“Played until my fingers bled”

September 2016


In the song by Brian Adams this happened “in the summer of ‘69”. For a new guitar player, that’s the feeling you get when you practice all the time. Your fingers may not actually bleed, but the level of discomfort is intense, yet you love playing. Stretching at the beginning of class is similarly demanding, and Martial Arts training, like playing an instrument, is a voluntary exercise in “intentional suffering”. However, with guidance this training is actually fun. You just have to get into it as you learn to be the player and the instrument, and discover your “inner artist”, your “true self”.

The curriculum at our Dojo is based on the idea that there is an easy way to learn things. That method involves starting out with the practice of movement, using karate techniques, that we learn to copy from an instructor. As students follow along with the class they learn correct posture, poise, and skeletal alignment. They also learn to develop muscle memory, balance coordination and self control, as those principles relate to specific movements they are practicing for their rank. With promotion to a new rank the process begins over again, only on a higher level each time, because of the progress made at the previous rank. Because we teach our basics, partner moves and forms (Kata) as specific skill techniques, and require the students to practice them the same way every time, students come to the point where they can demonstrate their moves almost without thinking about it. That is usually the signal that they are ready for promotion to the next rank and a new set of challenges.

September 2016 Newsletter Played Until My Fingers Bled

(Shihan Mason and Tobiyokogeri Jodan : To achieve the heights you must consolidate the basics.)

As you learn the techniques at each rank the Sensei will award you red stripes on your belt to show improvement, thus allowing each student to progress at their own speed. You have to learn all your techniques to an acceptable standard, but everything can be individualized to make progress achievable. The result is that most students are able to reach Black Belt in due course, and demonstrate a high degree of proficiency worthy of the Black Belt rank.

One of the great advantages to a written curriculum is that when you look back over what you have learned you can see what you know. This is often a tremendous boost once you achieve Black Belt because you have a structured perspective, making it much easier for you to pass on your skills and insights to other students, and even qualify as an instructor if you like.

Students who choose to take advantage of the DVDs we have available for home practice will find themselves more able than ever to make the most of their time in class to work out on moves that they already understand in theory. Currently DVDs are available for ranks White Belt through Shodan. Ask at the Front Desk for prices.

Shihan Robert H. Mason © 2016