Monday, January 14, 2013

A return to basics

January is our month of Kagami Baraki. For those unfamiliar with the concept it comes from the Japanese tradition of celebrating weddings, opening days or any event worthy of being celebrated. In a dojo it is usually the start of a new year and it is marked by a day of intense training where everyone comes together to train and sweat together. Our school is slightly different in that we celebrate the entire month of January as our month of Kagami Biraki. Everyone knows the classes are harder, more intense and are comprised of mostly basics-lots and lots of basics.

When I first received my shodan ( first degree) I figured this was it. Now I would finally learn the secret techniques, now all the black belt knowledge would be unveiled, imparting upon me a kind of super human ability to execute my techniques! I walked into my first black belt class full of expectation, I was  ready. Imagine my surprise when the next two hours of training was spent doing basic punches, kicks, and blocks. We even went back and did our first white belt kata over and over. Surely this was a fluke maybe it was just a way to get  the new black belts used to the idea of a black belt class? Next class was more of the same and the class after that and so on. This is not to say that I did not learn advanced techniques, I did.  However  those advanced techniques were usually made up of basic techniques executed in a different way or several basic techniques joined to make one advance technique.

And so our emphasis this month is a return to the basics. We always stress our foundations but this month especially so. In returning to our foundations we can learn several things. We can see how far we have progressed and how far we still have to go. We can deepen our understanding of the art we have chosen to study by looking at its foundation and deconstructing techniques and kata. We can learn the functionality of what we do, why does it work and how. All this comes from going back to the basics. I also learned one other thing, that the higher the rank the more time you spend with basics, its quite the circle that is indicative of the arts we study. You train long and hard, invest many years, tears, blood and sweat-so you can be perpetual beginner.

As an aside, the photo is a picture of Morio Higaonna's hands. Anyone who trains for any length of time runs into his name and his influence on goju-ryu. Look him up.

strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Sensei Orlando

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