Vistors, Visitors. . . I really enjoy Visitors!
In my editorials I sometimes get carried away, expounding on martial art problems that piss me off big time. Tonight I’m going to take a different tact and talk about things that make me really, really happy.
I just finished teaching and working out in a class attended by Scott Higa, Joe Gidrey and black belts from Joe’s dojo and Frank Gorman’s dojo. (Heather, Karin and Ralph)
Why am I happy? Well, we worked out for two hours and had a great time. . . the kind of workouts we used to enjoy many years ago. . . back when there was only one organization and no one said: “You can’t work out with George Mattson – - He isn’t with our association!!!!
I don’t know about you, but I miss those days when everyone was friendly and it wasn’t uncommon to have 25 or more students visiting my dojo every night from different dojo . . . and I would encourage my students to work out with as many instructors as possible to broaden their martial art skill.
Maybe things are again changing. There seems to be an “opening up” and a more of that “old” attitude about karate being not only for self defense, but a very special kind of fraternity of brothers and sisters who share a common bond build from a very unique workout that happens to teach its practitioners how to defend themselves.
Yes, it good to have the technicians who worry about being attacked leaving the dojo. yes, its good to pretend to know more than everyone else and if you don’t know the secret handshake, you just aren’t with it.
But really. . . the majority of us are just damn happy to belong to this very special club where no matter where in the world you travel, you will always have friends who will invite you to their dojo for a workout and a beer following class.
I don’t know how many friends I’ve made over the years… heck, it must be thousands. Since moving to Florida, over a hundred students and teachers from most of the Uechi organizations have dropped in for a workout and beer. Not one mentioned politics, no one complained because I breathed differently than they did during Sanchin, no one tried to dissuade me from including dan kumite in the workout. In fact, most wanted to learn how I did it and how it compared with their method.
Tonight I demonstrated and taught my “flinch” version of kyu kumite. . . turning a white belt drill into one that can be practiced by all ranks. Instead of complaining about it “not being Uechi”, all were eager to learn it. In return, Joe told me that he still teaches my old “NiShuRoku” kata. . . Wheww, I don’t even remember it. And while in Boston, another teacher actually demonstrated it at Darin Yee’s open house! Who knows, maybe one day someone will resurect my long forgotten 1956 “Yankee Kata”!
For you new students. . . this is the way it used to be with all the practitioners of Uechi-ryu. The shame of it all is that the seniors are responsible for the “fracturing” of the style and taking what, in my estimation, is the most important element of the martial arts away from their students.
I am pleased to see a slight crack in the armor of the various formally isolated groups, probably being initiated by the newer black belts. . . people who don’t understand why they shouldn’t be allowed to visit other dojo who don’t happen to belong to their organization. This is a healthy revolution and one that might force the old timers to reconsider their personal vendettas for what they are. . . stupid and in no one’s best interest.
Today on the forums I read that the chance of the various fractured groups of Uechi will never get together again. I tend to look at these things long-term and regardless of who I speak with, I simply pretend we are all still friends and fellow students of Uechi-ryu.
Since the newer black belts only know about the problems from what their teachers tell them, they are more likely to ignore the ramblings of disgruntled old timers who themselves, can’t remember why they decided to form their own organization, but do remember that they should not talk to the “other” groups.
People love gossip and rumors. But I implor you. . . Next time someone starts to tell you why they had to form their own organization because they were “wronged” or for some other stupid reason, just tell them to keep their hatred to themselves and stick with the business of working out. Then get out and visit other dojo. Enjoy meeting new people, trading punches and kicks with punchers and kickers that you don’t train with every night. Go out afterwards and have dinner and get to know them.
Amazing, but we have lots of really nice people in our dojo. Get out there, meet them and discover what the old timers had and threw away because of greed, stupidity and plain ‘ol orneriness.