For the last two weeks, dad and I were in Florida helping my brother move in to his new home. There was lots to do! Three of the four major projects were finished with headway on the fourth. It was also a great vacation. The highlight was visiting a local Shorin-Ryu dojo. Okinawan Shorin-Ryu Karate-Do was the name. Renshi Geoffrey Gaudoin was kind enough to allow me to attend adult class.
The night arrives. Always show up early. Why? Stretching is good but watching the kids class was my motivation. They had more students, more insrtuctors, and just as much fun. They played a bean bag game. The three instructors had several hand fulls of bean bags. The students lined up. If you made eye contact at the right time with the instructor, they threw the beam bag. Then they had to catch a challenging throw. Most students caught 3-6ish. The all-star caught 10 in the 2 minutes they were throwing. It was a blast to watch! Laughs and bean bags flying everywhere.
Adult class was a true team effort from the dojo's black belts as they expertly led classes through exercises and kata. Renshi Gaudoin took the center portion of class leading drills after stretches/conditioning and before kata. Renshi demonstrated each upper and lower body basic for us newbies. Then the class practiced from one side of the room to the other until we ALL did it right. We had to do the first basic right before Renshi shared the next. It was strange trying to walk straight and twist each punch. Thankfully, he didn't hold up the class for my Isshinryu habits. By the end of the drills, I could punch continuously with a twist and keep up with the count. Hopefully it hasn't created a bad habit!
Two particularly striking impressions stuck with me. Renshi Gaudoin foremost. He was humble, personable, easy to talk to, crazy fast with his kicks, and well versed in Okinawan history. He took the time to explain why a particular move in the kata was done in that particular way. He knew he details of how Shuri and Naha karate-do evolved. He explained how to apply traditions to modern life in a practical way. I hope to one day be as admirable as Renshi Gaudoin.
Second impression was the amount of knowledge shared with new students. It so happened that the night I visited was also the first night of a another student. We were paired in the beginner group where we learned a whole kata in one class. The instructor shared two moves at a time. When we demonstrated the new set correctly, she shared the next. The beginner kata was less than 40 moves, and thoroughly enjoyable. Not being the only newbie learning was also nice.
The whole experience was exactly what I'd hoped for. It was eye opening. It was something new. It was a reminder of how much I love karate-do.