Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Great Arizona Pumpkin Massacre

PUMPKINS WERE EVERYWHERE - But our Martial Arts Samurai bravely fought on!

You probably never read about the Great Arizona Pumpkin Massacre in your history books. It was a very hard-fought battle at the border of Mesa and Gilbert, but in the end our Samurai prevailed!

It’s sad that it had to come to this, but the invasion of Mesa, Arizona by the Satsuma Pumpkin Clan had to be stopped: the battle raged until all pumpkins fell to the blades of the Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Kai Clan at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate

Another pumpkin met its fate at the Arizona School of
Traditional Karate in Mesa and Gilbert, Arizona (photos by
Nemec Photography). 
Warning - If you are squeamish, you may want to look away from the following photos as no pumpkin was left unblemished!

The pumpkins battled honorably, but in the end, our samurai prevailed. 

Samurai Arts Class training with katana

Our training on that fateful day near Halloween began as usual in our Samurai Arts Class Wednesday evening: basic cuts, blocks, stances, kata - and then the room filled with invaders! Pumpkins everywhere. It had to be stopped and our Samurai proved they were up to the task!

Ryan Nemec was first to defend against the attackers (Nemec Photography)
Ryan Harden tried his hand at pumpkin tameshigiri (Nemec Photography)

Charles Jean defends against pumpkins

Amanda Nemec takes on pumpkin (Nemec Photography)

In the end, our samurai prevailed with Ryan holding his victim by its Topknot
known as chomage. (Nemec Photography)

In the end, our martial arts samurai had a great time using their katana for training in the Mesa Martial Arts Classes, and the exercise provided them with another step in their education of samurai arts. We train our students to enjoy martial arts in the Gilbert Karate Classes. In addition to the Samurai Arts, we also focus on Shorin-Ryu Karate, Okinawan Kobudo and Self-Defense.

Katana used in training are all non-sharpened training swords.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Why would I write about something that is not a martial art? Apparently, not everyone realizes that Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is not a martial art.

One of several problems I have with MMA is that it attracts some of the worse people in society - but it also attracts many good people. On almost any day, an Internet search for news on MMA will lead to examples of how street fighting without redeeming philosophy or moral guidance leads to violence and misuse of drugs. Don’t get me wrong, I use to enjoy watching Sugar Ray Leonard and George Foreman, But these were two classy sportsmen.  But even boxing attracts many bad apples.

Karate also attracts some bad apples, but traditional martial arts, I suspect attracts a much greater percentage of honest, law-abiding people.

Karate was never intended to be a sport. As developed by Okinawan martial artists centuries ago, karate was a method of self-defense, self-improvement and self-discipline. During its evolution, it was a necessary tool for Okinawan body guards of royalty because bladed weapons had been outlawed by King Shoshin in 1480 AD due to his non-violent Buddhist philosophy. However, we all know (except for self-serving royalty and politicians) that taking weapons away from people does nothing to stop criminals - it only gives criminals incentive to rape, murder and steal. After all, their law-abiding victims are not going to be armed. So watch out for any self-serving politician who looks to eliminate our second amendment and give control to other countries through the UN to monitor gun controls in the US.

So, after having no bladed weapons to defend their selves and having no standing army, Okinawa was an open invitation for invasion. And it happened. The Japanese Satsuma Samurai invaded Okinawa and conquered it with little to no problem
The Japanese invaders of Okinawa had no idea what karate was. It was practiced in complete secrecy for centuries until introduced to the Okinawan public school system and also to mainland Japan in the 20th century. It was the Japanese, not the native Okinawans who modified karate into a sport. And since that time, much of Japanese and American karate has suffered (there are exceptions). Sport karate opened a Panadora’s box.

My Sensei operates one of the largest and most successful traditional Okinawan/Japanese/US martial arts associations in the world, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary and brought members together from around the world – all of whom have proper credentials and certifications in martial arts and none practice sport martial arts that I’m aware of.

Many sensei, martial arts associations and dojo have applied for membership in this organization, but most are turned down because of a lack of credentials and lineage. It is not easy to get into this association.

