Friday, March 27, 2009
Those of you who have been practicing the arts for awhile, I am sure have had beginners come up to you and ask, "If someone tries to punch you in the jaw (or kick you or choke you) what would you do?" My answer is usually, "I don't know". And they look at me disappointed because I didn't give them a clear cut pat answer. I answer this way because I really don't know. Self-defense is not a conscious ego-controlled logical step-by-step reactive answer to an unprovoked attack. It can't be...it is too slow. Self-defense is a holistic ego-less subconscious response based on specific training that generalizes to multiple scenarios. Huh? Can't believe that just came out of my head.
What this means is that we really cannot know how we will react or respond in any given situation because there are too many variables that come into play. In many cases these situations will never repeat themselves exactly. I don't know what I would do if someone were to punch at me or try to kick me. I do know something will happen, but odds are "I" am not going to be doing it. Again, those of you who are skilled and do some form of Chi Sao or Kakie know you can't do this with a step by step mind set. It is a flow and 'listening' with the arms/body/spirit that needs to be practiced... and if you are like me many times you surprise yourself by the 'blocking' or 'intercepting' that is happening and you are not doing it. It simply gets done.
In Zen, we talk about having this "I don't know mind" and value it as extremely important to recognize and rest in. It is the Beginner's Mind that Suzuki Roshi spoke of. As Martial Artists I believe we need to trust our "I don't know mind" as well as our training. When we do there is nothing we need to worry about in the face of an attack. I love "I don't know mind" because it is a nice place to rest and relieves me from having to know all the answers.
Oh, well. I guess that is enough rambling for a Friday evening.
Monday, March 23, 2009
In the above picture, Sensei Micik has positioned herself outside of Sifu Marquardt's reach and has moved in to counter-attack.
For those of you who attended I would like to know what you learned or re-learned. Please share with a comment to this post. I learned a lot more than just the above but would like to hear from you as well.
Here Shihan Dean has moved just outside of Sensei Shepard's punch. He has moved just off-center of the attack and has positioned himself to launch a counter attack or run.
Take Care...and again thanks to the Rhinelander Dojo for the invitation and great time. Also I want to thank the Fu Chen Kung Fu and Shorei Kempo practitioners for attending. Working out with you guys is always a treat.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Sensei Jen and Brian
Sensei Rob standing....Mr. Paulson being taken down
Jean and Sensei Verna
Young Man with lots of potential and some goofy Fu Chen guy...oops...Sifu Marquardt!
Sifu Marquardt and Shihan Dean
Jean and Sensei Verna again
Sensei Dan Lutsey
Shihan Dean and Sensei Shepard
Shihan Dean still hard to catch
Shihan watching the action
Sigung Penca in the black....tough to catch him standing still
Future Goshindo Black Belts!
Sensei Rob and Brian going at it.
These guys were working really hard
Sensei Jen Lutsey
Jean and Mr. Paulson
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
I remember walking into the Rhinelander Dojo, well, actually it was the basement of The Memorial Building, a community center. It was full of kids and adults waiting to learn Karate. The dojo was so full, Sensei had to have half of us sit down so the other half could workout. It was sponsored through the Parks and Recreation Dept.
It was 1969, I was 14 years old, and very excited to be learning Karate. My most vivid memories of this time was sweating a lot, the cold concrete floor (it gets really cold in Rhinelander in the winter), knuckle pushups, Sanchin Kata and thinking, "why am I doing this?"
That concrete floor could get so cold and then so slick it made kumite a challenge. I remember slipping and cracking my elbows many times on that floor. Word of caution: Don't try high kicks on a slippery floor. To this day I have sensitive elbows. Also, knuckle pushups on that floor felt like torture for this skinny white belt. Damn those hurt, but that was nothing compared to having to drag ourselves on our knuckles across that floor.
The one thing that actually kept me going was Sanchin. Seeing Ray Zastrow, a green belt at that time, doing Sanchin impressed the living hell out of me. He did one fine Sanchin! All I knew was that I wanted to be doing that! And look like him. Fast forward about a year and there are only about 12 of us left...Sensei weeded out quite a few people....and then to be asked to join him and a few others on Saturday and Sundays for more intense workouts was an honor. This was outside of the jurisdiction of Parks and Rec.
