Monday, April 28, 2008

Shihan Hanshi John Taylor, and his newsletter

Shihan John Taylor is an Icon in the Kyokushin Karate Martial Arts World. Words can barely describe all of the progress, and evolution that he has created within Kyokushin Karate. Last year, he was promoted to 9th Dan under Kancho Matsuchima in recognition of all of his contributions to Kyokushin. He mentions this wonderful occasion in his frequently released newsletters called "Shin" where he describes the admirable attributes of Kancho Matsuchima. I will quote just a few words from his article:

"Kancho’s movement among the students and his attention to detail, as well as his humour, gave students a glimpse of the profound impact that Sosai Oyama has instilled within him. Kancho’s technical excellence and immense power confutes the fact that he undertook a serious neck operation several years ago. “I had felt pain in my back and sometimes I couldn’t walk normally.” Deterioration in the neck vertebrae had caused numbness in the hands and required immediate surgery. “From two months after the operation, I started to teach Karate. The training of Karate Kihon was good for rehabilitation.” If Kyokushin can be credited with the power to assist healing, one must also acknowledge the power of an individual to mentally overcome adversity. Kancho’s swift return to training portrays the measure of the man’s physical control and mental tenacity; is it no wonder that Sosai Oyama chose Kancho to appear in his now priceless 1970 Karate manual, “Advanced Karate.” For a man with such a revered history in Kyokushin, Kancho’s admiration for his Australian Branch Chiefs and the standard of their students is evident. “All Australian Branch Chiefs are Senior Masters from Sosai Oyama. Their teachings are the same as Japan.” In fact, it is Kancho’s lack of ego and support of his Branch Chiefs that inspires such confidence in him. Being the only Kyokushin 9th Dan in the World, Kancho Matsushima deemed it necessary to honour Hanshi John Taylor with the same rank last year, acknowledging his contribution to Kyokushin. With the assistance of Hanshi John Taylor, Kancho Matsushima has been responsible for the growth of Kyokushin in the last ten years, amassing 60 countries and 120 Branch Chiefs."

This "Shin" newsletter also contains various items of interest such as different exercises which can help with training goals. The April newsletter explains, in diagrams, and words, how to perform an inverse pull. The February issue shows how to do a Romanian Dead lift. March offers a variety of stability core exercises.

Shihan Taylor offers the reader experienced information, and guidance on important ideas such as Karate Breathing techniques, or which type of bath is better when suffering with sore muscles, a cold or a hot bath?

In every newsletter, there is a touch of humor to make the reader smile, and even break out into a laugh.

It also keeps our Australian Karate Ka aware of the latest happenings in their part of the world.

If you would like to download the April/2008 issue you can just click here.

If you would like to look through the earlier issues of this newsletter from Shihan's desk, follow this link:

There is so much wonderful information to look through in this collection of thoughts, and guidance from the mind of Shihan Taylor! There is so much to read, and a great amount of the guidance crosses into the general range where any Martial Artist could take advantage of what is offered, and improve their training methods. The newsletters are short, easy to read, and very efficient in getting the message through. Perhaps this might be an indication of what facing Shihan Taylor in Kumite would feel like..

Friday, April 25, 2008

The mousetrap

I am hoping that I have found the author of the following prose so that I may give proper honor to the right person.

"The mouse and the trap
Sis Katibah

Friday, March 28, 2008

A MOUSE looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package.

It was a mousetrap. So, retreating to the farmyard, he proclaimed the warning: "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The chicken clucked. "Mr Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it."

He turned to the lamb who sympathized but said, "I am so very sorry, Mr Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers."

The mouse turned to the cow who said, "Wow, Mr Mouse. Im sorry for you, but its no skin off my nose." The mouse turned back dejected.

That night a sound was heard throughout the house, like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see that it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer's wife. She was rushed to the hospital and returned with a fever.

Everyone knows you treat a fever with chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup's main ingredient. But her sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the lamb. Still the farmer's wife did not get well; she died. So many people came to her funeral that the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for every guest. The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness.


Monday, April 21, 2008

My latest employment experience

Today I did some temp. work at:

I was extremely impressed with the staff at this business. They were friendly, available, knowledgeable, and supportive.

As I learned about the product that they sell, I instantly thought about those Martial Artists that may frequent the internet and who sell Martial arts equipment. This program package with available hardware, software, support, etc. would be great for them. To make the package a great investment, one's business would have to bring in close to $300,000, but for them, I could see investing into this inventory control package as such a great move for their business. It helps them to keep track of the high sales, and reduce losses.

This company services world-wide.. it's amazing to me. One second a person is helping someone on the phone from one city, and the next minute there is a call coming from a totally different country.

I couldn't help but think how similar the business world is to the philosophy of Martial arts. The Art of War, Sun Tzu said, "If you know your enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles." Well.. the first step is to know oneself. If you can get a good solid idea of what you have, what you don't have, what you need, and what you should get rid of, you can make your future more profitable no matter what direction you chose to go.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I've become a fan of Georges St. Pierre

What a wonderful Martial Artist! What an inspiration! I stumbled on an interview of him for his upcoming fight this Saturday, April 19th against Matt Serra. What caught my interest was the tattoo pictured on his left chest of what looked like the Kyokushin Kanji. Then I started reading interviews, and watching youtube videos of him.

