Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Always More to Learn; Always Room for Improvement

Sorry for missing a journal entry last week: I just returned from a week of training at the Zen Bei Butoku Kai International Summer Camp in Guelph, Ontario. I’ve been going to this camp, which has run annually for the last 31 years, since 1995. It’s not a vacation. It’s training, and the daily routine looks something like this:

6:00 – 7:00 Tai chi, pushing hands, and chi kung
7:00 Breakfast
9:00 – 11:30 Morning training
12:00 Lunch
2:00 – 4:30 Afternoon training5:00 Dinner
7:00 – 8:30 Evening lecture

As you can see, there’s very little down time at camp, but we still manage to have a great week, with nightly visits to the campus pub for social beverages.

Some highlights from the week:

My tai chi form has improved. In our organization, we do an offshoot of Yang style tai chi as taught by Sensei Richard Kim, who passed away back in 2001. The morning tai chi sessions at camp were led by Brian Ricci Sensei and Frank Gaviola Sensei. This year, I’m remembering the individual movements and sequences a lot better, and it takes less much concentration to flow through the entire form.

I had the pleasure of attending several training classes with Fumio Demura Sensei , who visited the camp during the week. His presence and knowledge of Okinawan history and kata bunkai (application) is amazing. I took plenty of notes. (And I iced down my thumb after he cranked me in a finger lock that I’ll never forget!)

At camp this year, I spent most of my time in the “combat room” learning jujitsu techniques from Lenore Gaviola Sensei, Rose Baldo Sensei, and Lonnie Francis Sensei, and I was promoted to yonkyu (blue belt) at the end of the week. I can’t say enough positive about my jujitsu instructors and their level of proficiency – I felt totally in awe of their effortless ability. Just goes to prove that there’s always more to learn and there’s always room for improvement.

This year, I succeeded in passing my 4th dan (4th degree Black Belt) examination. I worked hard in the months leading up to the event, so I was highly confident and in great shape when I stepped on the floor for grading. I was as prepared as I could have been, but because I missed two months of training before the test (I took an understandable break from training when my son was born back in April!), I was not as prepared as I would have liked to have been. Still we had a strong group of candidates grading for 4th and 5th dan, and it was an honor to be on the floor with them.

The most memorable highlight of the week for me was seeing five of my students grade for their shodan (first degree). Well, I didn’t actually watch them — I was grading on the floor at the same time — but to know that they all passed is a GREAT feeling!

Hats off and a deep bow of respect and thanks to my instructors Brian Ricci Sensei and Dennis Mann Sensei, who continue to teach me — on and off the mat — with patience and love. Thanks also to my family for their understanding and tolerance of my "hobby," and for all those who continue to contribute to my personal growth and development.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Attacking in all directions

Last week, I attended a conference on bullying prevention here in Boston. The event was aimed at providing anti-bullying resources and information to school administrators, community groups, and parent-based organizations. The conference was well attended — I set up a table for Emerald Necklace Martial Arts, and I also went to represent Boston Self-Defense, a growing online network of self-defense and safety information that I created after being inspired by my mentor, Coach Tom Callos.

I met and connected with a number of interesting people at the event — and I took a lot of photos video, too! Here's a quick video of Steve Daly, founder of the radKIDS children's safety and empowerment program. I initially met Steve back around 2001 when I became certified as a radKIDS instructor.

Find more videos like this on Boston Self-Defense

In the last few weeks, I've also spent time teaching karate and bullying prevention seminars at a few Boston-area schools. I'm learning a lot from the KIDS.

Beyond all of this, we've been training really hard at the dojo (will post video of our recent grueling conditioning training soon!):

I and six of my students depart this weekend for Canada for a weeklong martial arts seminar that will end with Black Belt testing on Friday, June 25. Five of my students are testing for shodan, first degree black belt. I will be testing for yondan, fourth degree.

Of course, I expect nothing short of complete success!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I'm going on a "Masters Journey." Want to Join Me?

Very soon, I'm going to start working on a 4-week "Masters Journey" of advanced personal development, leadership, goal setting, and achievement.

The "Masters Journey" is a program created and run my my UBBT friend, Gary Engles.

Gary has posted a couple of sneak-peek videos ("The Mysterious Letters" and "Celebrating Your Wins") in advance of the program launch. I encourage you to watch them here.

Now, Gary's a little over the top sometimes, but he's one of the most focused and driven people I know.

The "Master's Journey" is essentially a 4-week self-directed program of personal growth -- when it launches, Gary will be offering the entire program for $197. After watching the videos
posted here
, I hope you'll decide to take the "Masters Journey"

along with me and perhaps a few other members of the dojo.

if you're interested, let me know -- and be sure to sign up using Gary's "early-bird sign-up" form, as only 100 people will be admitted to the program!