Karate Thoughts Blog


Contents   /   Email  /   Atom  /   RSS  /  

1650+ Posts... and Counting

Benched 300!

Sorry, it was not me... it was my third son, Cael, who yesterday benched 300.

Cael started working out seriously about 2 years ago and has been very disciplined about it. He now weighs about 175, and I have seen his strength steadily increase. He is one of those guys who lifts much more than it would appear he could. Part of this is that he does not give up -- he does not let pain or exhaustion stop him.

Since I started lifting almost 3 years ago, I have come to appreciate when I see a person in really good shape. I recognize how much hard work goes into it. My sons and I lift almost every day. You have to be dedicated to the lifestyle. I also know of people who lift for bodybuilding competitions. They also have to watch their diet all the time.

I am very proud of Cael because he has found something he really enjoys and has stuck with it. The strength he has gained by working out has also helped him a great deal with his Karate training and especially his Ju Jitsu training.

And I believe that if you can be dedicated to one thing, you can use that to be dedicated to other things -- like work. If you work hard to bench 300, you should also be able to do a great job at work. If you will not stop because of pain or exhaustion at the gym, you should be able to keep going at work, even when others might give up.

And if you can lift 300 pounds, you should also be able to pick up the clothes in your room or the leaves in the yard, no? I say this because sometimes I see Karate students who will eagerly sweep and mop the dojo, but do nothing to help at home. Don't be a hypocrite -- if you clean the dojo you should also clean your home.

So right now, I can bench 200, my second son can bench about 250, and my third son can bench 300. Seems like the younger generation is getting stronger and stronger!

But still, my arm gets sore carrying my four month old granddaughter! I guess that shows that it is sometimes easier to lift a heavy weight once, than to carry a lighter weight for a long time.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

More On Tatoos

After I wrote about Tatoos, my friend, Mark Tanosich, who lives in Japan, wrote that "Sports clubs/gyms here still often prohibit admission to anyone with a tattoo."

Then I asked a Japanese friend in her 40s and my mother who is Japanese and in her 70s about what people think when they see a woman with tatoos in Japan. They both gave me this shocked look like, "Women don't get tatoos in Japan."

They finally said that if a woman had tatoos in Japan, the perception would probably be that she was a criminal.

Again, I am only raising this issue in case readers with tatoos go to Japan or Okinawa to train. Some people might react negatively to the tatoos and think the wrong thing.

I mentioned some time ago that I knew a Karate student who visited Okinawa almost every year. When he trained with us (this was when I was at another dojo), he would shave his head. But he would grow his hair out before going to Okinawa. This was so that people there would not incorrectly think that he was a Buddhist or Zen priest (or in training to be so). I felt that this was a courteous thing to do.

We tend to see ourselves through our own eyes -- almost as if in a dream. It is extremely difficult to see ourselves as others see us.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Profane Song Lyrics

When I drive, I listen to the same radio stations that my 16 year old daughter listens to. I find some of the music entertaining, and it gives me a glimpse into what seems relevant to the younger generation (don't I sound so old?).

Anyway, I noticed that I could not understand the words of several songs. I knew that there could be many reasons for this, but one day I asked my daughter about it. She explained that the lyrics had profanity and the offensive words were replaced with other sounds (apparently computer generated). She said that she heard the unedited versions on the internet.

How sad!

I would think that creative people could find far better words with which to express themselves.

Those of us who teach Karate must be careful with the words we choose. If we say 100 clean things and 1 swear word, you can be sure that the children in the dojo will remember that one swear word, and perhaps use it. We need to try our best to set good examples.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Fight! Magazine Article

I found out this week that I was quoted in an article entitled The Empty Hand, by Kelly Crigger, in the December issue of Fight! Magazine. A friend of mine, who studies Ju Jitsu, brought the article to my attention. I had exchanged emails with the author some time back and forgotten about it.

