Sue and I continue to be very busy preparing for next month’s SummerFest. We have tried our best to consider all requests from the many regulars who support this activity every year and who want to make sure we continue to run a successful event.
Attendance has not been great the last few years. I suppose we can blame the economy for much of this decline and of course, I am no longer the only one holding seminars during the summer. But, in talking with my friends who conduct Summer Camps, none are really attracting that many students, which raises the question of “why”?
My feeling is that many dojos are being super protective about controlling what activities their members support. I remember one business organization promoting the motto: “If your students plan to spend a dollar on anything martial arts related - make sure that it goes into your cash register!” This doesn’t sound like a motto that will get teachers to encourage their students to attend a camp.
Although I fully understand the reasoning behind this philosophy, I believe it is terribly flawed. Sure, short term, attempting to control student’s movements and interaction with outside martial artists will keep students confined to your dojo, but I don’t think it will work in the long-run.
Historically, students who attend SummerFest, attend almost every year! And they continue to train at their dojo. They come to SummerFest to share experiences, meet other Uechi practitioners and explore the many martial arts that are related to Uechi. They not only learn about different martial arts, but they are shown how their Uechi -ryu can be performed, utilizing elements of these different disciplines. Students return to their dojo, recharged and revitalized with new information, techniques, applications and with a mindset that provides them with material to make their next year at the dojo something they will look forward to.
Teachers should be taking advantage of this opportunity to learn new material and new understanding of what they do on a daily basis. They too, should be in these classes, taking advantage of the energy found in every seminar.
One of the biggest problems I find in dojo that have been around for awhile is teacher “burnout”! It is very tough to teach classes two-three times a day, six days a week in some cases – and appear “interested” in giving a class an exciting lesson. Teachers - take a weekend off and get your batteries recharged! I promise you won’t regret it and if you have been putting it off, make this year the year to give it a shot.
I am very proud of the fantastic group of Uechi-ryu instructors who have sign-on to provide interesting and important instruction relating to your Uechi and I’m equally proud of the many teachers of related arts who are presenting very important instruction that you can incorporate into your martial art studies.
And of course, I’m going to be working all weekend, encouraging students and teachers to practice “smart” and master important “core” principles of Uechi-ryu that will enable you to continue your training for a long and healthful lifetime.
Please note – Although I am an IUKF member, SummerFest is not an event that focuses on organizations, politics and/or style variations. Never was and never will be!
We are all wearing a white tee shirt and white gi bottom with your karate belt. Its funny, but when people work out together, sweat together, learn together and have fun together – they bond as fraternal brothers and sisters of the martial arts.
That is the way it has always been with SummerFest. Be part of the energy this year. Register Today!
George E. Mattson
SummerFest: August 5,6 &7 (Fri-Sun)