ted from the University photo service called me at my office in the geological survey (I was also a geologist) and said I needed to stop by his office to see his photo - he said it was the craziest photo he had ever taken - I was being kicked in the groin and smiling, as if I enjoyed it.

I was very excited to learn Juko Ryu kijutsu (Combat Ki) and many other martial arts taught by my instructor. Dai-Soke Sacharnoski is one of the greatest martial artists to ever walk the planet and its a privilege to be able to train under him. In my opinion, he is the best all around martial artist in the world. He also has a large following of martial artists that feel the same and include many of the better martial artists in the world.

His martial arts association, Juko Kai International, is for traditional martial artists and it is not easy to get in. Most applicants are rejected.

Using my head at a karate demo in
Las Cruces, NM in 1976.
After I was granted my own sokeship (I had a kind of hybrid style from all of the martial arts I had trained in), I modified my body hardening concepts and include them in my teaching. They are no where as superior as those of Dai-Soke Sacharnoski's Juko-Ryu Kijutsu. One of Sacharnoski's other students, Hanshi Kiby Roy, is incredible and something that you have to see to believe!

Many of my students enjoy learning body hardening techniques - both male and female (see following photos). It was not too long ago, that I celebrated 45 years of martial arts training. My, the time flies by.

 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

TOP-RATED MARTIAL ARTS SCHOOL IN PHOENIX, ARIZONA

Stop by to see why we are rated as the Top Karate School in Phoenix.

Professor Flo Teule, PhD (1st dan) trains in karate with Dan Graffius (2nd dan)
Karate, Kobudo, Self-Defense and Samurai Arts for Adults and the Family at 60 W. Baseline Road. At the corner of Mesa, Gilbert and Chandler.



 Karate and Kobudo have been inseparable since the King Shoshin of Okinawa outlawed bladed
weapons in the 15th Century. Only recently have many schools stopped teaching the art of kobudo.
At the Arizona School of Traditional Karate in Mesa, traditions live on and we practice many Okinawan
weapons and Japanese samurai weapons along with karate. Here Ryan Harden is training with Tonfa.




Traditional Karate
by Arizona School of Traditional Karate - Mesa


Sensei Bill Borea (2nd dan) trains with Professor Neal Adam,
PhD (5th dan) with bo and tonfa.

Sempai Rich Mendolia trains with Sensei Paula Borea (2nd dan) using katana (sword) and
naginata (pole-mounted sword).

 
 
 
 
 
Sensei Kyle Linton (3rd dan) trains with Hanshi Andy Finley
 
(7th dan) with tanto (knife)


 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

TAI CHI & ME

In 1999, I traveled to Murphy, North Carolina where I was granted license as Soke of Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Kai by Dai-Soke Rod Sacharnoski. This was one of the greatest moments of my life, as I had never imagined I would achieve the level of Soke. It was doubly exciting as it was presented to me by the greatest martial artist I have ever known.


At this particular clinic, I also discovered I was Tai Chi challenged. Prior to the clinic, I had been somewhat interested in Tai Chi. In 1986; I had traveled to the outback of northern Australia, and camped along the Fitzroy River with several other diamond research geologists as part of a conference. One morning, I woke early and climbed from my tent to watch kangaroos hopping around the spinifex grass, periodic emu rushing through the brush and a Chinese delegate practice tai chi with the sunrise. I watched this performance of grace and balance to the song of a mocking bird singing from a perch in a nearby boab tree - it made me want to learn tai chi. Sketch by Soke Hausel (Tai Chi lady)..


Karate on the Rocks - 1985
As graceful as the tai chi dance is, I found we were incompatible many years later in Murphy. Tai chi contains continuous, graceful, slow, and unfocused kung fu movements that are unlike the powerful focused strikes and kicks of Okinawa karate. At the time of the clinic, I had more than 3 decades of karate practice under my belt. I found myself trying to mold the graceful movements of Tai Chi into focused strikes, kicks and blocks typical of karate. On that day, Tai Chi defeated me. I could not de-emphasize 30+ years of karate.
 
Today (2010) in Arizona we have a group in our dojo that rents time to train in Tai Chi. The Tai Chi Academy people are super and wonderful people and if I had the time, I might give it another try as it is a beautiful art to watch.

Join us at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate in Mesa - we are a martial arts school located across the street from Gilbert that is for Adults and Families.  Traditions are important and we do not compete!

NOSTALGIA


Last night, while sitting in bed and looking over some past membership lists, I start reminiscing about how traditional martial arts is really a very tightly knit group of friends or family. For instance, whenever we cross paths, we share our life experiences and provide updates about our professions and families just like family members. The reality is that we are a family.

