CONGRATULATIONS to the students who earned promotions at our July training sessions and afterward in the dojo. Ashley Banks & Sarah Irizarry – junior orange belt, Zach DeStefano – junior green belt #1Arshdeep Singh – junior purple belt #1, Shirley Zavala & Scott Conroy – brown belt #3, Kristyn Wheeler – brown belt #2, Trevor Silva – brown belt #1, Anthony Curcuruto & Joseph Reinbold – first degree black belt, Roger Pollina – second degree black belt, Jeff Adler – third degree black belt, Edward Grace – fourth degree black belt.
Our recent training sessions started at 6:59 PM Friday evening accompanied by rain that lasted until 1:18 AM. The Friday sessions were for Black Belts and Brown Belts who are hoping to finalize their travel toward becoming a Sho Dan, First Degree Black Belt. Saturday sessions continued early and ended with a demonstration in our training center with family and friends in attendance.
THOUGHTS FROM OUR NEW SHO DAN, ANTHONY CURCURUTO
I would like to share a quote with you, from the book ‘Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind,’ by Shunryu Suzuki.
“If you continue this simple practice every day, you will obtain some wonderful power. Before you obtain it, it is something wonderful, but after you attain it, it is nothing special.”
Although Mr. Suzuki was discussing meditation and enlightenment, one can apply it to Karate practice as well. There are those who practice Karate with a singular goal of getting a certain color belt to put on. For those students, I ask you to reconsider your source of motivation; you will get much more out of it as a result.
Mr. Suzuki says,
“…As long as you think, ‘I am doing this,’ or ‘I have to do this,’ or ‘I must attain something special,’ you are not actually doing anything.”
When we let go of these ‘gaining ideas,’ only then do we actually begin to ‘do something.’ Consider the following: If one starts a new kata in class, and thinks, ‘I cannot wait until I finish this kata,’ for the most part, quite a bit is lost. When we finish learning the moves of a kata, we do not magically gain a special power to understand and perform it perfectly. We must focus on each move, each day at a time instead of focusing on the end as a primary goal. In this manner, we have been contemplating and learning little things all along, and when we are finally taught ‘all the moves,’ it is ‘nothing special.’ We have learned and will continue to learn more and more during practice.
This past weekend I was promoted to Sho-Dan, or black belt rank. One of my parents, who observed the demo and promotion ceremony said, “I did not realize there were only eight katas.” I explained that it was no small thing to have ‘only eight katas,’ and that I would be learning much more about the moves therein for years to come. During my testing there were segments that taught me to consider doing kata sequences in ways and scenarios I hadn’t ever imagined before. You will have to be there to know what I mean. If I had constantly been thinking, ‘I just can’t wait until I get my new belt,’ I would have gone through the motions without the gaining the insight from each lesson. What then would the belt really mean to me?
Much like demonstrating skills in music and art, the idea of ‘being a black belt’ is surrounded by mystique and myth. Many newcomers and people outside the dojo think that a black belt means ultimate mastery. When one gets a diploma in school, are they done learning? It is really more of a starting point in life. Being a Sho-Dan is a rewarding milestone in that it made me recall how far I’ve come since I walked in the dojo on my first day, and also that I have helped others in various ways. When I bow onto the floor as a black belt, I will simply continue my Karate practice, just as I have always done, without any special power to ‘part the sea’ with my fist. I look forward to each day learning and working with Kyu and Dan ranks alike.
THOUGHTS FROM OUR NEW SHO DAN, JOSEPH REINBOLD
The experience that I had during the testing will change the way I train in the dojo from now on. It showed me that I am capable of overcoming much harder challenges than I thought I could. There were times where I felt that I could not go on and felt exhausted, but there was always that sense of passion that got me through the most difficult of tasks. There will always be times during our training that anger or discourage us. But with a positive attitude and a focused mind, you can achieve any goal. There is no better feeling than the satisfaction after accomplishing something you thought was beyond you. I would like to thank Kyoshi and Mrs. Hughes for their dedication and passion. Thank you to all the black belts who were there for Tony and I during this test for your time and encouragement.
If you have not received recent e.mail updates about class schedules and events, please see Kyoshi and give us your e.mail address or update the information we have. THANKS
For updated information and calendar of events, check our dojo web site regularly.
THE 3rd FRIDAY OF EACH MONTH SPECIAL TRAINING FOR JUNIOR PURPLE BELTS & JUNIOR BROWN BELTS
TRAINING SPECIFIC FOR SKILLS YOU NEED TO: IMPROVE YOUR SKILLS & ADVANCE ABILITIES IN KATA, KUMITE & WEAPONS – 6:00 P.M. to 6:55 P.M.
ADULT BROWN AND BLACK BELTS – TRAINING SESSIONS START AT 7:00 P.M. to 8:30 P.M.
SPARRING SPECIFIC TRAINING CLASSES WILL BE HELD THE 2ND FRIDAY OF EACH MONTH FOR JUNIOR AND SENIOR GREEN BELTS AND ABOVE – all sparring and safety equipment is needed.
7:00 P.M. to 8:15 P.M.
COST – $5.00 PER SESSION
EACH STUDENT MUST SIGN UP BY THE WEDNESDAY OF THE APPROPRIATE WEEK OF THE TRAINING TO ATTEND
THANKS TO THE BLACK BELTS AND STUDENTS WHO HELPED CONDUCT CLASSES WHILE WE WERE ON VACATION IN MAINE. We started our vacation-visiting friends at the MIKA weekend event at the More To Life campgrounds. Friday evening Rebecca Pushard and Josh Buck earned their fourth degree black belts. Senseis Jodi, Clem and Mat earned their third degree black belts. Saturday morning after a bo and sai seminar, I biked the 20 miles to Castle Island Camps through the rolling (?) hills of the countryside. The week at Castle Island consisted of eating three great meals a day, kayaking, biking, fishing, relaxing and spending great times with family and friends. Friday morning Fayth, a karate student in maine, and Elizabeth, the daughter of the owner of Castle Island Camps, and I biked to Mt. Vernon for a cool drink before returning to the island. Friday evening, after our lobster dinner, the heat prompted us to leave for home, knowing there was not going to be much sleep even if we left before breakfast. Moose, our German Shepherd, was at Happy Tails Resort . . . and was said to have played nicely with the other dogs. He is now home chasing his Frisbee. My catching up at the dojo is nearly done and I am now going to finish my chores, and work on my car that needs brake and fuel lines. Again, thanks to my friends at MIKA, Castle Island and here at the dojo for making it possible for Linda and me to do our annual vacation, (this year with our son, daugher, grand daughter and son-in-law) re-energize and return to start kicking . . .