There are questionable styles that have recently surfaced with no basis or no lineage. One organization even advertised in a popular martial arts magazine and would send out any rank diploma for a fee (without any proof of rank).

So, new students are faced with a dilemma – finding a martial art that suits them, finding a martial art that is legitimate, and finding a martial art instructor with legitimate certification. You may ask, what is legitimate certification? Thank God, government has not stuck its ugly hand into certifying martial artists (yet), and I pray it never does. Government always makes things worse. There are organizations around the world that are considered legitimate based on history and/or lineage. But it does require checking and some knowledge.

I have nothing against MMA (I don’t watch it), but I do have a problem with their use of the descriptive phrase ‘…. martial arts’. They should describe their system for what it is “street fighting with a couple of rules”. But calling MMA an art?  This is very questionable.

I’m currently working on a book (actually a couple of books at the same time). This is a problem I’ve had all my life. I cannot do just one thing - I need to do a variety of things. One of the books I’m writing is Layman’s Guide to Traditional Martial Arts. In this book, I spend several pages trying to define martial arts: never thought it would be so difficult. But just think for a second. How would you describe art?  You can probable visualize people performing martial arts, but to define it. Now that's a challenge. gives 15 explanations for "ART". A few of the more useful are: The quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance. A branch of learning or university study, especially one of the fine arts or the humanities, as music, philosophy, or literature.  Skill in conducting any human activity: a master at the art of conversation. knack, facility, technical skill, skillfulness, know-how. The principles or methods governing any craft or branch of learning: the art of baking; the art of selling, craft, technique; procedure, method, way; fine points, subtleties.

A sketch by the author
Art is an esoteric expression and any attempt to define art is difficult, especially when art is different to different people. For example, when I look at a sketch, I look for something that excites my senses – something that brings out emotion or awe – it has to be beautiful and provide visual stimulus and the person who created that piece of art, must have put considerable time into its creation. When it comes to most abstract art – for me, any zoo animal can do abstract art (and many have) – but it is art to some people, and it is what they find interesting.

When accessing martial arts dictionaries, I couldn’t find one that provided any real definition of martial arts. For instance, the Overlook Dictionary of Martial Arts defines martial arts as “…an encompassing term usually reserved for the Asian fighting arts, although it can refer to any fighting discipline with or without weapons”. This definition is so general that it may suggest anything from target shooting to wresting can be a martial art, as long as it is done by someone of Asian descent. Even more enlightening is A Dictionary of the Martial Arts since this dictionary didn’t even make an effort to define martial arts.

In another, the Overlook Martial Arts Handbook, the author writes, “The term ‘martial arts’ means those arts concerned with the waging of war”. Many other definitions I found on the Internet appeared to be written by non-martial artists with little to no understanding of martial arts. For example, defines martial art as - any of the traditional forms of Oriental self-defense or combat that utilizes physical skill and coordination without weapons, as karate, aikido, judo, or kung fu, often practiced as sport. This definition falls flat on its face, as martial arts, until recently, was never considered sport, most incorporate weapons and some arts are exclusively about weapons such as kobudo, iaido, kendo, and kenjutsu to name a few of the many dozens. 

By separating the two words – “Martial” and “Arts” we might gain some insight. Martial has several definitions. The one that stands out is characteristic of, or befitting a warrior. When discussing martial arts we refer to budo (martial way) or bushido (way of the warrior). This is a clue because way used in this sense means a path: the path of someone who has characteristics befitting a warrior. But then, what is path?

A path leading to a garden - sketch by the author.

One definition of patha course of action, conduct, or procedure: the path of righteousness”. This is a good definition as it implies a path should lead to righteousness. It should also lead to knowledge and understanding particularly when considering martial arts. Martial art must lead to righteousness; it must be beautiful and involve a segment of higher learning. It needs to be a lifelong path that leads to self-enlightenment. Does this sound like MMA?

