Kata is Conflict Resolution!

Betchya didn’t know that!

Our teachers tell us all the time “The Kata is the art”. So I always feel sometimes students feel guilty when they don’t practice their forms/Kata. Without them we don’t get our belt and that’s the only incentive. Most teachers have also heard folks tell them they love Kata, but because of the exercise component. There is so much more to it than a series of movements and cool self defense moves.

While some folks gravitate to some modern arts, wellness clubs or even a college course to learn a “new concept” called conflict resolution, The Asian cultures have been doing it for centuries. Through KATA.

Students practicing Kata

Some of the modern arts that promote this don’t even include kata in their curriculum. This surprises me.

Nothing connects our mind and bodies to seek out that perfect day better than Kata.

I’ll explain what you’ve been missing….

So picture this, you are driving to work to a very challenging job and you say to yourself “Today will be a great day!”. You arrive at work and don’t even get past your coffee break to realize your day is going downhill fast. Usually it’s because of something that’s out of your control.

One the way home from your lousy day, you choose to go workout or take your art class, go running or whatever it is you do for recreation. You picture in your mind what a great evening you are going to have because now YOU are in control of the event or activity you are attending with high hopes of it being PERFECT!

Guess what….you have a bad workout, or your head just wasn’t focused that evening. So you feel you wasted the expense when you could have been doing something else worthwhile.

Sound familiar?

So how do we deal with this?

Kata

Kata won’t fix your day or your dance class, but it will help YOU deal with the disappointment and teach you to strive for perfection. So maybe, just maybe…. you’ll get a realization it was you and not your boss or your cheap running shoes that ruined your day.

Kata is so important because it connects you with how you think your day is going to be and how it really plays out. I call it “Reality check training.”

Here’s why,

Which martial art has a teacher with the perfect kata?

NONE! why?

Budo is the strive for perfection knowing that we will NEVER achieve it. So we practice it week after week to give it a try. The old masters used to say “Training ends with death”. The older I get the more I agree with them!


You see, budo is very challenging, so on the way to the dojo we create in our minds, visions of awesomeness only to get humbled each and every time, then that reality check comes. And sometimes we don’t even need our teachers to show us. We can just FEEL it. And that is what kata is, a feeling of your own being. Kata is where you come from and where you are going, It truly is in your own control, regardless of mental or physical challenges.

It differs from a regular workout with short term goals and a personal trainer blowing smoke up your behind for your credit card number.

Your personal reality of expectations consists of your thoughts, goals and dreams. This what you have on the inside

The reality check consists of things like your mean boss or those lousy running shoes. This is what you have on the outside

Rarely does the outside and the inside of us match perfectly in daily life. We live all day with tiny little reality checks.

The current trends of the youth (and the adults) not being able to handle life’s stress could be because they don’t know to deal with life’s reality. We have no teachers and we don’t know how to teach ourselves without help. Counselors these days have very busy waiting rooms..

The “reality check” is caused by a situation in which a person’s vision clashes with new situation perceived by the person. How we train to handle it is up to us. It’s not easy

Student practicing Jo-Staff Kata

Social media’s quick gratification of “Likes”, absent parenting and a quick “good for you!” or a trophy from peers can do more damage then you may think. Kata can help…

Kata is a drill of little “mini reality checks” for a period of time with constant feedback of correction both inside from yourself and outside from your instructor. (There’s that inside and outside thing again).

The more Kata you do in one session, the more tired you get both physically and mentally while dealing with the reality check. One can imagine the heartbreak and pain of kata the more fatigued one becomes.

No Pain no Gain!

One big difference between Kata and a gym workout or a treadmill is Kata is so much more than a stress outlet, it teaches you about your character, not just how far you are willing to run or how many reps you are willing to do. Kata takes practice practice practice with a teacher. If you skip the gym for a month you may have to “start over” at that lower weight or reps again and you’ve lost everything you worked hard for.

Kata stays with you for life…. including the lessons.

Oh and you learn self defense techniques which is what brought you into the dojo to begin with….Right? Think about it.