I read an interview on Kyokushin4life:

"I started karate when I was 7 years old. My dad started teaching me, and afterward I went to a school and competed in full-contact tournaments.....I started learning jujutsu because when I was 12 or 13 years old, my karate teacher died. Before he died, he gave me my second-degree black belt. I stopped doing kyokushin and started doing muay Thai. I liked muay Thai, but then I saw the first Ultimate Fighting Championship with Ken Shamrock, and those guys inspired me to become a mixed-martial arts fighter. As soon as I saw the UFC, I wanted to train for it, but at that time jujutsu didn’t exist in Montreal. I decided to train in muay Thai, and later on I got my third-degree black belt in karate. When I was 16, I found a good place to do Brazilian jujutsu. When I was 18 or 19, I started wrestling and boxing."

Wow.. talk about cross-training! I so admire this man! I can understand just how difficult it must have been to have lost his Sensei at such a young age, and to be left searching for where he fits in, and to find his Way. My heart goes out to the pain that the young man suffered in his past.

From what I've seen in the various interviews online Mr. St. Pierre still carries the teachings of his Sensei, and honors the Dojo Kun in his interactions with others. The most recent interview that I've read says this:

St. Pierre is not your average athlete inside or outside the ring. While some star athletes exude arrogance, disdain or a major-league sense of entitlement, St. Pierre is polite, well-mannered and almost ego-free......When he dethroned Matt Hughes to win the 170-pound title at UFC 65 in November 2006 in Sacramento, he gave the championship belt to his mother as a thank you for a lifetime of support.

When a busy schedule and unexpected development distracted St. Pierre from a scheduled interview with a reporter recently, the apologetic fighter rushed over to collect the journalist, conducted the interview over a steak dinner - which he paid for - and then drove the reporter to his hotel.

"A heart of gold," says trainer Greg Jackson.

"What's not to like about Georges St. Pierre?" asked UFC president Dana White. "He's the epitome of everything you'd like in a sports figure or a tough guy. He's humble, he trains hard, he's a good-looking kid, he says all the right things."

An elegant five foot 10, St. Pierre looks like he just walked off the pages of GQ. Armani, Dolce & Gabbana and Affliction (a sponsor) fill the closet.

In the cage, St. Pierre is a different man. Determined. Measured. Relentless.

In my eyes, THIS is the kind of Black Belt that I would want to become, it is also the kind of Black Belt that I have read mentioned by Sensei Gichin Funakoshi as being our aspiration. I have to paraphrase the quote until I can find it in the book again, but it says something like "His smile can charm the children, and his anger strikes terror."

I wish Mr. St. Pierre the best this upcoming weekend, and I thank him for becoming a great role model to the youth of today.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


"One thing I often say to my young pupils they find confusing. "You must," I tell them, "become not strong but weak." Then they want to know what I mean, for one of the reasons they have chosen Karate-do is to become strong. It is hardly necessary, they tell me, to train in order to become weak. Then I reply that what I am saying is indeed difficult to understand. "I want you to find the answer within yourselves," I tell them. "And I promise you that the time will come when you truly understand what I mean." Sensei Gichin Funakoshi ( Karate-do: My Way of life)

As I had read these words of Sensei Gichin, I was as dumbfounded as his pupils at his statement. I walked around for years thinking "I must become weak? I don't get it." It is especially confusing to think this way as I struggle to be able to hold stance that much longer, or kick/punch with that much more power. I've found that I desire greatly to be stronger when I have to face opponents that tower a good foot above me, with longer reach, and hit me with such power. I think that I have had a glimpse into the wisdom of "becoming weak" these past days.

There is only "so" strong that I can achieve, no matter how hard I train, I can only get a certain amount of strength. I cannot rely on strength in my karate because there will be a time when I have to face someone stronger than me. (In my case, this happens far more frequently than I'd wish.) I've got to realize this weakness, and capitalize on it. This is where my mind takes over, and I start to rely on timing, experience, knowledge, strategy, distance, and well-chosen movements. I have to learn to read my opponent like an open book, and to react without thinking. I have to become "weak"... or at least, I hope that I have gotten a glimpse of what Sensei Gichin Funakoshi is saying.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

April Fools day Martial art Karate Gi

It was April fools day, and my daughters and I wanted to pull something together that would prank the dojo without causing too much disturbance. I found an old gi that I never wear anymore, and handed the girls a package of markers, and told them to decorate the outfit. This was quite a shock, and joy to my children. In fact, when they told my son that he was allowed, and even encouraged, to color on my karate gi he instantly thought that they were pranking him with an April Fools joke. He refused to come and see at first, but then his curiosity overcame him, and he came downstairs to join in the fun.

Here are pictures of their hard work.

Please notice the fine details:

a) On the left side of the Gi Jacket you will find the words "Ohio, Watashi wa Mireille Desu" which means "Good morning, my name is Mireille." written in Hiragana by my daughter who is studying Japanese. She also decorated the right sleeve of the jacket with half of the Japanese alphabet.

b) At the top of the right side of the Gi jacket are little orange kitty prints.

c) The left sleeve arm shows that I've been "Zapped" by my daughter. This is an elementary school game played among the children.

d) I have a Maple leaf on my left shoulder.

e) The Power Puff Girls cartoon decorate the front of my pant legs. My children were chanting the Power Puff theme as they were coloring: "Using their ultra super powers, Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup have dedicated their lives to fighting crime and the forces of evil!"

f) My son wrote "This is my mom." on the bottom of each pant leg just in case anyone became confused.( I guess)

g) There is a clown fish,a Rainbow, and the Avatar cartoon character decorating the back of my pant legs.

h) There is a little girl licking a lollipop on the left side of my gi jacket, and April Fools spread over the back.