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1700+ Posts... and Counting

Merry Christmas 2010!

Top: Chris, Madeleine, Charles (Dad), Cael & Charles
Bottom: Michelle, Nayna, Natasja & Tomoe

Merry Christmas from Hawaii!

This is the first year in a long time that I stood in the back row for our family photo. You can see how much taller my sons are!

And my granddaughter, Madeleine, is now 15 months old. She is such a joy. Our whole family revolves around her.

From our extended family to yours, best wishes for a very safe, happy, healthy and prosperous holiday season. And in the coming year, I hope that your Karate training is safe and rewarding.


Charles C. Goodin

Ippon Kowashi and the Walk-in

At the last Hawaii Karate Kenkyukai training session, Sensei Pat Nakata explained his theories of Ippon Kowashi and the Walk-in. His student, John Oberle, summarized his talk and posted it at his Bujutsu Blogger blog. Please see:

I missed that training session. Thank you to Nakata Sensei and John for sharing the materials.


Charles C. Goodin

Does Your Karate Training...?

At year end, it is a good time to reflect. Does your Karate training...

you happy?

Make you feel honest?

Make you feel more humble?

Allow you to excel at all things?

Make you feel good physically?

Make you a calmer, more centered person?

Fill you with respect for life and for other people?

Give you a sense of responsibility for your actions?

Make you feel grateful for your instructors, the
other students, and the people with whom you train?

Make you feel like your skill is both a treasure and a potentially
dangerous thing?

Move you to the point of wordless wonder when you execute a technique almost properly?

Make you happy? (I know
that I asked this before,
but when it comes down to it,
if Karate training does not
make you happy, you should
find something that does.)

Merry Christmas!


Charles C. Goodin

Christmas Party Resolutions

Aloha from Hawaii!

Last Wednesday, we had our dojo Christmas party.

This year, I began the party by asking the students and instructors to introduce their guests (parents, spouses, friends, etc.). Then, after we ate, I asked each student to stand up and describe one important thing that they learned (about Karate) this year, and one thing that they would like to work on during the coming year.

I had a couple of reasons for this. Some students rarely get to speak in public. Introducing people and making a statement gives them this opportunity.

In addition, describing what you have learned and what you would like to work on makes you stop and think. Out of all the things you learned this year, which one do you want to describe? And out of the all the things you could learn in the coming year, which one is most important to you? What do the other students say? What is the Sensei's response?

You would be surprised. The students come up with some pretty interesting things! And each has his or her own special focus. I don't think any of the students said the same thing.

I always say that if you have a plan or objective, you might accomplish it, but if you don't have a plan or objective, you will certainly float around aimlessly. If you aim for nothing, you will probably get just that! Getting better at Karate takes hard physical work and intense intellectual work too.

When you are lighting charcoal, you have to put lighter fluid (unless it is pre-soaked), light matches, and blow on the coals to get them going. If the coals are wet, it is almost impossible. But at a certain point, the coals catch fire with a "whoof" and then they are burning on their own.

It is pretty much the same with students. We try our best to teach them. Sometimes it is hard, sometimes it is easy. But at a certain point, the students catch fire with Karate and are learning on their own. Then we can sit back and watch them cook!

It is good for students to think about and state what they have learned and what they want to concentrate on in the coming year. This helps to get the charcoal going.

One thing about our dojo -- none of the students mentioning wanting to earn a certain rank or win a tournament as these are things we do not emphasize (actually, we do not participate in any tournaments). Most of the students described different aspects of body mechanics they wanted to work on.

Our dojo in on break for the year. I know that it is more hard core to train right through the holidays, but I think it is important for the students to spend time with their families and friends. By doing so, they are practicing their Karate. Training in the dojo is just the tip of the iceberg.

Merry Christmas to you and your family, dojo, students, and friends in Karate!

What have you learned this year and what would you like to concentrate on in the coming year?

My wish for you is that accomplish all your objectives -- so make sure that they are worthwhile ones.


Charles C. Goodin

Aloha From Sunny Hawaii

Today it was sunny with a high of 79 degrees here on Oahu -- shorts and t-shirt weather. I spoke to a couple of people on the mainland where it was literally freezing. One person told me that they had 18 degrees below zero weather. Well, we did have rain last week.

We often say, "Lucky you live Hawaii." How true!

If you've watched episodes of Hawaii 5-0, that's really how it looks here -- even in the winter. But they do tend to make up place names. And I wonder if they will change the Governor character? We recently elected Neil Abercrombie, so the character should have a beard and mustache.

