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Mixing Gas

Sometimes a student or instructor will ask to visit my dojo to train for a day, week, or perhaps the summer. Generally, I do not accept visitors for training unless they train with my direct Sensei or his senior students globally.

Some people might find this to be a rather restrictive policy, but there are many reasons for it. First, my dojo is small, and the instructors are concentrating on the students. Visitors take quite a lot of attention, meaning that we would have less attention to give to our regular students.

Second, the learning curve in our system is extremely long. Even if the student has trained for many years, it takes a long time to learn to use the koshi and for the body to adapt to the requirements of koshi driven movement.

Third, students typically ask to visit and train without consulting their own Sensei first. I certainly cannot have a student train with me without his Sensei's permission first. The Sensei himself should contact me rather than the student.

But then again, I would not generally accept a visiting student who is outside of my direct system under my Sensei, even if his Sensei asked (unless his Sensei is my good friend). I realize that this will also sound restrictive, but that is not the reason for my policy.

When I purchased my Corolla in April, the salesman took some time to explain the features of the car to me. Toward the end, he said, "Just make sure that you don't put diesel fuel in the gas tank!"

He explained that a customer had done so. The car's tank was half-full with regular gas and the customer accidentally filled the rest with diesel. Of course, the car would not work.

Worse than that, the gas had to be pumped out of the tank by a specialist. And because it was a mixture of regular gas and diesel, it had to be disposed of as a toxic substance. I think that the mixture had to be shipped to the mainland for disposal. All in all it cost thousands of dollars!

The moral of the story is not to mix regular gas and diesel.

That is why I generally do not accept visiting students or instructors from other styles. What I teach is pretty good by itself (at least I think so). But it does not mix well with other styles. Other styles are good. Our style is good (at least I think so). But a mixture is like regular gas and diesel fuel. It will wreck the car, ruin the tank, and cost a lot to dispose of.

And to make it even worse, if I teach a student from another style, his Sensei will probably have to undo everything I taught! What is right in our style could be a mistake in another.

I believe that I could teach just about any Karate student to move the way we do if I had one year to do so and the student tried hard. This is usually not possible with visitors. Without sufficient time, a visiting student would be stuck at a transitional stage, like a tadpole with legs. It would not quite be a tadpole or a frog.

So we rarely have visitors train in our dojo.

There is a saying that "you can't catch two rabbits." The rabbits tend to run off in different directions. For this reason, if a student wants to join our dojo, I would expect him to only practice our style of Karate. Practicing two styles at the same time is very difficult. You have to empty the bucket before you can fill it.

It is better to be good at one thing rather than terrible at two.

Also, I would worry that a student could injure people in the other dojo by accidentally using the mechanics or techniques we teach. Since we do not participate in tournaments, nothing we do is regulated or restricted by rules. A young koshi is hard to control. Even a more mature koshi tends to think and move on its own.

Pick one rabbit and chase it. If you catch it, you are really lucky! Most people don't even get to see one!


Charles C. Goodin