Kata never stops, when I was a young Bruce Lee fan learning Pinan/Heihan style forms in a Tae Kwan Do school, A down block was a down block. No questions, that was the end of the lesson. Just get stronger for the bigger kicks coming at you. As I got older and developed my kata I was able to understand when an older teacher told me the down block is really a throw while escaping a kick.

Huh?

Kata grows with us. Ask any Orthopedic Doctor how many non-competitive martial arts injuries they get in their office per week. Then ask them how many football kids limp in the waiting rooms. Yes as we get older Kata means something different to us…

Not only does A Kata performed for a lifetime bring back memories of lessons and teachers but it also teaches it’s own little “reality checks” in the Kata itself, which means we need to reach even deeper to swallow the life lesson!

Iaido Sword Kata practice

Imagine how I felt when I was told I had been practicing a sword Kata wrong for 12 years….

ANGRY?

No, I got excited. It was a new lesson and it’s easier and actually enjoyable to absorb because I have been practicing that Kata for 12 years…..incorrectly. Also I was able to apply that lesson to other Kata. It was an eye opening budo experience that I would not have enjoyed if I didn’t practice.

Make sense? It may not, unless you practice Kata.

YOUR Kata will NEVER be as good as you think it can be.

It’s human nature to judge other people based on what they do on the outside which are their actions. In the meantime we judge ourselves based on our insides which are real intentions. (There’s that inside-outside connection again.)

Wait, so Kata teaches us Human Nature?

Yes

Every time you practice. Study yourself instead of the students beside you. When you study yourself, you are studying human nature. Most humans behave the same…

And none of us are perfect, right?

Once you figure this out, your lack of perfection no longer matters because your journey to the achieve the perfect kata is gone. Working on making it perfect is the desire and the fun.

How many times have we heard that famous Ralph Waldo Emerson quote “Life is a journey not a destination” He was a pretty smart guy and teacher. He would have been a great Martial Arts teacher.

Pinan Kata

   Kata helps us on this journey making the world at least a place that’s understandable through our own little private checks and balances. It also provides a physical/mental workout and awesome life preserving skills as well. Not to mention the fun, especially with a room full of others yelling and screaming and hitting things….

Give it a shot!

So what happens when that dedicated student does mange to perfect a kata (In his or her eyes) and makes that destination with nothing left to look forward too?

We have more kata….

Now go practice…

Thanks for taking the time to read my post.

Tom, Rhode Island Budo Academy

Martial Arts Symposium March 29,30,31 Manchester NH

Brush Fist and Steel 2019 Seekonk MA September 7th.

The Gathering 2019, Reno Nevada October 12th

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https://ribudo.blog

www.skski.net

The European Gathering!

Last week I witnessed an incredible martial arts event in Belgium. It’s roots began just ten years ago when some Budo friends from America got on an airplane to visit friends in Belgium to share some martial arts training ideas while enjoying the sights. After just a few annual friendly visits fast forward ten years later, I got to meet and train with an incredible group of Kosho Ryu Kempo Practitioners and teachers. Not to mention the enormous gathering of other teachers and Budoka at the end of the week.

Sensei’s Jeff Driscoll , Bart DBckr, Myself and Steven Bonk

Sensei Bart DeBkr, the director of the Kosho Ryu Branch in Belgium is one of the hardest working teachers I have ever met. His students are of incredible character and skill and the hospitality they showed me was unmatched. I learned so much training and sharing with these folks, not to mention the laughs and fun we had. I was in awe as they truly displayed their spirit in budo as I watched them train with each other. Although these fine folks don’t regard themselves highly, they take Kosho Ryu Kempo very very seriously. We trained very hard during Sensei Jeff Driscoll’s Kempo Boot camp for three hard hitting days from 10am to 5pm. This old school of hard work dedication is something clubs here in America is seriously lacking as they took me back to the 80’s of tireless training and sore chins. Every day was a lesson to me as I witnessed an incredible display of budo. Even with the beginner Kyu ranks as they displayed sincerity in their kata and strikes while performing flow drills. These gals and guys do not mess around! I was immediately taking mental inventory of myself and my own students with a raised eyebrow. I look forward to another visit. Sensei Bart is a quality leader.

