February, 2006 Mailbag
Note: In the course of a month I get literally thousands of e-mail. I don't normally place correspondence in the "Mailbag" that are either labeled "personal" or contain information of a personal nature. As I read and answer mail, if I find a letter that I find interesting, amusing, topical or educational, it gets filed in my "mailbag" for future use in this feature. I try to edit out any personal information like addresses or telephone numbers, unless the writer specifically requests that I publish it.
I welcome all e-mail and will answer everyone in as timely a manner as possible. Don't be surprised if you find (or don't find) your message in this section. However, if you are concerned about your letter finding its way into the "Mailbag", simply include in the header or at the beginning of message "personal" and I will honor your request. GEM
April 2nd New England Junior Championships E-Mail discussions:
Note: Normally I don't publish letters that involve any controversy, but I'm hoping that when everyone reads "both' sides of the issues involved, there will emerge a better understanding of all sides of the problems relating to running a non-profit activity for the benefit of the kids in our dojo. I've edited out any personal comments that aren't relevent to the discussion. The initial letter came from one of the parents, who has supported the series from the beginning. I published it in my WhatsNew column, with permission. GEM
Dear Mr. Mattson,
Our children participate in and enjoy Karate for many reasons. Whether it's for self defense, general fitness, or one or many other reasons, most will agree that discipline and respect are the essence of the sport and very important.
Students are expected to be at their classes on time ready to learn and participate. Respect is expected both inside and outside of the dojo.
This is the fourth year that my son's have been participating in the tournament. Every year, the competition begins late! Our Sensei encourages the students to get to the tournaments early so they have time to warm up. We arrive early, and then have to wait until 10 to start competition. The children question why the judges are standing around drinking coffee, and why they can't start the competition. As a parent I find it frustrating and irritating that we need to sit and wait. If a tournament is called for 9:00 sharp, it should start 9:00 sharp. There isn't much traffic on a Sunday morning, and if a child misses an event, the competitor and parents will know to plan better next time.
With the final tournament of the series being held in Bolton, it will take us over one hour to get there, and we have little faith that the tournament will start on time. We will attend this tournament for our children, but if the tournament coordinators and judges continue to show lack of respect for the competitors and spectators, we may need to end our participation in the events, as they end up dragging well past noon time when they don't need to.
Some of the competitors are young children, and it is unreasonable to expect them to sit for an extra hour for no reason. The children get tired of sitting around and waiting. As a result, they are hungry since it is time for lunch and they haven't even gotten to the sparring event. The tournaments are fun, and you should be trying to improve on the issues relating to previous tournaments. We don't know if you are waiting for judges or competitors, but that shouldn't't matter as setting a good example by starting on time should be your objective. After four years, it's time to get it right!
Margie and Larry Kaplan
I received a couple of irate e-mail from my friends and people who have been doing the work running these events for the past few years. Essentially, they felt the Kaplans' letter wasn't called for and based on the fact that the workers at these tournaments are unpaid volunteers, parents, competitors and spectators should "cut them some slack" in running the event. Following these initial e-mail, I received the following, which pretty much sums up the feelings of the majority of people involved with the series. GEM
Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond…
First, let me say that I hate whiners and complainers as much—or more—than any of you. I KILL myself to run, teach and hold events at my dojo. When someone starts poking holes in my efforts, I feel like BLASTING holes in their cranium!
But, George-sensei is right: Every complaint is an opportunity to improve.
Please don’t take this as any kind of criticism, but as a life-long competitor, I have always wondered why tournament organizers don’t set up their events like this:
9 am: All 5-7 year old competitors, All events.
10: 30: All 8-11 year old competitors, All events.
12pm: All 12-15 year old competitors, All events.
1:30: Event ends.
We do this in our in-house tournaments and give 100-125 competitors the time of their lives without asking them to invest large portions of their lives sitting around waiting for events.
Let people register 30 minutes before their event and leave immediately afterwards.
In one of the last evens I ever fought in, I drove 2 hours to check in before 9. My first fight was at 5:30 PM.
That experience pretty much nailed the lid of my competition coffin shut. Let’s no do that to the Kaplan’s or anyone else.
Just my 2 cents…
Hi Gary & All,
As I've stated, this time thing is easier said then done. I've been involved with tournaments since 1969. I use to be there at 8am prior to the starting of every tournament. I clearly don't remember any beginning on time for one reason or another. This was back in the NEKRA days. Now it's KRANE and I don't believe there has been any significant changes as far as time is concern.
