Martial arts weekend in Poland

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Last weekend Martin and I visited Krakow.  The weather was wonderful, sunny and hot just like mid-summer.  The purpose of our visit was to join our friends at their Shorinji Kempo seminar.   The seminar was run by the Polish Shorinji Kempo organisation headed by Sensei Jacek Marchewka who we have known for many years. At the seminar, the main instructor was Sensei Seppo Ruusukivi, a 4th Dan from Finland.

To our surprise there were actually more British than Polish people at this event, which seemed a bit ironic…  The U.K. was represented by Shorinji Kempo clubs from Oxford and Bristol along with us from Shin Ai Do Karate Guildford.  There were also groups from Germany, Finland and of course, Poland.

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It was very interesting to see different concepts of combat, especially as their perspective was quite unfamiliar to us.  The new patterns of movement and techniques along with different body balance were a bit mind-boggling for us.  However, it was a great experience and definitely took us out of our comfort zone.  As always, training with nice people compensated for all of the struggles.

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We found their approach to ceremonies and rules for all dojo activities intriguing – they appeared to be almost religious.  This was not necessarily my cup of tea, but it was fascinating to take part and gain first-hand experience of these practices.

After two days of familiarisation with Shorinji Kempo it was time to spend a few hours with the head of Shin Ai Do, Sensei Artur Marchewka, which concluded with an examination for 2nd Kyu brown belt for Martin.

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The examination was held in a relaxed atmosphere outdoors in quite rough terrain with a 30 meter drop, which afforded us a beautiful view of Krakow.

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After the examination we went for some light refreshments

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Personally I was very happy to see Martin’s progression and am looking forward to his examination for black belt in a few years.

It was great to have the opportunity to catch up with our old friends and to make new ones from around the world.  It just goes to show that martial arts really can widen your horizons and connects people across the globe J

Sinusoidal Karate

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Sinusoidal Karate. What do I mean? All processes in life go like a sinusoid up, and down, so does my martial arts training, specially Karate.  On the way to the mountain top we choose different paths some going up then going down, at one time we are in love with our art and then we fall out of love, just to find our passion again later.

For some time I have lost my passion for karate and turned more attention to wrestling and boxing. It seems to be that my brain needs some rest from one thinking pattern and chooses to perform other task as a self-preservation technique. I have been going through this before a few times, interestingly it always comes back with more passion and a breakthrough. Then my Karate progresses and I can see obvious things which were just in front of me but not previously seen.

I think that this process allows me to step away and do other stuff then comeback with a more open mind clear from previous ways.   From the beginning I have tried to fight this and to keep my self-motivated and interested in Karate but this was suffering. Then I discovered that actually letting go gives me more benefits and I am sure that Karate is faithful and always comes back to me without judging me.

It feels like Karate rewards me for coming back a bit more humbled then when I have left. A bit like the father who always take you back after an argument where I was sure I was right but after stepping away realising that I was wrong.  That is the way life goes.

Now I think I am ready to step back in to this sea called Karate and explore it with a new approach. As I had time to get a hunger for Karate again some changes occurred in our club, Maybe it is my fault that club went down in numbers, maybe it was meant to be. Now I am happy to train in a group of two but willing to do thoughtful hard quality training, not dropping standards to satisfy people’s needs.

A lot of people think that Karate training should be physical and easy, you come for training and you are released from the responsibility of thinking just to perform patterns, mindless repetitions of kata and bunkai not getting anything from or putting anything into them. Well when I teach Karate I am expecting students to think, ask, challenge and try to prove me wrong. As a teacher I dream about my students being better than me but to do that you have to think. The best example of this mindlessness is a story about tradition, told to me by one of my teachers “All students were making funny mouth expressions when performing kiba dachi (horse stance) all did it because their teacher had done it. When being asked why they do this grimace? All answered it was sticking to tradition of their school and their master was doing that. But none of the students asked their teacher why he is doing this, if they did they would know that he was suffering with haemorrhoids and this position was just uncomfortable for him “

What is the moral of this story? Quite simple; do ask questions. There is no worse approach to learning as mindless monkey see monkey do.

Thanks for reading and Happy Easter