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Kosho Boot Camp with Sensei Jeff Driscoll

I learned Sensei’s undertaking of his European Gathering for the past several years has done nothing but grow! Although his friends, family and students provide and incredible support and assistance, it is his shoulders in which the day rests upon. Sensei Bart simply told me that all he cares about each year is that “We have no serious injuries and everyone has fun.” I learned immediately that the European Gathering is not about selling tickets but rather about continuing the sharing of these incredible Arts so they continue when the current teachers are gone. My teacher Sensei Driscoll always states that “Martial Arts has the ability to unlock the human potential.” Gatherings such as this sure do demonstrate this statement!

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The Gathering itself was held at an enormous facility in a town called Wetteren Belgium. Four sections of matted floors were arranged as four teachers were teaching all day at the same time in 45-55 minute classes. It was incredible! Within an Eight hour span one could learn Ju-jutsu, Karate, Wing Chung, Iaido, Krav Maga, Escrima, Goshinjutsu ground fighting (and of course Kempo). I spent as much time as I could with different teachers and students. There was so much to learn!

Myself teaching

Sensei Steven Bonk

I was also privileged to teach Kempo and to take Uke for my friend Sensei Steven Bonk as he also taught Kempo. What really made me so happy was not one Ego was in the facility and applause was given for each and every teacher at the end of each session. Students of all abilities were eager and great-full for the opportunity to meet the teachers. I was great-full for meeting the other students and teachers as well. To be considered one of the instructors at this event humbled me and I was thrilled to share the wonderful art of Kosho Ryu Kempo.

After the event we all went upstairs for the tasty pasta banquet along with some of the finest Belgium beers on the planet! We all talked, met wives and friends while sharing with each other the day’s experiences. It was an incredible week with some incredible people!

I highly recommend attending this event to anyone that has the opportunity. I also look forward to the next Gathering in Reno Nevada coming up this fall in 2019.

Myself with Kosho Ryu Belgium

I would also like to thank Sensei’s Bart Dbckr , Marc Mebis , Jeff Driscoll, Steven Bonk for the time spent with me. I would like to humbly thank the teachers and students at the gathering for your time with me and ESPECIALLY my new friends at Kosho Ryu Belgium!

Tom

BRUSH FIST AND STEEL 2018!

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     Brush fist and steel is back for another incredible weekend at The New England Martial Arts Dojo in Seekonk Massachusetts! Each time we host an event, it just grows and grows! This event is geared towards both beginner and advanced practitioners alike in all arts. Even if you have no experience in any martial arts, this seminar is a fantastic way to give it a try with our beginners prep classes free with payment. These classes give you basic instruction in all the arts taught at this years Brush, Fist and Steel! Here is the list of whats going on!

Saturday Sept. 15th: Upstairs dojo 10-AM to 4PM Kosho Ryu Kempo

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10 am to 4pm Kosho Ryu Kempo with Sensei Jeff Driscoll.  The art of Kosho Ryu Kempo is a very unique form of self defense. It is based on Concepts and Principals not just techniques. The student not only learns techniques in which they practice to defend oneself…they also learn the concepts and principles which make those techniques work properly. What’s addicting about Kosho Ryu is once you learn beginner concepts the doors open up for more concepts and principals which relate with the ones you previously learned! It’s a lifetime of study and can be started at any age and and level.           Several arts of Kosho Ryu Kempo will be taught including, Striking, Throwing , Joint locks and of course Kosho’s primary art, escaping for self defense! Beginners are highly encoraged to come train in this incredible day of training! For more info on Kosho Ryu Kempo please check out our Kempo arts page here.

Sensei Driscoll’s Bio can be viewed HERE

Sunday Sept. 16th: 2nd floor dojo  10AM to 4PM   Japanese Sword Arts

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Japanese Swordsmanship with Sensei Jeff Driscoll.  The ancient Samurai arts of the sword are still alive and practiced in today’s dojos. Come train with us in the Samurai arts of Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iaijutsu and Kenjutsu. Sword arts are a fantastic way to start out in martial arts, most folks think that experience is needed to practice these arts, however this is not true. One also does not need to be in optimal shape to practice these arts and it’s great way for individuals to start their journey in budo if they feel they are not in the best of shape physically and mentally. The Modern day applications of these arts involve controlled, precise movements in which practitioners develop oneself and personal fulfillment. Sword arts can train one to be mindful constantly through learning, which is an essential part of life. It is easy to use these skills in the rest of our daily activities. Not to mention it’s a lot of fun! Iaijutsu is the art of drawing the sword while Kenjutsu is the art of the sword once the sword has been drawn. NO equipment is necessary, our dojo has practice swords for lend and will have some for purchase if requested. All metal blades owned by club members are practice blades and are not sharpened. NO live blades with be allowed on the dojo floor for safety considerations. For more info of these arts please check out our sword arts page here. 

