Saturday, December 7, 2013

KARATE STUDENTS, INSTRUCTORS & TRADITIONAL MARTIAL ARTS

  FIFTY YEARS OF MARTIAL ARTS
Recently, I was asked to write a book about traditional martial arts. The first chapter and guts of this book would be about my martial arts students. My students best reflect my path in the martial arts. Our deshi is what makes any martial arts instructor who he or she is.

Never did I expect I would be looking at my 50th Anniversary in Martial Arts - but here it is staring me in the face. In 2014, I celebrate five decades of a budo path by telling stories of experiences, awards, events, instructors and life. Any path of a karate instructor should focus on the students and hopefully these students are outstanding contributors to society for they are the legacy of a martial arts instructor. So I will tell you about my students. Essentially everyone has been a perfect fit for my hombu dojo (school) and ryu. Misfits that stepped into the dojo in the past, either became enlightened or moved on to the Cobra Kai school down the road. And I only remember two.

Several years ago, I was invited to attend the University of Wyoming, College of Engineering Graduation. Only two students were selected to speak at the ceremony – Csaba Rozgonyi, 1st dan who moved from  Czechoslovakia to the US and was the top graduating student in the entire college with a 4.0 GPA in chemical engineering, and Sandy Stahl, 5th dan, from Montana who was selected by the student body to speak on their behalf and who was graduating in Civil Engineering. Both spoke about experiences in martial arts while at the University of Wyoming and how our program helped their focus all through college. It was a plus for our martial arts program. At about the same time, our school had been selected as the top-rated Juko Kai International School of the Year in 1999. And in the following year, I had been selected as the top Juko Kai International affiliated Soke of the Year. We had an excellent program and trained a few thousand students at UW. Juko Kai International is one of the largest traditional US/Okinawa/Japan martial arts associations in the world. After 30 years, I left the University of Wyoming.
In 2006, I decided to move the Seiyo Shorin-Ryu hombu to Arizona where I started building a new program. I initially tried to associate with Arizona State University, but it was apparent their bureaucracy was too entrenched so we moved the Hombu to the border of Gilbert and Mesa.
For some reason, engineers have especially been attracted to karate and kobudo. But our organization also includes many teachers, professors, scientists, social scientists, law enforcement agents, and some clergy, artists, firemen, electricians, computer techs, janitors and oil field workers. Here is a little information about some of our students.

Dr. Sumeet Aphale, Sensei/3rd dan. I am attaching my dissertation acknowledgement which also features you!! Thanks for all your patience and all that you have taught me.

Dr. Sumeet Aphale in the jungles of eastern Australia
Acknowledgment - A PhD is a huge undertaking and cannot be accomplished without inputs of all kinds by a great many people. The work with this dissertation has been extensive and trying, but in the first place exciting, instructive, and fun. Without help, support, and encouragement from several persons, I would never have been able to finish this work...

... I also give a special thanks to Dan Hausel, my martial arts instructor for the past four years, for his instruction and patience. His way of life is an ideal I will always try to follow. I thank Amit, my roommate and friend who patiently put up with me and all my whims throughout the years. I also thank my friends Gaurav, Senthil, Chinmay, Jignesh, Kevin, George, Kris, Katie, Cyrena, Brian and Sondra for giving me the much needed moments of joy without which I would never have finished this gigantic task. There definitely are more people who deserve my gratitude and I ask for their forgiveness for not being able to name everyone of them. Please note that I haven’t forgotten you. Finally, I thank my parents who were a constant source of inspiration and optimism through these trying years ...

My interest in martial arts began after watching a series of “old school” Shaw brothers and Jackie Chan movies, way back in 1990. In my home town (Pune, India) the several martial art schools in existence, only taught Judo, Karate or Tae Kwon Do (no Kung Fu). After about a month each in many of these schools, I made up my mind to pursue Karate. I began with Wado-Ryu and soon moved to Isshin Ryu in 1992. For about three and a half years, all I remember is knuckle push-ups, kata, body hardening and getting beaten up by other, more skilled martial artists!

My vagabond life (due to the study options I picked) started in 1996 and I was unable to continue as a full-time student of any single school. Sporadic training and discussion sessions with other martial artists (from different martial arts and styles), books and movies were my training aids for quite some time. It is during this period, that I began understanding martial arts as a Way of Life, rather than just being kata, sparring and knuckle push-ups.

My academic pursuits brought me to Laramie in 2000. It was a time when I was fed up by the stagnant nature of my martial arts training and I took about a year off from it all. I visited the Seiyo Shorin Ryu Karate dojo on the UW campus in 2001 and was quite impressed by the instructor (Soke Dan Hausel) and his senior students. The quality and zeal they all possessed in their technique was surprising to me, knowing that they hardly ever had sparring sessions and I just had to learn from them. The five years that I spent with this talented group of people were full of poignant learning experiences, a lot of self evaluation and fun. From here, I took lasting, fond memories and strong friendships with me, when I moved to Australia in the fall of 2005.

I continue to be a student of martial arts, though currently I can only practice what I have already learned rather than learn something new. Soke would have gone through millions of lower blocks (Gedan Barai) in his 40+ year martial arts career and I have yet failed to spot his focus or force waver by an iota. That is my motivation as well as my goal. To me, that is martial arts in its complete perfection.

Sensei Aphale graduated in 2005 and moved to Australia. He was awarded a B.E. in Electrical Engineering from Pune University, India in 1999, a M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Wyoming in 2003, and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering in 2005 from the University of Wyoming. He was a research professor at ARC Center for Complex Dynamic Systems and Control School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Universityof Newcastle, Australia with interests in smart structures, nano-positioning and control systems. Recently, Dr. Aphale accepted a position at the University of Aberdeen.

Sensei Patrick Scofield, Arizona, 1st dan, Shorin-Ryu Karate with additional certifications in Okinawan Sai and Okinawan Tonfa. Sensei Scofield began training under Soke Hausel in Mesa, Arizona at the beginning of 2011. On some hot evenings the sound of a Harley roaring down Baseline Road and turning onto MacDonald into the parking lot in front of the Arizona Hombu often carries Patrick with  big sticks (and katana, and bo, and sai, and tonfa) strapped to his back. Climbing off the Harley with his backpack filled with kobudo weapons that are oversized to match Patrick. Patrick trains rain or shine (actually it almost never rains in the Phoenix valley) and it is a rare day we do not see him at the dojo.
Photo of Craig Scofield, 3rd dan
Patrick is an Arizona native and was introduced to Shorin-Ryu karate at 7 years of age. His late father Craig was a Marine and while stationed in Okinawa with his father, Patrick was regularly left at a Judo dojo while Craig studied Shorin-Ryu. Patrick didn’t care too much for Judo, as each judo randori devolved into a scuffle on the ground with one individual sucking tatame mat until he had to tap-out from inability to breathe. To this day Patrick contends that judo is solely about suffocation. Craig achieved 2nd Dan at a traditional dojo in Okinawa; he attained 3rd Dan while serving a tour in Viet Nam.

Four generations of Scofields have lived in Arizona since even before it was a state. Related to confederate gunrunners and Mary Queen of Scotts, Scotch-Irish Scofields have always had a taste for a challenge.
An ASU (Arizona State University) grad, Patrick worked as an industrial designer, designing products for companies such as Rubbermaid, Whirlpool, Coke and FedEx. Patrick eventually launched his own firm employing 8 people at its peak and ran it for 17 years working with national and international clients. Patrick leveraged his life-long interest in flying and has become active in flying ‘warbirds’ - aircraft with military heritage and histories. He currently flies a Chinese ‘yak’, a restored Nanchang CJ-6, and for a period of time owned and operated imported military L-39 jets from Ukraine and Romania: he learned to fly them and performed in many airshows. Patrick is currently employed by Boeing as an Advanced Concepts Designer. Patrick says “Who knows what is next?”
Flying over Kingman, Arizona, Sensei Scofield followed his dream
Sharing a memory of his father’s strength Patrick relates a story from when he was 13 years of age: “My father had returned from Vietnam and had taken a job at Empire Machinery Company (near the Arizona Hombu) and wanted to put a side gate in the cinder block wall fence at our house. I watched him one morning walk out with a 16lb sledge hammer over his shoulder wearing sandals and short pants and his newly grown (post-military) beard. He was making ready to create an opening by bludgeoning some of the blocks in to powder with the sledge. He lifted the sledge and prepared to take a mighty swing, but then reconsidered; he had another idea. I watched as he formed a mokuso for calming, then took a stance, without further preamble he produced a kiai and the finest reverse thrust kick I have seen. His sandaled foot crashed through the cinder blocks and beyond, exploding 4 or five blocks out of the wall in various states of destruction! As he retracted his extended leg, one of the blocks cut his leg a bit. This didn’t phase him, he simply picked out the remainder of the weakened wall section with his sledge like you and I would pick our teeth with a toothpick. A satisfied Kareteka sat at the dinner table that evening, having vanquished his stony foe! I grew up with many examples of his strength”.

