Sunday, April 27, 2014

Traditional Martial Arts

In 2014, I was contacted by nearly two dozen producers and associates searching for another hit reality TV program. They contacted me because of my expertise in rocks, minerals, gemstones and martial arts. Because of the great successes of some shows related to gold and gemstones - nearly all of the contacts have been interested in this part of my background. But I tried to create interest in traditional martial arts with the latest producer who was unfortunately more interested in another gemstone program. But this is what I proposed.

Summary. Traditional martial artists speak of ‘the Way’ or ‘path’. It is so embedded in traditional martial arts that the Japanese term for ‘way’ (do) shows up everywhere - in judo, iaido, aikido, kendo, kobudo and even karatedo. It is this ‘path’ (as well as other characteristics) that makes martial arts (budo) different from sport martial arts and MMA.

Traditional martial arts have redeeming and esoteric values. Thus, a trip to a Zen Buddhist temple and Shinto temple would be appropriate for a program or two.

Location. The Way would be a reality program centered in Arizona, and include periodic trips to the mountains of Utah and Wyoming, to international martial arts clinics in New Braunfels, Texas and include a trip to Okinawa and mainland Japan to educate the TV audience about martial arts and Zen. The program would follow select students and instructors as they train to become proficient in martial arts and include history, philosophy, martial arts training, and backgrounds of the martial artists in their chosen professional fields.

The people. Adult traditional martial artists would be the focus of this program and include a group of highly educated professionals. Some of the more interesting characters could include Neal (a PhD biologist, university faculty member, and 6th degree black belt), Patrick (engineer for Boeing, pilot, and 2nd degree black belt), Paula (2nd degree black belt Japanese American of samurai lineage with a very interesting life story that alone could be made into a book or movie), Bill (3rd degree black belt and retired air force pilot), Ryan (2nd degree black belt and nutritionist at a local hospital), Alexi (brown belt and school teacher), Dave and Megan (Dave is a  blue belt and chemist. His daughter Megan is a yellow belt and Japanese who attends public and Japanese schools in the Phoenix valley) and myself (grandmaster and geologist). 
Members of the Utah Shorin-Kai train at the Arizona Hombu in 2014 with

Guests. Some possible guests - my instructor (Grandmaster and world head of Juko Kai International), Kirby (10th degree black belt), Ron (10th degree black belt, friend, retired lawyer), my son Eric (5th degree black belt, geologist, astrophysicist, physicist, astronomer and mathematician), my daughter Jessica (business manager and brown belt). 

Details. In the original Karate Kid movie, two types of karate were depicted: Miyagi-Ryu karate (traditional) and Cobra Kai Karate (sport). The movie best portrayed these differences in the personalities of instructors and their students, but was also subtly expressed in discussions by Mr. Miyagi concerning use and lethal potential of traditional karate vs. fighting for a trophy.

I visualize a traditional martial arts school (dojo) as a backdrop (I propose my school). The theme of the show would be about my students (a group of scientists, university faculty, teachers, librarians, engineers, accountants, lawyers, etc), their trial and tribulations in learning traditional martial arts and watching their progress over time.

Sensei Ryan defends attack by Dennis
The 'Way' would include history and philosophy of traditional martial arts. New students would learn how to put on their angry white pajamas (known as gi in Japanese), tie obi (belt), bow, speak Japanese, and walk, kick, punch and block the Okinawa way and include many moments of the lighter-side.

Students would learn and demonstrate karate, kobudo (weapons), jujutsu, samurai arts, and self-defense. Programs would focus on kata and bunkai (katas are forms in martial arts and bunkai are their practical applications), shitai kori, tameshiwari (breaking rocks), tamishigari (test cuts with samurai sword - around Halloween, I like to recycle pumpkins by teaching my students to cut with a sword), kobudo (the traditional martial arts weapons) and the successes as our new students learn to control their focus, lose weight, gain self-confidence and are promoted in rank.

Professor Billie Bob visits Arizona Hombu to
demonstrate how a farmer in Nebraska would
manufacture a kobudo weapon using corn cobs
We would include demonstrations of weapons, first as farming and fishing tools, and then convert them to combat weapons - nunchaku, bo, hanbo, kama, sai, tonfa, kuwa (garden hoe) and modern equivalents such as ropes and key chains we carry every day. Kobudo was created hundreds of years ago on Okinawa after bladed weapons were outlawed by Okinawa King Shoshin. The Okinawan people were not sold on this policy, so they began developing farming and fishing tools as weapons of self-defense. In past self-defense clinics that I taught to groups including college students, faculty and librarians, I’ve introduced them to their tools of self-defense including books, magazines, coins, purses, staplers, etc.

Some episodes, the audience would be introduced to common Samurai weapons such as naginata (pole arm), yari (spear), jujutsu (throws), katana (samurai sword), tanto (knife) and include cutting pumpkins and cactus with samurai swords. Because of my background, gemstone, gold and diamond prospecting could be introduced. When I taught martial arts at the University of Wyoming, each spring I would teach the martial artists what I called ‘Geology 101’, a class in breaking rocks.

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