Monday, October 08, 2007

Back from the very first experience of teaching at a karate camp

My past 5 days have been astounding! I travelled down to Independence, Missouri to attend, and teach at the Hoyukan Dojo Shotokan in the park Fall karate camp invited by Sensei Charley Porter. ( For those interested in where to find Hoyukan Dojo it's located at 529 us 24 Highway just outside of Kansas City.)

My husband and I were lucky enough to arrive early, and be able to participate in an Aikido class being taught by Sensei Doug Coulas. He revealed to us some basic wrist manipulations with take downs, and then proceeded to show us the more complex possibilities which could happen. It wasn't long that my husband and I were making many different and interesting sounds as we learned which direction our bodies would go to avoid the pain.

Afterwards, Sensei Michell Barnhart included us in his Jujitsu class. ( Yes, Steve, I got some interesting experience in ground work, and the complex strategies of this Art.) To my joy, my Kyokushin Self Defense training has had many similar aspects to what I was doing so I smoothly was able to put my partner into a controlled side mount. Sensei Michell came up to me encouraging me to "finish it off". I was totally confused, my mind was blank as to what he wanted me to do. I centered on thinking.. "hmm.. I wonder which part of her he would like me to strike.. I guess I can elbow strike her jawline..." Although, my solution seemed a little bit out of what was being taught so I decided to ask Sensei for clarification. Good thing that I did so... I was supposed to get her into an arm bar. OOOOOOoooooHH!

The next day, my husband and I were allowed to visit Sensei Howard High's Kobudo class being held in Kansas City. It was great! I met this wonderful lady at the registration desk whose eyes lit up with happiness when she talked. She recognized me from reading this blog. COOL! It is such a joy to meet and greet people who have enjoyed the various things that you write. Meeting her was a real high point on my trip.

I watched the Sword fighting class and took a few pictures. With Sensei High's permission, I can post them here:

It was awesome to watch Sensei High demonstrating, and instructing various swordsmanship. He showed how the opponent can be disarmed by just a small movement. I was honored to be able to meet the person who had founded the Cyberdojo Forum that I had been reading, and posting to for so many years. His teaching style is relaxed, and intricate. He guides his students with a gentle, calm, constant, and reliable hand. His main message throughout that class was to control the eyes, and where they were looking. I was surprised how similar the main ideas were with swordfighting, and with karate kumite. It truly opened up Sensei Gichin Funakoshi's phrase of "Think of your opponent's hands and feet as swords". By watching swordplay, it's amazing how much is revealed.

After those great opportunities to train under, and watch such experienced Sensei, it was now my turn to teach. My first ever moment of teaching at a seminar/ karate camp type of event. I felt those anxious butterflies, and yet there was a solid core of confidence that I would do well because I was prepared, and I would do my best.. How can it go wrong?

I taught the very first class of the camp with so many higher belts watching me as I led the warm up. I knew that I was being assessed as to my teaching skills, and I also knew that I couldn't think about that. I had a job to do, and so I centered on sharing what I had with the students. I focused my lesson on thinking about how our bodies move, and making them do what we want them to do. I geared the warm up to include some confusing, and challenging moments similar to patting your head with one hand, and rubbing your stomach with the other. It awakened the mind into wondering "Why is it that I can do this in this way, but not when I do it in the other way?" By the end of the hour class, I had the students performing reverse blocks to defend themselves. It was challenging, and enjoyable. I walked away feeling very good with what had just happened.

Our next class with Sensei Brian McGuinness was eye opening. He took the information that I had learned from Sensei Doug into a higher level, and helped me to understand how various movements can be used in so many different ways. He took a move from a kata, and revealed three levels of defense that were possible: Nice, not so nice, and nasty. I enjoyed seeing how adding just a little tweak here or there can change the level of a self defense movement.

The last class of Saturday was taught by Master Mike Kaylor from Springfield, Missouri of the Midori Yama Budokai Association of Leavenworth, Kansas. Master Kaylor was amazing. He was both gentle, and hard at the same time. He introduced me to Low Horse stance. I have always heard about this, I have seen pictures of it, but until now I had not been able see it in action. This day, due to the great training that I get under my Kyokushin Sensei, I achieved a low horse stance, and held it for awhile. I was quite satisfied with myself. The exercise wasn't too good on my damaged right hip though, so I kept lifting up for a second, stretching the hip slightly, and then lowering back down. Master Kaylor's lesson focused on the traditional 4 wrist stretches, and their practical applications in Aikido moves. I loved how he united the two so that it was so much easier to remember and bring the information home.

The "lesson" time of the camp was over, and now was the time for fishing, campfires, hiking, and fun. My husband and I went hiking and we took some pictures.. LOOK!

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