Now let’s examine the philosophy of Gichin Funakoshi and Shoshin Nagamine two well-known Okinawan Shorin-Ryu Karate masters from the past. Nagamine, Soke wrote, “If there is no kata, there is no karate, just kicking and punching”. He continues that kata is karate, and one must embrace ‘do mu gen’ proverb – which asserts: There can be no end to learning”. He concludes karate begins and ends with the study of kata”.

So if we are to believe Nagamine (as well as other Okinawan masters), karate must contain kata and kata must be the primary curriculum, otherwise it is not karate. Kata is one of the primary exercises that places karate in the realm of art. Gichin Funakoshi, the great Okinawan Shorin-Ryu Karate master wrote many similar arguments including one of my favorite, “the ultimate aim of karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in perfection of its participants”.

So, is MMA a martial art? It certainly does not fit the definition of martial art. In the immortal words of Nagamine Sensei, “it is just kicking and punching”. A martial art must have social and esoteric benefits to lead a person down a path of righteousness. It is almost like a religion - it is very Zen like, in that it should help a person to be a more productive member of society. So is there much in the way of social benefits in MMA. Not that I’ve seen! So, let’s just call it what it is – it’s street fighting with a couple of rules.

A very important legend about the creation of martial arts describes a monk named Bodhidarma, who taught philosophy and Zen in the Shaolin Temple in China 1500 years ago. During meditation, Buddhist monks were in such poor physical and mental condition they fell asleep. Bodhidarma instituted the practice of ‘shi po lohan sho’ known as the ‘18 hands of Lohan’ in what is reputed to be an archaic form of Kung Fu that likely originated in India. This blending of Zen with empty hand and weapon’s fighting resulted in Shaolin monks becoming formidable fighters and philosophers throughout China. So if we declare this as the original form of martial art, it is apparent that Zen, self-defense training, and forms (kata) were necessary ingredients in martial art. Some authors have even described kata as moving Zen. So is martial art a sport – I don’t believe so. Karate and martial arts have never been sports until they were Japanized in the 20th century. Whereas, for several hundred years, they were not considered as a sport.

 If we examine Traditional “Japanese” Karate as opposed to TraditionalOkinawanKarate, karate was created by Okinawans and kept secret for centuries from all outsiders (especially the Japanese). There were rules required to learn the art and individuals had to swear an oath to keep the art secret. It is not a Japanese art and was not introduced to Japan until the 20th century, and it was the Japanese who later created karate sport at the objection of Okinawan masters in the mid-20th century. Even the indigenous Japanese arts like jujutsu and judo, were never taught as sport until recently. These were originally samurai combat arts designed to defend against a heavily armored samurai.

In contrast ‘do’ there are systems of martial art that attach the suffix ‘jutsu’ – such as karate-jutsu, or jujutsu. These have been classified as martial arts for years but few of these have many kata although they do observe traditions.

Peter Urban (1967) suggests that martial arts means fighting arts but goes into more detail and indicates that a more valid interpretation comes from the word Budo which translates as ‘the way of the fighter’. The suffix do or way which is often used in Oriental spiritual thoughts provides profound direction in our search for an answer.  Urban further writes the use of techniques and integration of these techniques with the spirit are all important. The way or path is intended to lead the individual to the attainment of perfection or what is often known as self-realization, enlightenment, or simply maturity.

The way of the warrior should lead to ethical conduct and self-awareness govern by tradition. Martial art must include a balance of the spiritual, moral, and technical. It must include kata.

Be it karate, kendo, judo, jujutsu, iado, kobudo, aikido, kyudo, etc, Urban writes that based on the idea of virtue, the followers of martial arts are in effect the descendants of the samurai of old. It is the aim of all martial arts masters to work toward promulgating this spirit of the ancient Zen warriors, a spirit which is more than mere knowledge of fighting techniques- it is the attainment of a virtuous way of life.
So, if you are new to martial arts and ready to find a school to learn martial arts - its up to you. You can train in traditional martial arts, or you can find sport karate, MMA, kickboxing, etc. Its all up to you to decide. As you are searching for a place to train in martial arts, boxing or MMA, remember, one of the most important factors will be the instructor. Is your instructor, or future instructor, the type of person you can get along with. How about the students in the school. This is always a very good indicator of what the instructor is like. Are the students pleasant, respectful, intelligent. Or do they look like a bunch of ... Well, hopefully you get the idea.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

