Common Courtesy: How Common is it?
Martial Arts is different from street fighting because in addition to skills and techniques, principles and philosophy are also taught. One of the most important philosophical principles of karate, is that all interactions are supposed to be defensive in nature, not offensive.
The goal of this art is in opposition, then, to much of the offensive behavior that we all experience everyday in our society. Whether by design or default, many of our interactions with our fellow human beings are unpleasant, due mainly to a lack of courtesy. Respect for the rights of others is not necessarily being taught today in schools or in institutions in the way that it used to be and courtesy is not on the curriculum, so that many children grow up without information on, or knowledge of these important social skills.
Martial arts begins and ends with courtesy; otherwise training bullies and gangsters would be the end result, and neither the family nor society would benefit from its application. Many people believe in the concept of peace, but do not know how to achieve it. Without proper training in self-defense techniques, peaceful behavior tends to be just avoidance of conflict. Courtesy could also be considered an avoidance technique if it is only based in fear, rather than in confidence and competence.
To be truly assertive it is necessary to be able to defend yourself should the circumstances warrant it. To have choice in one’s behavior is the ultimate freedom, and that can only be accomplished with proper preparation through training over a period of time.
What a peaceful society we would all live in if education of all young children included martial arts training, which teaches courtesy, respect and self-defense, while encouraging appropriate assertiveness and self control.
Sensei Robert H. Mason c2002
“Our task is not to fix the blame for the past,
but to fix the course for the future.”
John F. Kennedy
Patience is not only a Virtue, but a Necessity
When people first encounter the martial arts, a part of them expects training to be like the movies...quick and flashy. In the movie “the Karate Kid” the main character, Daniel San (played by Ralph Machio) received his Black Belt in about three months, having started as a total beginner, and then to top it all off, he won First Place in a local tournament that featured seasoned veterans. How likely is that? Anyone who has competed at a Martial Arts Tournament knows that winning, especially in the Black Belt Division, does not come easy.
Impatience is one of the most pervasive problems for new students. They expect to be good at techniques immediately that actually require quite a lot of practice. Awkwardness is normal and will always be present to some degree whenever a new skill is being learned. Yet, against all logic, students and parents want to achieve what is difficult in record time, as if Martial Arts Training were a race to be won.
Part of the message inherent in training is taking the time required to “do it right”, in spite of negative feelings that may arise during the process. Years ago, one of our adult students, an actor who appeared on stage nightly as the star of The Phantom of the Opera at the newly opened Broward Center for the Performing Arts, tried out one of the techniques that he had just learned in class in a scene on stage and fell flat on his face in front of the audience. He told us that he considered his fall a “learning experience”. He was intrigued with the result of his effort, rather than embarrassed.
Students and parents have a challenge to overcome when faced with the difficulty of the curriculum: to feel intrigued or to feel embarrassed. Since learning is an ongoing experience, a positive approach is more likely to benefit everyone. After all, we were not born knowing this stuff, as a Sensei once said.
Martial Arts Uniform Appearance
The length of the karate pants is important for aesthetic and safety reasons. The pant length should be hemmed (not rolled or tacked) just above the ankle. In Japan, “Karateka” (Karate practitioners) wear this pant length mid-calf in order to allow for maximum ease in kicking. In the West, we compromise with ankle length, which is midway between standard casual wear pants length, resting on the top of the shoe, and that of the Japanese traditionalists.
“The ultimate in wisdom
is to live in the present,
plan for the future,
and profit from the past.”
Sempai of the Month
Our Sempai of the Month for August is Noel Ike, a sixteen-year-old sophomore at Plantation High School. Noel began training at UKC in April of 2000 and has reached the rank of Third kyu Brown Belt. He became involved in Karate because he’ ”liked the sport, was interested in discipline, and wanted to achieve something.”
Noel began the Sempai program a year ago, and has progressed consistently, developing patience with the young children, while demonstrating excellent technical skills.
Noel likes to ride his bike, read books and exercise. He likes to watch comedies and his favorite movie is Rush Hour 2. He also enjoys training hard at UKC.
Tournament Team Reforming
After a quiet month in August Martial Arts tournaments start up again in September. Three major events remain for this season:
September 14th Miami The Region 9 Championships
October 11th Miami The Arturo Espina Open
November 9th Miami The Pan American Championships
Sensei Mason hopes to take a team of at least ten students to each event. Any student who is Gold Belt or above who is interested in competing in Forms, Weapons or Fighting should leave a note for Sensei Mason at the Front Desk
“ If you want a place in the sun,you’ve got to put up with a few blisters.”
Abigail Van Buren