Zen Martial Arts Center

Sacramento Martial Arts and Karate

There is so much to reflect on in the last two weeks. The tournament was quite an experience. So was the class at the Joslin dojo. There was also my green belt project at Ride To Walk. All this seems hazy though. In the UBBT spirit is perseverance, here is the last two weeks assembled from loosely written reflections after the events and foggy memory.


The tournament was my second ever attended. The first was seven years ago in the bay area. Both felt overwhelming. Where do I look? Squares were clearly marked out with judges and a line of competitors lining the boundary. Unfortunately, when Mr. Pinkerton and I arrived, we just missed Mr. Bitar's kata demonstration though we saw him sitting on the sideline. We were lucky enough to see most of Mr. Oliver's divisions. Breathtaking is one word to describe the demonstrations. Strong, traditional, and motivational are also good descriptions. They were what I hope to learn in due time. I look forward to the bo kata most of all.


One aspect of the open tournament was the distinct difference in traditional and more modern styles. Some demonstrations felt like Olympic gymnastic routines. Flips, twists, and theatrics are all entertaining. They were entertaining to watch though and glad I was to do so. I preferred the traditional artists though. Karate to me is a way to center myself. I seek balance, direction, and self knowledge. These things are not found in the showier routines performed at the tournament.  So it was a special privilege to observe a Goju-ryu kata. The Goju-ryu kata felt like living history. Isshinryu is after all the fusion of Shorin-ryu and Goju-ryu. The tournament was full of these unique learning experiences.


Switching gears. Class at the Joslin dojo was different. Different is often used in lieu of a negative word. That is not the case here. Different simply means different.


The Joslin's class was faster in pace. We went through more kumate, basics, and kata in one class than we do in an average session at Zen Martial Arts. It was more technically demanding  as such but also less instructive in the details. Rather then direct from the teacher's mouth, the technical details are gleaned through observation and shared from the more senior students in close proximity. Larger class size may be a factor as the class was twice the size of our typical adult class and small for their usual. It was somewhat easy to feel lost in the numbers. The feeling of being found through a helpful senior kyu established a sense of balance in the larger class.


The single thing which struck me most was the student creed recited by all at the beginning of the class. Where our dojo opens adult class in a steady breathing meditation, they recite their creed. The words of the creed profess loyalty to self, the art, the martial arts family, and positive growth. I often use the meditation to reflect on these aspects. It helps me to focus on the martial arts and calmly steady myself. The creed could achieve the same effect if it opened class. Neither better, nor worse. Only different.


Green belt project. My goal for the project was to raise awareness through playtime. The plan was for my dojo family to meet my Ride To Walk family in a relaxed setting and get to know each other on equal grounds. The triumph of the day was courtesy of Kat Lau and Jon my favorite storyteller. We went on a trail ride at 9 am. Its a short walk at almost a mile. A mile was just long enough for Kat and Jon's dad to talk about Jon's experience.


Jon has been riding 10 years now. He has been living with the effects of Cerebral Palsy all his 13 years. This means he is typically hunched over in a crumpled manner. Muscles which normally control breathing, speech, kiai's, and walking are not given a chance to develop. The physical therapy at Ride To Walk has enabled Jon to establish build muscle tone. He can now sit up straight, expand his lungs in breathe, and tell stories in a clear voice. This particular ride he told us about delivering apple pies to the castle for the queen. Those pesky dragons like apple pie though! Dragons kept thieving the pies before he could deliver them for the party. After the adventure filled ride, Jon slowly, with assistance, walked down the ramp to his wheel chair. He is now able to steer himself very well- something he couldn't do when I started volunteering 15 months ago. Someday he will be able to walk by himself. A few years and a bit more riding therapy first.


Jon's story is just one of many. His story showed Kat just how much Ride To Walk does each week for kids just like our karate kids. Kids with challenges in balance, self discipline, and sharing with siblings. The project was a success! Wahoo.


Those who came out also got to meet Daisy Mae and Frosty. We groomed and played with the two mini horses with some of the Ride To Walk kids. It was my first time grooming a horse. Special thanks to Heidi, Luke and Katie Jones for help with the brushing and braiding. It was good fun.


So hopefully there is nothing too notable omitted. Cheers to losing 2 pant sizes, gaining very useful muscles, and reading the last few pages of my first book.

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