April 15, 2013
From You play like you practice:
The instructor repeatedly said, “When your turn is over, do not hand the gun to your partner. Instead, they’ll turn their back, and you’ll just drop it on the ground so they can pick it up and start the exercise over.”
That sounded weird. You’re right next to the person, why would you drop the gun so they had to pick it up?
Without having to ask why, the instructor explained himself: “If you practice handing the gun over to your partner now, you might end up handing the gun over to an actual assailant later. Don’t laugh, I’ve seen it happen.” Then he showed us surveillance camera footage of someone doing it in robbery.
Skip steps now, you’ll skip them later. Cut corners now, you’ll cut them later. You get used to what you do most of the time.
Read the whole thing; it’s short.
March 7, 2012
Competition is a funny thing. American society fosters competition everywhere. Children compete in school for test grades, opportunities, and spots on the sports teams. As they grow, they compete for popularity, friends, and attention. When they are young adults competition becomes more serious as they compete for SAT and ACT scores, spots in colleges, GPA points, and various things that will determine the direction of their future lives. Competition is everywhere.
I was lucky enough to grow up at the USA Karate dojo, where a positive experience of competition could be found at our tournaments. Karate tournaments are a unique way of learning to deal with the stresses of competition, while still showing compassion towards other competitors. When I was young I was competing with my friends, against my friends, and at times, with and against my family. I learned how to do my best, and try to win, while also rejoicing in the success of my friends and family. Having everyone from my dojo there to support and encourage me made the tournaments fun and enriching. I couldn’t be upset about getting second place when my best friend got first, because my own disappointment wasn’t of a greater magnitude than my excitement for her. We were a team. We were all a team; the fellow students, the parents who were scorekeeping, our coach making sure we all had what we needed, and our black belts who ran rings and helped us feel at home. Everyone played an important part in making the tournament a positive and healthy environment for competition.
I treasure my experiences competing with karate because they have helped me prepare for competitions in other aspects of my life. The commitment, focus and determination I learned from training before tournaments allowed me to be a better student at school, to compete for grades and opportunities. The example that my parents showed from competing with me and volunteering led me to volunteer throughout high school and college. Overall the positive lessons I learned from karate tournaments have transitioned into all aspects of my life, and benefitted me in countless ways.
February 18, 2012
This next weekend we will be taking some students to Walla Walla to compete and for some of them it is either their first tournament or their first tournament in a long time. There are others who are not attending for various reasons. I know going to tournaments can be very intimidating if it’s not something that you do on a regular basis, and to be honest with you, that’s just a part of competing and something that you get to face and conquer by going out there and doing your best.
The reason most of us are in karate, is because it’s fun. We go to tournaments because they’re fun, because we meet new people who are just as passionate about our art as we are, and we make new friendships that often last a lifetime. We go to tournaments because we are proud of what we do and what we’ve accomplished on a personal level and want to share our passion. We go to tournaments because they make us better martial artists and better people, and did I mention that they’re fun?
I’ve heard so many students say, when asked why they are apprehensive about going to tournaments, that they’re “afraid to lose” or “afraid to do bad”. This is all a matter of perspective. We love karate, it’s fun. Why does a tournament have to be anything but? Winning or losing should not be your main focus. Yes, it’s fun to win. I’ve won a lot in my karate “career” and I’ve also lost a lot. When I won, I didn’t learn half as much about myself as I did when I didn’t win. It’s the times when I’ve lost that made me want to go back to the dojo and train harder. I learned what I could do differently, I learned my strengths and weaknesses. As a result, I was able to get better.
What if those statements or thoughts could be changed to “I’m going to demonstrate my best karate”, “I’m here to have fun”? What if we eliminate the word afraid and the negativity/fear that accompanies the anxiety about winning or losing? Then going to a tournament doesn’t seem so scary, it now sounds like something we may want to try.
I encourage you to re-evaluate your perspective on any issue that you find you’re holding back from due to fear or anxiety. What if you just changed your lens with which you see the situation, and put a positive spin on your approach? I’m not saying lie to yourself, but be honest with yourself and harness your positive energy. I guarantee you’ll have many more fulfilling experiences and will learn a great deal about yourself and others. You just might have fun…
– Sensei Tony Sharrah
January 2, 2012
Principles , Code of Ethics and the Five Fold Path provide moral reminders for students of USA Karate Academy of Shoreline. While each member receives a complete copy of these affirmations and character building quotes and sayings in their new student “Welcome Packet” this post was requested by parents, and former students alike. As we welcome the New Year, it is a good time to reaffirm our beliefs in harmony within oneself, striving for personal development each and every day, and making a commitment to being a positive influence even in the most difficult situations. Happy New Year!
September 9, 2010
Dear dojo family,
My turn to shift into a more independent life of self- and world- exploration has inevitably arrived, as I head off to Western Washington University this Fall! When a sempai makes this change, the dojo follows into its own transition of changing roles and uncertainity as to how the leadership positions in the dojo will be filled. After the sempais who I held in esteem – Chris, Brad, Brian, Shirin, Katrina, and Justin – and my leadership peers – Kate, Bria, Tim, and others – suddenly had all physically “moved on,” I was left feeling rather panicked under the pressure of living up to their influence in attempt to carry on the responsibilities they left behind.
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December 9, 2009
That dull cliché is true: it is better to give than to receive. As a million stories tell us — from A Christmas Carol to Finding Forrester — the act of giving, especially, when there’s no parade or photo-op, is how we own a part of something. By own, I don’t mean return-it-to-Costco-if-you’re-disappointed own. I mean that you have an emotional stake in something or someone. The following are a few examples of USA Karate volunteers who have provided significant, but mostly under-the-radar, contributions:
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December 8, 2009
Jon is like the annoying kid in the front row who raises his hand to answer all the teacher’s questions. Except in this case, Jon is always raising his hand to volunteer for the unpaid dirty work — the metaphorical toilet cleaning — at the dojo. Who will be responsible for getting the dojo cleaned? Jon: I will. Who will rent a truck and bring and return chairs, tables, and so forth for the tournament? Jon: I will. Who will help my son with a emergency roadside service? Jon: I will. You know Jon will get some bread from The Little Red Hen.
Jon’s employer has transferred him to Honolulu. He will return here for a few days, once a month, to do some work and see his family. Denise, Emily, and Sarah will be staying around Edmonds for a time to be determined. Emily goes off to Western next fall. Denise is in grad school but, luckily, there’s a branch of her school in Honolulu if she needs to make a change. Sarah has been looking forward to increased leadership at the dojo, but might have to miss that. Seventy-five percent of the Hies train at USA Karate, and all have close friends here. Some good fortune, but mostly sad news for the Hies. All sad news for the rest of us.
I recommend that everyone join me in my chosen response: I plan to remain in the first stage of grief — denial — forever, or until Jon returns, whichever comes first.