Photo taken about 1969 or 1970 at the University of Utah
(with a Instamatic camera). Soke Hausel demonstrates yoko tobi geri
(flying side kick) with Tim Smith.
Periodically, I receive emails, letters, visits and phone calls from various martial artists. For example, I use to look forward to hearing from Sensei Pedro Rodriguez from Puerto Rico. Pedro had an infectious laugh and personality that made you feel like you knew him all your life. It was enjoyable to hear about his experiences. Sensei Indishe Senayanake from the Sri Lanka Dojo often sends email about his experiences, geology studies martial arts demonstrations and philosophy. These are wonderful and I look very much forward to the day that I can travel to Sri Lanka.

Sensei Scott Seaton from Alaska periodically describes his fishing, hunting and guiding events. I look forward to hearing about Sensei Mike Webb‟s growing family in Canada and to discuss geology with Hanshi Andy Finley and enjoy hearing about the country and western band with Shihan-Dai Kyle Gewecke. I also get opportunities to talk with Dai-Shihan Neal Adam from Phoenix and see some of his new and creative martial arts. In other words, Seiyo Shorin-Ryu is a family, and I look forward to hearing from all of you when you get a chance.

As a rough estimate, more than 5000 people have now trained in Seiyo Shorin-Ryu. We now have members and former members from all over including many states in the US, Puerto Rico, the Navajo Nation, the Cherokee Nation, Azerbaijan, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, France, Germany, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Canada, Italy, Russia, China, Canada, Korea and more.
Performing another flying side kick in Albuquerque at the
University of New Mexico. Eddie Begaye defends my kick.

I remember one earth-shaking series of email from a former student on 9/11. She was attending graduate school in New York City and witnessed first hand the attack on the World Trade Center and relayed the information to me as it was occurring. In short, I would love to hear from all of you when you get the chance.

First Day of Training at UW

By Ernst Arnold, Sensei, Hagerstown, Maryland

Sensei Ernst Arnold, PhD, teaching karate in Maryland
I can remember my first day of training with Soke. I had been training in Kempo karate for nearly 2 years and was looking for something different. I heard about Soke’s class on the UW campus and decided to look into it. I introduced myself and observed a class. I was very impressed and invited to participate in the next class. I was full of nervousness and apprehension at the next class. After bowing in and stretching, the class began floor exercises. In one exercise, each person faced a partner. One person would step forward with an oi-zuki and the other person would step back with a block. This would proceed the length of the gymnasium and then back. As chance would have it, Soke was my partner. This event had a large impact on my philosophy towards training. As I punched at Soke, he would strike my wrists with great force. He explained that he liked to use full power in his training. Soke would strike and hit pressure points in my wrist and this caused a loss of feeling in my hands, which was a blessing in disguise. Although the pain was real, I was determined not to shy away and I survived. The lesson learned was an important one; train as you would fight. Lack of focus and intensity is a waste of time. Although battered and bruised I was eager for the next class.

Training Memories In Karate


A remarkable clinic was held in Corbett Gym on the UW campus in 1996. During that year, we were lucky enough to bring Dai-Soke R. Sacharnoski to teach Juko-Ryu Kijutsu to an international group who traveled to Laramie to train in this amazing martial art. During the clinic, we learned how to strengthen our necks so we could take hard blows to the throat, we learned how to accept kicks to the groin (although was not easy), kicks to the ribs, and punches to the stomach. At the end of the clinic, we witnessed a few JKI members take the master test.


Juko Kai Clinic at the University of Wyoming. Dai-Soke
Sacharnoski sits in front at center.
This was the most incredible martial art I had ever witnessed. These people accepted full-force strikes to the neck from four different people (all at the same time), took full-force kicks to the groin and ribs, and full-force strikes to the solar-plexus while blind folded. I can tell you that no one held back on the strikes and kicks as the striking members voiced their willingness to have the opportunity to see if these people could withstand their best shots - and most did. Those members who passed the test and were successful showed no effects whatsoever from the strikes and kicks. To me, this was amazing, as I had always been taught in the past that many of these were killing blows.

University of Wyoming Karate and Kobudo Club - 2001
After watching and training with Dai-Soke Sacharnoski, it was apparent to me that he is the best martial artist in the world - and over the past 45 years, I've had the opportunity to see many of the best martial artists in the world - but no one compares to his abilities!

VISIT OUR HUMBLE HOMBU IN MESA, ARIZONA
Map to Dojo

Our center is open to the public - we focus on Adults and Families. Come learn the traditions of Okinawan Karate & Kobudo, where much of the class is conducted in Japanese and English to help students learn Japanese. We also teach meditation, philosophy and martial arts history interjected in karate classes. Our schedule is as follows


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We have some of the lowest rates in the East Valley. No sign up fees. Start as soon as you pay for your first lesson or first month. You can pay either month by month or day by day - its up to you.



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