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