All this "we should do this or we should do that" served to do is aggravate and tick off the volunteers. Unless we are all robots, any karate tournament starting exactly at 9AM will never happen. We should relax and do whatever it takes to get our tournaments started as soon as we can and move them out in the same manner without getting heartburn.
My opinion of tournaments is a forum to meet and spent time with your peers and enjoy each other's company. That is the same as associations. Why do we have them? What can a association do for you? Together, we are strong. We can feed off each other. We can exchange info to help each other learn about our art. Fellowship is what it's all about. Winning or losing is secondary.
It is always comforting to know if I open a new school, I can depend on my friends to come and help with that school. I don't know if you knew, when Buzz open his first school in Salem, Bob Campbell, myself and a lot of my friends went to help Buzz fix up and set up his dojo. We even traveled a hour each way to work out there trying to attract students. I'm not saying he owes us or me. That's what friends do for each other. And I don't think Buzzy forgot (he still owes me a set of tools which I loan to him).
At this time, I have no kids to enter. What is the purpose of my involvement other than to thankfully have this opportunity to see all the people I have so much in common.
Gary, I've enter more tournaments then I can remember. I don't remember ever losing any. Ask anyone who remember me in tournaments during the early "70s". What has that ever get me? Absolutely nothing. I am still the same person, old and ugly, may even walk with a limp. I do remember making a lot of friends with George Pisari's students. Chester Hulivecci's students, Louis Lazort,students, John Dee's student and many others. I believe I got more from that then anything else. I like to think that is what tournaments is all about. Relax, enjoy.
My effort to get support from the Uechi Dojo and Uechi Teachers in New England. A letter I sent out last year that addresses issues now being discussed:
Good day my friend:
Let me apologize in advance, should you receive more than one copy of this email. I had a couple of addresses and rather than not be able to reach you, I mailed it to all of your addresses in my book.
The purpose for writing to you is to get you “ fired-up ” for our N.E. Junior Championship series. I know you are a very busy person and involved in your own dojo activities and your personal life. Certainly I can appreciate this and understand that I'm facing an uphill battle trying to convince you that this series is good for you and your dojo.
First, this series is the only kid s event open to all Uechi/Shohei dojo. The promoters have worked very hard to make the series one that is enjoyable, educational and inexpensive. We are doing a good job building the series by contacting every dojo that teach children, encouraging them to check us out and get involved if impressed with our efforts.
At this stage of my life, I don't really need more projects. I wouldn't have gotten involved if I thought that kids competing with one another was a bad idea or conflicted with any standards taught by a legitimate Uechi dojo. We've experimented with many sets of rules and safety issues over the years and based on our injury - free history; feel that we have made the right choices for the right reasons.
Dojos that have supported this series all agree that the program has been very successful in building individual and team spirit, based on the confidence generated by getting out of the nest and into an open event where they both meet and perform under stress not possible within their own dojo. Kids participating in this team effort stick with the program and get recharged throughout the year as they look forward to their next tournament. The formula is not new or revolutionary. It forms the backbone for nearly all the successful dojo around the country. (In your experience, haven't we found this same regeneration of interest and spirit true for your students who attend SummerFest over the years? Instead of looking at outside activities as “ taking the student's money away from the dojo, look at it as keeping the student's interest in activities that relate back to the dojo )
Kids love to compete, they love a challenge. If they don't get it with us, they will get it with soccer , wrestling , football or the many other activities that encourage open competition.
If there is any way that I can motivate you to build a competition team of kids in your dojo , please let me know. The application fees are already “way low ”, but I'll share any fees your kids' send in if that will help you decide to get your dojo involved . . . over and above the promise that building this team will “ build your kid's class ” !
You tell me what you need to spend the time necessary to help us with this series and I'll do whatever is possible to see it happen.
Getting the kids involved solves 50% of the equation. Now for the really tough part . . . the part I really need your help with.
Once the kids get into the competition area, we owe them, their parents and their teachers, a fair and equal treatment in the ring s. I'm appealing to you, because you have the skills necessary to make a fair and dynamic official . You also have the personality and energy to motivate five other, similarly skilled individuals, to form an “officials' team” to staff one of our rings. With your team in place, we can provide the kids with the kind of impartial and fair officiating these kids deserve. If we want to teach them good sportsmanship and Uechi spirit that will help them in school and life, then it is only natural that we should provide them with an equally fair and skillfully organized, traditional event.
