Decades of training in karate, kenjutsu, kobudo and Okinawa-ti have shaped who I am. I've done some things right, made mistakes, wasted time, and continue to learn. In this blog I share thoughts that might be helpful to you on your own journey. While some of my writing is specific to the practice of Motobu Udundi or to members of Kodokai Dojo, I think any martial artist can benefit by hearing from someone who began on Okinawa in the 1970's and has practiced for 45 years.
I sometimes refer to myself as the reluctant sensei. What do I mean by this? While I love to teach and practice martial arts and I get a great deal of satisfaction watching people grow through our practice, I never set out to become a teacher. I actually never even expected to earn a black belt. I just sort of put my nose to the grindstone and got to work.
As a kid I wanted to learn martial arts but my parents couldn't afford lessons. And back in the olden days there weren't really weren't many options as far as schools went. So when I was in the Marines I asked for orders to Okinawa with the specific intention of joining a dojo. Okinawa is where karate was created and I had heard some great stories of training in the local martial art schools.
Of course training on Okinawa was incredible, with a wide choice of world class teachers. I returned to Okinawa several times to continue my study. I won't tell all my stories here but I will answer the question about being a reluctant sensei.
To put it simply, my karate teacher, Seikichi Odo, asked me to open a school upon my return from Okinawa. He asked me not to put it off so I wouldn't forget anything. We didn't have video camera's back then, you had to remember everything by practicing! So I came back and started teaching. Twenty three years later Odo Sensei passed away. But he never told me to stop teaching.
It happened again. After Odo Sensei passed away I began learning Motobu Udundi (Palace Hand) from Taira Ryusho and Takamiyagi Tetsuo. Eventually Taira Sensei awarded me teaching credentials and asked me to teach. So I did. He passed away. He also never told me to stop.
So here I am, a teacher. Of course I am still also a student, but the teacher part is immensely challenging. It was so much easier just to be a student!
Certainly, I enjoy teaching and I am truly grateful for my own teachers. In my early years I had no idea of the gift they had given me. They gave me the confidence to do a lot of things in life I never would have done (I've had some great adventures and only dumb luck kept me alive).
You don't have to agree with everything you read here. We all have our own experiences and are at different places in our training. But what is not useful to you today may be useful another day. My thoughts in this blog have been formulated through extensive experience and training under some great teachers. They are valid. But they are incomplete and subject to modification as I am still learning.
Maybe you'd like to bookmark this blog site and check in from time to time.
Thanks and remember to have fun with your practice!