Interlude II: The 10 Terrazzo Tile Dojo

During that convalescence things happened. My sister (also black belt) leaves dojo complaining about how she is treated. Other black belts experience same and follow suit. I was suspected of masterminding with others mass exodus of senior belts. Eventually everything is cleared up, except for bad taste in the mouth. In any case, other personal situations nix any return to dojo. Nevertheless, dojo honors my membership, rank, etc., and allows me to practice elsewhere and I am welcome to return anytime. I shop around to no avail and find that the elsewhere is me.

I formally retire from the Classic Okinawa Goju-Ryu Karate Dojo and set up the "Ten Terrazzo Tile Dojo" in the humble and tiny confines of my living room. That is where I'm at now. I still keep contact with my last Sensei, Jaime Acosta, and have good relations all around with former brother karatecas. But I fly solo now.

Is this a legitimate vantage point from whence I may opine? I think so. Surprisingly enough, the confines of my karate experience has not limited my growth and appreciation for all that is outside Goju. I've learned that there are basic principles of movement and intent that underlie all manifestations of the martial arts whatever their country or province of origin.

My katas is all I know. The training that brought me to this point is all I know. I have no problem with invention, fusion, reconceptualization of kata or martial arts training in general. There are many roads to the same place. The important thing is walking the path, trusting what you do even if a lot of it remains somewhat a mystery. Some things must always remain so.

But I also believe that the martial arts, in my case karate, aspire to so much more. I also believe that a dojo or any place where people gather to practice should aspire to train the mind and spirit. I also believe that kata is a ritual with its inner laws and dynamics that touch many facets of the self, and where fighting and self defense are at best the least important manifestations.

I also believe that karate should be open to anyone, not just the elite practitioner. And this brings me to dojo class structure. It should be for the most with the least, not the least with the most. I believe a good curriculum with stages provides the best scenario for karate to be inclusive and not exclusive.

Yes. I've seen structured dojos with bad sensei and unstructured ones with good sensei. I've seen dojos with colorful gis and bermuda & t-shirt dojos. I've seen people practice as if they were square dancing and others where people are dying to tear you apart. What I look for is kime, and this can reside in the saddest 4o year old slob giving it his all. Snarky adrenaline is often mistaken for kime. In other words, karate is mistaken for winning and if you lose whatever it is you're doing is crap.

I beg to differ.

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