Sunday Sept. 16th 1st floor dojo 10am to 4pm Japanese Calligraphy

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10am to 4pm Japanese calligraphy: Shodo and Sumi-e with Sensei Cindy Jutras.  In the Japanese art of Shodo the practitioner learns to create Kanji, which are pictorial ideographs representing ideas of the Japanese (and Chinese) mind. This system of written language differs from the largely phonetically written languages in the rest of the world.  The study includes the discipline of proper stroke orders, proper formation of strokes and spatial relationships between strokes.
     In addition, due to the pictorial nature of kanji, there are other benefits. Students will learn to be visually skilled and to develop imaginative insights into their work.  A one-kanji work can be hung on the wall and pondered forever. When a Kosho Ryu student studies and understands kanji, he becomes a visionary. A picture truly is worth a thousand words. The student learns to go beyond what is taught. To study. To seek. Kempo, the philosophy of study, and the art of the brush are one and the same.  The art of Sumi-e will also be introduced It’s one of the art forms in which subjects are painted with black ink in all possible gradations ranging pure black to the lightest shades achievable by dissolving ink in water. Simple and elegant landscapes and images are taught with ancient brush techniques and strokes. For more info on this beautiful art please see our page here. 

Tuition:  Pre-register Training!! Register now to receive free seminar prep classes!! The sooner you register the more training you can get in! Beginners as well practitioners of other arts are all welcome!

ONE DAY TRAINING, Includes pre seminar Training

Good for one day of Training. Train all day in Kempo on Saturday or all day on Sunday in Sword arts, Calligraphy or both. You choose!

$100.00

 

TWO DAY TRAINING, Includes Pre-Seminar training

Good for training all weekend in all arts!!

$150.00

Studying Ourselves

What an incredible weekend with Hanshi Bruce Juchnik’s instructor/curriculum seminar this past weekend hosted by Sensei Jeff Driscoll at his dojo in Potsville PA.

Accompanying me was my senior student and good friend Valerie and also another good friend Sensei Brian Kreizinger the director of the New England Martial Arts dojo in Seekonk MA which is were our group is located. Both Valerie and Brian wanted to meet Hanshi and the other Yudansha from the Kai and they weren’t disappointed

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Other instructors from all over the country and even my friend Sensei  Bart De Baker of  Belgium was in attendance. It’s incredible that Kosho Ryu is even in Europe amongst other countries around the world and each time I attend, I make new friends and learn from them, especially Hanshi.  It’s always important for the teachers to get together to learn and share with each other.

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We started Friday and went all weekend right up until Sunday afternoon. Hanshi spent a lot of time helping us understand natural law and how and why the body moves the way it does. Everything from the ground up was covered even sight and sound was demonstrated. The emphasis in all of his lessons are the three levels of study called the Sho Chiku Bai. These words are familiar to most Kempo practitioners, however when they are explained as what they really are which are Low Mid and high arts, it really put things in perspective.

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This three level study includes everything including eye direction, breathing and all movement no matter how slight! Slight and subtle movements were highly appreciated and concentrated on. Tension and release of not only ourselves but our partner played a big part. One plus one equals one I was told…. It was incredible and I have so much to work on and share. So much to think about!

Hanshi also took us all really deep into the historical aspect of martial arts and how most arts really do come from the same origins. Some styles of the same art may have been created for political, religious or physical limitations of the teachers but the origins of the teachers before us is the essence.  It was very interesting and informative. Hanshi also  mentioned that when practitioners segregate themselves from other “styles” it does nobody any good because no one learns from each other and no one grows. “Look for similarities” I was also told, that is Kempo….

