Our Annual School Tournament:

The Gold Coast Classic

May 11th is the date for the sixteenth annual Gold Coast Classic Tournament, the international event that Sensei Mason promotes which draws competitors from all over the United States and also from foreign countries such as Great Britain, the Bahamas, and Latin America. This year we have already received advanced registrations from a South African team, as well as inquiries from Russian and European teams. This event is an opportunity for students, parents and instructors to come together in a sporting atmosphere to have fun, to learn more about the martial arts and to compete.

While not mandatory for students gold belt and up, competition is a way to improve skills and develop a winning attitude by performing under pressure. It is recommended that all students compete in at least one tournament as a beginner (Gold to Orange Belt) one as an intermediate (Blue to Purple Belt) and one as a Brown Belt before attaining Black Belt.

Competitions are like life: in spite of one’s best efforts, one may not win, and one may even lose under less than ideal circumstances; however, the experience, whatever it is, can be a great teacher if the student is prepared to learn.

Here are some tips for new competitors.

Arrive early and pick up a Ring Sheet (a map of the competition areas which contains the order of divisions. Figure out which division you are in by looking at your belt grouping, your age, and the event that you are competing in (weapons, forms, fighting). Take a seat near your ring so that you have easy access when your time comes to compete. Listen to the announcements carefully as your event may be moved to another ring if some divisions run off quickly. Be sure that your name is listed on the results sheet at your ring (first and last). Know the rules for your event and know your rights. If you think someone has made a mistake you may call an Arbitrator, the chief official for that day, to correct an error in the rule; but remember “you cannot question a judgment call”.

Last but not least , Sensei Mason is busy running the tournament on the day and can not answer your questions so ask them before May 11th, please! Good Luck to all our UKC competitors!


The Power of a Common Cause

In order to accomplish great things it is necessary for groups to have a common cause that they believe in. An example of the negative application of this principle was the 9-11 tragedy where the cause in question was destructive, rather than constructive, and deadly rather than inspirational. A positive example would be the American Constitution which heralded a new age of freedom, though it took hundreds of years to fully implement to the level we enjoy today in this country. Whenever two or more people are gathered in any cause something can come out of that interaction which can either benefit or do harm to some aspect of our common existence.

9-11 helped us to understand as a nation how important public participation is for each person who lives here. That incident helped to define what this country stands for and what it means to each one of us in terms of the values that we hold dear. We learned that right action is vital in maintaining this democracy of ours and that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. We began to comprehend the need to stand united against a common enemy while retaining our critical faculties appropriate for political participation in the democratic process.

What do we do when we say that we believe in something? Do we support it with positive thoughts and actions or do we secretly or openly contaminate it with negative thoughts and actions? Lending support to “the cause”, while making appropriate suggestions, to the right people at the right time, is an effort that contributes to its growth and improvement. Recently a letter was sent to all parents at the karate school addressing the problem of the negative and critical atmosphere that was being generated in the observation areas during Junior classes. We have had many positive responses to that letter and we hope that everyone now understands how important it is for each person to focus on the common cause of the karate school: to train students to be better individuals and better citizens through the medium of the martial arts.

Many who were passing comment at the window may not have realized that others were perceiving their remarks as negative. It brings to mind a parent who a few years ago thought that it was OK to be negatively critical of another parent because “this is a free country”. It was necessary to point out to her that the Dojo Regulations published at the beginning of the curriculum book apply to parents as well as students in regard to rule eleven: “leave behind any problems, animosities etc. that could be counterproductive” when at the Dojo. All parents and student are welcome to make suggestions that can improve our Dojo. Please be prepared to frame such suggestions positively and present them respectfully to Sensei Mason, either in person or as a “message to Sensei”. After all, he is the only one who can choose to implement any ideas you may have to offer.

Sempai of the Month

A Sempai Class was held last month for all students who are currently involved in the program during which the proper behavior for sempai was reviewed. Basically a sempai is an assistant to the Instructor who leads by example and does whatever the Instructor tells them to do, the very best way that they can. The sempai often stands next to new students who are unfamiliar with the routine in a karate class and helps a new person or newly promoted student to follow along with the commands of the Instructor.

The Sempai of the Month is a person whom the Instructors have noticed performing their sempai duties with the right attitude (helpful and respectful) and correct aptitude (their demonstration of skill and technique shows that they know the material).

The Sempai Program exists to help the school teach new students better, to help the sempai student remember the material they have learned, and to help the Instructor run a better class. When sempai are performing their duties correctly everyone benefits.

For May Dustin Collins, age 10, is the Sempai of the Month. This student has been a sempai since March 2001 and has completed three sides of his sempai sheet. Dustin started training at the karate school two and a half years ago and is an academic student at Meadowbrook Elementary School where he is in fourth grade. His hobbies are riding his bike, playing the video game X-Box, and playing basketball and football with his friends.

His older brother is a Black Belt and his parents have also trained in the martial arts. After visiting all the schools in the area they chose this school for their sons because ..”we liked Mr. Mason’s approach to the martial arts, the program that he teaches and the way it is taught.”

Dustin likes to watch Jackie Chan movies and the show Walker Texas Ranger which features another of his heroes, Chuck Norris.