Patrick Scofield trains with naginata at the Arizona Hombu on Baseline and MacDonald
Patrick had two brief flirtations in karate many years ago, looking into Shotokan and Shito-Ryu dojo as there were no Shorin-Ryu dojo in the vicinity. About two years ago, Patrick went looking again for a Shorin-Ryu dojo, he wanted to study Karate and also honor his father by studying an Okinawan style. The fortuitous find of the Seiyo-Shorin Ryu Hombu had him on the phone that evening, within a week he started training and has re-launched his journey into a life that includes martial arts studies.

At 52 years of age Patrick says he has noted marked improvements in his musculature and his body tone and posture. ‘Kung-Fu Panda’ remarks attest to the fact that these improvements have yet to reach his mid-section. Patrick most recently achieved rank of shodan at the Arizona Hombu; he notes that it takes a whole dojo and all of the Sempai’s and Sensei’s there to grow a student. Patrick’s ultimate goal is to become a Shihan; he wants to frame his certificate in a shared frame with his father’s Karate Certificate.


Dr. Neal Adam, Dai-Shihan/6th dan, Phoenix, Arizona. I began karate practice in 1982 in Wheeling, Illinois in Shotokan. After several years of trying to find a dojo in the Nebraska/Kansas area, I finally met Soke Hausel while working at the University of Wyoming in about 1989. During PhD work at Kansas State University and subsequent post-doc research positions in Phoenix, my karate practice continued on a solo basis. Now that Soke has moved to Phoenix, I have the opportunity once again to have good instruction and coaching, and have really been enjoying the weapons training. I am now an Asst. Prof. of Biology at Grand Canyon University, and am trying to make sure that teaching duties do not prevent me from training. My daughters and I live across Phoenix from Soke Hausel, and Emily, my 9-yr-old, likes to follow along in karate practice.
An ancient photo at the University of Wyoming in about 1989. Reverend Dennon Minney stands to the far right
and Dr. Neal Adam sits to my left.

Reverend Dennon Minney, Laramie, Wyoming. I was a karate student of Soke Hausel in Laramie, Wyoming in 1983, 1984 and again in 1988-1993. I want to THANK YOU for being one of the Most Influential People in My Life. Your compassion and Discipline has helped me in ALL areas.

I met you as a shy, insecure, nerdy, out of shape, anti social young boy - your initial lessons taught me about life as well as martial arts. Then my family moved away. I kept practicing. When I moved back, It seemed like the lessons continued right where they left off and put me on the right track to become the man I am today. Much Appreciation Sensei. Thanks for Making a Difference with me.


The 1996 Juko Kai International Clinic at the University of Wyoming
with Dai Soke Sacharnoski (center front) and Sensei Ernst Arnold (far
right front).
Dr. Ernst Arnold, Sensei/1st dan, Hagerstown, MD. I can remember my first day of training with Soke. I had been training in Kempo karate for nearly 2 years and was looking for something different. I heard about Soke’s class on the University of Wyoming campus and decided to look into it. I introduced myself and observed a class. I was very impressed and invited to participate in the next class. I was full of nervousness and apprehension at the next class.  
Dr. Ernst Arnold practicing kata in the sand
After bowing in and stretching, the class began floor exercises. In one exercise, each person faced a partner. One person would step forward with an oi-zuki and the other person would step back with a block. This would proceed the length of the gymnasium and then back. As chance would have it, Soke was my partner. This event had a large impact on my philosophy towards training. As I punched at Soke, he would strike my wrists with great force. He explained that he liked to use full power in his training. Soke would strike and hit pressure points in my wrist and this caused a loss of feeling in my hands, which was a blessing in disguise. Although the pain was real, I was determined not to shy away and I survived. The lesson learned was an important one; train as you would fight. Lack of focus and intensity is a waste of time. Although battered and bruised I was eager for the next class.

