In June I may be leaving Spokane for the eastern side of the Country with Charles Todd Sensei as we attend the Sho Rei Shobu Kan's 2016 National Convention at the invitation of our Teacher's Teacher, Shihan John Roseberry.
Shihan Roseberry has been a Student of Karate-Do longer than most people today have drawn breath and, before Karate-Do, he was a Champion Judoka and Boxer... He also plays a mean guitar.
My training lately had been focused on prepping for the upcoming Spartan Race in May, which is a pretty intense race if anyone has not heard of it, and this would be my first go at it.
Now my training has become refocused on attending this shin-dig as I have also been invited to test for rank, the first time in nearly twenty years, which will be no less intense considering my last one was about four hours of complete hell.
The Spartan Race, at this point, has become a back-up plan just in case I cannot get that time off from work, imagine that, a VERY intense race is now the back-up plan!
I had already been working my Kihon and everything at a pretty intense level, but now it all needs to step up a notch, or perhaps down a depth.
Either way I have something to learn, whether I am able to go or not, I am dead set to do something.
Going through some reps tonight I focused more on the internal side of things and brought myself more within the moment of each motion, rather than focusing on what something means it is best just to focus... To have intent... Then things can reveal themselves for what they are.
The last time I trained with Shihan Roseberry he lectured about deep breathing, about drawing it all the way down into the Tanden and exploding from there with full focus, full intent and, thus, full power.
It is not a matter of simply throwing out a punch, making sure everything is lined up, and flexing in just the right places at just the right moment.
Depth is the key, even within something that is terribly executed, if there is depth that a person can feel from across a room that is something they would be hard pressed to defend against... Now imagine that with good technique.
This is the depth a person should be displaying after many years of training... I may or may not be ready for a test, personally, I don't care much about testing, I just want to be able to go 'home' to my roots and bring this depth with me to show that I have not been slacking... Do I even have depth to bring? Maybe... Maybe not.... Always a work in progress.
I actually spent my time on Hookiyu Dai Ichi tonight, but the real focus was on what I have come to call 'the frame' and 'the flow' that transcends the Kata and gets to the flesh, bones, and spirit of Goju Ryu itself.
Roy Kamen Sensei, whom I have never met in person (miracle of the Internet Age) but have come to respect never the less for his insight, is fond of pointing out the Spiritual aspects of Karate, especially Kata... Kata is a living Mandala of the body... It begins and ends with prayer and requires a fully present mind in order to be truly performed as it should, truly applied as a method of spiritual cleansing (not just self defense).
His Teacher, Kayo Ong, is also a Student of Seikichi Toguchi... Go figure, a lot of similarities because we are lineage cousins.
My own Teacher, Dascenzo Sensei, made me recite a poem off the top of my head at my test for Shodan many years ago, after four hours of hell, and all that rolled off my tongue was something like 'Leopard in the leaves,' though I don't remember exactly what I said.
After that training session it was easy to bust out even a twelve hour session of training at the home of Sandifer Deer Sensei under the watchful eye of Dascenzo Sensei who was always fond of saying that one should throw oneself into training as though it were your last breath and that you never knew when that last breath would be.
Intense? Yeah... This is why the Spartan Race takes a back seat and becomes the back up plan, because you cannot get more intense than that.