Reading ZenHG's Transient Dojo post reminded me of a time when a good friend of mine, Mike Iott, and I would train. I was about 19 years old at the time. Mike was about three years older than me and had gone through the ranks with Sensei Dean, but also had been an MP in the army. Mike came back with a lot of Kung Fu based information and practices as well as weapons training.
Fortune had it that Mike and I ended up working together at the Rhinelander Cafe & Pub. His brother-in-law was the head chef. We were both cooks and had a great time. We were always 'working out' in the kitchen. Our favorite weapon of choice was the sharp toothpick with an olive at the end. These made great darts and we we were able to draw some blood on a few occasions. We had to stop after we stuck one at the end of the Chef's nose.
The best times however were after work. Mike and I would get together at his place out in the country. He had this great hill we could work on. We mostly did weapons work. No katas. Just free-sparring. We used nunchakus, three-sectional staffs, bo, jo, sai, tonfa, knife, bokken, shuriken and occasional kama. We were careful in our training, but often bruised and battered ourselves.
We had to keep moving. This was Northern Wisconsin in the woods. Mosquitoes are thick and if we stopped we were swarmed. The one summer we worked together I learned a lot about weaponry and body movement. It was very fruitful as well as just plain old fun.
I encourage all of my students to get together with each other and just play. It is the best way to learn.
Thanks for visiting. My Dharma name is Shinzen. I began studying Goshindo Karate under the watchful eye of Shihan Paul Dean in 1969. Yes, I now have gray hair. I am also Lay-ordained in Soto Zen under the tutelage of Rev. Nonin Chowaney of the Nebraska Zen Center.