“The time to strike is when the opportunity presents itself.” Tatsuo Shimabuku
“You don’t have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things – to compete. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated to reach challenging goals.”
Sir Edmund Hillary
Choose your thoughts carefully . . . you are a masterpiece of your life.
Your self-confidence is directly connected to how much you feel you are
making a difference in your world.
By William H. Duessel, Hanshi
When I trained with Master Tatsuo Shimabuku during 1964, he stated that more time should be spent on the basics, a little less time on the kata, and the least time on kumite. I think that new students should have a good understanding of the basics (stances, blocks, strikes, kicks, etc.) before they are started on a kata. This is especially true for the weapons (bo and sai). Most people teach the two empty-hand charts before the student begins the kata. They do not do the same thing with the weapons. Some dojos spend a short time teaching basic techniques with the weapons and then immediately start the student on a complicated weapons kata. I think more time should be spent on the weapon basics before we start the kata. Also, some of the combinations can be taught in advance of the kata. All techniques should be performed with form and speed. Form and Speed equal Power! To obtain speed, you must be relaxed.
Master Shimabuku also stated that although we can be taught a kata in a short time, it takes years of training to really learn the kata. He told me that it would take 20 years of hard training to perfect Sanchin Kata. I would advise all students to not be in a hurry. Isshinryu Karate is a life-time art. If you train hard, especially on your basics, it will make the rest of your training a lot easier. Good basics will improve your kata and your kumite.
“Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”
William Jennings Bryan
“Determination and perseverance move the world; thinking that others will do it for you is a sure way to fail.”
Marva Collins – Educator
“A bird in the hand was worth two in the bush, he told her, to which she retorted that a proverb was the last refuge of the mentally destitute.”
― W. Somerset Maugham, The Painted Veil
It’s just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so.
It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas. Oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it, overspending, the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma, the gifts given in desperation because you couldn’t think of anything else.
Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.
Our son, Kevin, who was 12 that year was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended, and shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church.
These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in the spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes.
As the match began I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler’s ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford.
Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn’t acknowledge defeat. Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, “I wish one of them could have won,” he said. “They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.” Mike loved kids, all kids, and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball and lacrosse.
That’s when the idea of his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church.
On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years.
For each Christmas, I followed the tradition, one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on.
The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.
As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn’t end there.
You see we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning, it was joined by three more.
Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad.
The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope.
Mike’s spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us.