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 Post subject: Who are our students?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2003 6:23 pm 
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People initially take karate (at least they used to) because they were traumatized in some way, lacked self confidence or in some other way, had emotional or physical problems.

Obviously, there are a many of these individuals who never benefit from the training. Fortunately, many do latch on to the non-self defense benefits of karate and gain confidence, become motivated in their life endeavors and better members of society.

Focusing too much on the violence in these marginally adjusted individuals' lives, may hinder any benefitial effects that the martial arts may have for these people. They are forced to focus on those very things which they are trying to control or eliminate.

Someone who is paranoid and obsessed with the violence in their lives and the world, will never feel safe, secure or confident while pursuing some impossible goal to live as other, normal people do. They will see demons where others see none. They will get into fights more often than their better adjusted associates. Although they have more weapons at their disposal and more ability along with their techniques,they will never feel the peace of mind they really are searching for.

Yes, as teachers, have seen and worked with more disturbed individuals than would attend a bowling league. The large and successful dojo today are providing help for these people using plain old vanilla karate tools, replete with large helpings of "mushin", "chi" and physical exercise. Once we destroy the image of karate that helps in the healing process used to help people with their 'real' problems, we will join the ranks of all those who simply sell different weapons, promoting their benefits and killing power to those who collect them like stamps.

Face it... Nothing GEM, Van, Shinjo, Toyoma or Kanbun ever taught in the way of physical techniques equal the killing power of a knife or gun. Anyone really interested in just self defense would join the 25000 registered posters on the knife forum or the 50,000 posters on the different gun forums instead of debating here about the value of "pointing" things vs a block. The street fighters, without a day of formal training, reading these forums, must be peeing in their pants laughing.

I asked Paul and a couple other psycologists who used to post, to comment on why people really joined karate dojo and why we succeeded where regular schools failed in helping kids and adults.

I know Paul tried in the past and perhaps he and others will try again. We (humans) are complex machines. We should really be able to discuss the impact karate schools make in troubled individual's lives. At least we should know the signs of danger, when the dojo can't help and maybe even be contributing to the problem. At some point, the teacher should turn to professional help.

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 Post subject: Lost Forum...
PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2003 1:41 pm 
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Thanks to Ted S. for reviving this forum. It was removed from the web by accident.

I'm hoping that if we are fortunate enough to get some professional input here, that we will be able to address some of the none-physical components of the martial arts.

You are welcome to ask questions relating to the focus of this forum and I promise that no one will be "flamed".

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2003 4:08 pm 
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Mattson-sensei:

For the traumatized, the uncertain, martial arts presents something that a weapon never can.

For those truly afraid of physical danger, a tool is the way to go. A gun or knife neutralizes a lot of training. But very few of the people in this country, no matter what they say or think, are as worried about the physical harm as the psychological.

Whether you call it "self-esteem" or the buzz word of your choice, the traumatized, or uncertain student comes to your dojo wanting to be somebody worthy of respect. Both self-respect and the respect of others. The blade can't give that. If the knife or gun or tool comes into it, respect is automatic, but it is respect for the weapon, not the user. How much worse does it feel to know that a half pound hunk of metal commands more respect than you do?

On the surface, the T/U (traumatized or uncertain) student may feel that they are gaining self-respect by becoming lethal karate machines. Even if the "lethal karate machine" is a fantasy, the self-respect is real. Because they are in better shape. Because they have learned that they can make their body do things. Because they have learned about patience and perseverence and hard, sweaty work. Because in most dojos they learn that the seniors might be impressed by the ripped twenty year old who can kick a basketball net and break a half-dozen boards... but the seniors respect the overweight, middle-aged student who shows up every day and sweats.

Rory


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 Post subject: Good points Rory
PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2003 5:52 pm 
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Your points are exactly the ones that I wanted to address.

My other concern is if we, the seniors (and supposed experts) destroy the mystique of the martial arts, then our students, who need that self esteem, will lose whatever benefits (other than the obvious physical exercise/activity) their training provides.

Then, as you point out, the "package" of benefits disappear and they are left with just another half pound tool.

I've been trying to get that point across on these forums for years. . . mostly unsuccessfully. Happy to hear that an acknowledged expert appreciates the value of the "mystique" and not simply the collection of "weapons/tools".