One of my quotes reads:

“Early karate was the MMA of the day,” says Goodin. “It was a system where ‘everything goes.’ The techniques ranged from stand-up to takedowns to ground work.”
Sounds good to me. (smile)

I was also quoted saying:
“Karate prepared a student for an unexpected attack, not for a staged or arranged fight,” says Goodin. “In self defense, there were no rules. Kumite immediately resulted in rules and limitations. Imagine MMA with no rules at all. That was more like early karate.”
Again, sounds good to me. (smile)

I have a great deal of respect for other martial arts. We are all doing (emphasizing) different aspects of the same thing. As I've mentioned, my third son practices Brazilian Ju Jitsu and my first and third sons practice Kendo.

If I could split myself into several people, I would study many martial arts. Age and the demands of family and work make this difficult for me. Fortunately, Karate presents more than enough of a "mix" to make it interesting each and every time we practice.

Through Karate training, as we hone our skills, we also polish our characters.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Your Computers and Personal Information

I want you to imagine for a moment that someone has stolen your home computer, office computer, laptop (notebook, netbook), as well as all of your external hard drives and thumb drives. Close your eyes and imagine it. All of them are gone.

Now imagine the person who has stolen them -- a real sick nut (expletives deleted).

Now imagine this sick nut going through all of your personal and business files. He is looking at your precious family photographs, reading your letters and email, and looking for any confidential information he can use to steal your identity, wreck your credit, and take your assets.

This is a pretty horrible thought, but it happens all the time. Thieves love electronics, particularly laptops (notebooks, netbooks). And they even steal external hard drives, as well as thumb drives. You name it. If it is portable, they will steal it. They will even steal desktops. And I am pretty sure that they do not just reformat or blank the data. Remember that they are sick nuts (expletives deleted).

So what can you do?

This may sound like a commercial, but it is not. I am just sharing my concerns and what I have done.

For my computers, I use a program that password protects folders. When they are protected, they become invisible. You cannot see them on a directory list. No password, no access.

For my external hard drives and thumb drives, I do two things. For really confidential information (remember that I am also an attorney), I use external hard drives with built in hardware password and encryption protection. You could take these things apart and you still could not get to the data.

For less confidential information on external hard drives or thumb drives, I use software password protection. This is less secure, but also cheaper. Thumb drives in particular, are really easy to use and just as easy to lose.

In any event, I do try to protect sensitive information, even family photographs. I just keep the idea of a stupid nut (expletives deleted) looking at all my stuff, and it makes the the additional security seem pretty inexpensive.

In my experience, once a person has his computers stolen, he will then purchase security hardware/software for his new computers. You can save a lot of grief by doing so in advance.

I realize that there are additional ways to protect computers and the information on them. I am not suggesting that you do anything in particular. You may well find ways that are much better than what I am doing. But please be aware of the issue and do something to protect your confidential and personal information. Back them up too (and secure the back-ups).

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

100% Sensei

Sometimes I hear comments from students about their Sensei. "My Sensei is a great instructor except for...."

You can fill in the ellipses with any number of character faults or weaknesses. For example, a Sensei might have a bad temper, be unreliable, drink too much in public, etc. It is a case of a person who good at Karate but...

I am certainly not a perfect person -- far from it. But I understand that students will not judge me solely on the level of my technical skill or how well I teach Karate. I teach that Karate helps to develop your character. My students will certainly look at how well I am doing (or trying to do) in that regard.

I never tell students that they should leave a Sensei or go to a certain Sensei. That decision is up to them. However, I do say that I would not train with a Sensei who I respect 80% or 90%. If I did not respect a Sensei 100%, I would not train with him.

Let's say I respect a Sensei 90%. If I learn from him for many years, wouldn't I also learn the 10% I do not respect? In fact, I think it is more likely that at least some students would get more than the negative 10%.

If a Sensei has a really bad temper, for example, I would expect that his students would "catch" that and teach the same way. Even if the Sensei was great at Karate, a mediocre student would probably learn to be angry, even if he never learns to be good at Karate.

I wonder how many students have gone out drinking after Karate training or events? I don't mean a drink or two -- I mean hardcore drinking. What a waste or time (in my opinion), especially if the student feels pressured to do so.

I wonder how many students had egotistical Sensei, and then spent the rest of their lives demanding respect from their own peers and students. What another waste of time!