I took a lot of punishment back then as the only safety equipment we had were 'nut' cups and mouth guards. My white gi was always speckled with blood from a bloody nose, usually mine, and I swore I lived with cracked ribs for years. For some reason I kept going back. On these weekend workouts we would kumite for about an hour and a half...then do some ground work and street self-defense for another hour. Almost every weekend until I was 18 was spent on that cold concrete floor...it was cold even in the summer, but then you didn't mind as much. Oh yeah, somewhere in there Sensei finally got some mats for our groundwork. We thought we died and had gone to heaven. Mats are softer that concrete, but you knew that.
The Memorial Building has since been torn down but my memories are still there. At times we went to the Junior High Gym when we couldn't use the Memorial Building (it was being condemned.) The wooden floor was great but the showers were awful. No hot water! (It eventually was condemned and torn down too). We took it as a testament to our man-hood to withstand the cold showers and thought of ourselves like the Japanese masters who would stand under the waterfalls. Hey, I was a kid.
My first Gi was made by my mother...but I didn't have a belt. Sensei Dean noticed and gave me his white belt. I was so honored I think I slept with it. After about one year of training, I will never forget this, Sensei Dean came up to me while we were standing at attention, grasped my belt and said, "You are going to make a fine Black Belt some day". At that moment, I knew I was going to become one. Seven years later it happened. I showed up for a Sunday workout at the Jr. High Gym and only Sensei Dean was there. I asked where everyone was and he said "It is just you and me...and by the way, your testing for Shodan today." I just turned my white gi pants brown, if you know what I mean.
Well, that's all I have time for now. I will try and get some pictures from the seminar this weekend.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
ps...if you like old Samurai movies, check out Samurai Torrents on my Blog list.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Today I am at home with my son, who caught the flu and has made the bathroom his home for the afternoon. The Nebraska Zen Center newsletter came in the mail and had a nice article on Han Shan, an eccentric Chinese poet of the 9th Century.
His real name is not known. Han Shan is his pen-name and means 'Cold Mountain." His life story is full of eccentric behavior and wonderful poetry, much of which, unfortunately, has been lost. He supposedly would visit local temples and perform odd jobs, but mostly poke fun at the piety of the monks. He was a rascal. I like eccentric, radical rascals because they keep us fresh and don't live out of well-worn mind-ruts.
Han Shan often wrote of his life in the mountains...
Yet, over time he wrote of the beauty of inner freedom.
"My true home is Cold Mountain
perched among cliffs beyond the reach of trouble ...
The Tientiei Mountains are my home
mist-shrouded cloud paths keep guests away
thousand-meter cliffs make hiding easy
above a rocky ledge among ten thousand streams
with bark hat and wooden clogs I walk along the banks
with hemp robe and pigweed staff I walk around the peaks
once you see through transience and illusion
the joys of roaming free are wonderful indeed."
His life was harsh at times as well and you can feel his struggles as he writes about what little he had living in the mountains."A trifle poor in the past
today I am completely poor
whatever I do does not work out
every road is a treadmill
my legs quake in the mud
my stomach aches on festival days ..."
"Cold Mountain is nothing but clouds secluded and free of dust
a hermit owns a cushion of straw
the moon is his lone lamp
his bed of stone overlooks a pool
his neighbors are tigers and deer
preferring the joys of solitude he remains as a man beyond form."
So, what does he have to with the Martial Arts? Nothing much in terms of punch, kick or throw. What he does do is point us in the way of ceasing the struggle within ourselves. He is teaching us through his life the freedom of spirit...the freedom of Emptiness.
I also just like his poetry. Poetry is painting with words. Nonin is a former English instructor and valued poetry in his teachings to us. He often used the poetry of Walt Whitman rather than traditional Zen stories.
Poetry is a wonderful way of expressing the seemingly unexpressable. It is worthwhile for all Martial Artists to read poetry. Many of the old Masters, like Miyamoto Musashi, were poets and artists. We should carry on this tradition as well and consider it as important as doing Kata or Kumite.
