A martial arts friend and colleague of mine sent me an email yesterday to wish my happy Mother’s Day. He said, “This may seem weird, but I wanted to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day. Not sure if you think about it this way, but you are truly a mother to your dojo.” It was the nicest thing I heard all week.
In self-defense or live training exercises like sparring, it is rare that you would get to hit a completely static target unless you managed to stun or distract the person first. That’s why it’s important to practice target tracking and this drill covers one particular aspect of it. It allows you to practice striking while your target is moving backward or while you yourself are backing away for whatever reason. (more…)
The martial arts world nowadays is full of competition, especially in the urban western world in which schools are all vying to get students from the same geographic area. In classic capitalist fashion, schools try to distinguish themselves from their competition to highlight how they’re the best choice for the potential students’ needs. (more…)
This week marks my Jiu-jitsu anniversary. It’s been 12 years since I nervously stepped onto the mats at Carleton University and was introduced to the world of locks, throws and pain by Kieran Parsons Sensei. It seems fitting that this week also marks my birthday, and gives me an extra excuse to look back a little at the path I’ve taken to get to where I am today. Please forgive my indulgence.
I recently achieved the rank of Nidan in Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu and in addition to the physical testing I was required to write an essay on how teaching this style of Jiu-jitsu has changed my perspective. When I first sat down to write that essay, it was a bit of a trip down memory lane, and led to many of the following thoughts.
It’s weird in how 12 years both seems a fairly long time, and a very short time. It’s over a third of my life, yet, when compared to some of the instructors I get to train under, it’s not that much. I think the instructors with whom I train most regularly, the smallest amount of time they’ve trained is 20 years. Yet looking back at what’s happened in the last 12 years, I see Jiu-jitsu as the only constant (non-family) element in my life.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to Powell’s Book Store, a huge bookstore in Portland that had the biggest martial arts section I’ve ever seen with a variety of new and used books on every topic. I bought half a dozen books, but my most valued find was an old book, The Complete Jujitsuan, that was originally published in 1915.
I am always on the look-out for old martial arts books like that for a variety of reasons. Firstly, they’re interesting to read from a historical perspective. The writings reflect the unique attitudes toward training and combat of the time and place during which it was written. The demonstrators wear clothes that are customary for the era, which can make for differences in movement strategy. The techniques sometimes comprise of different moves or even weapons that have fallen out of favour. And sometimes you find different techniques or ways of applying familiar techniques that are new to you. (more…)
In my mind, martial arts schools exist to be a positive influence in the community. Instructors strive to help their students improve their fitness, become more confident, meet new people, and have fun. That is essentially the mission of our dojo.
But there is also something to be said about getting involved in the community beyond those who train at the dojo. I believe in giving back to the world however I can. Over the past 3 months, I have made it my intention to engage in some form of selfless giving every day, recording my efforts on my blog, Giv’er 365. The dojo is just one more avenue that allows me to do so. (more…)
This past Sunday, I went to the Zen Centre of Vancouver to do their introductory session to Zen. I’ve been meditating regularly for years, using more or less the same methods as they do in Zen. I recently decided that it might be nice to try formal practice in a group to see what it’s like. It was an interesting experience that I’d like to share.
I rode my scooter to the Zen Centre early Sunday morning. At first, I drove past it. It was easy to miss being a house in a residential area with only a humble sign over the front door marking it for what it was (as seen here on the right before it was renovated). I rang the doorbell and was greeted by Eshin John Godfrey (shown in photo below on the left), the centre’s abbot. He is a friendly man who smiles a lot, and does a great job of making new visitors feel comfortable and welcome as I came to discover. (more…)
Teaching is an important vocation, not simply to pass on knowledge, but to inspire people to greatness. Teachers have the capacity to change lives, and it’s not just because they put together a good lesson plan. The best teachers are the ones that see those they teach not simply as students, but as people.
Each person has their own unique learning style, personality, and life situation. They each have different interests and passions that inspire them, as well as different hot buttons or issues that cause them to think stressful thoughts. If teachers take a genuine interest in their students not simply in terms of their training but in the context of their whole lives, they can not only help better in the class setting through greater understanding, they can also touch their lives in a more meaningful way.
I covered some of this concept in my blog post How Martial Arts Instructors Can Give More, but I feel like there is more that can be said on this topic. Here are 3 ways teachers can focus more on their students as people: (more…)
Sado, Japanese tea ceremony, is an art that has long been associated with the martial arts. Back in feudal Japan, it was initially indulged in primarily by the nobility. It was intended to be an activity free of social and political trappings, as guests were required to enter the tea room by a 2.5 square foot crawl door, a deliberately humbling device symbolically creating a sense of equality to everyone inside. The tea room was one of the few places in which a samurai was not allowed to carry their swords, leaving them outside as they enter.
A martial art derived from Jiu-jitsu, Judo shows beautifully on film. Some of my favourite YouTube videos featuring martial arts are of Judo. As a bit of a lighter post today, I figured I share a few of my favourites.
This first video is a demo that was put on at a festival celebrating the sport, performed by two Olympic-level Judoka. Their core strength is awe-inspiring as they demonstrate Judo throws in slow motion (both forward and in reverse). Also LOVED the Jedi-style throwing from a distance (which can only be seen to be understood). Have a watch: (more…)