Karate Thoughts Blog


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1650+ Posts... and Counting

2012 Hurricane Season

The daily newspaper here in Honolulu is the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. This morning's paper (6/27/2012) had a supplement entitled:

Disaster Preparedness Guide.
Disaster can strike when you least expect it.
This guide could help you save your family.

If you subscribe to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, I hope that you will review the supplement.  I do not believe that it is online, but there are many such guides, probably one is your area.

We are especially sensitive to disaster preparedness here in Honolulu, and particularly on the neighbor islands.  Hurricanes are an annual threat.  Tsunami too.

You are either prepared, or you are not.  Most people are not.

Rushing to the store once a disaster is announced may be too late.  It is essential to have emergency supplies ready at all times.  Now.

When I lived in Japan, we had earthquakes.  When I lived in Florida, we had hurricanes and tornadoes.  Here in Hawaii, we have hurricanes and tsunami.  Pandemics can strike everywhere -- remember the bird flu?  Power outages can last for days or even weeks.  What if your water is shut off?

Are you prepared?

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

A Poor Style?

This is a story.

A student was sitting in the stands at a tournament, waiting for his turn to participate in kumite (sparring).  All of a sudden -- poof -- Itosu Sensei appeared next to him.  They watched a match.  Later, the student was going to have to face one of the competitors.

"His style is very poor," stated Itosu Sensei.  "Your style is very good."

With that, the student gained confidence.  When his match came, he felt sure that he would easily defeat the other competitor.  But instead, he was defeated in seconds!

The student walked back to the stands and questioned Itosu Sensei.  "What happened?  You said that his style was very poor and my style is very good!"

"That is correct," replied Itosu.  "But that other student is very good at his very poor style, and you are very poor at your very good style."

Strive to be very good at what you do.  Styles don't have to defend themselves.  People do.  Also, never underestimate anyone or another style.  Overconfidence can make you blind and a big head is easy to hit!

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Working On Yourself

As Karate students, we have to remember that in Karate training we are always working on ourselves.  It is not enough to work on technique and conditioning.  Those are important, essential for Karate training.  However, it is not enough to be skilled at Karate.  We also have to be "good" people.

In Karate, most students receive promotions to indicate their progress.  What "promotions" do we get to indicate our progress in character?  How do you measure a student's respect, compassion and humanity?

Life is a precious thing.  In Karate, we learn to protect life.

It is possible to become absorbed in Karate training (and the structure of Karate organizations) and lose sight of the importance of character.  I'm sure that you've met some Karate students or instructors who are poor excuses for human beings.  What kind of Karate do they practice?  What kind of Karate allows a student to neglect his character and actions in daily life?

The dojo for Karate is daily life.  How we conduct ourselves in our daily lives is the measure of our Karate, and any martial art for that matter.  What kind of person are you?  How do you treat others?

Karate is about working on yourself, every day, for your entire life.  Rank and titles are insignificant.  Skill and character are what count.

They say that Karate training polishes the character.  Actually, you have to build your character first (through the lessons learned in life).  Then you can polish it.

I am not trying to preach.  This is something I try to do myself, every day, all the time... even now.

Respectfully,

 Charles C. Goodin

You can Never Have Too Many...

This is really not on the subject of Karate.

But...

You can never have too many flashlights or knives.

Or too many batteries.

Or too much paracord.

Or too much ammunition.

How are your emergency supplies?  Do you have a bug out bag?  Only one?

Do you have an NOAA radio?  You can never have too many of those either!


Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Testosterone

It seems that I can't help seeing commercials about how, now that I am over 50, I am probably suffering from  low testosterone.  Actually, I might have lost half of my testosterone already!

Let's put that aside for a moment.

But in this particular commercial, a man, about my age, mentions that he was two sons (about the ages of my 2nd and 3rd sons, and states that he is in better shape than them!

Well, I would like to say that my three sons, ages 30, 26 and 22, are in way better share than me!  They are taller, stronger, and generally faster.  They have always helped me to "keep it real" as a Karate teacher.  I could push then around easily when they were little, but once they hit high school age, they quickly became bigger and stronger than me.  My only chance was conditioning and skill -- and the fact that they take it easy on their dad.

But I am very proud that they are in better shape than me.  They should be!  I am their father and I do not want lazy, out of shape kids.  My daughter is in good shape too.

I always say that if my children do something good, I get credit as their father.  So if one of my sons can bench 320, so can I... sort of.  If one of my sons is good in Kendo, so am I.. sort of.  And if one of my sons is skilled in MMA, so am I... sort of.  My second son just passed the CPA examination.  Well, I'm sorry that I cannot take credit for that!  But I am proud of him!

