Sound Like A Wimp Or Shout Like A Warrior?

Kiai! Shout! Your kiai is your karate shout! It literally means, convergence of energy, and you either have it, or you don’t.  If you don’t have it, the good news is that you can develop it and you don't have to sound like Bruce Lee. A loud kiai may go against your nature.  You may be inclined to keep it quiet in your training and that’s okay, but if you are ever to develop the fighting spirit it takes to win, you must develop your kiai.  Your kiai says a lot about your fighting spirit.  It expresses that grit and tenacity that’s deep within.  It is a yell that comes deep from within one’s spirit.  And within your kiai is expressed the will to never give up.  So how do you know if you have it, or not?  Try it.  If your kiai won’t get the attention of your pet, your kids or the parents, you probably got some work to do.  You may ask, “Sensei my kiai needs help! What can I do to fix it?”  I’m glad you asked!  I suggest practicing your kiai every day. Get in front of a mirror, preferably where you won’t disturb anyone and shout!  A kiai is personal and everyone’s kiai will sound a little bit different, but there are a few things every kiai has in common.  A kiai incorporates your abs.  That’s right!  You got to get your abs in shape for a good kiai.  You must contract your abdominal muscles and push all the air out of your lungs with force for a great kiai.  A kiai also includes attitude.  You got to bring it.  You have to think like a warrior to yell like one!  So what are you going to do?  Sound like a wimp, or shout like a warrior?  That’s what I thought! So start practicing those kiai’s warriors and I look forward to hearing them in class!:)
"Way of The Dojo" - By Sensei Dave

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Five Tips To Train Like a Hungry Tiger

If you want to be a beast in class and at your next belt exam, here are my five tips so you can train like a hungry tiger! Consider these five points for your future improvement.

Point #1 Kiai! Your kiai shows your fighting spirit.  If you don't have a strong kiai, then the likelihood that you will be able to use your karate in self-defense is slim.  Why?  Because a big part of the fight is attitude and your kiai reveals your attitude and intensity towards protecting yourself.  If you want to improve your kiai, I suggest you start with reading my article on it.

Point #2 Zanshin.  Zanshin is awareness and you have to engage your mind more in your training, especially kata. Let me let you in on a little secret I watch when testing students in kata.  I watch their eyes.  Your eyes tell the story.  Are they strong and focused, or are they glazed over.  Your eyes tell me if you are there in the fight, when performing kata it should be like a real fight, or if your body is here and your mind is somewhere else.  Like on a beach readying a good book and playing with seashells (just kidding). But seriously your eyes tell where your mind is at.  When you do your karate...BE THERE in the moment with total concentration and determination to WIN!

Point #3 To many students during kumite depend on that lead jab punch.  Many of our students I noticed like to use that lead jab punch, but when they do they leave themselves wide open for an attack.  The lead punch tends to cause you to lean in and bring your face closer to your opponents fist.  Not a good idea!  Stay back and use that lead hand primarily to deflect, to grab and to perhaps do a jab every once in awhile, but not all the time.  in my opinion over ninety percent of top karate athletes will use the gyaku tsuki, reverse punch, to score the majority of their points.  Try it. It works!

Point #4 Younger students should observe more of the older students on how to act in the dojo and older students should observe the younger students to be reminded of how great it is to do karate!  I mean these white and yellow belts are really excited, just like you were a long time ago perhaps. Learn from each other. 

Point #5 Train everyday like it's your last day to train!  Why? Because it might just be.  None of us our guaranteed tomorrow, so give your best today!  If you do, you will also eliminate much of the unnecessary anxiety that comes along with test day! You'll be ready.  Testing doesn't build character, or skills for the most part.  It mainly reveals character and skills.  If you train like a hungry tiger every class, your going to be a beast ready to show off your skills at test time!  My advice to you is to train hungry, always wanting to become a little bit better than yesterday and you will show up to your exam satisfied that you did your very best!
"Way of The Dojo" - By Sensei Dave


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Keep Climbing!

Boxing legend Joe Frazier once said, “Champions aren't made in the ring, they are merely recognized there. What you cheat on in the early light of morning will show up in the ring under the bright lights.”  The same can be said of black belts. Black belts are not made on the day of their graduation, they are made daily under the sweat and toil and the ups and downs of daily training and life.  Hard work and discipline is what it takes to make a black belt and that can be said of any goal worthy of your attention and your dedication to achieving.  What you do and how you do it repeatedly, is what’s going to show up when its time to show what you know.  You want to be a black belt?  Then you must train like one when you’re a white belt.  The intensity and determination and effort you bring to your training daily, is what will win the day when the test comes.  That test may be in the form of your formal black belt exam, or it may be a confrontation in the dark when no ones watching.  It could be in a self-defense altercation, or more likely in a test of your character. It really comes down to the effort you put into your training when no one is looking. This is going to determine the value you get out of your training and the quality of your skills when they are placed on display for all to see.  Do you want more out of your training? Then put more of yourself into your training.  How bad do you want to be your best, or are you content to be a coaster?  People who are coasters are a lot like a Roller coasters. Roller coasters can be exciting as you plummet down steep declines of the track, but remember it takes the up hill climb to get to the exciting part of the experience of the ride.  And the up hill climb can be slow and a little alarming as you here the coaster crack and squeak its way to the top before taking off down the rest of the course.  It takes the up hill climb to make the rest of the trip exciting!  Like the roller coaster, we have to be willing to climb for a while and put in the daily discipline before expecting to reap the rewards of the journey.  Like champions, who are not made in the ring, black belts are not made at the belt ceremony, they are just recognized there. Enjoy the exciting parts of the journey, but keep climbing.  That is where the real reward can be discovered!
 
"Way of The Dojo" - With Sensei Dave
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When Reaching New Goals, You've Got to Let Go of Past Failures!

When reaching for your new goals, please remember to not hold onto past failures.  Many of us have that little voice in our head when we try and attempt something new that says, “What are you thinking!  You can’t do this!”  If you’re like me, you may tend to remind yourself of all the reasons why you can’t achieve your goal instead of the reasons why you can and the reasons why you should attempt to reach your new goal.  Sometimes we can be our greatest obstacle on our path to achievement.  We can talk ourselves out of a goal while we talk down to ourselves and let our thoughts drift to remind us of how we could never achieve this, or become that.  We can be like a certain parrot who lived in the pet store.  One day a man went into a pet store to pick up a few items.  As he walked in he casually looked around and then his attention was taken by a beautiful parrot.  As he walked up to the parrot’s cage the parrot said, “Mister you ain’t nothing but a punk!”  The man was taken back and at first found it amusing as he gathered his purchased items and left.  Then he came back the next week and the parrot did it again.  And at his next visit the parrot said it again.  By this point the man had, had enough!  He went to the pet store owner and said, “Sir you really out to teach your parrot some manners.  He keeps telling me, “Mister, you ain’t nothing but a punk!” The pet store owner made his way over to the parrot’s cage and gave him a talking too saying, “You can’t be calling my customers a punk!  That’s disrespectful!”  Thinking the issue was resolved the customer came back the following week as he glared over at the parrot, who he thought had been taught his lesson, the parrot said, “Mister,” the man glared even stronger, and the parrot continued by saying, “You know!”  That is a funny story, but how many times is our own thoughts like that parrot as we belittle ourselves and talk down about our own potential!  We’ve got to have a talking with that parrot in our head and tell him to get with it, or get out! If you struggle with thoughts of failure and reminding yourself of all the reasons you can’t when it comes to achieving your goals, I encourage you to replace those negative thoughts with positive thoughts of all that you can do and start focusing on your strengths as you move forward to reaching your goals.
 
"The Way of the Dojo" - Sensei Dave
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9.5 Reasons Why Adults Should Do Karate!

Here are my 9.5 reasons why adults need to participate in karate.  We all may have goals, but I believe it is of great importance to not only have a goal, but to know the reason behind that goal.  Knowing the “why” behind every goal can keep you going and motivated when life gets tough! So here they are, my 9.5 reasons why you need to do karate…
1. Exercise: Everybody needs a way to give their body daily exercise! Karate is a great way to get a total body workout and one that has many layers to it.  Karate is not just about “pumping iron” but about much more than that.  Karate also trains the mind and builds the spirit!  Unlike many sports, karate is something you can do your entire life and continue to improve as you age.
2. Self-Defense: Lets face it, we don’t live in an a era anymore where people feel comfortable leaving their doors unlocked when they leave their homes.  There was a time when boys would see an older man walking down the street and would step aside out of respect. Now the boys expect the man to step aside and this is just a symptom of lack of respect for others in our culture.  There is a lack of respect for authority and also for those who are the weakest and most vulnerable in our society.  Crime in our own country continues to rise.  Karate not only teaches one how to defend oneself, but also helps to reinstill the values of respect for others that is missing in todays world.  The world is not a safe place and giving yourself as an adult the ability to be not only physically prepared, but mentally too to defend yourself and your loved ones is an invaluable asset for anyone to posses!  
To be continue next month!
"Way of The Dojo" - Sensei Dave
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What is Kata?

What is kata? Kata is the breadth and width of karatedo.  It’s depths have been plunged to only discover there is further to go in your study and understanding of the art which you have dedicated yourself to master.  Every move has a meaning and every position and contraction of your muscles and breathing has a purpose.  Kata is the heart of karate and it’s a treasure trove of learning only for the brave who choose to persist and not give up until after they have practiced and practiced some more to have the kata surrender its gems of knowledge preserved within its techniques from the masters of old.  It’s a time capsule of knowledge and a journey to another time when the world was simpler and training was hard.  It’s a trail for us to follow, left for us by legendary masters of the likes of Matsumura, Itsou, Higaonna, Miyagi, Mabuni and Funakoshi to name a few.  Kata is an opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the masters.  To see what they saw and challenge our thinking and our body to take our training to the next level.  Kata is like an empty cup and you fill it with yourself.  The form of the cup never changes, but the content of the cup may change depending upon the person who is filling it.  You fill it with your attitude, your understanding of the art, your physical abilities and your effort. Kata means, “form” and you must engage the form to interpret and understand its function.  For every one technique comes many alternate options.  Kata is both exercise and self-defense.  It is both relaxation and tension.  Kata is a complete way to engage the whole student mind, body and spirit. What is kata? Kata is karate.
 
"Way of the Dojo" By Sensei Dave Hanson

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Karate Ni Sente Nashi

What differentiates karate from fighting and the many other martial sports?  This one phrase, “Karate Ni Sente Nashi” meaning, “In Karate there is no first attack”   defines karate and its true purpose. Karate is a defensive art with devastating moves that are reserved for only the most dangerous situations.  Did you know that most rattle snakes when they bite do “dry bites.” They don’t release their devastating poison every single time they strike.  Similar the karate master has incredible potential for injuring and severely wounding an opponent, but like the rattle snake with increase in potential also comes an increase in self-awareness and control of ones own actions.  Karate is like driving a car.  The car will only go as fast or slow as the person who drives it. The karate expert can either touch the gas of their gyaku tsuki punch and make light impact, or they can smash the gas to the ground and break through solid objects in their path!  It all comes down to control and understanding the true purpose of karate.  Karate as intended by it’s founders was meant to preserve and protect one’s own life and the lives of others.  It is about finding peaceful solutions to potentially violent confrontations.  Karate teaches a student to use their brain and heart before their brawn!  This is reinforced with the fact that the most important aspect of karate training, the kata, all start with two things that illustrate the original purpose of karate.  Every kata begins with a bow, showing respect for another human being, and a block.  Karate is a defensive art.  And this is reinforced every time you practice your kata.  Karate’s ultimate goal is not to fight, but to keep the fight from beginning in the first place.  Please don’t make a mistake and think this shows weakness.  Just like the devastating lethal power of the rattle snake’s bite, the karate master use’s his karate techniques sparingly and only with the appropriate amount of force.  This is one attributes of a true master of the art.. Self-control.
 "Way of The Dojo" - By Sensei Dave

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So You Want to Quit?

So you want to quit?  So what!  I’ve been there myself a thousand times too!  And I’ve come up with a  thousand reasons why I should quit my training, but all it takes is just one good reason why I must continue.  The reasons like “I just don’t have the time” or “I can’t continue because ___________,” fill in the blank, are just excuses.  Excuses should never over power are reasons.  Reasons to stick with and achieve a noble goal like being a black belt take thought and consideration and effort.  Your reasons should be like the pillars of a great bridge.  You’ve got to know them and you must dig them deep into your conscience just like those great pillars that stand the wind, sea and the shifting earth beneath that keep the incredibly large bridges up to get us from where we are to where we want to go.  If your reasons to be a martial artist, a black belt, or any goal for that matter aren’t deep and secure in your mind, then the slightest excuse can come blowing and tumble your bridge right over and keep you from reaching your goals and more importantly the person you will become by setting a noble goal and sticking to it and not giving up!  As Winston Churchill once said, “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never-in nothing great or small, large or petty-never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense.”  It never makes sense to give up on a goal that will make you better and help you to better serve others within your influence.  Becoming a black belt is a noble goal.  The skills you learn on your way to becoming a Gateway Karate black belt will not only change you, but also make a positive change and impact those all around you for the good of our community and society at large.  So, “Never Give in!” and Remember your reasons when those excuses to give up start creeping in your head!  Just kick them out with your reasons and keep your bridge to your goals standing tall!
 
"Way of the Dojo" with Sensei Dave
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Masters of Karate: Manzo Iwata

The name Manzo Iwata and Kenwa Mabuni, the founder of Shito-ryu Karate are intrinsically tied together in the history of Shito-ryu.  Manzo Iwata was 18 years old when he officially became a student of Mabuni at Toyo University in the year 1941.  He was born in Tokyo on February 9, 1924 to a a wealthy tea merchant family.  Iwata would gain his first exposure to Shito-ryu Karate at a festival of martial arts at the young age of 10 years old.  During his teen years he trained in the traditional arts that were most popular for Japanese boys at that time in Judo and Kendo. Upon entering the University and beginning his training with Mabuni Iwata would discover his passion for the art of Karate.  Iwata was known for his unique ability to grasp the entirety of the art of Shito-ryu Karate in its whole. 
 
Understanding the unique features of this martial art and its distinctions of the two main Okinawan styles within the style of Shito-ryu.  Mabuni taught Iwata all of the Anko Itosu katas along with the katas from Kanryo Higaonna.  Iwata also studied the 6’ staff with Mabuni and with an introduction from Mabuni he would go onto study with Seiko Fujita the art of Nan Ban Satto-ryu Kenpo, a jujutsu art of the Samurai of old. Iwata also mastered the art of  Daien-ryu Jojutsu, the art of the 4’ staff, under Fujita’s instruction.  Iwata once recalled, “Master Mabuni tried to teach us until we grasped the meaning of each technique and kata.  He was very thorough in teaching us the respective features and differences between Master Anko Itosu of Shuri-Te school and Master Kanryo Higaonna of Naha-Te school.  He did not alter or deform what he had learned and was very particular about the correct transmission of the original techniques and katas.”  Manzo Iwata was a true gentleman master of the art of Karate.
 "Way of the Dojo" with Sensei Dave
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Masters of Karate: Chojun Miyagi

We know the name Miyagi from the famous   Karate Kid movies, but do you know the man  behind the name?  Pat Morita played masterfully the part of the humble karate sensei in the Karate Kid series, but did you know that there is a real karate master who inspired the Mr. Miyagi of the silver screen?  His name was Chojun Miyagi and he was the real deal!  He was an authentic master of the Chinese hand, Tode, as it was known then during his time pre-Japan introduction to the art.  He was born into a wealthy family on Okinawa and Miyagi was known for his humility and wisdom, like that of his counterpart on the big screen.  Miyagi was the primary inheritor of his sensei’s art, Kanryo Higaonna of Naha-te.  Miyagi trained rigorously. He would train most of the day lifting heavy rocks, running, striking the makiwara, and practicing the kata Sanchin with unending fervor.  Sanchin kata is considered the heart of Miyagi’s karate system and was the first kata all of his students would learn before progressing to any other kata.  Sanchin, which means, “Three Battles” is a powerful kata focused on deep breathing and dynamic muscle tension to create power in one’s karate.  Miyagi was a true master of masters and was known not only for his extreme power and strength, but also for his deep humility.  Miyagi would go on to further systemize his teachers methods and name his style Goju-ryu, meaning half-hard style.
 "Way of the Dojo" with Sensei Dave
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