I'm hoping Paul, Dave and other experts in this field will check in on the subject.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2003 6:12 pm 
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Quote:
I've been trying to get that point across on these forums for years. . . mostly unsuccessfully. Happy to hear that an acknowledged expert appreciates the value of the "mystique" and not simply the collection of "weapons/tools".
In my opinion Rick Wilson helps keep the mystique alive and well, his looking inwards for application outwards (my take on it) weaves in nicely in the Uechi and other systems.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2003 12:15 am 
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Rick gets us all excited about training, which is the job of a good teacher. I wish more people would purchase his Video or DVD though....


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 26, 2003 6:49 pm 
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Who are our students?

The most mature join for their own reasons with no illusions or expectations. It looks like more fun than aerobics; wanted to do this since a kid; good family time; intro to a new culture; a physical expression of grace or beauty. Fun-health-learning.

There are many divisions on the combative side...and most people join for something of that spectrum.

Some join in total ignorance. They vaguely feel that violence is bad and 'out there'. They have heard somewhere that martial arts is the answer (and here I elide a whole nest of ignorance- that violence and fighting are the same, that sparring and fighting are the same, on and on...)

Some are Van's dojo ballerinas, for whom their closest exposure to violence is the simulated violence of the dojo floor- they seek more skill and assume it will translate.

Some are children, or the T/U's mentioned earlier, on a quest for a black belt that is an amulet and a badge, a combination of security blanket and gold star.

Some are tool collector. They want to learn a new kick, new strike, new weapon, because someday...

There are violence groupies. They read DeBecker, McYoung and Strong (and this forum); pride themselves that they know "the truth". Are confident that there is a truth to violence.

Each of these has divisions and stages- the purely ignorant can become a rabid, cultish partisan very quickly and still remain ignorant for instance.

Some types are omitted- the person who has been truly scared and realistically searches for the skills to back up their decisions are much different from the tool collectors. Perhaps I omitted them because only this type wants to avoid mystique.

The rest seek mystiques (though I never thought of it that way before). So much for so many.

Rory


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 27, 2003 4:32 am 
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And each student can be each type of student on a different day. Some days I come to the floor looking to learn a better way of harming another. Other days I come looking for a better way to heal. Some days I come to take a break from a world that seems harmful to me and the familiar routine of the dojo is a welcome respite.

For relaxation, for health, for wellness, for fighting skill, for fellowship, for...

A fellow student once said that they didn't care if people were actually able to do various techniques, they only cared if people were trying to do the technique better. Some days I can agree with that, some days I can't - but each of us travels many paths as we train -- often at the same time.


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 Post subject: Grabbing at thin threads
PostPosted: Sat Dec 27, 2003 11:55 am 
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Good for reopening this particular forum, George. In my opinion we need fresh meat to combat both the current staleness as well as the decline in supportive readership. It has dissapointed me to no ends that these forums have not served to bring Uechi-ryu forward into the 22nd century in a fashion to interest and excite the young into such a wonderful, multi-faceted, style they have at their disposal. They have certainly not met my expectations;

I read Rick Wilson's name mentioned by CANDANeh in a neighboring post in this particular forum, and not only do I agree, but read much freshness and potency in his words. We should all be thankful for his presence.

Maybe it's just me, George, that I have become bored with these forums like so many others have, but for reasons differing from others'. Maybe it's my dissapointment in the non-evolution which has turned me away from these forums. Maybe my expectations were just too high. I certainly have becone disinterested in writing into them, even reading from them, anymore.

For a while, George, I even considered reopening my own website, centering it around my old graphically illustrated tips and techniques; focusing, in a structured manner, on the positives of Uechi-ryu in a fashion to build readers' confidences in what they do and how they do it.

But I cannot find neither the time, inclination, nor the motivation to do anything with Uechi these days except to continue to practice with my Sensei as much as practicible, and maybe even drop in at the Hut now and then to say hello to all my friends and associates there. I've had my day in the sun so I leave this task to the younger guys and gals who have the desire to get out there and make a difference.

Uechi-ryu is beautiful in terms of both fighting and self-defense. It is sometimes [maybe often] subtle, well-structured fighting system which has been only partially explored at best.