KARATE Friends & Family of Shorin-Ryu in Mesa Gilbert, Arizona

How do you tell people in the area about how unique our martial arts school and our martial arts classes are? Its a real challenge that first requires getting a person to read about our classes, then hoping we relate to them. 
Training at the University of Wyoming. Friends for life.
We have several unique qualities at our dojo (school) that is not present in others. First, we are all friends. When a traditional martial artist talks about the ryu in what Westerners call a style or form of martial arts, this literally translates as family. So when you join our school, you become a member of our karate family. You will get to know everyone on first name basis, the students all become close friends through time and they work to help one another. Karate should have a much greater purpose than that of tournaments, etc. In fact, tournaments are a new, or gendai (modern) addition to karate - and never was part of the art in the past. Many part of tournaments are antipathetic to the philosophy and purpose of karate. And as a koryu (old) school, we avoid these.

The purpose of Karate Lies not in defeat or victory, but in the perfection of its participants - Gichin Funakoshi
As the Soke, I have ryu members all over the region. Here is
part of our karate family at the outside training in Utah

We also try to focus on adults and teens in our karate family. When a new family member arrives, he or she will be greeted by the entire family and new friendships will be bonded. As the Soke, or Grandmaster of this family, my title was certified by the Zen Kokusai Soke Budo Bugei Renmei and awarded by Dai Soke Sacharnoski and at that time in 1999, I was awarded the rank of Kudan (9th dan) by Soke Sacharnoski and Soke Toma. Soke translates as Head of Family. So, in one sense, I am the leader of this style, but I am also the father figure of our karate family. And like a father, a Soke cannot get too close to his followers as the purpose of a father is to properly educate his family and try to lead them down the right path (or do). A Soke cannot be objective in testing if he or she is too close to the students - thus it is lonely being at the top for this reason.

Sensei Paula Borea wears her komono at
Birthday party during Christmas.
But how close are well to each other in our family?  Well, we break rocks together. After I teach the students, they encourage each other and provide each other with suggestions and ideas. Around Christmas, we had a family get together at Sensei (Instructor) Borea's home which corresponded to Sensei Paula Borea's birthday. This was celebrated by wearing her traditional kimono and she sliced the birthday cake with her katana (Samurai Sword).

This year, we plan to celebrate Halloween with tameshigiri (test cuts with a samurai sword). Our dojo will purchase some pumpkins and then we will go outside into the parking lot and trim these with the traditional draw and cuts with the traditional sword.

We have recently been training in self-defense techniques using a knife and gun and some students wanted to know if they were really faster than a gun. SO, we hope to find a paint ball facility in the near future and let them try to get to their uke (partner) faster than the uke can pull a trigger. This will be the true test.

We also periodically train in a swimming pool. WHY? The Okinawans, living on the sea also took advantage of the sea in training. It is great as we don't normally sweat in the pool (nice change in Arizona), and we have water resistance. When I taught at the University of Wyoming - this was an important part of our training and once a month, the Campus Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo Club trained in the University's pool.

We learn martial arts, get some great exercise and
do other things differntly also. Here Dr. Neal Adam
(also shihan) demonstrates his Nerd Kata to the
members of the dojo in Mesa.
When we lose a family member - it is a sad time at the dojo. One of our students in September 2012 graduated from high school and moved back to Germany. We provided her with mementos and there was a sad time, as we all knew that it was very unlikely we would see her again. But at the same time, we were all happy for her as she was moving on to college. This is how our family works.

So I hope you see, we are different - but we are also of the old school martial arts and we practice martial arts as it was intended. So, when you sign up for lessons at our school, we will not gouge you and we will welcome you to our family.