We then were told to observe while some of us tried to  imitate each other when we walked talked and then engaged each other physically.  It was easier to do then they thought, and the laughter in the room proved that it really isn’t hard to imitate each other when you spend time with them. The lesson here was that it is true that we emulate our teachers both in and out of the dojo. A Great lesson and a great time.

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On the final day we studied Kata and it’s importance in preparatory movement before each “step” or “move”, and that transition of movement is were the study really is. At the same time focusing on the three levels of study. Sho Chiku Bai. It never left us all weekend. Also to break free of kata and REALLY study it in different forms of movement. A lot of eyes were opened including mine.

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At the end of the seminar we then took some pictures exchanged gifts and goodwill to each other and parted ways to go back to were we came from keeping in mind we really do all come from the the same place both in budo and in life in general, a humbling weekend.  I’m privileged to be among these folks and an incredible organization with outstanding teachers.

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What I took from it all and sometimes I forget, is that Kempo is simply the study of ourselves, natural law and how the mind, body and spirit works as one. The hard part is the application. But like Hanshi told me. “Just don’t be Stupid!”

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I would like to sincerely like to thank Sensei Jeff Driscoll for hosting and to Hanshi Bruce Juchnik and the other Yudansha for making the trip and sharing with my friends and myself what they have so we can then share with others. We look forward to the next Gathering in Reno Nevada in Ocober. For more info on Kosho Ryu Kempo and the upcoming events go to www.skski.net 

Yours in Budo,

Tom

 

Looking Forward to Learning and Sharing.

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June is coming up, and that’s the time for both teachers and students alike to learn from each other at the Kosho Ryu Kempo Curriculum and instructor training program hosted by Sensei Jeff Driscoll in Potsville PA at his dojo. Our headmaster Hanshi Bruce Juchnik will be there and we always look forward to his visits on the east coast. We all learn so much and it’s certainly a humbling experience. Makes me so incredibly thankful to be part of the organization.

Last year we trained for three days with Hanshi, going over what would appear to be basic movements and concepts within the octagon. However timing and distance and other factors are changed from the usual martial thinking. Things then get very challenging both in technique and simple motion. Especially exploring these adjustments with Bunkai in kata and each other’s methods. When I drove home with my fellow budo friends, my brain and body was well spent. Incredible weekend!

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The weekend is filled with so many teachers sharing so many concepts and methods of how they have grown with Hanshi and the Kai. The beauty of Kosho Ryu Kempo is that all martial arts can favor from the teachings no matter what you do. We all come from different backgrounds and other arts, but when we get together, all speak the same language but with different stories. It’s true Kempo.

It’s very exciting and I recommend anyone interested in a lifelong study of budo to join us on June 1st 2nd and 3rd. in PA. All are welcome! Teachers from all over the country and even Europe will be in attendance again this year, and I look forward to seeing both new and old friends and bringing back more knowledge to share with my friends  here at our dojo.

Tom

http://www.ribudo/wordpress.com

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NEW WEBSITE AND UPDATES!!

Welcome to the new website and

The RHODE ISLAND BUDO ACADEMY!

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Hello everybody! Our club has grown so much in the past couple years, we are teaching, sharing and practicing so much more than Sword arts now. I never thought our members and friends would be giving so much and training so hard! It pleases us to now offer so much more to folks who want to improve their lives and those around them.

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This new website will have periodic blog posts about Budo and our academy from myself as well as the other teachers and the members! So feel free to come visit us and learn and share about us and the most challenging subject, yourself!

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We are located at the beautiful New England Martial Arts Dojo in Seekonk Massachusetts. at 879 Arcade Ave.

Our curriculum’s include:

Japanese Sword arts including Iaijutsu, Kenjutsu and Historical studies

Kosho Ryu Kempo arts including. Escaping arts, Striking arts, Healing Arts, Japanese Calligraphy, Throwing arts, Ground Defense, Joint Locks And also A NEW program,

Women’s Self Defense is now on the menu!!!

All brought to you by the Sei Kosho Shorei Kai International

Which brings our incredible Seminars with Teachers from all over the East Coast that teach us so much. We hope you come to visit us soon!

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http://www.skski.net