Friday, May 23, 2008

Supergroup7 is headed to Quebec!

In the first weeks of June, I'll be making my appearance in Quebec. Hopefully, within the busy activities of visiting friends, and family, I'll have time to train in karate at various dojo. I'm looking forwards to this short, but sweet vacation from the everyday.

When I get back, I'll be sure to post up some photos, and give you some stories about my trip.

Until then, Aloha, everybody!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Seienchin in the snow

Wow! Just WOW! Beautiful.. Awesome kata done in what looks like freshly fallen snow!!

That's Kyokushin training! OSU!

I haven't had to do a kata in snow, but I have trained in it. It's a totally different sensation entirely! I haven't seen the snow fly around me like puffs of cloud before.. Oh my goodness that looks so beautiful!

I'm grateful that Sensei Steve has allowed me to embed his video on my weblog.

Thank you so much, Sensei Steve!!!

There is sport, and then there is something else...

My latest posting on tournaments brought up some thoughts about different philosophies while training in Martial Arts. I am grateful to Steve for planting the seed of this discussion in one of his comments.

As one trains in a Martial art they will find themselves attracted to the various avenues that is provided by this time consuming activity.

Some center themselves in life and death applications that could save them in a violent encounter. Their own lives depend on how well that they know their Martial art. Usually we'd see these as soldiers, or police, but there are others who chose to focus their training in this direction. This kind of training could never be performed at a tournament as the main rule is that there are no rules, and that all actions are fair in the heat of battle. These people seek to turn themselves into effective weapons of quick decisive destruction as is a necessary skill in the demands of their lives. I would call this as "survival" oriented.

Others enjoy the thrill of competition. They train in order to become the most skilled at their Art. They improve themselves with the goal of winning the most medals, trophies, and acknowledgement for their abilities. Each new challenge motivates them to look for better ways of expressing their Art at a higher level. I would call this kind of philosophy as "sports" oriented.

Some train in Martial Arts because they have noticed that it helps their bodies to stay in shape. They've noticed that training in the Arts has had a positive effect on their flexibility, stamina, strength, and even their ability to think. They faithfully come to the dojo each class knowing that they are investing into their future. I would call this kind of philosophy as "health" oriented.

Then, there are people like me. I understand, and appreciate all of the philosophies that I've listed so far, but my focus is different than that.
How can I describe this in words???

I am "spirit" oriented. I look towards the development of my character into a more positive me. I use the tools that Karate training offers to help me learn patience, perseverence, humility, courage, wisdom, etc. Through my efforts to improve myself, I find that I gain the benefits of learning self defense skills, expressing my art at a higher level, and increasing my health. The benefits are not my focus, they are like a wonderful by-product. Karate is part of "me". My lifestyle, my spirituality, my daily work, my mothering, my interactions with others, etc. all of these things fuel my journey in the Way of Karate. Street effectiveness of a movement is not as important to me as the performance, and understanding of the movement. Winning medals is not as important to me as how the person wins. Health improvement is not beneficial ( in my eyes) if the person treats others with disdain, and disrespect. For me, Martial arts are centered on courtesy, and respect for oneself, and for our neighbour. I see that it is the lack of courtesy, and respect for others that has been the cause of every single confrontation, war, and negative event in the history of humanity.

Is one philosophy better than the others? Well.. obviously, I prefer the one that I am walking upon or I wouldn't be so involved into it, but that doesn't mean that there isn't goodness in the other paths. I know what I want from myself, and my training, and I seek my goals. This is what I'd desire for everyone else.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Kata concepts caught in animation

Beautiful! I love it! I love the symbolism! I love the movements! I love the animation! I love the music! I love the message! I love the impact of the whole scene!

Fantastic standing applause to all those who helped create:

Avatar: The Last Airbender Book 3: Ep 13: The Firebending Masters.

Spring is here!

Thank heavens for the warmer weather! I've been able to get outside and train with my Bo. In fact, I've gotten more training on my Bo in the past 2 weeks than I've managed to scrounge up in a winter month!

The only downside is sometimes the strong winds will blow grit and sand into my eyes as I turn in my pattern. So I've had to learn to compensate by closing my eyes whenever I turned into the wind. This is not a good habit to develop. I could just see myself performing my pattern in class in this way. Luckilly the wind isn't always from the same direction each day.

I love training outside. I'm so glad that spring is here.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Tournament support

I attended my daughter's tournament this weekend, and I witnessed things that I feel inclined to give my impression. Of course, I will not mention all of the wonderful, positive moments because I could fill the weblog with those. I appreciated all of the good things that I saw, and I want everyone to know that my daughter walked away from the experience with great memories. However, there are a few things that I would like to mention that I feel could be done with more focus on the positive. Please understand that my following thoughts come from the various tournament experiences that I've had in general, and not from this specific tournament that my daughter attended. Attending this tournament just brought forth some personal considerations in my mind:

A)Noise behavior: It astounds me that the crowd feels that roaring at the competitors helps them perform. Personally, I couldn't understand this need to scream "GO.. Hit HARDER! KILL them!" at the people sparring... so instead, I stood quietly, and witnessed the moment with a deep respect to the effort, and courage of both competitors. As I stayed there with that deep silent calm filling me inside and out, a picture flashed in my mind. I remembered the movie "The Karate Kid" when the character, Sensei Miyagi, was a still presence of power amongst the noise of the crowd watching Daniel-san fight. It felt so proper to do this, to be silent and to witness with every ounce of energy, and showing both fighters the same respect. When the encounter finished, I exploded in applause, and sound cheering both for their performance. I valued the skill shown by the ones who had trained for this moment, and I encouraged them to continue working on their efforts.

B) Parental/Instructor behavior: I witnessed positive support, and cruel pressure. I have to state that I disagree with threatening a child with punishment if they do not win a medal. I also have to state that there is no justifiable reason for treating a child badly before, during, or after the tournament.

C) Competitor behavior: I watched a negative scene where the winner crowed in triumph, high fived his fellow students, and showed no respect to his opponent. I can understand feeling the thrill of winning, but in my opinion, we are martial artists, not football, or soccer players. There is a different philosophy, and meaning to what we do. I turned to my daughter and spoke to her in severe warning. I said "If I EVER see you treat your opponent in such a manner, I guarantee that I will refuse to allow you to receive your medal, we will leave the tournament immediately regardless of where you rank, you will receive a lecture all of the way home, and probably will hear of my displeasure for the rest of the year. Karate centers on "Rei". Without courtesy, and respect then you are not doing Karate, and I would be greatly embarrassed by your actions."

D) Judge behavior: Perhaps it is my youth in Martial arts that is speaking, but I feel that being a judge in a tournament is a honor, and a responsibility. No matter the age, or skill of the person performing in the ring, it is his/her expression of her ability. A judge should give an honest, and unbiased assessment of the competitor. In my eyes, this is a moment of truth, and that needs to be respected. Points should not be given based on friendship, compassion, or other reasons. Reality is that such things do happen. I can only state that if or when I am asked to judge, I will live up to my values as best as I can. Perhaps, in the situations that I have witnessed in the present, it would be better that I avoid being a judge at a tournament.

Personally, although I am aware that it was only a movie, I want to imitate the honor, respect, and courage that I saw portrayed by the characters of the Karate Kid movie, Sensei Miyagi, and Daniel-san during the tournament scene. I feel that the Cobra Kai dojo portrayed in the movie reveal all of the attitudes, and behaviors that I would ashamed to see in myself, and in my children.