Hands palm to palm.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
Friday, March 6, 2009
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
While moving through the ranks there were five words you never wanted to hear when you were standing next to Shihan Dean. These simple words were, "Hey Guys, Now Watch This". This usually meant someone was going to get a little demonstration of discomfort...and if you were standing next to him or had been working with him you knew it was you. Gulp.
I remember about 12 years ago I came to visit Shihan Dean as I was living in Nebraska at that time. My brother, Bob, had come up from Appleton to work out with us. My brother is ranked in Shorei Kempo and Goshindo. Bob was video-taping our workout and Shihan Dean and I were doing some kumite when Shihan stopped and turned to the camera and said those five dreaded words. My brother started laughing so hard he couldn't hold the camera still.(He was just happy he was holding the camera). I froze as I hadn't heard those words in years....and, yes, I was given a lesson.
Shihan Dean said to come after him with a flurry of fast punches and he was going to show me how to 'dance'. Those of you who know me know that I am fairly fast with my hands. Well, I couldn't touch the 'old man' (I say this with deep respect). He picked off my punches and kept me so way off balance I couldn't set long enough to even throw a decent punch of any type. So, like the problem student I always was, during this punching time I said to myself, "I will close the gap and slip a front roundhouse kick in and see if he gets it." My foot still hurts.
So...those of you who are traveling to Rhinelander on March 21st for Shihan's seminar, I have warned you. If you hear those five words, "Hey guys, now watch this" make sure you're not the one standing next to him.
In 1988 I started Zen Mountain Karate Academy out of the basement of my house in Lincoln, Nebraska and eventually had a 3000 square foot dojo with a Zendo. As I was learning how to teach better I began to realize the difficulty many of my students had in practicing all of the kata we had in the system. I then could hear Shihan Dean and Nonin speaking in my head about simplicity.
So, I asked myself, "If I could only teach 5 or 3 or even one kata, what would that be?" The one kata was an easy choice...Sanchin. Then I picked Naihanchi. After learning Sanchin and Naihanchi I would assign then a new kata, such as Seisan or Seiuchin, dependent upon the makeup of the student.
So, what about Fighting Strategy? As I was finding my way through the ups and downs of reworking my expression of the arts...it hit me. I decided to look at my Kata and Self-Defense applications in terms of ..'what would I teach my daughters?' What do they need to learn to be able to defend themselves? This became the central core of what I would teach and how I even began to see Kata Bunkai. As I changed the 'lens' by which I viewed Kata, it all changed.
Here is my lens: I try to make sure that all of what we do is designed to defend against three attackers and all techniques must be swift, efficient and easy to do for a small person. (this helps me too because I am 5'8" and weight in at 155 lbs)
With this central theme, Zen Goshindo was developed around simplicity and a father's fear of his daughters not being able to care for themselves. Nothing mystical or esoteric. Just functional. We also have fun and like most Martial Artists, appreciate receiving a good bloody nose from a well-executed technique...or maybe a not so-well executed defense. (I tell my students we switched to black gi's because it hides the blood stains)
So, that's it for a little history and fighting strategy of Zen Goshindo.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Our branch of Goshindo Karate was originated by Master Frank Van Lenten of Goju-ryu Karate. He had studied with a myriad of Karate instructors while in Okinawa with the Marines. He was also a student of Master Shimabuku of Isshin-ryu Karate. The first Kata's we learned were beginning Isshin-ryu (combo of Goju and Shorin-ryu) Katas of Sesan, Sanchin and Naihanchi.
My instructor Shihan Paul Dean, after achieving rank in Goshindo Karate, started studying with Master Tadashi Yamashita (Shorin-ryu) while Master Yamashita was living in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (I have some old 8 mm film of Master Yamashita teaching Naihanchi). Through Master Yamashita we learned the Pinan system of katas.
As I matured in the arts I had the opportunity to train with Master Yozan Mozig. He is a Master of Zen Shuri-te Karate, Psychology Professor (University of Nebraska-Kearney) and Zen Buddhist Priest. He inspired me to add Zen to our Goshindo to illustrate the Zen focus of our art. At that time I was studying Zen with Reverend Nonin Chowaney of the Nebraska Zen Center.
Zen Goshindo Karate is about simplicity and self-discovery. Zen Goshindo means Self-discovery through the way of self-defense. Our principle Kata is Sanchin. More on this later.