A Sensei is a little bit like a medicine or a vitamin -- you wouldn't want to take one that is only 80% good for you.

I am not perfect. No one is perfect. But we can work to become the best we can be in Karate, and to become the best we can be in terms of our character. I expect my students to expect this of me, and I would expect the same of any Sensei with whom I would train -- and certainly of any Sensei with whom my children would train.

I want to add that most Sensei I meet are truly admirable and respectable people. They are people I look up to. I'm sure that you know many fine Sensei yourself. At the same time, you might have met or heard about some Sensei who are good but.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Tatoos

I recently wrote that My Daughter Models. Friday she went for an audition for a Japanese clients. She mentioned to me afterward that the client was very careful to make sure that potential models had no tatoos or body piercings. Here in the United States, tatoos are very common and even some young people have them.

However, in Japan, tatoos were the mark of criminals. People with tatoos were looked down upon. A person with a tatoo, for example, could not bathe in a public bathhouse.

Even today, a tatoo carries negative connotations in Japan, so much so, that it is relevant in modeling auditions.

I am relating this in case any readers are going to Japan or Okinawa to practice Karate. If you have visible tatoos, you should be aware that older people in particular may react negatively (even if they don't say anything). I think that the prejudice is even stronger against women with tatoos.

Personally, I think some tatoos are pretty cool, but I am too conservative and chicken to get one. Also, I have this fear that if I got a tatoo, there would some defect with it and it would drive me crazy for the rest of my life.

Also, my wife got three little dots tatooed on her chest when she was undergoing radiation treatment for breast cancer. They were to help target the beam of radiation. In my family, she was the first to get one!

For any children reading this blog, I am not suggesting that you get tatoos. This is something you should discuss with your parents.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

You Are A "Tanaka"

I met with the niece of a famous Wrestling and Sumo champion here in Hawaii. Her uncle passed away some time ago, and she was giving me some photographs and memorabilia for the Hawaii Karate Museum. As we spoke, she related something her parents used to tell her. I will pretend that her last name was "Tanaka" because I do not want to impose on her privacy.

Her parents used to say, "You have to watch what you and your siblings do because you are a 'Tanaka.' Your uncle is well known here in Hawaii. If you do something bad, people will know and it will reflect badly on the family name. So be careful and watch what you do."

We may not be Tanakas, but we are Karate students. We may not be famous but what we do reflects on our Sensei, our dojo, our fellow students, and on the art of Karate. We too have to be careful and watch what we do.

We are examples and ambassadors of the art of Karate.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Haiti Relief

My wife and I have made a donation to the American Red Cross for Haiti Relief. If you would like to make a donation to the American Red Cross, please visit http://www.redcross.org/.

I am reminded of the saying, "There but for the grace of God go I." Earthquakes can strike anywhere without warning. During times of natural disasters, we should try to help our fellow human beings.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Haiti and our thanks and prayers go out to the brave men and women involved in the relief effort.

Please make a donation for Haiti Relief to the charity of your choice.

Thank you very much.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Footwork

When I started learning Shorin-Ryu, I remember my Sensei emphasizing footwork -- proper stances and stepping. He said that if your footwork is good, your Karate will be good.

That was some time ago, but last night when I was teaching beginners I found myself telling them the same thing. Without good footwork, it is pretty much impossible to become skilled at Karate.

Footwork gives you a firm foundation. Without a firm foundation, it is impossible to move well and develop power. (I realize that at an advanced level, being off balance is important, but even then good footwork is required).

Footwork is also important when it comes to shifting your weight. If your footwork is weak, your weight will shift in a haphazard way, and you will be unintentionally off balance.

Footwork is not something to teach in a hurried manner. If you skimp on teaching footwork when you have beginners, you will spend much more time trying to correct them later.

And as soon as you teach striking and blocking together with footwork, the student will tend to focus on the hand techniques and neglect his or her footwork. So just teaching proper stances and stepping is really important.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

No Jewelry During Training

If you follow this blog, you know that I do not allow students to wear jewelry during class. This is first and foremost a safety issue.