I you would like to visit the beautiful islands of Hawaii, you might want to check out my wife's travel website: tanega.com. She specializes in Hawaii travel and honeymoon packages.


Charles C. Goodin

A Fat Bump and Being Ordinary

Tonight at class, I had a horrible experience -- I felt completely ordinary.

Last Thursday I had a minor operation to remove a fat ball that had formed under the skin about 4 inches in from my right floating rib. It wasn't that big, but I often bumped it with my returning hand when I punched or blocked. I asked the doctor, and the bump wasn't caused by this contact. Anyway, I had it removed and got two stitches which will be removed this Thursday.

As a result, I had to be careful at class tonight because I did not want to tear the stitches or open the incision. But I still trained (of course).

Wow, I felt really terrible. I had to slow down my right, returning hand. I also had to make sure that it did not brush or rub hard against the wound which seriously threw off my compression.

Naturally, the speed of my left hand was affected by the returning speed of my right hand. So I was overall slower and my timing was also off. Instead of striking with my left and timing the step on the recoil, I was stepping on the extension, with the returning hand off timed. This also meant that the energy of the recoil was not being recycled and put into the next movement, meaning that I had to re-initiate the next movement. All my movements where thrown off. I actually was more sweaty and tired than normal.

In a nutshell, I sort of felt how I did before I learned how to use koshi -- ordinary. Punch, block, strike, with no enhanced body dynamics. It was horrible! It was like driving a car with flat tires dragging a load of bricks.

It may sound like I am exaggerating, but without compression (torquing the body) and proper timing, things just don't work right and require much more energy.

Thank goodness the stitches come out on Thursday. After that, we're on break until the New Year, so I'll be completely healed and ready to go for our first class.


Charles C. Goodin

An Amazing Feat at Honolulu Marathon

Yesterday was the Honolulu Marathon, an event that draws thousands of runners from around the world. During the news yesterday I saw something that was truly amazing. Several military men (I think that they were in the Army) ran the marathon wearing 60 pound rucksacks. For the local people, that's three bags rice!

Running the marathon is difficult enough (I never tried it), but doing so wearing 60 pound rucksacks is simply incredible. But then again, these are the same men who would undoubtedly carry a fallen comrade that far or even farther.

The older I become the more I appreciate the saying, "Freedom isn't free." Thank God for the men and women in uniform who have paid for and continue to pay for our freedom. We should never take that for granted.


Charles C. Goodin

Beyond Style 9: Style Glasses

Sometimes an emphasis on style is just an excuse to dismiss the excellent things that people in other styles can do. I don't know about you, but the conditioning feats of some of the Uechi-Ryu and Goju-Ryu people are pretty amazing and intimidating. I actually had Higaonna Sensei in my dojo and home. Meeting an expert who is so skilled and conditioned (have you ever seen his hands and arms) is both frightening and challenging.

Can I dismiss Higaonna Sensei's conditioning by simply saying, "Well, he is in Goju-Ryu and I am in Shorin-Ryu"? Heaven forbid, what would I do if someone with that kind of conditioning and strength were to attack me (not Higaonna Sensei, of course, as he is a gentleman)?

A style should not be a pair of glasses that allows you to ignore people outside of your own style. Karate is Karate. If someone can do something, I need to be able to either do it and/or know how to defend against it.

My first and third sons practiced Kendo. My first son was actually pretty skilled and did well in tournaments. When I attended Kendo tournaments, I was always amazed at the speed of the competitors. It made me think: "When I practice bo, I have to remember that I have to be able to defend against and defeat people this fast." I did not dismiss the speed of Kendo just because it was a different martial art.

Let me say this again, if someone can do something, I have to either be able to do it myself or know how to defend against it. I cannot simply ignore it because it is from another style.

This does not mean that I have to try to be as strong as a big Karate expert. We all have limits. Sometimes speed beats strength. Sometimes timing beats speed. And sometimes strength beats timing. It all depends. I have to be able to defend myself against unknown attackers with unknown skills and strengths, who attack without warning (and might have friends and/or be armed). It is certainly a challenging task!

We need to recognize how difficult this is and be realistic about it. We cannot only consider the limits of our own style. We have to consider all styles, and for that matter, attackers who have no style at all but are skilled at street fighting.

We have to take off the style glasses.


Charles C. Goodin

Getting Better Requires Regular Training

As a Karate instructor (ever since I was about 17), this is an observation I have made: those students who train regularly get better and those who do not, generally do not.

