Friday, June 21, 2013

Costco Kobudo & Karate

Me in a couple of more decades (sketch by Soke
"Many years ago" turned into "decades ago" and my study of martial arts will reach the half-century point in 2014. I look forward to teaching traditional karate, kobudo and samurai arts for many more decades, as traditional martial arts have provided me with a unique path and good health. My path led me to the position of Soke (grandmaster) of a Shorin-Ryu (style or family) karate - something I never expected. But as the head of this martial arts house, I am concerned for my martial arts students who are part of what I am - part of our martial arts family and heritage.

Sometimes I feel like a Shaolin monk and wish my joss (luck) was favorable so I could win the next lottery. No, I'm not into fancy cars or other material things, I would just like to have the perfect dojo (martial arts school). Whenever I visit the Japanese Friendship Gardens, I often wonder if they will sell to me, when I win the lottery?

While I was training at the Juko Kai International Clinic in New Braunfels, Texas in 2013, one of my favorite people and a good friend, Hanshi Ron Smith, 10th dan, declared we were shaolin monks because of our lineage. I never thought of it that way, but he's right. 'Shorin-Ryu' translates as 'Shaolin Style' and we are bringing a message of enlightenment to our students with the training of traditional karate and kobudo (for those who lack enlightenment, 'traditional' implies martial arts that have been taught for centuries and is not like sport martial arts which leads to a different martial artist personality altogether - remember the Karate Kid and Cobra Kai vs Miyagi Dojo?).

The only thing missing in my martial arts life is living in a Shaolin temple so I can be influence by these surroundings 24-hours a day - even though I have practiced karate and kobudo nearly every day for the past 52 years. Guess this is why the Japanese Friendship Gardens are so attractive. As a dojo, the Friendship Gardens would provide a sanctuary to those who would like to escape the rat race and begin a life of peace and lifelong study of martial arts. But don't worry Phoenix, I never buy lottery tickets - so the Friendship Gardens are safe and unfortunately, will remain in your domain.

Japanese Friendship Gardens. Imagine re-locating the Arizona Hombu here. Talk about a perfect setting to study
martial arts!
When I think of In/Yo (yin/yang to some of you), I am amazed that traditional karate and kobudo can lead to such peace of mind. These may be opposites - i.e., learning to fight  vs. peace of mind, but I feel they are complimentary. Thus to be in a state of Peace of Mind, we need a complimentary filler to complete the state of mind, whether it is traditional martial arts, a gun, a sword, a castle, or God. I'm not sure how this works, but maybe we need things that are seemingly opposite to put our minds at ease.

Hanshi Ron Smith from Virginia and Soke Dan
Hausel  from Arizona at the Juko Kai International
Clinic in Texas, 2013.

Soke Hausel operates the Arizona
Hombu on the border of Mesa with Gilbert and Chandler
where people can train in the traditional martial arts and
search for enlightenment. Politicians need not apply.
I get a little out of sorts whenever I make a trip to Costco or Walmart with my wife where people act as if those grocery carts are bumper cars and threaten all who come near.

At one moment, when I'm in the dojo and practicing kata, I'm at peace with the world. The next, I'm in Costco, and ready to introduce impressions of a grocery cart mesh on many  aggressive and obnoxious people in the store. If only I had such a serene place to retreat to as the Japanese Friendship Gardens, maybe I could periodically peacefully approach Costco and keep myself from practicing grocery cart kobudo on the next guy or house wife who tries to run me down, or acts like a complete politician (note. This phase at one time was 'complete moron', but the term politician is more descriptive). 

Ah, back to the serenity of my dojo that allows my mind to fall into mushin and forget about all those people who need to learn a little respect for others. So this is what martial arts is all about.

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