I was speaking about this with a friend (senior) today. He related an interesting story. Many years ago, one of his students wore a wedding ring to class. During training, the student happened to break the very finger that the ring was on. Naturally, the finger became swollen, so much so that the ring had to be cut off with a hacksaw at the hospital. Needless to say, this caused the student great pain.

So if you don't want your precious ring to be cut in half with a hacksaw, leave it at home! Don't wear any jewelry during Karate training.

In the interest of fairness, this rule applies equally to men and women in our dojo. No one should wear any jewelry to class. And it is a bad idea to leave expensive jewelry sitting in a bag on the side of the room during training. So just leave it at home (or in a safe deposit box).

I never wear any rings or jewelry, but that is just "how I roll." My wife agrees that I do not need to wear a wedding ring because I always act married (32 years this month).

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Benched 200!

Today I benched 200 (a new record for me). I was bragging to my third son and he replied, "Today at the gym this guy benched 405."

So basically, that guy was benching 200 pounds in each hand.

But still, for me it was a new record.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

The Best Karateka I Ever Met

I want to tell you who the best Karateka I ever met is.

No I don't. But it does get your attention, no?

We care too much about the best, the highest, the greatest, the top.

We should care more about improving ourselves (and helping our students), which is all that really matters.

I will tell you this, the "best" Karateka (plural) I ever met where the ones who trained the hardest. They were not the best because of other people's opinions but because of their own hard work.

Let's try to be the best we can be.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

You Are Pretty/You Are Ugly

Sometimes I will tell my 16 year old daughter that she is pretty. Then I will say that she is ugly.

By now, she understands my point. If someone says that you are pretty, you will feel happy. If someone says that you are ugly, you will feel bad.

But the person who says that you are pretty may be lying in order to get something, and the person who says that you are ugly may be wrong or just trying to offend you. Either way, the way you look is not determined by these people.

When a person says "You are pretty," I tell my daughter to be be suspicious. And when a person says, "You are ugly," I tell her to not give a poop about what that person thinks.

In either case, while she should be polite, she should not be moved one way or the other.

This is how I teach my daughter, who is also a Karate student.

Of course, this lesson is not just about being "pretty" or "ugly". In Karate, we often receive praise and criticism. We should not be moved one way or the other. Our Karate should be immovable.

If someone says to me, "Your Karate is good!" I will say, "I will try my best." If someone says "Your Karate is terrible," I will say exactly the same thing. In either case, just continue to practice. We get better by practice, not by compliments or criticism.

And a word about criticism -- the worst thing you can do is to discourage someone. So try to be encouraging and guide the student in the right direction (to the extent possible).

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

I Don't Care

I don't really care what other martial arts think about Karate. If a Judo person dislikes Karate, that is his prerogative. The same goes for Kendo, Ju Jitsu, Aikido, Iaido, Taichi, Kung Fu, etc. They are all entitled to their opinions about Karate, but with all due respect, I will not let those opinions bother or shape me.

And I respect those arts and the people who practice them. I even practiced some of those arts.

It is just that Karate is hard enough by itself. I care what my Sensei thinks. I also care what my students think. But if I start worrying what people in other arts think, then I will always be responding to them. It is enough that I try my best within the context of my own style and dojo.

And actually, I really don't care that much what people in other styles of Karate think about my particular "style". Goju-Ryu, Uechi-Ryu, and Shotokan people (for example) are entitled to their opinions, but I can't let those opinions influence me. If I do so, I will get off track. And I like those people!

Again, it is enough work for me to try to learn what my Sensei has taught me. If I run around listening to people in other styles, I will become lost.

I don't practice my Karate based on polls or what is popular at the moment. Those of us who have been around for a while have experienced all sorts of fads and crazes. Serious Karate students have no time for such things.

Life is short and it requires our best and determined effort to become skilled in our own style of Karate. I respect other opinions but I do not change my training based on them.

I remember Sensei Sadao Yoshioka saying something like this: "In the beginning the Way is wide, but it becomes narrower as you progress -- like the spine of a bokken." For some reason, I have been thinking a lot about Yoshioka Sensei this new year. I believe that he also said that in the end, the Way is only a razor's width.

