Thursday, 3 December 2015

Where People Outside our Realm Simply Don’t Understand

It is one of those things that I think about very little, although it can be common, where friends and peers give you flack for training in the Martial Arts, I’m not really talking about fellow Martial Artists bashing other fellow Martial Artists, I’m talking about individuals, no matter what ethnic background, age, gender or creed they are, they come way short in understanding how our way our life is in the Martial Arts world. I’m talking to those that never in their life took up a Martial Art system giving Martial Artists flack. I heard words from my peers, it’s a waste of time, you have no life, Karate is not helping you etc. There are reasons that I would or would not understand, and I am completely baffled.
I never, in my life heard any of my family members give me flack for training in the Martial Arts. I never heard any negative feedback on what I love to do. In fact, almost 12 years ago, my mother and my older brother enrolled me in a Karate program. When I gone through my black belt test, my family was present to watch for love and support. Those are moments I will never forget. I’m proud of my accomplishments in my Martial Arts journey, and I will keep doing it for the rest of my life. I have family members that took Martial Arts, such as my older brother who did Judo for a brief time, my Aunt who came from Barbados and settled in Toronto took up Taekwondo and made it to green belt, and my young cousin who is 5 years of age is taking Taekwondo. Being a second-generation Martial Artists is not easy, I had shoes to fill by making to black belt whereas my Aunt never got a chance to.
Outside the Martial Arts world my intentions was to keep it a secret, but eventually it will come out. Since I’m a volunteer assistant instructor, I have a job on the side to support me. Many people who train in the Martial Arts, no matter what rank they are, have a well-paying job, no matter what geographical location they are in. the big myth that’s never been brought up is that all Martial Arts school owners only make their living off of teaching, including the assistant instructors who make at least part-time wage. It’s not always true, it depends how large the student body is or if the Sensei runs a black belt mill commonly called “Mcdojo.” I’ve been told by one person, and this issue was quite touchy and personal and that could have and would have drove a wedge in between me and the academy where I trained and help teach at for over 10 years. My friend told me that I was being taken advantage of. If that personal opinion directed at me got to me and if I ever gone with it; that would be 10+ years of loyalty being flushed down the drain. In my defense, I deny that I am being taken advantage of, and it is backed up by facts more than personal opinion. I was never forced to come to class, I had free membership because I volunteer to assist at black belt level at least once per week, I can take time off whenever I feel like it, I was never forced to clean the dojo every time I show up, It was never mandatory for me to participate and attend seminars, tournaments or any type of function related to Martial Arts being advertised in any way, shape, or form. I also been told by one person that Karate is not helping me. Period. It’s either people who don’t know how the system works, or simply ignorant. I know that he meant that it’s not helping me financially…that’s why I have a regular full-time day job. Now again, people believe that club owners and assistant instructors only make a living of teaching classes. The fact is that so few Senseis who run dojos (I’m not talking about Mcdojos) is the only career they live off of, depending if they have hundreds of students and have the dojo open 6 days per week, and maybe, if possible if the business provides day classes for adults who work evening shifts, and provide an after-school program to recruit more young students. In Okinawa, most club owners have a job on the side as much as their Western counterpart, because they prefer to have a few, well-disciplined students, while they have a regular job may it be fishing, selling products, law enforcement etc. There are universities in mainland Japan and some in the Western world that have instructors that teach Karate and other Martial Arts at campuses. It’s hard to get a full-time job doing that, you have to have a degree in Physical Education and Kinesiology/Anatomy or anything related to the human body. The best thing about that career, is that College students come to you, instead toiling away printing out Ads and distributing them around to various neighbourhoods. Now, furthermore about that ridiculous claim that Karate is not helping me, the person who said that to me completely left out other benefits that Karate can help