Dr Wayne Jensen, Sensei/3rd Dan, University of Nebraska. Dr. Jensen was a professor of Army ROTC at UW, retired from the army as Lt. Colonel and entered in a PhD program in the Department of Engineering where he graduated in Civil Engineering and accepted a position on the faculty at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.
I look forward to reading your newsletter each month. My department (Construction Management) at UNL is doing extremely well, with almost three hundred undergraduates but only seven faculty members. We will probably be forced to institute some type of enrollment limits next year, as UNL is now aggressively pursuing research in lieu of classroom instruction. Earlier this month I was promoted to associate professor and received tenure, so I am now attempting to realign my life’s priorities after accomplishing those goals.
I continue to work out one to three times each week on a regular basis but mostly alone. I try to leave one or two days between successive karate training sessions for my joints and muscles to recover. On my days without martial arts, I run, do yoga exercises, or work on strength training.
For me, the keys to successful and enjoyable karate have become balance and persistence. I attempt to follow a program I can maintain and train using a variety of techniques. Training times, places and techniques vary with the seasons. During the warmer months, I attempt to complete a significant percentage of my karate workouts outside, although that sometimes entails working out near dawn or twilight. I strive to maintain a beginner’s mind as I continue to practice the techniques and philosophy of karate.
I fondly remember training in Laramie and still remain in contact with some of the people I trained with there (Ernst Arnold in particular). I sincerely hope that your continuing practice of the martial arts allows you to express your individuality and creativity in a way that is uniquely yours.
SANDRA SINICKI, 1st kyu & BRIAN SINICKI, 1st dan - NĂ¢ves-Parmelan, France. Sandra is a native of the Haute Savoie region of France (not too far from Geneva, Switzerland) and Brian is from Riverton, Wyoming. They met as exchange students at the University of Wales, Swansea in 1997 and have been married for almost 8 years. After living in Laramie for six years Sandra and Brian moved back to France and are now situated in a small village in the French Alps very close to Sandra's home town.
Group photo with Sensei Wayne Jensen (center front) to my right and Brian Sinicki to his right.
Sandra currently works for the accounting firm DeLoitte and Touche in Geneva, Switzerland and Brian is an independent computer consultant and software developer.
Sandra Sinicki in France
The martial arts have played a very significant role in our lives and personal development since we started training with the UW Karate Club. I (Brian) began in 1995 when I was a sophomore at the University of Wyoming, and Sandra started several years later after moving to Laramie to be with me while I finished school. For now, the distractions of moving overseas, finding jobs and getting settled into life in a new country have left us with little or no time to train. However, with a little one on the way who will need training, there is no doubt we will be back at it soon.
Outside of the martial arts, we are both very active in mountain sports and love skiing, rock climbing and alpinism, and Sandra is also a very dedicated runner. Sandra finished her second marathon last summer in Stockholm, and the winter before we found ourselves climbing to altitudes over 22,000 feet on Aconcagua in Argentina.
We are also sending all of our friends at the UW dojo a big round of hellos and lots of congratulations at all of your accomplishments since we have left. We miss you guys!”

Prem Dubey, Kyoshi/8th dan, India. Thanks for being my (Teacher) Guru! Walked through with the guidance of you, Succeeded my life with the teachings of you, You are the inspiration, Made me win with a spirit, It wouldn’t have been possible without you, Everyone in their life will have a Guru to lead them, I had you in my life as my Guru, You made me come out of my ignorance, I learnt to handle the problems all because of you, I always pay my tribute to you, You were a light for me in the dark, You were an inspiration and an aspiration, Support me always, I will succeed in all ways, Happy Guru Purnima! Bless me with all your heart, Let me become a successful person, I wish to be your disciple always, Let all your blessings comes to me, On this special occasion of Guru Purnima, Peace and prosperity be mine when your are wishes are with me, Happy Guru Purnima! (Happy teacher Day)

Sensei Paula Borea, 2nd dan (Shorin-Ryu), 1st dan (Taekwondo), Gilbert, Arizona. I started martial arts 30+ years ago after my daughter Julie was born in Kansas City, Missouri. It all started as a whim. I had gained so much weight during my pregnancy, and even after Julie was born, my weight had not gone down like I hoped it would. I decided I could not go to a jazzercise class and wear leotards and tights! I remembered seeing a martial arts class at a local shopping mall and they were wearing those white uniforms which I felt could hide my overweight body very nicely!!

The style of martial arts at this particular school was Moo Duk Kwan Su Bak Do. I was the only female in the classes for a very long time. The harder they pushed, the more determined I became to be the very best I could be. I wanted to prove to myself and the other students I could keep up with the rest of the class. The weight came off, my stamina and strength increased, and I gained a lot of self-confidence. I achieved the level of Red Belt and was to test for my first degree black belt when my husband got orders to move (he was in the U.S. Air Force at the time).


Sensei Paula Borea practices oi-tsuki

While my husband was stationed in Japan, I studied Shudokan (traditional Okinawan style). Studying martial arts had become a part of my life. I continued to study Shudokan when we returned to New Jersey and achieved the level of advanced brown belt. Again, I prepared myself to test for black belt; however, this time my Sensei left our school. Since I was working full time, being a full time wife and mom and going to night school for my Bachelor’s Degree, there were not enough hours in the day to also continue my martial arts training. So I reestablished my goals to achieve a Bachelor’s Degree first and then go back to my martial arts training. I graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University in May of 1990.

One of the main benefits I’ve found as a result of practicing martial arts is the constant self challenging aspect of the sport. Each level pushes you to a higher level of learning both physically and mentally. It also taught me discipline, total concentration and total focus which I used while going to night school. The ability of total concentration and focus on a subject helped me while my kids would be blasting stereos in their bedrooms, while I was sitting at my desk studying for exams or writing another paper. The discipline, the total concentration, and focus as a result of my training also helped me to achieve the honor of Summa Cum Laude when I graduated.

I went on to study Taekwondo after graduating and eventually achieved my black belt in 1995. However, the training was nothing like the traditional training I received when I studied Shudokan over in Japan and the Sensei I studied under in New Jersey. Now that we’ve moved to Arizona, I’ve tried a couple of different schools in search of my “Mr. Miyagi” and I finally found him in Soke Dan Hausel!! I feel very privileged to be studying under Soke and going back to the traditional way of learning. Granted it takes a little longer to warm up the body and the flexibility is not like it used to be, but if one has the fighting spirit and heart, practicing martial arts becomes a part of you and a way of life. Besides the fact it helps me keep up with my 4 grandchildren!!!

Note: Sensei Paula Borea and her husband, Sensei Bill Borea were recently promoted to nidan in Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo and featured on Fox 10 News - Phoenix due to a married couple and grandparents, receiving nidan black belts at the same time. Additionally, Paula, who is Japanese, is of Samurai lineage. We are all proud of Paula and Bill!

KYLE J. GEWECKE; 4th dan/Shihan-Dai, Gillette, Wyoming.  Favorite Quote: “Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.” - Bruce Lee
When people ask me about what I did in college, I like to tell them that I double majored at the University of Wyoming. One was in Physical Education with Coaching and Health endorsements, and the other was in Karate. But the truth is, if it wasn’t for all of the positive experiences with the karate program in Laramie and its members, I never would have finished my degree in education. Fighting the endless politics and bowing to every tedious demand put forth by professors and administrators at a large university is something in which someone like me has a hard time finding their place. The funny thing is, if it wasn’t for a political quirk that forced me to change my class schedule, I probably never would have taken karate for my college P.E. credit, which means I never would have met Soke nor joined Seiyo Shorin-Ryu in Laramie.

Group photo at Juko Kai International Clinic in 2013. L-R (front) Ryan Nemec (Mesa, Arizona), Nick Jarvis (Gillette, Wyoming), Brandon Brown (Gillette, Wyoming). L-R (back) Chase Cassidy (Gillette, Wyoming), Victoria Davis (Chandler, Arizona), Hanshi Ron Smith (Virginia), Soke Hausel (Gilbert, Arizona), Shihan-Dai Kyle Gewecke (Gillette, Wyoming) and Dai-Shihan Neal Adam (Phoenix, Arizona).
Before I started karate, I grew up in Gillette, Wyoming and was a state champion swimmer from about the age of 11 through high school and spent my summers playing baseball and working various odd jobs such as life guarding and construction. My true passion though, was, and still is, music. I got my first guitar when I was 9 and began playing the violin at 10. When I got to Jr. High, I started singing and performing in choirs, plays, and musicals. In high school, I decided that I would also start teaching myself how to play the piano. I still love to play and have been spending a lot of time recently working on recording and creating original music.
Now that I am out of college, when I am not teaching karate, I am working as a Building Fitness Coordinator at the Rozet Elementary School in Rozet, Wyoming. Mostly my job involves creating and organizing physical activities for elementary school kids. During the summer, I work for the behavior health department in dealing with at risk and emotionally disturbed youth. Hopefully, I will be able to get hired into a full time teaching position within the next year.
Karate has not only opened many doors for me, it has empowered me to seek out and open doors for myself. It has given me the opportunity to practice the skills of patients and self control, which are two very important tools for all teachers. I could go on and on about all of the things that karate has done for me. But of all of these things, the one I am most thankful for is that karate has introduced me to a family of some of the most fascinating, unique, and respectable individuals that one could ever hope to be a part of.