Dr. Adam and Dr. Nagmeh at our dojo. Dr. Nagmeh left our dojo for Dallas
where she now drills teeth after graduating from AT Sill Universiy in Mesa
as a dentist. Dr. Adam is a professor of Biology at Grand Canyon University
in Phoenx.
Dr. Teule, a researcher on the strength of  Spider Webs at Utah State University trains in kenjutsu at a clinic in
Gillette, Wyoming.

In addition to being the Soke of Seiyo Shorin-Ryu, I am a member of Juko Kai
International. This photo taken a few years ago was at our JKI training. I stand with
Kyoshi Ron Smith (my favorite training partner at JKI because we don't hold
back on each other but have a great time) from Virginia, and two of my black belt students -
Jason Gies from Illinois and Wade Stenger from New Mexico.
Teaching hojojutsu at East Canyon in Utah. The kids love to tie each other
up as Samurai did in the historical past.

And yes, adults enjoy tieing each other up on hojojutsu night. Here Rich Mendolia is restrained
by Dr. Adam.
Hanshi Andy Finley from Casper, Wyoming is
awarded for his contribution to Shorin-Ryu Karate
at the University of Wyoming
Celebrating Halloween Samurai Style.
Dr. Rado and Dr. Nagmeh smile in Mesa Gilbert, Arizona dojo
Breaking Rocks together. Kyle Gewecke from Gillette Wyoming prepares to break his first rock.

Water training at the University of Wyoming.
Sensei Paula and Sensei Bill Borea pose in our dojo in
Mesa Gilbert, Arizona

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Is "Stupid" a Good Defense?

When will we start arresting people for "stupid"?  It should be against the law!

Teaching Nunchuku at the University of Wyoming - maybe we should have been teaching the art of French-Fry-do
Today, it was on the news that a man was arrested for throwing french fries (considered a deadly weapon in Massachusetts) at his step-daughter during a dispute at a MacDonald's in Lowell, Massachusetts. The man was carried away in handcuffs and crime seen investigators collected evidence for a later trial - although it is reported that a few of the weapons may have been misplaced and couldn't be found. 

One has to wonder what is wrong with Barney Fife (or is this the general demeanor of the Lowell Police Department?) who arrested this individual - what sort of IQ is required of officers in Lowell? Of course, Massachusetts is a place already known for this kind of logic (or lack of it): for example, it is only one of four states in which the nunchaku is illegal.

Imagine that? Nunchaku being illegal?  That's about as smart as outlawing french fries. Out-lawing the nunchaku is just not very bright! But some will suggest this was necessary because they were being used by gang members.

What!?! Are you going to tell me that gang members are trading in their zip guns, 9 mms, switch blades, shotguns and machine guns for a pair of sticks on a string?  What kind of morons do we have in our legislatures?  Well, guess I shouldn't ask a question we already know the answer to.

In addition to giving up fire power, the other problem with gang members using nunchaku is that they would have to learn how to use them - besides, they are not going to pay attention to laws anyway. Why not just give all gang members a pair of nunchaku and several problems will resolve themselves. I remember when I was in college hearing about some guy in California (where else?) who held up a bank with a pair of nunchaku. Just before grabbing the cash and leaving the bank, he decided to give the tellers a demo. As he swung the chuks around - bam - he apprehended himself with a stick between the eyes.

Using nunchaku is not easy and requires considerable training and self-induced bruising. When nunchaku were developed on Okinawa, it was because there was a lack of all kinds of weapons because King Shoshin had banned all bladed weapons on Okinawa in 1480 AD.  So, the Okinawan peasants went looking for other weapons - the nunchaku, and other things like a 6-foot pole, a boat oar, a common hoe, etc. So when is Massachusetts going to wake up and ban hammers, hoes, pencils and car keys? And what about shoes? Remember President Bush having to duck a shoe? Don't tell Lowell's Barney Fife about that incident otherwise the town people will have to run around in bare feet.
Any politician who came up with (or supported) legislation to outlaw fries and nunchaku should be presented with a pair of chuks for punishment and be told to go outside and play. Unfortunately, Massachusetts is not the only state with not so bright legislators. Other states followed in their footsteps including California, New York and - can you believe it?  Arizona. What gives Arizona?

