I am cross-posting this message to a couple of different forums because I want to share with other dojo owners a training idea we have implemented. This weekend, the students at Chicago Uechi-ryu had the good fortune to host Sensei Gary Khoury for a weekend long seminar on sparring drills. The weekend was, without a doubt, a huge success, with every student gaining valuable new ideas and skills to add to their personal arsenal.
Last fall, our dojo discussed the fact that our training in Chicago left us somewhat isolated from the Uechi world, save for the Sensei Mattson’s summer camp. We decided to begin a program that would allow a continuous influx of information originating from outside our dojo. The method we developed to achieve this goal was our new “Seminar Series.” Each student agreed to pay a yearly fee of $200.00 (either lump sum, or at a rate of $20/month, which included a $40 “payment fee”), which would create the yearly budget that would allow us to host 3-4 top instructors for weekend long seminars.
Our first Seminar, held this past weekend, was led by Sensei Khoury. I asked Sensei Khoury to kick off the series with a sparring seminar in preparation for an upcoming Dan Test for 8 of our students. Although sparring is a part of our regular curriculum, it is admittedly a weak link in our training. Sensei Khoury worked with our dojo all day Saturday, and most of the day on Sunday. He began by explaining his theory on sparring, offered drills to develop that theory, and finally, ended with some sparring sessions to put the theories into practice. Having spoken with my students after the sessions, I have received nothing but positive feedback about the seminars.
We have already lined up Sensei Mattson for a seminar/Dan test (along with my teacher, Rich Baptista) in April, and we look forward to hosting Raffi Derderian in the fall. Next year we will continue to invite instructors throughout the year. Having thrown together a quick list of almost 30 instructors we’d love to have come visit us, we realized that at a rate of 4 per year, we will be busy for the next 7 years!
So, I encourage each and every dojo owner, whether you are in New England, or a thousand miles away, to create a seminar series like the one I described. No one teacher knows everything, and no matter how skilled, or how successful you are as a Uechi practitioner, or teacher, you and your students can always benefit from the point of view of another teacher. Don’t be xenophobic (like that one J.D?) Don’t hide in your little world where you know you can be King. Explore, share, discuss, even debate once in a while, but get the information flowing—you owe it to your students.
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