I need you to make this happen. As mentioned earlier, I know you are a busy person with lots of other things to do. If you can find it in your heart to support this series by sending a team of kids and one “officials' team”, I would like to present you with a token of my personal appreciation following the tournament . I would like to give you either my gi of choice, a heavy weight “Kodora gi or if you have all the gi you need, how about a real nice computer bag with all kinds of pockets for papers and accessories . I know this is a “ bribe”, but I ' ll do just about anything to get you on our team.
Please get back to me and let me know what size gi you take or that you want that computer bag.
Very best from Tia, Susan and myself.
I always enjoy getting letters that are positive and helpful. Here is one from a supporter that is both helpful and upbeat. The comments in blue are my words from an earlier e-mail: GEM
Let me start out by reminding you that April 2nd is Daylight savings time where we will spring ahead an hour, (so 8 am will be 9 am and 9 am will be 10 am) in reality those who are on the road for the hour drive will be leaving home at 6 am, real time being 7 am... to arrive by 8 to register and do warming up, confused yet???? Also those who you tell to be there at 9 am may realistically show up at 8 am because they didn't change their clocks. And that may be a good thing!
Well, I had a chance to talk to a few of the parents of students going to the tournament (we will have between 15-20) most are finalists. almost all are in favor of starting at 9am provided the tournament starts at 9 am. There were a couple of parents who thought 10 am was a good idea but realized that if the event started 45 min to an hour late that would put them further in a hole time wise. Understand that the tournament is just one thing scheduled for a Sunday, most parents only day off with the family.
We understand that you are trying to draw new students into the fold from further distances, what kept them away in the first place? Was it distance? Now that same dilemma is place on the loyal tournament followers who will now have to leave their homes with small children in tow an hour earlier.
Here is what I worked out based on your last email to me.
My philosophy is to always reward those who arrive on time, by starting on time.
Ok lets have you keep the 9 am start time and start at 9 sharp.
Most martial art events aren't run this way, however. I thought your original email was a concern that the kids at your school, because they must travel farther, might have more opportunity to get caught in traffic, etc., and may arrive late.
This isn't an ordinary martial arts or open event, this is an invitational, where all Uechi Shohei schools are invited to participate. There will not or at least should not be any traffic on a Sunday morning on 495. My view on arriving late is snooze they lose.
Generally, “late starts” are a product of the organizers trying to “be nice”. However, once the habit of late starts becomes known, than many will deliberately come late. No one can really fault an event from running on-time. If you feel a later starting time is in order, I will be able to easily set this up at my event. I can’t speak for the other promoters though.
I don't think starting later is necessary, those who deliberately show up late will lose out.
What do you feel is a good time to begin the tournament? Always welcome your suggestions, but I would prefer if you just tell me what you recommend and I’ll try to accommodate.
Thanks I always try to think things out ahead, here is the plan,
Go for a 9 am start..... no exceptions Outline the events as follow,
Demonstration... fewer competitors Weapons.... fewer competitors kumite's ..... a popular event Kata..... most popular event Sparring.... takes the longest to complete
By having demos and weapons first anyone not in those divisions will not lose out if they are a few minutes late. anyone in those event divisions must be sure to show up on time or will forfeit their standing and possible championship. The rest should be in house by the time their divisions are ready to begin....
sound reasonable?, I hope so
Whatever the outcome of this email blitz, I hope the Uechi community will realize what is at stake and will come together in supporting this series. The organizers, officials and other volunteers need your help. Contact Jay Salhanick (email@example.com) and ask him how you can help. If you are a dojo, ask him about our "Team Official" program. Also, meet with your seniors and build a great team of kids to attend the April 2nd tournament and discover how much this effort will add to your dojo spirit and motivation of your students. Thanking you all in advance,
Finally, here is a letter from the April 2nd, Tournament Administrator:
http://www.nejuniorseries.com/ Happy Year of the Dog!
I hope this finds everyone well and prosperous as we begin the Year of the Fiery Dog. I just wanted to send an update regarding the April 2, 2006 tournament - The Uechi Ryu Junior Championships, to be held at Nashoba Valley Regional High School in Bolton MA.
Applications and directions are available
on line at the above link. Please pass this info on to your students
- prior competitors will be receiving applications by mail but in order for
this series to continue and grow your support and enthusiasm are vital. Please
feel free to send any comments, concerns or other feedback. It is the
expectation of everyone involved that this series will grow and become the
place to go for junior Uechi students to show their stuff.
All the best,
2006 Uechi Ryu Junior World Championships
Oh Yes, click here to get the official poster for Next Year's series! GEM
Here's an overview of the event followed by 3 action items...