me with, it gives me good exercise, it helps me increase my focus, it improves my health, makes me more disciplined, helps me learn self-respect, helps me improve my self-confidence, and I am getting my education in self-defence techniques. These positive benefits can take anyone to accomplish other things outside their Martial Arts training. If I didn’t find those things, I wouldn’t be training at all. I have trained many students that started out being introverted, I have trained students who had learning differences and they can be a handful, but overtime with patience and guidance they have improved, I can’t save everybody, so I can’t beat myself over the head about it. So it will silly to say to them that Karate is not helping them. It’s like saying that to an individual who likes to play golf as a hobby. I would like to use this analogy since my dad’s hobby is golf. Now, let us say that my dad decides to play golf as a hobby, and play a few local tournaments a year instead of playing in the amateurs and work his way up to the PGA. He had a well-paying, regular job that provide for him and his family. Now is it fair for anyone to say that golfing is not helping him? Will that imply for playing other sports as a hobby a waste of time and would not help anyone if one decides not to make money off of it?   
Others ignorantly believe that self-defences is a waste of time and they don’t work at all and it only works in movies. Well, quite frankly we see action movies and the actors such as Jean Claude Van-Damme, Jackie Chan and others do flashy Martial Arts techniques to make their movies more entertaining. Those moves would not work in real life confrontation, and that making a fight scene is always choreographed. Now if one trains in the dojo effective self-defence techniques seriously and practices everyday, those techniques can most likely work in a real-life confrontation. Gichin Funakoshi said, “It takes one hit one kill.” Or what I learned at my school, “Keep it short and simple (KISS).”
Another thing is tournaments. Whenever I share my ups and downs to anyone who never took Martial Arts, especially if I bottomed out of the top 3 or didn’t make it in 1st place, I’ve been told that I never win. I tell the truth about the Martial Arts world in order to preserve our respected arts for our generation and the ones to follow. My main focus in my journey in the Martial Arts is understanding effective combat techniques more than winning trophies. If I trained in a school that focuses on sport Karate and I expect to learn realistic combat that can save my life, then I would be wasting my time in that place. I’m not big on Karate competition, I only compete 3 or 4 times per year and I don’t expect to win. In fact, I have been consistently been placed in the top 3, and I’m not only talking about the small inter-dojo tournaments. It does happen that I come up short, and some judges may be bias, but I don’t whine about it because it’s not about winning, it’s about having fun and participating and those that never done any Martial Art are out of touch in that state of mind. Gichin Funakoshi said “The ultimate aim in Karate lies not in victory or defeat it lies in the participants of character.” Martial Arts is about spiritual fulfillment, not materialistic fulfillment. If I were to train only on the sport aspect of my Karate training and compete 3 or 4 times per month, then I would have a better chance of getting more wins, because training on that path would help me in the sporting side of it, but would not help me in a real-life confrontation. It’s very important to know the difference while looking for the right school for you. What I like about tournaments is that I get to meet new people, make new friends and add them to my Facebook friends list. Who is he kidding that I have no life if a train in Karate?
I don’t exactly know why those type of people give dedicated, passionate Martial Artists flack, maybe because the Asian styles and their philosophies are foreign to them despite that is has been in the Western world for seventy years. Keep in mind my fellow Martial Artists, wherever you are in your journey don’t treat your Martial Arts as just a hobby, or a job, make it a way of life, make it a part of your everyday life. I would not waste my time hanging around negative people. I would not waste my time hanging around with these losers who are ignorant, jealous, jerks who are plain stuck up trying to dictate my life thinking that they know everything and that the world revolves around them. Being able to teach classes as a living full-time is a dream for me. It’s a long-term goal for me to get there. I have no desire to make money being a prize fighter in MMA or be an action movie star, but who knows maybe I would meet my own goals. Never let friends be a negative influence on you.


Saturday, 15 November 2014

Crispin Autumn Shiai 2014

I was eight months removed from the DNBK tournament at Queen’s University. I was set to participate in Crispin’s annual Super Shiai in Georgetown, Ontario in May. Unfortunately, the week before that event, tragedy had hit my family, my mother passed away and I withdrew from competing in that event. I sacrificed time from private weekend training to spend her last days in the hospital with her. Even after her death, I took time off from the dojo, but I still found some time to train myself. I know deep down inside of me that my mom never wanted me to give up Karate, it is something I love, but at the same time, I know that family comes first. I will never forget that over 10 years ago, my mom and my older brother enrolled me in Karate as a Christmas gift. My mom supported me, showed up to a few of my gradings, and tournaments. In November 2009, I will never forget that my mom and the rest of my family were there to see me receive my black belt after performing a four hour grading. Many memories I had with my mom was at times she sewed up the dojo’s crest on my gi, and ironing my gi when it appeared to be wrinkly. Now my mom will be with me in spirit, always. I had the will to come back to the dojo as I promised everybody instead of leaving it all behind.
The year had been a dark cloud hanging over me, but it was a test from above to persevere through thick and thin. Going into this tournament as always, I knew I was the underdog loved and looked up to by many people. I was viewed as the man who would never give up and the man who is willing take on challenges. I didn’t want to think for one second to say to myself that I am going to win this tournament for my mother because I would put myself in that position to put all the pressure on myself and my mother don’t want that, she prefers more of me thinking of having fun and performing the best katas I can do in this tournament for her.
Later in the day, the black belt division began. My rival, Michael Toms was getting warmed up to compete, I was getting warmed up too, practicing my kata. In my mind I was saying “This man is going down.” When it is the 30-39 division’s time to compete, my only disappointment was that the audience has lessened, only a few of Michael Toms’ students and a couple other students and instructors, especially two hockey boys that walked in after hockey practice next door to check out the black belt division were left. It would’ve been nice that some more young kids that me and Michael judged recently that day would hang around and watch how we can steal the show, especially that little girl who came and asked me for advice on how to improve her skills after judging her weapons kata. However, most of the kids are tired after a long day and that it was on a Sunday and they needed to go home early and into bed for school the next day. Despite the regularly low crowd numbers in the latter part of the competitions, there is room for one fan in the heavens looking down on me performing at my very best.
The weapons division was only me and two other competitors, one of them was Michael Toms, he was doing an XMA style double Nunchaku kata, the other was doing a traditional Bo kata and I was doing a traditional Tonfa kata Matsu Higa no Tonfa. The judges was an elderly lady who is a Kung Fu practitioner, my Sensei as the center judge, and the tournament promoter Debbie Crispin. I was up second to perform before Michael. I did an intense weapons kata. Then Michael Toms did his kata performance which is not bad for a man in his late 30’s. While watching him perform I was hoping that he would drop his weapon (the small humourous part of it), but he didn’t. The scores for that was close, but Michael got 1st place and I got 2nd place. Several minutes later was the kata division. I was competing against 5 other black belts in the 30-39 division. I knew I had no sort of competition rust after a 9 month hiatus from competition, since training was always in my mind. Originally, I was planning to do Heiku, a kata that this territory hardly sees. However, within a few weeks prior to the tournament I decided to do a Goju-ryu kata Shisochin, 27 hands because I was working on that kata mostly with a fellow classmate. I performed a very nice kata with such intensity, with a determination to win or go out in a blaze of glory, if this was going to be my defeat…so be it. Michael Toms did Seiyunchin, Attack, Conquer, and Suppress, and in nearly midway through the kata I noticed that he bobbled a bit. The result was that me and Michael tied for 1st, and Debbie decided not to have a sudden death tie breaker to determine an undisputed 1st place winner maybe because she sees us as the biggest competitors in her division.
There is no doubt that Toms’ students were in awe of our performance, we tore the roof off. We told a story of a mere underdog Senior Student representing Durham Martial Arts vs. a regular competitor, dojo owner, and promoter from Orangeville. I am a well-liked guy by Toms’ and his students, they like seeing my traditional katas and the power I put into it. There is one thing in my heart that I do know, my mom who is in heaven would be proud of me for continuing his journey in the Martial Arts, and bring home some trophies this that night and bringing inspiration to my up and coming Martial Artist.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Facebook Post on African Martial Arts

This post I found on facebook is written by brother Teanis Tillmon give good knowledge on the Africa's forgotten Martial Art system.

(1) Teanis Tillmon - Okay, so......I am I just imaging things or has...

Friday, 4 April 2014

Parents being too Controlling over their Children

Throughout my ten years of training in Karate I have seen or heard of parents being too controlling of their children in Karate. This occurence is not only in Karate or any Martial Art that parents enroll their students into, it is also in recreational sports such as hockey, baseball, gymnastics all across the board. Especially in the field of performing arts such as acting, music, kiddies version of beauty pageants. I do remember hearing about a reality show about little girls not even in their teens being in a beauty contest and their mothers are being too controlling on their daughters, forcing them to go through such rigors from strict dieting and putting so much make-up on. Parents who keep pushing their children too hard in anything can discourage them from doing something that they have loved, or lead children too destructive means by simply being overly competitive. What children go through is hell, and their childhood can be extraordinary but also abnormal due to the parents pushing their children too much, I don't know if its for an everlasting financial security, therefore it is for their own good, or is it for the financial gain of the parents.

I remember doing some acting at a summer camp, and doing a few Christmas pagaent plays at a church I attended when I was kid, and I don't even recall having my parents forcing me into it, or putting high expectations on me to be the best actor that they ever hope to be. My dad was into the dramatic arts in his youth. I was never forced to follow in my dad's footsteps; never in my life I have been told that I have lots of shoes to fill. I did what I loved for a while. I was blessed to have a good childhood, which was never taken for granted. I was never treated #1 or #2 or lower, me and my siblings were loved equally. These days, or maybe for a number of years, parents who have multiple children can treat the eldest, the middle child, or the youngest child as #1 and the other as #2, although I wouldn't say #2 and I would say as the one who is overlooked, and all the expectations are put on the shoulders of the #1 son or daughter, and this is so tragic. In my opinion, in the long run it can cause a family dysfunction. The prime example of this is that your child gets the straight As in school while the other child tends to be coming up short the mother or father loved the child with the straight As more than the other child that is the struggling B or C student. When parents force their children to get better in any activity they do and put so much expectations on the child will suffer from psychological abuse. The child can be in so much under pressure to live up to expectations that are placed before them.

There can be so much drama in Martial Arts tournaments when parents can act like coaches and so many judges don't like that. I constantly end up hearing like, "Come on Timmy throw that kick in, score that point" and so on and so on. It can get so annoying that tournament promoters say before the tournament starts, "There will absolutely be no coaching at ringside from parents." I have been reminded a few times that Karate parents can come up to you and complain about unfair calls from the judges and so forth, or get accused of playing favourites. Thank God I did not have any yet, but I may have my day of hell. For those who run and managae a Martial Arts school can get complaints from parents about their child getting board of the training, not training hard or putting pressure on the Sensei or Sifu about putting their son or daughter into the grading to get a new belt rank, whether or not he or she is ready can be a fine line between do as the parents wish in order to keep the students long and hopefully make it to black belt or for the Sensei to put their foot down and explain to them the reason why he or she is not putting their best effort in classes or why he or she not ready yet to grade. For those black belts that wanted to own and manage their own school should think long and hard about it. It's not easy to run a Martial Arts school. It is not only obtaining knowledge of your art, it's also about inter-personal communication skills in order to handle these situations to the best of your ability along with being business savvy, and making and distributing flyers in order to draw in clients. Beware or be ready to confront the hot headed Karate mom/coach. It doesn't matter if the mom or dad ever donned a gi (uniform), walked into the dojo and trained for a long period of time or haven't took any Martial Arts at all.

The subject I write about is primarily about the Martial Arts world, but this is also for those parents who have children in any activity they are enrolled in. It is time to stop playing the parenting coach, it is time to stop putting psychological torment on your children, it is time to stop putting one child on a high pedestal and treating the other that he or she is worth nothing in life. The creator of the universe has called you to be a parent to your children not a heartless coach to your children, for we must put the positive frequency into our children in order to encourage them to pursue in anything they are passionate in what they are doing. They shall grow in time to be confident, to have integrity and to have honesty to others in the world. If you plant a seed in the ground, the plant would not grow overnight, it takes time, proper care and nutrients to let the plant grow. Now that's how parents got to be to their children, loving, caring and supportive.

Recommended Article: 
  How to be a Good Karate Parent be Jesse Enkamp

Ma'at Hotep,

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Bodhidharma Shaolin Myth - YouTube

I draw to the conclusion that the infamous Bodhidharma story is a myth. If you try to percieve this story a historical fact then it won't make sense for one individual to invent all styles of Martial Arts in the middle ages. If you use your critical thinking. Martial Arts originated in military battles. How many historical wars happened before this Tamil Monks time? China had many indigenous combative systems centuries before the dark ages.

Check out this video version, I recommend you pause the video here and there for reading purposes. 
Bodhidharma Shaolin Myth - YouTube

Recommended Reading:

They Came Before Bodhidharma
Origin of Martial Arts: The Real History
African Contributions to the World
Who is Bodhirharma?

Jonathan Bynoe