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Meeting the Challenges of a Busy Schedule

November 2018

From time to time parents of martial arts students have voiced the opinion that school is more important than karate. I beg to differ. While academic success is valuable in this world, so is personal safety and the achievement of physical skills and emotional and mental balance. As humans we have a left brain (used for logical and linear thinking) and a right brain (used for creative expression and visualization ). Keeping a balance between these hemispheres of the brain is essential for maintaining psychological balance while expanding our thinking skills.
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(The kick that Sensei Ra-mos is demonstrating is called “Maegeri” the Front Kick. This is the first kick that we teach to beginning students, but they cannot perform it like this. Sensei Ramos has been training for over 25 years to get this good.)
School tends to favor thinking in words while karate encourages thinking in pictures. In order to succeed in school facts are memorized; while in order to do well in karate techniques are practiced and demonstrated. Most learning in school is intellectual while most learning in martial arts is physical and emotional. We need to offer our children a complete range of learning opportunities so that they can develop into fully functioning adults.
In addition to developing alternative ways of thinking, your brain benefits from a good physical workout. According to a recent study, just 120 minutes of aerobic exercise a week can help improve learning and verbal memory. Our brains need oxygen, and the kind of exercise we do at the Dojo gets lots of oxygen to the brain.
Unlike other sports, karate requires the student to use both left and right sides of their body which then activates the left and right sides of the brain kinesthetically, in a tangible way. This kind of practice helps students to learn how to balance their body, and this serves as an model for balancing their emotions and their mind, allowing for the development of a balanced and sustainable lifestyle.
There are many demands on children and adults in modern life. Prioritizing our busy schedules is a necessity. We need to include both left and right brain activities to meet this challenge. Martial arts is a way to keep both sides of our brain in harmony. This is the “way of harmony” that we seek to teach at the Dojo.

Robert H. Mason © 2018

To be Fit: Exercise the Body and Develop the Mind

October 2018


In his book How Children Learn, John Holt describes the way that young children behave when moving about in the world exploring and learning. They have fun. Their curiosity directs their attention. They begin over and over again. There is a saying: Zen Mind Beginner Mind. They stand up. They fall down. They stand up again. No pressure. Their learning and mastery of the world, their body and their mind is organic.


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(Sensei Altwal Kicks the pad held by Sensei FungSang)

For a young child there are no boundaries between

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Karate and the Inner Game


October 2018


In Martial Arts it is important to develop the ability to move from perception into action without passing through cognition. This means responding to what we see, hear, feel or sense without thinking about it. Thinking about anything in our usual way takes time, and in a situation where one’s life may be on the line, time is of the essence. The problem for most of us is that we think in words. For example, beginners in karate, when questioned about how they are considering a technique will admit that they are talking their way through it, thus: “step back with the left foot, raise the right arm, twist across the body with a blocking movement and follow up with a reverse punch, not forgetting to twist the hips.” While this process works enough to let them struggle through the elements of the movement in roughly the right order, it completely negates the experience of harmonious movement in action. A better strategy altogether is to make an internal movie, a visualization of the whole move, based upon the example of the instructor. They need

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Musings on the Internal Aspect of the Martial Arts

September 2018



When I first started studying Martial Arts in 1973, it was for external reasons. I had taken on the role of head of Security for a spiritual group that was being harassed by local political activists, concerned about the draining of their Vietnam War protesters by the group. These groups could be extremely passionate, loud and violent. I turned to a local Shotokan School that was just opening in the neighborhood. While I was getting a good education on fundamentals and techniques, I quickly noticed something else taking place. I was starting to become more aware of myself internally. While the friendship, camaraderie and the simple joy of a good work out that training in Karate gave was enough to continue, it was evident that I had found

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Learning Through Cooperation or Competition


Most of us are familiar with competition. Throughout our lives, at school, at work, or in sports, we have competed. For many people, the way that they perceive "getting ahead" in life is through successfully competing with their peers. One of the problems with competition; however, is that when you beat someone at something, they usually experience being beaten. That is, if you win, they lose. It is often the case that the experience of losing in competition is much more frequent than the experience of winning. This losing experience can be very unpleasant leading a person to become depressed or to completely withdraw from the activity in question.

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(Sensei Altwal trains with Shany with the Bo staff. Partner training with sticks can be very safe, provided that students realize the importance of cooperation.)
Here at the Karate Center, we

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A View From The Real World


Teaching Karate was the first thing that instilled in me the desire to be an educator at all. Despite other teachers I've had throughout life, it was the consistency and skill of my Karate teachers that taught me the true importance of a teacher. Outside of my university, UKC was the only place where I knew, beyond a doubt, that my teachers could control a classroom, respected their students, and absolutely knew their subject matter. To have teachers who still consider themselves students brings a level of honesty and integrity to a classroom that students recognize and appreciate, even subconsciously. An educational system that believes the title "teacher," Sensei, is a distinctive and hard-earned honor has given me

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My child complains about coming to class; What should I do?

July 2018


Sometimes parents, especially the parents of very young children, mention to us that the kids complain about coming to class. The parents acknowledge that the kids like the class once they are there; yet they think maybe the child is losing interest.

In many cases, the child is not telling you they doesn’t like their classes. Often, they are demonstrating that they are “present focused.” At early stages of development, kids are not always able to project their thinking into the future, or weigh the potential for future enjoyment. For example, if you offer a young child a dollar now, or five dollars in a week, they probably will choose the dollar now, and the immediate gratification.

To deal with this, first

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