Sunday, October 11, 2015

Self-Defense & Karate Classes

Training in self-defense at the Arizona Hombu dojo - Suzette defends against an attack with tonfa (side-handle batons), defending against sansetsukon (3-sectional staff) attack by Lexi at the Arizona Hombu dojo in the East Valley of Phoenix
Some people have no respect for others, their property, or their lives and we need to prepare ourselves for a time when we run into one of these thugs. I'm not as concerned about personal property - and I would probably turn the other cheek in cases related to mental assault, but when it comes to physical assault on a child, woman, senior citizen, or myself, I look forward to turning both cheeks of these people. If nothing else, maybe they will find a better path after they are thoroughly beaten. But it is my prayer that it doesn't come to that, even though it has happened in the past. So, why would I train in traditional martial arts 5 to 6 times a week - as I've been doing this for quite some time?

It has a lot more to do with self-defense. In traditional martial arts, there is never an end to learning. It is amazing how much there is to learn - so much that one cannot learn it all in one lifetime. And I enjoy training with my students many of whom become personal life-long friends.

I have reached the highest level I can reach in at least one martial art, but I recognize there is still a lot more to learn - including martial arts history, different kobudo and samurai weapons, many forms (kata), Okinawan language, maybe a few Chinese martial arts, philosophy, better physical fitness, meeting more people in the martial arts etc., etc., etc. I've been inducted in more Halls-of-Fame than Senator McCain has told the truth to his constituents, but there is still a lot more for me to learn. And in our dojo in Mesa, we have many PhDs, engineers, some doctors, lawyers, scientists, accountants, school teachers, soldiers, pilots, physical therapists, nutritionists, personal trainers, computer techs, Christians, Mormons and Catholics. Why so many highly educated people in our traditional martial arts school? It's because we all realize how much there is to learn. And our dojo has a very positive environment that is favorable to learning. My past experience as kyoju no budo (professor of martial arts) at four universities tends to attract people with a similar interest in learning and education.

I've been teaching martial arts and self-defense classes most of my life, and try to make classes and clinics as entertaining as possible and focus on techniques I know will work for anyone - simple things like defending with elbows, knees, the palm of the hand, car keys, a fork, spoon, pepper shaker, rock, magazine, pen, etc. So, when you are attacked on the street (no matter what your age), hopefully you will have had specialized training in traditional martial arts. Without it, you are likely a sitting duck.

Learn self-defense, learn it well and practice every week for the rest of your life. To be successful in self-defense, it must become second nature. There are lots of crazies out there - not just politicians, but you know the other types - they are everywhere - Congress, stores, transgender restrooms, etc. So, consider learning self-defense to help ease your mind. Here are a couple of things to think about before beginning a self-defense program:

(1) To be successful in self-defense, you must practice constantly to build muscle memory so you will not have to think about how to defend yourself during a stressful situation or attack - it is important that you just react! This is known as mushin. To build mushin, we strongly recommend signing up for "Traditional" Karate Classes and practice often. Once a week is enough, but 2 or 3 times a week is much better better. And this also means you need to make a lifelong commitment to self-defense training.

This is not as bad as you might think! Actually, its great! It is a great exercise program and stress reliever. So, you will no longer have to go to a gym as you can burn lots of calories in your karate and self-defense classes and make new friends. The nice thing about 'traditional' karate as opposed to other forms of martial arts is that the Okinawan martial artists who developed the art focused on kata and bunkai. Kata are living encyclopedia of self-defense techniques - it is like dancing or shadow boxing, so you can practice most of the time on your own if you are so inclined. The bunkai are the self-defense techniques that make up the kata. So practice kata in your home and at the dojo and you will be learning self-defense.

(2) 'Traditional' Karate is considered to be a self-defense weapon rather than sport, so your goal of being able to defend yourself will be better served in traditional, rather than sport karate. If you ever watched the original Karate Kid (1984) movie, you'll likely remember the difference between Sport Karate (the nasty Corbra Kai group) and traditional karate (the Miyagi-Ryu Karate Kid).  Another significant difference mentioned in passing in the movie is that sport karate is about winning - winning trophies, whereas traditional karate is about self-defense and self-improvement. One of the great Okinawan martial artists - Gichin Funakoshi - made the following statement about traditional karate, "The purpose of karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of its participants". Now that sums it all up very nicely. But if you are really competitive, then you will probably benefit more from sport karate.