After I moved to Arizona from Wyoming, I stopped by the Gilbert Police Department to find out what martial arts were illegal in Arizona. I was told nunchaku (nunchakujutsu), or anything that acts, looks and swings like a nunchaku is illegal. Imagine that - the legislature banning an entire martial art. According to the Gilbert Police Department, it is also illegal to have foam rubber nunchaku (after all, they are just as dangerous as french fries). And if you purchased those simple plastic nunchaku found in a ninja toy sets sold at many toy stores for Christmas, your five year old Johnny is risking being wisked away in a Phoenix squad car for having his toy ninja set (this may sound crazy, but based on the state law as it reads according to the Gilbert Police - if it looks and swings like a nunchaku, it is illegal).

Yes, in Arizona, a person can carry a live blade samurai sword (katana) on the streets, a 9 mm strapped to your side, an AK47, but you better not be seen with foam rubber nunchuks or you will be on your way to jail. Come on Arizona - where's the logic?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Arizona Martial Artists Learn Side-Handle Police Baton (Tonfa)

Sensei Borea (2nd dan) uses reverse grip of tonfa to defend against bo attack by Shihan Adam (5th dan). Tonfa is
just one of several Okinawan Kobudo (martial arts weapons) tools taught to students in Mesa and Gilbert.
Martial artists from Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Scottsdale, Phoenix and Tempe completed a year of training with Okinawa tonfa at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate in Mesa. The Okinawa tonfa is thought to have originated as a farming implement and likely originated from a wooden frame or handle of a millstone. It has been nicknamed the ‘millstone handle’.

Many law enforcement agencies use a baton modeled after the tonfa, or have used it in the past, but law enforcement only train with one baton unlike martial artists. In addition, law enforcement officials typically receive only cursory training in the weapon, unlike Shorin-Ryu martial artists who train with it constantly. It is known as the side-handle baton in law enforcement, or PR-24.

After a year of training, a small group of martial artists from the Phoenix valley were certified in Okinawa Tonfa by Grandmaster Soke Hausel, 10th dan. To demonstrate their expertise in this weapon, students had to perform basic blocks and strikes known as kihon. They further had to test in three kata (forms) and demonstrate understanding of the forms in a group of self-defense applications known as bunkai. Such forms were created by Okinawan body guards and peasants centuries ago as living encyclopedia of self-defense applications.

Finally, the group tested using tonfa in kumite (sparring) against other martial artists with Okinawa bo (6-foot long staff or pole). During kumite, students (deshi) do not wear protective equipment other than safety glasses. Overall, the group showed expertise in the weapon and five were certified. Those receiving certifications in Okinawa Tonfa on Tuesday, May 29th, will include Adam Bialek, Patrick Scofield, Sarah Kamenicky, William Borea and Ryan Harden.
Members of the Arizona School of Traditional Martial Arts in Mesa and Gilbert
trained for one year with tonfa in basics, forms, self-defense and sparring before
being certified by Soke Hausel (10th dan).

Members of the Kobudo Class will continue to train with tonfa learning focusing on one tonfa (as well as two tonfa) and train to use the weapon against attackers with clubs, knives and learn a variety of restraints and jujutsu throws with the weapon. In addition, the group started to learn use of the Okinawa sai.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Utah Martial Artists Train in Mesa and Gilbert, Arizona

Thadd Barrowes (1st dan) of the Utah Shorin-Kai from Murray Utah, applies restraint
to Ryan Harden of the Arizona School of Traditional Martial Arts in Mesa and
Gilbert during annucal Arizona-Utah clinic at the Seiyo Kai Hombu in Mesa.
On April 12th, 2012, a group of senior martial artists from Murray, Utah traveled from Salt Lake City International to Phoenix Sky Harbor airport to train at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate and Seiyo Kai martial arts facility in Mesa and Gilbert, Arizona. The group from Utah included my good friends Kyoshi Watson, 8th degree black belt and Renshi Stoneking, 6th degree black belt of the Utah Shorin-Kai. These Utah martial artists are very good and anyone in the Murray area looking for a place to learn and train in martial arts could not do any better. For instrance, Kyoshi Watson has been in martial arts for more than 4 decades, so there is considerable experience in this group.