Help me out with the following, George.
  1. How does one reagain interest in the fires of which the embers of excitement and desire hsve been fading and are now dying out?
  2. Do I no longer have anything left in me to offer Uechi-ryu?
  3. Does Uechi-ryu have nothing left in it to offer me?
  4. Is it time for me to move on?
  5. Am I getting to old to think about fighting anymore and refuse to fantasize what was in my youthen days?
  6. Have I passed the stage where I feel the need for Uechi-ryu in my life?
  7. Has events which have transpired before me over the past year or so worn through a thin facade?
  8. Have I tried so hard for so long that there's no spirit left?


Help me out before the last buckets of water that may forever extinguish those few remaining embers are poured.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 27, 2003 3:28 pm 
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I've been hearing from a number of people who feel the same way about their training as you Al. People go through different cycles of their lives with different needs, desires and with different skills, abilities and health.

We are all aging and are experiencing life changes that don't always match our expectations.

For some of us, it is tough to let go of what we were (or at least thought we were) and calmly enter yet another rung in our life cycle. Some of us mask our fears with bravado while others of us look in the mirror and elect to hide away during the last and most unwelcomed phases of our lives.

Senior members of our clan, have for years rested on past accomplishments and the traditional respect that was an important part of the martial arts. . . the 'mystique', if you don't mind this term. . .

As an art, Uechi-ryu and other systems of the martial arts are at a crossroads. Those of us who are the stronger of the clan, can, with a brushstroke of the pen, take down the once mighty and now frail. We can join the UFC and other groups that sell "tools" and push away all who don't fit into the mold of the young, tough and healthy practitioner of the moment. Or. . . we can return to the middle kingdom of the martial arts. . . that era where most of us entered the martial arts and dispense instruction and counsel, with both intelligence and heart.

Every student has the ability to make a decision upon entering a martial art school. Is the teacher one who will provide what the student is looking for during this stage in his/her life. Can the teacher only provide instruction for certain students and will ignore all others. These and other questions a new student must ask and answer.

Every person who has entered and exited many cyles of life experiences also has the ability to select his/her training methods, based not on what is best for a teacher (regardless of that teacher's skill), but on what is best for the person who ultimately, knows what is best for him/her.

What was possible for you thirty years ago may not be something good for you today.

By all means, subscribe to "Soldier of Fortune", but don't get depressed because the CIA won't hire you to take out a terrorist group.

While I'm still functioning as part of IUKF, the organization will continue to have both intelligence and heart. There is a place for both "mystique" and technology. That means there will always be a place for you, Al and all the others who may not fit into that narrow band of ability, age and health that some elect to define as a model for all.

For some of us, it may be simply showing up for class and participating in a soft Sanchin. For some of us, it may mean only sharing experiences on these forums.

But I promise you that there will always be a spot for you to do your Uechi-ryu Al. But even after you lose all those other physical abilities, you must never lose your Uechi "mindset". That is what will get you through the low spots in life.

Whenever I get a little depressed with the things that piss me off in life, I call Bill Bauknecht. His "mindset" is that of a tenth degree black belt. He was Art Rabesa's toughest fighter twenty years ago. Today he is Bill Bauknecht's toughest fighter. He trains differently now and he doesn't let anyone or anything get him down.

Did I answer your questions Al?

Quote:
Help me out with the following, George.

How does one regain interest in the fires of which the embers of excitement and desire hsve been fading and are now dying out?

Do I no longer have anything left in me to offer Uechi-ryu?

Does Uechi-ryu have nothing left in it to offer me?

Is it time for me to move on?

Am I getting to old to think about fighting anymore and refuse to fantasize what was in my youthen days?

Have I passed the stage where I feel the need for Uechi-ryu in my life?

Has events which have transpired before me over the past year or so worn through a thin facade?

Have I tried so hard for so long that there's no spirit left?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 27, 2003 9:30 pm 
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Quote:
Did I answer your questions Al?
Yes you did George.

I purposefully went to the Hut this morning in an attempt to combat some of the feelings I mentioned above. This morning was pretty much the same as it always has been since my first time there. For me it is a source of pleasure to work out at the Hut, always.