(3) Learn to use a gun, pepper spray, etc. But remember, you can not always get to these; whereas your hands and feet are always with you. And if you are a school teacher - forget it, they will not let you carry weapons - or will they? If you are trained in traditional karate, you have your feet, elbows, hands and knees - that are attached!

After teaching self-defense clinics for more than 30
years at the University of Wyoming, author and
Grandmaster of Shorin-Ryu karate, Soke Hausel
indicates these clinics are great for entertainment
and provide information to assist women and
men in general self-defense, but to be really prepared,
people need to consider weekly karate and
self-defense classes. And forget about aerobic kick
boxing classes: they provide little self-defense value.
After teaching kick boxing classes at Golds
Gym in Gilbert and Mesa Arizona, Soke Hausel said
these classes are great for calorie burning, but provide
little to no self-defense value. Kicking the air or a
punching bag does not teach a person how to react to
an attack.
(4) There are many free, one night, self-defense clinics offered by local police departments or civic centers. Some of these are good in that they help you become aware of your surroundings, BUT they will not prepare you for self-defense! The reason is simple. Okinawan karate practitioners discovered a long time ago that in order to defend oneself, they had to develop muscle memory. The only way to develop muscle memory is to educate your muscles properly - through constant practice and proper training.

You must learn to react to movement without thinking and you must learn to react using full force blocks and strikes with devastating focus we martial artists call ki. The reason for this is simple. During an attack, you will be under a lot of stress unless you well prepared. If you do not react to movement and instead try to judge which hand or foot a person is going to attack you with, you will be in a lot of trouble. For instance, imagine some thug is harassing you and you have to defend yourself. You stop and think "I'll block his RIGHT punch with my left hand and then kick". You are ready and then you discover he is left handed! If you were properly trained to react to movement, you would not be lying on the ground on your back with a broken jaw. 

(5) Schedule a weekly night out at a dojo (karate school) with your best friend, husband, father, boy friend, girl friend, mother, or even grandmother or grandfather. It will bring you closer together and give you both something to do each week and talk about. And when you search for a dojo, look for a school that offers 'Adult' Classes. This is important, otherwise you may end up like one of our lady black belts who trained at a taekwondo school. Sensei Paula attended taekwondo classes and she was the only adult in the class. Training to defend yourself against 5 year old boys and girls was not realistic, and its even more embarrassing when you are old enough to be the mother of the pimple-faced instructor. At the end of each class, Sensei Paula, now a Hall-of-Fame Shorin-Ryu Karate instructor told me that she had to stand in line with all of the little kids to site the dojo philosophy. Now get this - the dojo philosophy was "I will obey my mommy and my daddy". Very hard to swallow, especially for someone like Paula, who was born in Japan.
Weekly traditional karate and kobudo classes at the Arizona Hombu dojo in
Mesa Arizona provide adults (and families) with muscle memory through
kata (forms) practice and self defense comes naturally as the students are
all taught how to break down every kata so that every single movement in
every kata become a self-defense application that is known to Okinawan
karate practitioners as bunkai. When properly taught, according to Soke
Hausel, "these kata become living encyclopedia of self-defense applications."
If you are taking karate or taekwondo, and you do not understand what each
move in every kata is for, you may be in the wrong martial arts school. Nearly
all traditional Okinawan karate schools focus on the bunkai or self-defense

(6) Not all instructors are certified. In fact, many are not. So, do some quick background checks on the instructor and school you are considering. It is very easy to do a quick BING search, or Yahoo Search, or GOOGLE search for information on the instructor, the martial arts school, the martial arts association - you could find out that you are about to sign up for self-defense classes with a person under investigation for sexual harassment or a person with many complaints on aggression. Even more scary, you may find out that the person has a history of politics - Egad!

The martial art of kobudo goes hand in hand with traditional Okinawa karate. Kobudo is nothing more than an extension
of karate (empty hand) techniques, but teaches martial artists that there are many weapons available - not only the
traditional Okinawa weapons, but also everyday weapons. For instance, Soke Hausel recently taught a group of librarians
in Chandler Arizona how to use their books, car keys and even magazines for self-defense weapons.

Self-defense training needs to apply kata (karate forms) and be realistic. At the Arizona Hombu dojo, students
from around the world train in karate, kobudo, samurai arts, jujutsu and self-defense. The self-defense applications include defense against hand guns, rifles, clubs, knives, grabs, chokes, and punches.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Mesa Arizona Handicapped Man Attacked in Road-Rage Incident Surprises Attacker

Donna, one of many school teachers at the Arizona Hombu Dojo in Mesa
trains to defend against attacker.

Road rage in the valley is not all that uncommon. Bullies, people with short tempers and others who feel they own the road are not all that uncommon with many people living so close to one another. And there are many bullies who just look for trouble and search for others who are perceived to be weaker. This is likely what took place in Mesa a few days ago.

One of our students is considered handicapped due to many years of abusing his body that included falling off his roof, jumping over moving cars as a youth, being shot and staved by gang members in his neighborhood. Now approaching 60, he has had two knee replacements and often spends time in a pain management treatment center for his back. He is classified as handicapped which is marked on his vehicle. But he never gave up on himself and continues to train in martial arts at the Arizona Hombu and shows up nearly every evening to train in karate, kobudo, samurai arts, self-defense and body hardening. Now a brown belt, I suspect he will be testing for his black belt in 2016. He has been training at our school over the past 2.5 years.

Anyway, on his drive to the dojo last Thursday evening to train in kobudo, he became a victim of road rage. Let's call him Dave. Dave is a positive individual and is loved by all of the other members of dojo. He is a little mischievous, funny, entertaining and puts 100% effort into all of this techniques and training. Most instructors would love to have a deshi (student) like him. He selected Hall-of-Fame martial arts instructor, Soke Hausel as his instructor, and began training in Shorin-Ryu Karate. Shorin-Ryu Karate is one of the original forms of karate developed on Okinawa and can be traced back several centuries, even though it had a different name in the past. It was later given the name of Shorin-Ryu to suggest it had ties with the Shaolin Temple in the Henan Province of China. Shorin-Ryu is the same type of karate featured in the 1984 Karate Kid movie. Just like in the movie, it has philosophy, it is not sport like most forms of karate today, and is considered a weapon that should only be used when there is no other choice. In the philosophy of Buddhism, it is designed to improve the lives of those who practice it, as indicated by the Father of Modern Karate - Gichin Funakoshi. Funakoshi, a master of Shorin-Ryu Karate from the 19th and 20th centuries stated, "The purpose of Karate is not in victory of defeat, but in the perfection of its participants".

While driving to the dojo, Dave was harassed by a driver who drove up behind him riding his bumper because he was not driving fast enough for this bully. The speed limit was 45 and he was driving 45, but this person wanted to see him drive faster. Apparently, the individual could see the handicapped sticker on his car and possibly his age, so after Dave refused to pull over to let this bully have his way, he ran Dave off the road. Expecting to either scare Dave or who knows what else, this instigator of Road Rage was in for one big surprise!

His intended victim is "one of the toughest martial artists we have at the dojo", according to 16-time Hall-of-Fame Grandmaster Hausel. The grandmaster indicated Dave constantly practices shitai kori (body hardening) with anyone in the dojo who will hit him during self-defense training. Thus, when Dave stepped out of his car to greet his attacker, he was wearing his karate uniform known as a gi, since he was on his way to the martial arts school. Dave said to the Road Rage Driver, "Ok, I've had a bad day - so, tell me, which hospital would you like me to deliver you to?" The Road Rage driver took one look at Dave - hearing his comment, he turned about face and ran back to his car and sped off.

Now this is a perfect defense! Both drivers were able to go home without injury and hopefully the road rage driver will think twice before picking on anyone in the future, let alone a handicapped driver. For more information about self-defense and what it can do for you, please visit our website and have a look at some interesting videos.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Give the GIFT that Keeps on KICKING - Self Defense Classes Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Tempe and Phoenix

The holidays are upon us. What will you give your wife, fiancee, girlfriend, sister or mother for the holidays or for her birthday? Candy? Flowers? Can she use those for self-defense? Possibly - guess it depends on how hard that candy is and if you are giving her roses. Why not also sign her up for traditional karate - a gift that keeps on kicking.

Color pencil sketch of White Crane Gung Fu by Soke
Traditional karate is indigenous to Okinawa. It may at first look a little like sport karate - but it's not. Sport karate is the ugly duckling offshoot of traditional karate that was created sometime in the mid-20th century by the Japanese. And then there is MMA. It has nothing to do with karate or martial arts.

Traditional karate, or we can just use the term 'karate', was modified from Chinese Gung Fu centuries ago and tweaked for Okinawan royalty and their bodyguards and introduced to some Okinawan peasants. So effective for self-defense, it was kept secret from the rest of the world until the 20th century. One of the principal forms of karate was modified from Shaolin White Crane Gung-Fu, and was developed by a female Chinese martial artist who watched the movements of the white crane.

The Shorin-Ryu karate (in Japanese, this means Shaolin style of karate) modified from the gung fu includes many aesthetically pleasing movements that when understood, provide the performer with many devastating self-defense techniques that includes strikes, pressure point applications, blocks, kicks, body hardening, restraints, throws, chokes and meditation. It also teaches balance, meditation, proper breathing and is an art form - similar to dance - that so happens to contain hundreds of self-defense applications. Karate-do (the way of karate) contains many kata (forms). These forms appear similar to traditional Okinawan dances, and they are taught to look like Okinawan dance, but they are different in that they are a living encyclopedia of self-defense applications. After you learn kata, you can train in the form by yourself and it becomes self-training - teaching muscle memory, balance and focus.

The traditional karate from Okinawa taught respect, focus and power and was designed for self-defense. It is a combat martial art and not sport. When introduced to the Japanese population in the early 20th century, it was watered downed and excluded kobudo (martial arts weapons) and lost part of its effectiveness particularly after the Japanese developed a new form of karate known as sport karate. Some of the effectiveness was diminished with Sport Karate which focused on free sparring and developed techniques to score points rather than to defend oneself.

Soke demonstrating White Crane
(hakutsuru) karate at Chinese New
Year celebration at the University of
There are only a few martial arts schools in the Phoenix Valley that teach traditional martial arts. One is the Arizona School of Traditional Karate (aka Arizona Hombu) located at the border of Mesa and Gilbert. This dojo (martial arts school) is home to 16-time Hall-of-Fame inductee and former professor of martial arts at the University of Wyoming. Soke taught martial arts (karate, kobudo, jujutsu, samurai arts, self-defense, women's self-defense, and martial arts history) for 30 years at UW before moving to Gilbert Arizona and setting up a training center in Mesa Arizona. Over three decades, hundreds of students (nearly 40% female) trained in the traditional martial arts at the university. You can read about some on the Seiyo Shorin-Ryu Karate website. Some of his female martial artists turned out to be some of his better martial arts black belts. At first, many of the female martial artists were reluctant to learn kobudo, others looked forward to kobudo. Kobudo is the martial arts of weapons and after all of the female martial artists discovered how interesting kobudo was, they were all excited to train in this art. After all, karate and kobudo are like the wheels on a bicycle - you need the both. Kobudo is an extension of karate. All of the weapons require the same stances, arm and leg movements, and there are many different kinds of weapons. If you like gardening, you will like kobudo. Kobudo uses the same tools!
Our Japanese Samurai - Sensei Paula defends herself from an attack by her husband
Sensei Bill. Sensei Paula is using kuwa (garden hoe) during kobudo training. Other
common kobudo weapons include rake, bo (6-foot staff), hanbo (half-staff), tonfa
(side-handle baton that was once a rice grinder handle), sai (forks), nunchaku,
kuboton (stick) and more.

According to history, King Shoshin from Okinawa outlawed weapons in 1480 AD. This was a concern for all Okinawans as they knew they would be invaded without a standing army - and they were sometime later - by the Japanese. As a result, the focused on kobudo - using their farming and fishing implements for self-defense tools.

Soke Hausel focuses on teaching adults and has taught karate, kobudo, jujutsu, samurai arts, self-defense, martial arts history and philosophy to hundreds of women over the past 5 decades. He has certifications in two dozen martial arts, is the highest ranked practitioner of Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo (Seiyo Kai), and also an artist, author, astronomer, geologist and public speaker. In recent years, he has taught many self-defense clinics to men and women teaching them to use their elbows, knees, hands, car keys, magazines, belts and even Duck Commander duck calls for self-defense.

So, the next time your wife, girl friend, daughter, sister or mother is working late at night, shopping at Walmart for your food and clothes, wouldn't be nice if she could defend herself. She may have a gun, but can she get to it when grabbed from behind? She would probably get a real KICK (or a mugger) out of training in karate with her friends and other adults (and families). We have been teaching karate, martial arts, self-defense classes and clinics for more than nearly 5 decades and we hope to see you soon.

                                  Time                Tuesdays             Wednesdays          Thursdays                 

5:30–6:30 pm

Family Karate

6:45-7:45 pm

Beginning & Intermediate

Self- Defense


7:45-8:20 pm

Karate & Kata


Japanese Samurai Arts

Soke Hausel teaching White Crane Karate to students, staff, faculty and the community during a martial arts clinic
at the University of Wyoming in 2010.

Yudansha (black belts) Dr. Florence Teule and Sensei Lenny Martin training
in White Crane karate at the University of Wyoming 2010 clinic.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Karate Classes for Women in Arizona

We live in a violent world. Phoenix is no exception - in fact, Phoenix is a leader in violence. Anyone who has spent a year or more in the valley can tell you many stories about the violence in the city. And parts of the rest of the world is even more violent. The World Organization of Health (WOH) reported in 2013 there were 109 nations that had banned guns in their countries, yet all of these 109 nations had more murders than the US. The WOH also noted Switzerland reported no murders - yet all adults are required by law to own a gun and become proficient in its use. So, this is a form of self-defense that seems to work.

Remember this wonderful scene in the KARATE KID?

Daniel San: So, karate's fighting. You train to fight.
Miyagi: That what you think?
Daniel: No.
Miyagi: Then why train?
Daniel: So I won't have to fight?

By training in martial arts, we build self-confidence allowing most people to avoid many confrontations. But this doesn't always work. There are unstable people on the streets - just take a look at Congress. So by constantly training in martial arts, you not only get in good physical condition and make new friends, but you also learn a valuable art that should help you defend yourself should some crazy drug addict try to attack you.

As a professor of martial arts, referred to in Japanese as 'Kyoju', I tried to get the university administration to option a Freshman class in self-defense. There is just too much crime and abuse in our world and it should be an option for all women (and men for that fact) in Junior High School, High School, College and then in a local gym or martial arts school (dojo) to train in martial arts. When I was teaching martial arts at the University of Wyoming from 1977 to 2007, I tried to include many self-defense techniques for women and offered special classes in self-defense for women. After reading a book about violence on campus, I was shocked to find that statistics showed about 25% of all females would be sexually assaulted sometime during a four year college career. One website reports 1 out of ever 7 women on campus have been raped! Now that didn't even include time before and after college.

Senpai Viva demonstrates Pinan Godan Kata.
When it comes to self-defense classes, all these do is offer some basic self-defense techniques. The problem with self defense classes for a semester or a weekend clinic is they do not provide enough training. Take a look at how long it takes for a person to become a black belt in traditional (non-sport) martial arts. It can take 3 to 4 years, depending on the individual.

The reason has to do with a piece of oriental philosophy known as emptiness, or 'mushin' in Japanese.  In order to be able to react properly in a stressful situation, a person must be able to react to an attack without thinking. They must also learn to strike properly - this is why many women have found traditional Shorin-Ryu Karate helpful, because they learn both. By the way, Shorin-Ryu translates as Pine forest style in Japanese. But in Chinese, it translates as Shaolin Style, indicating a direct link to the Shaolin Chu'an Fa (Kung Fu).

And a few Shorin-Ryu systems also teach student to develop a one-punch knock out, such as the Seiyo Shorin-Ryu systems. The reason for this is that, unlike some systems that teach women to strike numerous times, it is much less stressful to be able to strike an attacker once or twice to end the attack.

Over the years, I found my female martial artists who became yudansha (black belts) were some of the best martial artists by far. For the most part, the women really enjoy karate and other traditional martial arts. They enjoy training with other women, they enjoy working over the guys, they enjoy the exercise and potential weight loss, they enjoy the lifelong friendships they make in karate, and they enjoy learning about weapons.

A real samurai from Japan. Sensei
Paula from the Arizona School of
Traditional Karate in Mesa, dressed
as traditional Japanese.
Just about all of the schools in the Phoenix valley we communicated with, indicated they either did not teach weapons, one had to wait until they reached black belt to train in weapons, or they had to pay a bonus fee to learn weapons.

On Okinawa (the homeland of Karate), weapons (known as kobudo in Japanese) have always been part of the martial arts system and people learn to use weapons along with their karate training from the beginning. One school in the valley teaches weapons the day you sign up for classes (and they do not require contracts): the Arizona Hombu. The traditional curriculum at this martial arts school includes karate, kata (forms), self-defense, samurai arts, kobudo and jujutsu taught by a Grandmaster with nearly 5 decades of experience. Not only do the students learn to defend themselves, they also learn some Japanese, martial arts history, philosophy and lots of traditions.

Dr. Adam with Dr. Nagmeh pose at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate

Lacy trains with Katharina at the Arizona School of
Traditional Karate - A school of Martial Arts
Heather applies nunchuku to nerve at the back of Charles neck.

Watch out Bill! Sensei Paula trains with tonfa at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate at Baseline and MacDonald, Mesa and Gilbert.

A little samurai from Seiyo Shorin-Ryu

Grandmaster Hausel shows Kris how to apply joint lock using the hanbo.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Chandler Arizona Librarians Learn Self-Defense from Hall-of-Fame martial artist in Mesa, Gilbert

Imagine – you’re between bookshelves at the Chandler public library – someone sneaks up behind and grabs you. What do you do with the book in your hand? Check it out, or check out the Aggressor?

Bring the tiger out in you - try Shorin-Ryu Karate (sketch by Soke Hausel).
Librarians and other staff of the Chandler Public Library were confronted with this and other scenarios at a recent seminar taught by Hall-of-Fame martial artist and grandmaster, Soke Hausel of the Arizona School of Traditional Karate in Mesa (60 W. Baseline Road, Mesa) and world head of Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Kai in Gilbert. 
Hausel, a former Professor of Martial Arts at the University of Wyoming taught martial arts and martial arts history to a few thousand students at the University Karate Club and karate, kobudo, jujitsu and self-defense classes in the Department of Physical Education, Department of Kinesiology and Department of Extended Studies;  and martial arts clinics to sororities, student associations, military, law enforcement, church groups, boy scouts, girl scouts, martial arts groups, EMT, firemen, airline travelers, women's clubs, geologist and prospector groups and rock hound clubs.
Books are for reading & self-defense. Soke Hausel
demonstrates use of book as Kobudo weapon with
Charles Jean, librarian and martial arts student.
An important part of karate is kobudo. Kobudo is a martial art that teaches the use of Okinawan farming and fishing implements and modern garden and construction tools, as weapons of self-defense. And this can even be applied to books at the library, cell phones, PCs, back packs, magazines, pens, car keys, belts and much more.

During the seminar, Hausel taught the attendees how to escape wrist grabs, lapel grabs and bear-hugs using elbows, knees, feet and hands. They learned to  use books, magazines, coins, pens, belts, and car keys for self-defense tools against aggressive attacks. The attendees were surprised to find they were working with potential self-defense weapons every day and even checking them out to the public. Who would have thought that a book or rolled up magazine could be so effective in self-defense?
Soke Hausel demonstrates how to use your knee when a
person grabs your wrists.
Hausel has been a martial arts instructor for more than 40 years. He moved to the Phoenix valley in 2006 and has been teaching in the land of sun ever since leaving Wyoming.
Recently, he and the Arizona School of Traditional Karate have been offering a special personal neighborhood self-defense clinic for individuals with at least five friends or neighbors. These popular mini-clinics are inexpensive and focus on the individuals needs for self-defense. 
For more information, contact Soke Hausel at

Students learn serious self-defense applications but at the same time enjoy the training.

Teaching air force ROTC at the University of Wyoming

Sensei Kyle Linton of Wellington Colorado defends knife (tanto) attack by Hanshi Andy Finley of Casper, Wyoming during one of many self-defense clinics.

Hall-of-Fame instructor Soke Hausel with Hanshi Finley teaching self-defense at the University of Wyoming

Sunday, June 24, 2012


A person can defend themselves in many situations if they are aware of weapons they possess and have considerable traditional martial arts training. When I say considerable, I mean a long time period of constant and continual training. This is what we call mushin in martial arts and relates to muscle memory. Practicing the same techniques over and over with and without a partner until it becomes second nature and you can react during a very stressful situation without thinking is what successful self-defense is about. If you think you can attend one clinic taught by a martial artist, police officer, etc, and successfully defend yourself, you are mistaken. It is something you must do all of the time. You don't have to be an expert in martial arts, you just have to practice constantly with techniques and methods that work.

It was discovered long ago by Okinawan peasants and royal body guards that training in karatedo (空手) one can develop good habits for self-defense only through muscle memory. It is such an important concept of karate, that Okinawans chose the kanji for "empty" () to represent karate. The 'empty' referring to the state of mushin (無心) or emptiness, philosophically indicating that one must be able to react, not think. In karate we have a zen phrase - mushin no shin (無心の心) that translates as "a mind without a mind", or "think without thinking".

What does this mean? It means if you want to properly react to an attack, you need to train over and over and over again so that you can react without thinking. You must be able to just react to an attack. This can only done by muscle memory or repetition. But in addition to just reacting, one needs to know how to react (this is why we teach clinics and classes) and also how to develop a technique we use in Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Karate Renmei known as hitotsuki hitogeri, which directly translates as 'one strike one kick', or the art of one-punch knockouts. Why? If you are attacked on the street, do you want to have to prolong self-defense by having to hit the attacker 15 to 30 times, or just one or two?  By prolonging self-defense, there is a danger that you mind will start thinking and cloud your thoughts with fears.

Dr. Teule defends herself at the Arizona School of
Traditional Karate on the border of Mesa and Gilbert
Karate is considered the ultimate method for developing good self-defense habits. Karate has many benefits that go beyond self-defense. When taught properly with traditions, karate training should provide a path for self-awareness, self-confidence, self-esteem and life-long health. We often joke at our dojo that karate is the one proven dietary method that works. Have you ever seen a karateka (空手家) who looked like he or she should be on the Walmart Shoppers list? Think about it. Burning ~1,000 calories during karate training 3 to 6 times a week is a great method for building good health and a weight loss plan that works and at the same time, you get to learn a martial art.

Some people are told they can take a one day, or one hour class and learn to defend themselves. Not so, unless we are talking about how to pull a trigger on a shotgun. In self-defense, one must develop roots that include proper stances, good hip rotation, focused punches, blocks and kicks; good use of body weight, and a weekly training regimen. Without this, you are wasting your time. All a one-day clinic can teach you is that there are options and it will teach you what some of the options are. But if you want to learn how to use those options effectively, you better sign up for a traditional (non-sport) karate class.

But its not as bad as you think. If you join the right club or school, it is a wonderful place to meet new friends with similar interests. Be sure you find a good karate school. Just like everything else, there are many scam artists ready to take your money and run.

Ryan defends grab by Rich while Heather watches.
Before you sign up, watch a class and talk to some students to find out about the instructor and the classes. I've heard my sensei (teacher) say in the past that as many as 75 to 85% of martial arts instructors are not properly qualified. I don't know if it is really that bad - I have never seen any published statistics, but you do have to be careful.

A few years ago, I stopped by a dojo in Fort Collins, Colorado. It was advertising as a traditional school (in other words a school you would expect to see in Okinawa). I have a bias view towards traditional schools. Traditional schools simply enforce traditions, bowing, respect, etc, rather than winning trophies.

After a short conversation with this Colorado sensei, I discovered he was a con artist. Believe it or not, he claimed to teach his students (including 5 year-old students) to catch arrows with their bare hands shot at them with a 30-pound bow in the dojo. Why would anyone want to catch arrows?

At another so called 'traditional' school in Mesa, Arizona, the instructor was teaching karate kata (forms) to loud rock n' roll music. These people need to look up the meaning of 'tradition'.

In Gilbert, Arizona, I met another instructor who was very disrespectful. Something you don't often see in traditional martial arts. So, yes, they are out there and it appears in droves and unless you are an experienced instructor, you will not be able to pick them out so easily - but use common sense! If it sounds like a scam - its a scam.

Sign up for a self-defense clinic. These can be important to help you realize you can really defend yourself. Next, start looking for a good karate school to attend, one that you enjoy the curriculum, instructors and students, and make a commitment to train for the rest of your life. Consider it as a gym - you will lose more weight in karate classes than you will in a gym.
If you are in our neighborhood, please stop by and talk to our students. We are located at 60 W. Baseline Road, Mesa, AZ [Arizona School of Traditional Karate (Seiyo Hombu)] (MAP).

Personal Self-Defense Clinic: To get you started, we offer a personal self-defense clinic for as few as 6 or more persons. The fee is only $25/person. In this clinic, Hall-of-Fame Soke Hausel will teach you how easy it is to defend against many attacks and will teach you about weapons you have available - not only your limbs, but also car keys, sticks, purses, books, cups, etc.  This personal clinic can be scheduled most any weekend for 2 hours for you and your friends. Just contact us at our dojo on the border of Mesa and Gilbert just down the block from Chandler.