Monday, September 21, 2015

Self-Defense and Karate in Gilbert and Mesa Arizona

Self-defense aerial photo (sketch by Soke Hausel)
Self-defense or karate? Should we take self-defense or karate? I was asked by a family looking to sign up for classes if they should take self-defense or karate and my answer was - they are the same. We teach self-defense, but we also teach karate and all of the self-defense applications are straight from our karate kata or forms. And then add some kobudo (weapons) as you never know when you will need that weapon - not an M16, but I'm talking about your car keys, that magazine, towel, belt, you are always carrying some kind of weapon. And if you are trained in karate - you always have those God-given weapons - your feet, hands, elbows, knees, fingers, toes, forehead - yes you do not need a conceal carry to take your hands and feet with you.

Recently, my wife and I heard about a cafe not to far from our traditional dojo in Mesa. It was only a few blocks away, so we stopped in and found the place to be nice. Following breakfast, my wife noticed a store in the same complex and wanted to shop for some material for our house. While she was talking to the owner, his wife talked to me about their children and their bad experiences in martial arts. 

Both of kids are now playing football at a local high school, but their martial arts training apparently was much less than satisfactory. She told me of the kids training in karate, attending tournaments, winning trophies, but were frustrated because they were not sure they could defend themselves even after they being awarded 2nd degree black belts. They were actually bullied in school and the martial arts training they learned taught them nothing on how to defend themselves. They were taught basics, kata and sparring, but never taught the reason for kata or any pragmatic self-defense applications.

"The Empty Hand" Pencil sketch by Soke Hausel
The Big Game (sketch by Soke Hausel).
I was amazed. Even though I have been in martial arts my entire life, hearing stories like this always shocks me. In martial arts, a student should learn self-confidence as well as self-respect for others. At the same time, they should learn how to defend with power. And kata should provide them with a living encyclopedia of self-defense techniques. Okinawan karate kata were created by Okinwan karate masters in times past, in which they incorporated their favorite self-defense techniques in these forms that were often developed from experience.

In karate, we do not become superhuman, but we do learn to defend ourselves and make an effort to defend if attacked. Karate gives a person an edge due to muscle memory with constant training for various circumstances, and kata in particular, provides dozens upon dozens of self-defense applications that can be practiced daily - a sort of shadow boxing. So, if you are in a school that is not teaching you what every, single move in every kata is used for on the street, there may be something wrong with your instructor and personally, I would start looking for another school.

I was sadden to hear her children no longer liked martial arts and had no interest to ever try them again. She indicated they now hated martial arts and anything to do with them. This is understandable - to have an instructor teach you weekly and then reach a level of 2nd degree black belt and being unable to defend oneself, is unthinkable.

Pencil Sketch by Soke Hausel - "Night of the Dragon"

Monday, September 7, 2015

Gilbert Karate

What is "Traditional" Karate?
It is the original form of Okinawan karate that was developed as a weapon - not sport.

So, learn a sport and compete, or learn how to use your feet, hands, elbows, and knees as weapons of self-defense.