Just seeing and saying hi to those I know and those who know me was enough to begin to lift a developing dark cloud. To me, anyway, the standard members of the Hut are an important part of my Uechi existence.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2003 7:15 am 
This is a very interesting thread. Please read to the end of this post before making a judgement on what I am attempting to say.

I would first like to thank those who made the kind comments about me. I am very appreciative of these forums and the voice they give to Uechi and MAs in general. They open the world up to everyone who wishes to participate.

**** Allen I have always enjoyed your posts and I certainly hope you continue to take part in these forums. ****

I cannot say that I am one for the mystique of martial arts as I have inferred it from the comments made. I have seen the down side to this. George has had many posts concerning the “cults” in martial arts pointing out the extreme of the dark side of mystique. And make no mistake it is a certain form of mystique that allows this to happen.

Please do not misunderstand my comments I know this is not what George is implying is good. He has posted many times to the contrary and warned people of the cults.

I also cannot agree with giving people confidence simply to maintain a mystique either if this confidence is false. False confidence is dangerous and wrong.

When someone gains confidence doing martial arts, why is that? If you asked they may give many answers but I expect you will find in amongst anything else said the fact that they also feel more capable of defending themselves.

Even those absolutely excellent comments by Kelsey Morgan (main page) contained the comment: “and I am also now physically capable of defending myself.” (And from Gary’s school I am sure she can.)

But think about it, Kelsey’s comments cover a great deal of territory but it also covered what everyone expects to get from MAs – self protection.

Yes as much as some wish to deny this, it is the truth as Kelsey’s comments confirm.

Mystique cannot provide that unless it is also backed up by solid training.

Now to make things very clear, I am a Uechi Ryu practitioner and I believe it is one of the most effective arts.

I have done a little boxing, Judo, Jujitsu and Tae Kwon Do before finding Uechi. I mean no disrespect to those arts but Uechi fit me better.

I also believe in exposure to cross training for many reasons. We can learn to respect other arts. We can always learn things from other arts. We can learn more about Uechi from other arts. No art can be the be all end all of martial arts. So looking at other arts can keep our minds open.

Studying some FMA shows you that Uechi is also an effective knife art. Just pick up a knife or knives and tryout a Uechi Kata.

So, for me cross training only means bringing everything I learn back to Uechi Ryu. I put it back through my Uechi filter and find that it usually fits in well (if it is something I find useful.)

While I love looking into other arts, there is no other art for me but Uechi Ryu.

IMHO Uechi Ryu is one of the most versatile arts. The many and varied approaches to Uechi demonstrate this clearly. Those who also are trained in the Jujitsu arts find no problem seeing them in Uechi. Qinna is part and parcel of Uechi as I see it. I love BJJ and ground grappling but when it comes down to it I ground fight doing Uechi on the ground.

So I am a firm believer in Uechi Ryu. I love it. Done properly it is one of the most effective street protection arts around.

Properly trained Uechika should be able to handle themselves and be realistic enough in awareness to try and never have to.

The mystique, if I would name one I believe in and support, would be the depth of Uechi there is to explore.

The external moves can be learned fairly quickly but the deep internal work takes longer to recognize and make use of. It is through this internal work that I find the spirit of Uechi opening up to me.

For me I am always astounded by the thought that has gone into creating Uechi. When all of a sudden another principle becomes clear or I get a glimpse of the next one I am fascinated with the amount of thought and creativity that went into what from the surface looked so simple.

I am far from knowing the endless layers there are in Uechi practice and that keeps me going and completely enthused in my art.

I am indebted to those who have brought this art to me and allowed me to take this journey. Each Kata begins and ends with a thank you to those who have gone before.

This respect and depth of Uechi Ryu is perhaps a “mystique” I support.

But only open and honest questioning will keep Uechi from sinking to the incompetent levels that some practices of Karate have reached today.

If people had asked the hard questions of these arts continually and had those teaching them been responsible to answer, would there be a questioning of the “Karate Mystique?” Or it would be intact and justified?

Uechi Ryu has a mystique that is alive and well for me, and that will never die.

To address this thread I have to ask if it is the asking of questions that is taking away the mystique of “Karate,” or the failure of some to have the answers.

Is the mystique of Karate still deserved?

Or could the asking of questions and pushing for truth in our training return it? (Or at least keep it real for Uechi Ryu?)

Don’t mean to stir the pot. This is merely an opinion. Discussion is very welcome.


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 Post subject: Anyone smiling?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2003 1:25 pm 
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Quote:
Uechi Ryu has a mystique that is alive and well for me, and that will never die.

Very evident in your post past and present. Many feel the same way or at least have that spark as Allen stated. Personnally the "mystique" to me is the sharing of concepts, the internal exploration and how to bring it to the surface. Cults? Uechi "cult" may exist in a dojo here and there but it exist in other areas besides MA, less now I expect than the past. These forums are part of the solution.
"stir the pot" Yes you do, and most good recipes call for it :wink:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Dec 31, 2003 4:18 pm 
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Expert? I suppose so in the sense that I have spent alot of time studying this and similar questions, and I am often called upon for my opinion. But the field of psychology is huge, and there is no one "expert" who can answer this provocative question with finality.

So who studies karate? Well, just about anybody these days. Kids get into it because their parents are looking for an interesting form of babysitting, but then they stay with it because they enjoy the exercise, the cameraderie, the skills development. What skills? Well, I think there is a universal drive among humans to feel we are mastering ourselves and our (often scary) world. I wrote in my Renshi thesis in 1999 that I believe sanchin is a valuable mind-body exercise precisely because it addresses both indirectly and directly the universal need to come to terms with anxiety on a daily basis. Anxiety is a part of the human condition. Whether one is 'clinically' diagnosable with an anxiety disorder (or other mental disorder) is largely a matter of degree. When anxiety has become disabling we call it a clinical condition. In the vast majority of us it has not become so, but this does not mean that we aren't struggling to some degree to feel safe or whole or calm in a world that impinges on us in a hundred ways every day. So to some extent we are all dealing with the issue of "self-confidence". And we have chosen a particular way to deal with it; one way out of thousands. Why this particular way? That needs to be answered individually. To answer the question one needs to narrow down the question...Why do I need to learn to fight better? Why do I think I don't fight well enough already? Is fighting, or the ability to fight, necessary to tranquility in this world? At what point do I say I fight well enough? At what point do I realize that it isn't really fighting at all that is the root cause of my anxiety? Obviously, these are huge questions, not to be answered by a moment's casual reflection. Some people spend years in analysis to get even a part of the answer to these questions. People do other forms of self-improvement training as well... the common thread is that there is a concerted effort to take on one of the great challenges of life. Looked at this way the petty differences between the martial arts pale to complete insignificance. It truly doesn't matter whether we go "ich, ni, san, chi" or "ni, san, ich, go"... doesn't matter if we are boxing or grappling, or eating Atkins or Zone, or going to temple or church... the point is we are trying to find a way to get through this life with a greater sense of serenity and self-mastery. I suppose it helps (probably a lot) that we believe that our particular chosen "way" really does hold the promise of reducing the anxiety. In other words we wouldn't gain much from a practice we didn't believe made any sense (and in this regard, then, we can't just do "anything" and expect the same results... we have to do something that makes sense at least on the surface. So if you feel you need to be able to fight better so that you will feel safer in this world, then it makes sense to study a martial art, since there is reason to believe that martial arts study can make you a better fighter).

Does this brief discussion answer the question? No; the question is much too vast to answer quickly. But it does point to the common underlying principles which I believe motivate just about every martial arts student. And an implication is that we should move away from labelling some as emotionally impaired and others as well-balanced... where we set the line between the two groups is to a large extent arbitrary. Unless someone's behavior in the dojo is so far out on the end of the bell-shaped curve that it causes a major problem for the group I would say the "normal versus neurotic" debate is unecessary.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 2004 6:02 pm 
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I've always felt that there are many roads to the same center, but just a different method/point of view in getting there. For me, the training is to become balanced in mind, body and spirit by embracing the whole circle.

And there are different techniques used to achieve this: Training the body, cultivating the mind, meditation to nuture the spirit, learning about the culture of what has gone before us, looking to where MA is today & where it is going ... sharing & learning from others ... etc.

Energy does flow to and gives life to what the mind focuses on. There are no secrets, just lack of understanding that is gained through the 'doing' of the art. Meditation alone won't help me if someone comes along & knocks me off my cushion :D !

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