I am very proud of all my children and students.  If I am a good father and teacher, they will certainly surpass me.  I expect them to!  That is what I am working toward day after day.  I am urging them on, and applauding their accomplishments.

And lastly, I believe that Karate training naturally increases testosterone.  I cannot prove it, but my Karate friends all seem to be very strong!  Call it "ki" or "chikara", I believe that Karate training keeps us strong, sharp, and young.  I may not be in better shape than my sons, but I am in better shape than many people my age -- because as a Karate student I am always training and working on myself.

The other day, my senior and friend, Sensei Pat Nakata, reminded me that Karate Sensei in Okinawa do not hit their prime until they are in their 70s!  I still have a little time to improve until then!



Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

The Passing of Fumio Nagaishi and Mitsugi Kobayashi

I am very sorry to report the deaths of Sensei Fumio Nagaishi (about age 85) and Sensei Mitsugi Kobayashi (age 88) here in Hawaii earlier this month.  I attended Kobayashi Sensei's funeral last week.

I will not write about the backgrounds and great contributions of these two Sensei at this time.  But I wanted to report their deaths.  Both Sensei were members of the Hawaii Karate Kenkyukai.  Kobayashi Sensei was an Honorary Member.  If you visit the Kenkyukai website, you can see Nagaishi Sensei (wearing a lei) at the top of the page.

Sensei Bobby Lowe (age 82) of our Kenkyukai passed away only last year.

I am afraid I am reaching the age where I know as many Sensei "on the other side" as are living.  Please make the effort to learn as much as possible from your Sensei.  And it wouldn't hurt to take them some pastries or goodies once in a while.  Just sit and talk... and learn.  Don't take your Sensei or time for granted.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Finger Positions

This is small point.  I have noticed that if a student (or instructor for that matter), begins a kata with his fingers in an incorrect position, particularly his thumbs, he will probably execute techniques with his fingers in an incorrect position, usually his thumbs.

I had one Sensei who always said that if your opponent's thumb is sticking out, you should attack and break it.  Then he will not be able to punch or strike.

Students who never practice hitting makiwara or a heavy bag, are more likely to have incorrect finger positions.  Hitting air poses little or no risk of finger snags, jams, or injury.  But when you hit something, you quickly find that incorrect finger position leads to injury.  And don't forget that an attacker may try to twist, tear, or otherwise break your fingers!

As a teacher, I stress that students should begin a kata with the correct hand and finger positions.  That attention to detail with become ingrained in the students and will carry over to all the techniques of the kata.  A sloppy beginning will lead to a sloppy kata.  But a clean beginning will lead to a clean kata.

I also add that it is important to "feel" the positions of the hands and fingers.  You should have tactile feedback and confirmation.  You can visually check when you are learning, but it is important to get the "feel" for how it is to be correct and optimal.

Again, as small thing like the position of your hands and fingers (and thumbs) can be a very big thing.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

An Update About Me -- Sunabe Article

Aloha From Hawaii,

A couple of days ago I finished Part 2 of my article about Shozen Sunabe, the student of Chotoku Kyan.  I had originally written it as Part 2 of a 3 part article.  However, since there is going to be some activity in Okinawa later this year (probably) about Kyan Sensei, and also the possibility that some of our Hawaii Karate Museum photos might be included in an exhibit in Okinawa, I wanted to present as much information as possible now about Sunabe Sensei.

So I wrote Part 3 and combined it with Part 2.  That part is about 6,300 words.  But in the process, I realized that there is still more to write about Sunabe Sensei attending college in Japan, serving in the Japanese military, and his life here in Hawaii.  That will be a separate Part 3 to be published in the following issue of Classical Fighting Arts.

That is why I have not been posting.  But now I am caught up and can resume more normal activities.

If your style of Karate traces to Chotoku Kyan, I hope that you will read the Sunable article.  He trained under Kyan Sensei every day for 12 years from about 1925 to 1937.   He was a hidden Karate "bushi" living here in Hawaii.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin

Posture Breakthroughs

OK, sometimes big things are little things.  My breakthroughs in posture were little things, but were very big to me and my Karate training.  Here they are:

1.  When you lower your shoulders, you do not just lower then straight down, you also rotate them forward slightly.

2.  When you tuck your koshi, you tuck it "under," not forward.

The forward/downward rotation of the shoulders and the tuck under rotation of the koshi, combined with the squeezing of the lats, creates a compression in the core of the body and stomach area.  Karate basically involves directing this compression/power in the desired direction through a desired technique(s).

Again, sometimes big things are little things, and sometimes little things are big things.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin