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By Michael Clarke
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Ryusyokai Okinawa Karate U.K. 琉 翔 会 沖 縄 空 手 英 国
Shinken Dojo 真 剣 道 場
|2013 Update Training / Blog / Dojo
|Training in Brian Hinchliffe
Sensei's Old Garden Dojo in
|Ash training in the Japanese style hut on the hill
in the park. Ilfracombe 2013.
This week is the 1st anniversary of the closing of my former dojo in the West Midlands. Yes! Time sure does fly by I know that…
So, due to this timing together with me having received more than a fair share of kind e mails recently, usually regarding what I
am up to these days, or enquiries to see if I have any plans to restart the old blog posts again. I thought then that it was about
time that I posted a bit of a blog update on training, students, and my plans for the old, or shall I say new Shinken dojo.
Why I don’t know, but for some reason of late I always seem to get hit with these three very same questions, especially from
1, Have you set up a Dojo/Karate Class in Devon yet?
2, How many students are you teaching in Devon?
3, Are you doing any Karate training down in Devon?
Maybe the feeling is that if I haven’t pushed to set up a dojo straight away, or that I haven’t suddenly got a group of 20 or 30
new students training along side me, then I have some how kind of failed? Or things haven’t gone to plan or worked out for me
down here as expected. Ha Ha Ha…… Does life ever truly go to plan anyway?
To answer the 3 questions above very briefly ; 1, No 2, 1 maybe 2 3, Yes !
I vividly remember putting the very same question to Brian Hinchliffe Sensei upon visiting him for the first time down in Hastings
many years ago now, (I’d met him a few years before this) he’d quite recently returned from Japan at the time and was teaching
the Goju Ryu way very strictly back then, guiding students from a very small dojo in his garden. “Do you have many
students”? I asked. Myself and a fellow Karate Ka who had been invited along named Roy Little, were accompanying him on
his usual pre training warm up run at the time of my asking, when upon hearing my question and being most surely alarmed,
Hinchliffe Sensei stopped our run instantly, he then looked me straight in the eye and said;
“No I don’t, and I don’t want them either, remember that”.
Maybe he felt that my asking was a sign of wrong intentions or poor understanding for future direction. Either way, he taught me
a lesson in Budo and one that has stayed with me to this day. Quality Karate is not based on numbers, far from it in fact, in most
cases it is usually the opposite of large numbers where the true quality Karate and way of Budo is to be discovered.
I also remember similar words spoken to me by my father, looking back he was always a wise man and a deep thinker. “Son, go
and seek out the truly knowledgeable, but rarely known dojo and sensei, not the so called big names with hundreds of
followers, but the quiet man and dojo, as this is usually where the real training and knowledge lies”.
They are most certainly two bits of advice that have served me well over the years as a student of Karate.
My relocation has brought about a few changes to my own training; I expected nothing less, especially so with much energy and
effort having to be placed on both settling in and supporting my family, earning an honest living is never easy but it is a must.
One thing that I have never really got with Karate, and it is an area that has hit home to me of late as I enjoy more time than I
have for a few years training solely alone. Why do so many serious Karate Ka spend so much time worrying about or being over
concerned with what other karate people are doing or up to? The Karate of myself, my Sensei, my Sempai and that of my
Students is way way more than enough for me to contend with. Of course I still enjoy being around, listening to, and reading of
the ways and training methods of others who study the art in a similar way that I do, I also enjoy researching the Okinawa ways
without bias. But, anything else really is of little importance or interest to me. Karate Ka or Nosey Neighbour, Teacher or
Preacher, there really is a fine line at times….. And why do some put so much spin on things to suit their training ways or make
themselves look elite?
My training in England these days is mainly done alone whilst also being focused alongside side seven guys in small private
dojo's, who I meet up with regularly, all being sincere and dedicated students who I also regard as friends, (one student also
has a few students of his own these days too), in many ways this is how things worked out, quite naturally really, to the benefit
of us all I'm sure, and training wise I couldn't be happier. Training alone and being able to concentrate on my own training, then
coming together to work with others of a similar mind set has always been my goal. There is no better feeling than working
Karate with like minded Karate Ka, be they ones senior, equal in standing, junior or student, it does not matter. Training alone
and with Hojo Undo is a Karate necessity, you will do well to get very far if you don't do thus, but as a serious Karate Ka working
on many other elements with quality train partners is a must too, especially so for effectiveness and understanding of both
movement and returning fight body actions, can you imagine a boxer or wrestler training without sparring partners?
|In the Wednesbury garden Dojo of
student Paul Pearson with Andy & Craig
|In the Halesowen garden Dojo of student Mick
Parton with Indy, Steve R & Andy (May 2013)
Anyway, I haven't set up a dojo down here in Devon as such just yet, even though I have occasionally hired a local hall for
private training and to feel my feet on the comforting large sprung wooden floor. There are actually a few reasons for this, the
first being that work commitments at present see me travelling nationally on a weekly basis, so forming a dojo without stability is
not going to really work. Also, even though a permanent fitted out to suit dojo is not totally needed to teach Okinawan Karate
from, in many ways I actually feel that it is needed at times, especially so as far as working with the many hojo undo apparatus
goes. I have actually now cleared the ground and area at the bottom of my garden, a perfect place for a dojo if I may say so
myself, so slowly but surely it will be born. In many ways, maybe I am getting older, because even though I have now received
one or two genuine requests from potential students for guidance in Karate, I honestly feel that there is no need to rush things.
If they are genuine and sincere they will wait... As over the coming months the Shinken Dojo as it once was will rise again.
Back to training... A normal week will see me training in a variety of places, normally in at least four differing venues. A Tuesday
Evening will see me training in the private dojo of Mick, a long time student, and a Wednesday or Thursday Evening will see me
in another private garden dojo of Paul, another student, who also kindly lets me bed down in there for the evening, plus we
always see through a pot or two of green tea as we chat an hour or two away. A Sunday morning normally sees me training in
the Japanese style hut in the local park, and at other times a small space in a room at home provides enough space for
regularly working with some of my Hojo Undo tools. Quite strange really how we tend to adapt and make the best of situations if
we really have to. The Zori on the floor are actually used as portable Machiwara, Senaha Sensei actually showed me this
method on a pair that he'd got from India, so I will leave you to work that one out....
|A few of the Hojo Undo tools
that I am able to still train
with at home within the
limited amount of space that
I have available.
The future.... Well, as I've said, in time a new Shinken Dojo will rise, and a few new students will enter its doors, on top of
forming a closer bond with some of my former dojo and long standing students too. Also, my teacher as in Senaha Sensei is
planning a closed event in Okinawa later on in the year, Oct/Nov. solely for his Ryusyokai students from around the world to
attend, so of course I am making arrangements to attend this along with a few of my students. So there will be some quality
training being done then for sure, together with the meeting up with some friends of old and the making of some new ones. On
top of this I have also been putting some kind of order to my older blog postings, thus combined with a lot of other material
that I have put together, so I may one day put things to paper. As for the blog, I may start it rolling again once time allows,
more probable once the winter is upon us if I do, but for now I have much travelling and training to do, together with a dojo to
build from new.
(Sunday 12th May 2013)