Students who train regularly, even if they are not that athletic, become familiar with the basics, techniques and kata. Once they are familiar with these, they can move without thinking about all the details -- and they will improve.

However, students who do not train regularly will always be trying to remember what comes next, where to turn, when to kiai, etc. Instead of just moving they will be thinking. Sometimes a student will never get beyond this point, even if he trains for many years. I have actually seen black belts who always have this look on their face of "what comes next?" They are just barely able to perform a kata.

If you are a parent of a child in Karate, please make sure that he attends class as regularly as possible. This is the only way your child will improve. Otherwise, he or she will always be playing catch up and will feel frustrated. Of course, school and family obligations must come first, and students who are ill should stay home. But as much as possible, students should attend class regularly, year round.

I feel that I can teach just about anyone Karate -- if he will attend class regularly, pay attention, try hard, and practice at home. I could not even teach an Olympic athlete Karate if he would not do these things (of course, an Olympic athlete would be disciplined enough to train successfully). It is not just about being in shape and coordinated. Improvement in Karate requires familiarity with the curriculum and ingraining this into the body so that the movements become instinctive and reflexive.

Next year will be here very soon. This is a good time to dedicate yourself to serious Karate training in 2011 (and for the rest of your life)!


Charles C. Goodin

A Late Birthday Wish

My birthday was last week, but I would like to express a later birthday wish (just putting it out there).

I would like to one day obtain originals of Gichin Funakoshi's first book (Ryukyu Kenpo Toudi, 1922), Choki Motobu's two books (Okinawa Kenpo Toudi Jutsu Kumite-Hen, 1926, and Watashi no Karate Jutsu, 1932), and Karate-Do Taikan (1938), so that they can be added to the Hawaii Karate Museum Collection at the University of Hawaii.

It would also be very nice to obtain the lost Karate text of Admiral Kenwa Kanna, but that may be lost to history.

For myself, I would just like to keep training with my children and excellent students.


Charles C. Goodin

A Birthday Gift -- Whales

Today is my birthday! I am 53.

In some sports and activities, 53 is old. But in Karate, that is still a "young boy" age. When I go out with my senior friends, I am still the youngest. I get to eat all their leftover food and desserts! I am still like a kid -- at 53.

Today I got a special birthday gift -- a Sea Sherherd T-shirt! I am at work (I am an attorney), but I am wearing my new T-shirt.

The world would be a much better place if there were no commercial murder of whales and dolphins. Native peoples hunting for subsistence is one thing, but commercial murder is just that.

The shirt has the skull logo. I never noticed until now that the graphic in the skull is a whale and a dolphin. I always thought that the design was just the shape of the skull.

There are so many things that I am grateful for. I try to share my Karate activities, discoveries, and thoughts through this blog. One thing I cannot adequately share are all the great, skilled and kind people I meet, know, train, and eat with. A couple of weeks ago, I had lunch with three Karate Sensei in their 80s and one Karate Sensei in his mid-60s. Just sitting and listening to their stories (some about Karate, some not) was such a treasure. We laugh and laugh.

All of us are lucky to practice Karate. I enjoy Karate each and every time I practice. I am also so fortunate to have a supportive family and great students -- we all learn together.

And I also have my brand new Sea Shepherd T-shirt. Save the whales. The world is a vampire....


Charles C. Goodin

About Shinzato Sensei Footage

Yesterday, I posted a link to film clips of Shinzato Sensei teaching a seminar in Okinawa earlier this year. Every time I have spoken to Shinzato Sensei about film footage of him, he felt dissatisfied with it. I am not talking about the film or audio quality.

Actually, I think that Shinzato Sensei is dissatisfied because he feels that he could have done better.

This might make sense if the footage is several years old. After all, his technique will have evolved during that time. Even if the footage is several months old, there could have been a change. But I believe that Shinzato Sensei will be just as critical of film taken yesterday, or even this morning. Even if I took footage and showed it to him right away, I think he would feel that he could have done better (in his mind).

So I am pretty sure that Shinzato Sensei will feel dissatisfied with the footage in the link I just posted. So why did I post it? Because it helps people to learn. I noticed things in the footage that reinforced things he had taught me. Just watching him move is a such a learning opportunity.

Shinzato Sensei is very demanding of himself. He is certainly more demanding of himself than he is of any of his students. He is constantly working on himself. Year after year, day after day, minute by minute.

That is one of the things I have learned from him.


Charles C. Goodin