WHO You will be training with world renowned Uechi-Ryu instructors including Senseis Shinjo Kiyohide, Shinjo Narihiro, Shinyu Gushi, and James Thompson
WHERE Regional Gaithersburg Maryland 9,000 square feet of new gymnasium space near hotels and good eats within easy reach of the Nation's Capitol
WHEN July 16-23 Here's a brief overview of the schedule
Please note that all training days are daytime between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Evenings and possibly early mornings will be for additional social and optional training events
Sun. Arrival and welcome reception Mon. Training day Tue. Training day Wed. Sightseeing trips to Washington DC, optional training Thr. Training day Fri. Training day Sat. Dan Test followed by Sayonara Party Sun. Departure Additional weekday evening activities are also being planned
THREE NEXT STEPS FOR YOU
1. Check out www.UechiMD.com for detailed Koshukai 2006 info.
2. Please forward this e-mail to your Uechi Colleagues and students.
3. Please send me the best projected head-count from your dojo by Saturday February 11.
Although this event is just one week before my SummerFest, I hope the Uechi community will be able to support both the Koshukai and SummerFest. GEM
New Web Site Design
Although Martial Artist dislike change of any kind, we are making headways getting approval for the new Uechi website. I've been involved with web design and programs used to create sites, so negotiating through a new site (whether mine or another) is a "no brainer" for me. Interestingly, most of the complaints regarding the new site is from people who can't find things that have been moved or where links have been changed to new headings. The biggest reason for this is that some features have been reserved for people who register on the new site. Many are already registered as members of the Eastern Arts Forums and try to log-in with their forum usernames and passwords. When this doesn't work, they write to me! :)
Simple solution to most of the "I can't find something", is to register on the Uechi-ryu site, then log-in with your username and password. BTW, you can use the same log-on information you use on the Eastern Arts forums, but remember... they are completely different sites, using completely different software and registration information. GEM
I was reading your article about the "WinterFest". I am sorry
to hear that you are not have it this year.
I have not been to one, but I feel it was an excellent way to see what is going on in different dojos and what other teachers
have to add to Uechi-ryu and Martial Arts. Also to make friends with
people that have the same interest (Uechi-ryu).
Each year, after the camps; I read all I can about what went on at the camp to see what is new or how I can improve myself in the Art.
I just want to say you are one of a kind and I hope you will have the camps again soon. One day, I hope before I get to ninety to be at one of the camps.
Oh! I am not ninety. : )
You and your family take care and hope to see you soon.
Charles R Roberts
Good News from our Friends!
How is all in Florida? How's your dojo? It's been a bit soggy here but otherwise fantastic!
Tiger Martial Arts is up to 58 students! Though I'm doubtful that I'll make 100 students by my one year anniversary (March 1st) I think it will be close! I was correct in thinking it would take a year or so to become accepted here on the island and just within the last month I've signed on 10 new students and have 6 more saying they will be signing up by the end of the month. John Page is coming out in about a month and I'm sure he will let you know how things are at my school!
But if you want to see for yourself check out my website at www.tigermartialarts.info it has recent pictures. Anyway! I need to order some more IUKF patches I would like about 40. Also do you sell any of the Uechi books wholesale? . . .
a fantastic day!! Yours in Uechi,
Misinformation of the Month!
I found an interesting article on Uechi-ryu, in one of my favorite websites. Accuracy of slightly less than 100% is more than made up for by ease of use with hot-links, and breadth. You'll be interested to note that you're already listed as Judan , the only man besides Kanei to achieve that rank!
Congrats on the promotion....
Kind Words we appreciate!
The instructional DVDs (Sanchin on the Beach DVD) I've purchased from you have enhanced my study in countless ways, for which I am extremely grateful. Having just returned from a business trip in Florida I understand the appeal, but we sure miss you here in the Northeast!
Looking for a Dojo/Instructor
First place to look is on the Eastern Arts Forums. We have the "Looking for a Dojo/Instructor" forum, where you can let us know who you are looking for or where you are looking for a dojo. In most cases, you will get a response on the forum within a couple days. The second place to look is the Uechi-ryu Dojo/Instructor listing site. GEM
Good afternoon Sensei Mattson. Jeff speaking to you from sunny St.Petersburg,
Fla. Do you know of, and can you refer me to a Uechi Karate school in the Tampa,
St.Pete area? I trained years ago with a Gentleman named Ted Kresge (sensei)
but he is no longer training. I'd love to pick up where a left off.
Sorry for the abbreviated Mailbag this month. Been very busy with the new dojo, teaching classes and trying to earn a living in the "real" world. See you on the Uechi-ryu website and the forums. GEM