As you progress, there is less room for "jumping around." Stick to the path and don't fall off it!

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Wrong Setting

This afternoon I went to pick up my daughter from school. It seemed so hot in the car. I even opened the windows for a while, but it stayed hot. Then I remembered that it had been rather cold this morning and I had turned the heater on. So I was driving around in the afternoon (when it was about 80 degrees outside) with the heater on. No wonder it felt hot!

So how does this relate to Karate? There was nothing wrong with my car, I just had the air conditioner on the wrong setting. I needed to set the knob to cool rather than hot. That's all.

Many times, students have problems with their Karate training. In frustration, some students blame Karate itself, their of style of Karate, or their dojo, when actually the problem lies within themselves. Their techniques are on the wrong settings.

One of the most common problems is being too stiff/using too much muscular power. Proper technique in Karate requires that the student learn to relax. Otherwise, nothing will work correctly.

The Karate is correct, but stiffness will make it seem wrong... like driving around with your heater on.

My sympathies to all of you on the mainland where it is freezing right now. I lived in Maine and Illinois, so I can relate. Like the saying goes, "Lucky we live Hawaii!"

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

2/7 or 7/2?

I had a thought. Would you rather be a 2nd dan with the skill of a 7th dan, or a 7th dan with the skill of a 2nd dan?

What a horrible choice!

And I'll bet that you have known examples of both, particularly the later.

In a perfect world, rank would reflect skill. Unfortunately, there are many reasons why rank takes on a life of its own, disconnected from skill. I am not just speaking about politics. There are cases where a student's Sensei dies. The student will continue to train and become more skilled, but have no one who can promote him. This could be the 2nd dan with the skill of a 7th dan (or 3rd dan with the skill of a 6th dan, etc.). Some students, out of respect for their Sensei, will never accept a rank equal to or greater than their Sensei's (even after their Sensei's death). So there are legitimate cases where a student's skill will exceed his rank.

And as for the political element of ranking, there is really no need to discuss it.

We should always be working to become more skilled in Karate. Day after day, year after year... always seeking to improve ourselves.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Find What You Like to Do

Last night was the first class of the New Year for our dojo. I always like to say something inspirational to the students. So one of the things I said last night was the following:

"If you like Karate, good. We (the instructors) will try our very best to teach you. However, if you do not like Karate, you should quit and find what it is that you really like to do. Life is too short to do things that make you unhappy. Also, if you do not like Karate, you should make room for people who do."
OK, maybe this was not the most inspirational thing to say, but I am just trying to keep it real. You cannot become skilled at Karate by practicing half-heartedly. It takes real commitment.

We have students who really enjoy Karate. It is a joy to teach them. I am not suggesting that every student who enjoys Karate is physically gifted or in the best shape. That does not matter -- a student who enjoys Karate is a joy to teach. But even an Olympic athlete who does not like Karate would be a pain to teach.

Life really is short. If you are doing Karate and do not enjoy it, you could be doing something else that might make you really happy and help to define you. You might be a great artist or writer or something. Most of us who practice Karate for decades really enjoy it. Why else do it... to punish ourselves?

Well, that is interesting. If you think that people are basically bad, then training to punish yourself does make some sense. I do not happen to think this way. I do not think that Karate training should be a punishment at all, and try my best to teach in a way that is enjoyable and challenging.

If you really enjoy Karate, love Karate, then you will be able to move mountains in order to train. If, on the other hand, you do not love Karate, then no amount of urging will help. Students should not practice because they are forced to do so (or because of shame/guilt).

Find what you enjoy doing (provided it is worthwhile) and do it.

And for my students, welcome back to class in 2010! Let's all train our very best and help each other to become more skilled this year! Let's enjoy training together!

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

My Daughter Models

Aloha,

My daughter has been modeling and studying acting. She is featured in the current Pearlridge Magazine (January/February 2010). Please see:


Natasja has also been a Karate student since she was about 5 or 6.

Way to go Tasja!

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin