Sunday, October 11, 2015

Women and Self-Defense - Things You Need to Know!

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 the cheeks of these people. If nothing else, maybe they will find a better path. But it is my prayer that it doesn't come to that, even though it has happened in the past.

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. There is still a lot more to learn - including martial arts history, different kobudo and samurai weapons, many forms (kata), Okinawan language, philosophy, better physical fitness, meeting more people in the martial arts etc. In our martial art, we have many PhDs and nearly everyone is a college graduate and many work as engineers, doctors, lawyers, scientists, accountants, school teachers, soldiers, pilots, physical therapists, nutritionists, personal trainers, computer techs, etc. 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 school has a positive environment that is favorable to learning. And the world head of this martial art was a kyoju no budo (professor of martial arts) at four universities over the past 50 years.

Our classes as entertaining and the focus is on techniques that work for almost anyone - simple things like defending with elbows, knees, the palm-heel of the hand, car keys, a fork, spoon, pepper shaker, rock, magazine, pen, etc.

To be able to defend yourself, you should learn good and practical self-defense, learn it well, and practice it every week for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, people think they can just take a course at a college or local martial arts school and then they are ready to defend themselves. Before you start in a self-defense curriculum, first find out a little about the instructor and school - there are a lot of fly by nights out there and you have to be cautious - so just do a quick internet search on the school name and the instructor. Next, you need a new affirmation. Your affirmation is going to need to include training (exercising) for the rest of your life - not just one semester or one class. This is a lifetime commitment that will keep you healthy - just like going to the gym only better - you are not only burning a lot of calories, but you are also learning how to defend yourself!

To be successful in self-defense, it must be second nature. There are lots of crazies out there - not just politicians, but you know the other types - they are everywhere - Congress, drug addicts, etc. Here are a couple of things to think about before beginning a self-defense program:

(1) To be successful in self-defense, a person must practice constantly to build muscle memory so they will not have to think about how to defend during a stressful situation or attack - it is important to learn to react! This is known as mushin. To build mushin, sign up for for "Traditional" Karate Classes and practice often. Once a week is enough, but 2 or 3 times a week is 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 - you can burn more calories in 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. Our instructor told us a story about when he was working in the outback of Alaska nearly 30 years ago, searching for gold. Wearing mosquito netting from head to toe, he practiced karate every other day, just like he has for nearly 60 years. So, it can be done. 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 also 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 watched the original Karate Kid (1984) movie, you'll 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 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 up nicely. But if you are really competitive, then you will probably benefit more from sport karate, but at the same time, you will be giving up some of the self-defense benefits.

After teaching self-defense clinics for more than 30
years at the University of Wyoming, author and
 Shorin-Ryu karate instructor, Soke Hausel
indicates 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.
 Kicking the air or a
punching bag does not teach a person how to react to
an attack or block attacks.
(3) There are free, one night, self-defense clinics offered by local police departments. Some 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. These clinics do not teach muscle memory.

You must learn to react to movement without thinking using full force and devastating focus we martial artists call ki. The reason for this is simple. During an attack, you will be under stress unless you are well prepared. If you do not react to movement but instead try to judge which hand or foot a person is going to attack with, you will be in a lot of trouble. Imagine a 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". 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. 

(4) 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 and she was the only adult in the class. Training to defend yourself against 3 to 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 us 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. Also, most karate schools close within two years. So, if your instructor hasn't been around very long, chances are real good he will take your contract money and run.
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. Students are
taught how to break down kata so every single movement in
 becomes a self-defense application known to Okinawan
practitioners as bunkai. When properly taught,
"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

(5) 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!

If you do not learn self-defense, you may want to learn how 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!
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. A group of librarians
in Chandler Arizona were recently taught how to use books, car keys and even magazines for self-defense weapons.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Handicapped Man Attacked in Road-Rage Incident Turns Table on Attacker

Road rage in the East Valley of Phoenix is not all that uncommon. Bullies, people with short tempers, and others who feel they own the road are looking for trouble - a problem that grows with so many people living so close to each another. There are always bullies who just look for trouble and search for others who are perceived to be weaker. This is likely what took place in Mesa, Arizona a few days ago.

One karate students is considered handicapped due to many years of abuse to his body that includes falling off his roof, jumping over moving cars as a youth, being shot and staved by gang members in west Mesa. Now approaching 60, he has had two knee replacements, and recently had surgery to his spine. He is classified as handicapped which is marked on his vehicle. But he never gave up 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 black belt and has been training at the Arizona Karate school for about 5 years.

On his drive to the dojo last Thursday evening to train in kobudo, he became a victim of road rage. Let's call him Bob. Bob is a positive individual and is loved by all members of school. He is a little mischievous, funny, entertaining and puts 110% effort into all of this techniques and training. Most instructors would love to have a deshi (student) like him. He selected to train in Okinawan 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, Bob was harassed by and individual who drove up behind him riding his bumper because Bob was not driving fast enough for the bully. The speed limit was 45 and Bob was driving 45, but this person wanted to see him move faster. Apparently, the individual could see the handicapped sticker on his car and his gray hair and figured he would be easy to harass. So after Bob refused to pull over to let this bully have his way, the bully ran Bob off the road. Expecting to either scare Bob or who knows what else, the instigator of Road Rage was in for one big surprise!

Donna, one of many school teachers at the Arizona Hombu Dojo in Mesa
trains to defend against attacker.
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 reports that Bob constantly practices shitai kori (body hardening) with anyone in the dojo who will hit him during self-defense training. Thus, when Bob 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. Bob said to the would-be 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 apparently no expecting a confrontation, took one look at Bob and 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.

Arizona Hombu Dojo