Weather Reminder:  As we approach the winter season, listen to WRNJ Radio 1510 AM, 92.7 and 104.7 FM if the weather is questionable.  I will make class cancellations by 4 pm on days when weather conditions may not be safe.  Also, I will post information on our dojo web site, . 

Our annual kick-a-thon for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was held during October.  We have kicked 34,690 times and have raised $1972 so far this year, which makes our grand total  $15,847 since we started Kick-A-Thons.  WELL DONE EVERYONE and get those final forms in.

My thanks to the Tony Curcuruto, Shirley Zavala, and Tom Schroeder who took time November 11th to help John Snyder, a church elder, and myself put new shingles on the roof over the kitchen.  Hopefully, this will make it possible for this area to receive insulation and new sheetrock – to make it more useable. 

There will be no classes at the dojo on December 24, 31 and January 1.  Please plan ahead and make up these classes.




     As is stressed in the student booklet and during many classes at the dojo, it is imperative for students to practice skills learned to be able to retain material and to prepare to learn new and advanced skills. Karate is a thinking endeavor that helps students learn and grow in areas that are not effectively stressed today in our schools. This is evident when I work with athletes at the high school and at Warren County College where I teach. All to often the easy route is taken. Tasks are not done to best ability of the individual or the tasks are done with minimal effort; the outcome is acceptable.

     From the first day at the dojo students are asked to arrange shoes neatly as they enter the dojo. Gis are to be kept clean, which is not often easy with a white uniform and obis are to be tied a particular way. This starts to prepare the student to take care of the “little things”.  Every element is crucial for the proper mental development. Each student learns that there is one way: to make a proper Isshin-ryu fist, to place feet a certain way to establish the proper stances, to move arms and legs in a certain way to punch, block or kick properly. Beyond these areas, proper posture is needed to enhance balance and efficient movement. Appropriate breath control is also needed to develop and enhance wellness and karate power.

No two students at any rank are the same in ability, intelligence, maturity and time in Isshin-ryu Karate.  In karate, as in life, one often thinks of gaining something. How far has one progressed and how far it is to obtain a higher rank? The student and parent ask how long is it going to take to become a certain rank and how often do students gain promotion?  If the student concentrates on promotion and gain, a conflict is created between karate’s intrinsic ideal and the reality of how things actually are.  The conflict enters the karate world when one creates a picture of what one wants, what one expects and then one establishes his or her own time line for attaining the goal. Each student must allow himself or herself to be guided through this knowledge, and not become concerned with how fast one learns but how well one learns.  Being concerned with how fast one learns will create anxiety, which will inhibit learning. Each student must progress through the FOUR STAGES OF KARATE DEVELOPMENT.

 1. Learn the basic techniques (kihon).

2. Learn breathing techniques (nogare and imbuki) are found in kata.

3. Understand Chinkuchi or power is found in Sanchin kata.

4. Understand the technique (waza) is found in all aspects and phases of karate.

     The Japanese and Okinawans often use the following terms for teaching and learning. They liken karate and kobudo training to woodworking.

1. Arakezuri – rough grinding and shaping still in the process of being formed.

2. Nakakezuri – middle planning.

3. Hosokezuri – fine planning and sanding.

4. Shiage – being finished. BUT STRIVING FOR PERFECTION IS NEVER FINISHED. The advanced student understands (in time) that he is not at the top of the mountain but somewhere along the side of the mountain and each advancement will be more challenging as well as rewarding.     

     The intention of traditional karate is to end conflict, at its root, psychologically.  Traditional karate places the focus on perfecting the physical body, through performing better techniques.  The technique is the basis for perfection, because as one tries to perfect the form of the technique, the intellectual and psychological sides of the student must work together to aid and join the student into a cohesive unit.  As the individual technique is perfected, it is joined with other techniques, adding form, timing, rhythm, speed and focus of power when the student study’s kata.

     As the student studies kata, self-defense and sparring techniques, the individual moves become stronger, more focused and improved or the student opts to stay at the level he or she has attained where it may be comfortable.  Karate is not mystical or easy.  It demands concentration, effort, focused intention and dedication. HOWEVER, anyone may work to attain any goal and succeed if the proper effort and mind set are applied, with the continued support of the family. 

     The beauty of Isshinryu Karate is that it is a very basic style where as one develops directness of power that may be generated, the simplicity challenges each of us to perform better technique and to be able to execute the kata, kobudo and kumite skills effortlessly.  The challenge is to strive to understand the many levels of learning and interpretation.  The purpose of karate is to find peace, not from fighting, but from the inner confidence we gain as we work to perfect, not change, the system created by Tatsuo Shimabuku.  As is evident through watching Hanshi Duessel, my instructor who is 85, that karate training is ageless; we can grow old with it and never exhaust its dimensions.  In this way the mirror will always need polishing.

     With black belt supervision and instruction it is reasonably easy to train in the dojo when one keeps the concepts mentioned above in mind. Each student must maintain “the beginner’s mind” and be open to constructive comments.  At times it is not easy to accept constructive criticism, however, each one is an attempt to help the student improve.

     At home and in the dojo at times the student’s mental concentration is not at the appropriate level to train effectively.  “Just going through the movements” is no going to help a person train. In fact haphazard practice does more harm than good.  It has been said that it takes twenty-one days to create a habit.  If a person trains improperly, what is being learned is that is “OK” to do things improperly . . . and this will carry over into the dojo, a student’s schoolwork and an adult’s job performance.

 To learn the student must Understand that there something to be learned — Knowledge to be gained.  We must create the Will to learn; develop the Intention to learn plus Enthusiasm – Remembering there is no substitute for continuous participation in class.

The more a student knows, the more time that is needed to practice properly.  A calendar helps students chart what is done in class and at home.  This is necessary so each area of study is covered, not just the areas the student likes.  Areas that must be practiced individually are: Basics, Basic Kicks, Kick Combinations, Stretching, Body Building Calisthenics, Stance Drills, Kata (including weapons for advanced ranks), Bag Work (if the student has one), and Meditation.

            A sensei is responsibility to check, instruct and correct – looking for efficiency of movement, effective techniques, meeting performance standards, improvement of attitude and knowledge.  Praise comes in many forms beyond the verbal.  So, how does the student know if a good job is being done where rewards are intrinsic?   If a student is asked to help another it means that student has the capability and understanding to help another student.  Promotion shows that the student is ready for advancement and further responsibility.  This is high praise because not every student is capable of being responsible.


            WELL, the information included in this month’s newsletter is formidable.  I ask adult students to read it more than once and then revisit it in the future.  I ask parents of younger students to read it and understand what they are able to, because some of the concepts need training to help deeper understanding.  (The door is always open for new students ones who whish to return).

Holiday gift reminders:

            Hanshi Duessel’s Kata and Weapons DVD – $40.00

            Hanshi Duessel’s Book – $15.00 (only 5 left)

            A second gi

            Training equipment (available at our wholesale cost)



Posted in Dojo Newsletter.