Sunday, May 26, 2013

Gilbert, Mesa and Chandler Martial Arts Classes

What is karate? Karate is the art of the empty hand - a method of self-defense created on Okinawa centuries ago and later adopted the rest of the world. But it is more than just empty hand self-defense. If taught as a martial art, it should provide fundamental ways to build self-confidence, self-esteem, and more important, respect for others. If it doesn't, than it likely is not a true martial art - but instead may be nothing more than MMA ore street fighting. Traditional karate provides some of the traditions and benefits of Christianity - thus, there are many karate ka, in America who are also active Christians.

As our students walk into the Arizona Hombu (world headquarters of Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Kai) on Baseline Road at the border of Gilbert and Mesa (one mile from Chandler), we greet one another with respect and as friends. Before the start of class, we smile at one another and checking to see how every one's weekend went. We are friends and we are also members of the Shorin-Ryu family, so we are concerned about each other.
Kyoshi Rob Watson (8th dan) and Hanshi Todd Stoneking (6th dan) present
gifts to Soke Hausel (12th dan) following a martial arts clinic in the East
Valley of Phoenix (photo courtesy of Nemec Photography, May, 2013).
As class begins, we show respect to one another, our instructor and to the martial arts by bowing in s short ceremony. Then we start stretching and warming up before beginning the evening's lesson. Tonight it could be basic karate, we may be learning a new kata, or we might be focusing on bunkai (self-defense applications of kata), or learning new self-defense applications against one person, two people, against an attacker with a knife, a club, a revolver, a rifle. We might focus on using everyday weapons for self-defense such as a book, a PC, car keys, belt, coins, pen, pencil, stapler, purse, stick, kobuton, cane, or hanbo.

Another night, we might train as samurai and focus on jujutsu the katana, naginata, or yari. We may learn a new kobudo weapon or a new kobudo kata. Or we may focus on kotekikai (extreme body hardening) or some other martial art taught at our martial arts school in Arizona. The martial arts education is nearly limitless with our grandmaster who has certifications in nearly 2 dozen arts.

We typically end the class after buring another 1,000 calories by ending with meditation and bowing to one another and telling each other to have another wonderful day or weekend. For us, karate is a path, it is a way to keep in touch with our closest friends. It is a way for us to share each others thoughts and concerns about our lives, families, martial arts, work and problems in the nation's capital. We support each other with positive thoughts and finish with "oyasumi nasai" or "domo arigoto gosaimasu". Martial arts is about being positive, helping one another, and just being members of a ryu, or karate family.

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