The Utah group trained with some of our Arizona martial artists in advanced Okinawan Karate Kata (forms) that included many devastating self-defense applications against a variety of attacks. We reviewed techniques from Gojushiho, Nijushiho, Wankan Dai, Wankan Sho, and Meikyo.  These kata actually include gun, knife, club and riffle defenses and defenses against grabs, sucker punches, and chokes.
The group later trained in hanbo (law enforcement night stick, or 3-foot club) for strikes, throws and restraints and also trained in traditional Okinawan kenjutsu (samurai sword). The three day clinic ended on late Saturday afternoon.

The clinic was a lot of fun and I received many encouraging compliments on the instruction. And this was one of several clinics I recently taught to librarians from Chandler, Arizona and faculty, staff and students from the University of Wyoming in self-defense.
Annual Training for Arizona-Utah martial artists in Murray, Utah.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Arizona Black Belt Clinic

Over this past weekend (April 12-14, 2012), it was a great pleasure having a group of black belt and brown belt students travel from Murray, Utah to Phoenix, Arizona to train at our Hombu in Mesa, Arizona. Part of the Utah Shorin-Kai group drove from Murray, Utah and part of the group flew out of Salt Lake City International to Phoenix Sky Harbor and then drove to the Hombu. We also had students from Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler and Phoenix attend our clinic at the Hombu. The group is headed by my very good friend Kyoshi Rob Watson, 8th dan.

Sensei Bill Borea, 2nd Dan, trains with Tonfa (using reverse grip) with
his uke Shihan Neal Adam, 5th dan (using bo).
Training began Thursday evening with Okinawan Kobudo. We trained with tonfa and sai and a very interesting question came up. How come we don't see more police officiers taking these classes? My answer was "Good Question".

One of our students from the Gillette, Wyoming dojo mentioned a few years ago that the Campbell County sheriff's office issued nunchaku law enforcement personnel and they received no training. Talk about a bunch of deputies with knots on their heads!  This is as crazy as issuing a tonfa, a kioga or kebo (expandable baton) to a police officier and only teaching them to swing. We all know how to swing weapons (except maybe nunchaku), but police officiers are really missing the boat on not getting proper training with their accessory weapons.

Anyway, our members at our school trained with the tonfa before beginning kihon (basics) and bunkai (applications) with the sai. It didn't take them long to discover how difficult it is to use the sai. After many bruised knuckles, it was apparent to them that it will take time to master this weapon. Thus, all day Thursday was devoted to Shorin-Ryu Kobudo.

Sarah, 2nd dan, trains with tonfa, while Shihan Adam, 5th dan, trains with bo
On Friday, we had two sessions. We started reviewing all of the bunkai as ippon kumite for several kata (forms) including nijushiho, meikyo, wankan dai and others. So all day Friday was devoted to Shorin-Ryu Karate.

On Saturday, we trained in samurai arts including hanbojutsu, iaido and kenjutsu. The Hanbo is a great weapon and very pragmatic. We had the opportunity to practice strikes, blocks restraints, throws and pressure point strikes. This was followed by several iaido kata (fast draw sword) and then onto kenjutsu (katana or samurai sword applications). The clinic ended at 4 pm and our people from Utah were on their way back home. We will all miss them as we have all developed very close friendships.
Renshi Stoneking from Murray Utah applies Ryote Garumi on Luis during
hanbo training in Mesa, Arizona.
Sensei Kim attacks Jeff during Hombu Training in Mesa, Arizona
Soke Hausel, 10th dan, poses in Japanese
garden in Gilbert, Arizona with traditional hakama
We all missed our samurai at this clinic. Sensei Paula, of true samurai lineage, was unable
to attend due to back complications. We all pray for her rapid recovery.

Luis applies Ago Senage on Renshi Todd Stoneking, 6th dan, using hanbo at the Black Belt Clinic at the Arizona Hombu in Mesa.