Dojo Training vs Solo Training
I really enjoy training on my own. In these solo training sessions, I train on my specific areas of concern, at my own pace, and dedicate as much time as I need to whatever it is that I am working on. Training alone is, I feel, very important. It helps develop a deeper insight into the techniques, combinations, stances or sequences that we practice. This is when we truly discover for ourselves how we can personalize our art and make it work in a way that is unique to ourselves.
That does not, however, allow for discounting dojo training at all. Going to the dojo is a very different experience. It is not only about the actual training. The dojo has a certain spirit of its own - an energy that is contagious. When we enter, each one of us taps into that energy. It is hard to put into words the electric feeling of entering a dojo. It just has to be experienced.
Perhaps this energy is created by the hundreds of like-minded students visiting the dojo everyday, with the sole purpose of training the martial arts. This singular focus and the unified spirit of every budoka is probably what creates and strengthens daily, the spirit of the dojo.
While solo training is a wonderful journey of discovery, dojo training is truly walking on the path, under the tutelage of the Sensei; or guiding the next generation of students. Training alone, one can succumb to various reasons for not being able to train properly, or train at all sometimes. In the dojo, no such reason exists. We go there for no other purpose but training.
There have been days when I have entered the dojo reluctantly, thinking (mostly to myself) that I feel a bit under the weather, or just feel drained after a whole day's work. But when I do enter, suddenly all the fatigue vanishes! I feel recharged just being there. Whatever physical discomforts I feel just disappear. At times, if I start training a bit sluggishly, I end up finshing the session fully invigorated!
Solo training is fun, and a great workout; something I learn a lot from. Dojo training is just magic! So I would encourage everyone to visit the dojo regularly.
A Trip to Comic Con
Growing up amidst comic books and superheroes and the likes by way of literature and entertainment (amongst other things, I assure you!), I paid a visit to the local chapter of Comic Con. It was a trip down memory lane, really. I was amongst a bunch of people who share - and for the most part, far surpass - my love for all things comic book-ish. The numbers were greater than I had imagined! It was refreshing to see that people of all ages still take an interest in the world that I had always been a part of.
The highlight of the day for me was reconnecting with an icon I had grown to cherish and respect from the time we had first crossed paths. A mighty warrior whose path I had always imagined as my own. A man who had fought many battles under my command. He won with pride. He lost with integrity. The outcome of the duel did little to alter the person that he was, is and (I hope) always will be.
This legend is none other than Ryu. Yes, the Ryu: from StreetFighter. Though I'm not much of a gamer, I do love combat games. StreetFighter 2 was pretty much the game that got me hooked to the genre in my teens. Since then, there have been many games. In them, there have been many fighters who have caught my fancy and made my favourite list. Ryu, however, has a special place in my heart.
Perhaps it is the Karate-do association. Like myself, Ryu is a Karateka. It was his power and strength I had always aspired to achieve. Today, years later, Karate-do is the art I have remained loyal to. I have worked my way up the ranks. I have achieved victories and suffered defeats in the ring. To date, I wonder how it would feel to come face to face with the character who, to me, is still the ultimate warrior - Ryu.
Tournaments Must Be Well-Organized
Last weekend, I was Tatami Manager at an open Karate tournament. The competition was for both kata and kumite The turnout was massive. Male and female participants of all ages, of various nationalities and from so many different styles and dojos from across the country.
It should have been an active, fun day of competition, with adrenaline flowing off the tatami and onto the medals' platform. The adrenaline was there. But I saw more of it from concerned, angry and frustrated coaches and parents off the tatami than from the competition arena.
With good reason, too! Kids who had been there since as early as 7:30 a.m. were still waiting for their event to be announced 12 hours later! The P. A. system was in audible at the galleries. People were asked (via the same P. A. system!) to leave the competition area and wait in the galleries till their event is announced. But nobody was actually there to usher them out; or back in, for that matter. There was no actual schedule of events.
Modifying rules, changing match times, and generally being a little flexible to ensure a smooth and quick competition are all acceptable practices. What is not, however, is a general lack of preparation. When organizing a tournament, it must be planned and scheduled to, first and foremost, finish at a reasonable hour. Everything from manpower requirements to refreshments; evaluation systems to appeals desk; and a pre-determined sequence of events; should be made available.
As martial artists, we should lead by example in being systematic and organized, and paying attention to details in every endeavour. That should also extend to event planning and management.