August 2007 Volume 33
A students Perspective
Life is essentially a process of learning and teaching. Of sharing, and teamwork. And most importantly, it is a journey of self-discovery. In the same way, karate is an art that focuses on these fundamental aspects of life.
On Sunday the 26th August 2007, I , along with the other senior members of the Dojo, waited in anticipation for our turn to demonstrate our skill and learning on the Dojo floor. My emotions were a bit perturbed—as they would be for any other significant event in life (e.g. giving a speech, performing on stage, writing an examination etc.), but to an extent, it calmed me to realise that I was not alone in feeling this way. From observation I recognised that most people taking part in the promotion had butterflies—it’s only a natural human reaction. Nonetheless, a few minutes of waiting can sometimes seem like hours when you’re more aware of yourself and your surroundings.
Soon, the call we had all been anticipating, brought us onto the Dojo floor. We did our usual warm-up exercises, although less strenuously than usual (since we were trying to save our energy for the somewhat unknown ‘test;’ that awaited us). I stood there in contemplation, revising in my mind all the kata’s that I had so diligently practised during lessons and at home. Around me, others chatted, or revised kata’s with their friends, and some wondered what ‘else’ we would be expected to do besides kata and fighting. We found out soon enough. Hanshi promised us a rather ‘strenuous’ Warm-up, which is exactly what we got. But more than anything, it was a beneficial learning experience to perceive that we had more resilience than we thought. Hereafter, we were disciplined and trained in carrying out our stances effectively, (stance is a vital component of karate). As we progressed from slowly practicing these stances with the patience and support of a few of the black-belt members, to practicing them individually, it made me over joyous to realise how much like life karate is. There we were, in the midst of being ‘tested’, and yet we were once more learning and being taught. Hanshi once told us that in karate you are always a student, and the same is true for any profession, and in fact all of life. I was grateful at this discovery.
So it happened eventually we were all able to carry out the seven-step exercise, which targeted some of the important stances (which form the basis of kata’s). Hanshi then demonstrated for us the strict examination system in Japan, where every move is a measure of one’s technique, power and skill. This is important to keep in mind at all times during training, and should really serve as a self-monitoring system, so that each individual can test him or herself, and try to ensure that s/he is carrying out karate movements using the correct technique, as well as effective skill and power
Then it was time for our kata’s. I was quite excited of the prospects of carrying out all the Kata’s (that I knew), especially since I had made an effort in preparing for them. But once more the spirit of tolerance, patience, learning and teaching that is so essential to karate was illustrated. We all performed the kata’s starting off at a slow pace, and working together as a group. Hanshi explained to us that he wanted us to all collaborate in a joint effort, and move together in unison as part of a team. The technique and skill was to be a group effort, the power was our own to wield, as a fight against the self. Hanshi explained to us the importance of teamwork, of working as a group in harmony, so that our movements would be almost rhythmic, and synchronised. He presented us with the peaceful and yet powerful awe-inspiring picture of swallows, often time seen in this kind of group-formation when in flight. Once more, there were important life lessons to be learnt from this. The importance of respect for oneself as well as others, self-discipline, and even trust. The significance of sharing, teaching, learning, working in harmony and as a team there were also lessons to be learnt from this. When we think of t he group formation of birds on the sky, we admire their skill, their technique, their respect for and understanding of each other and the self. They seem so peaceful, and yet, the power and force of a group formation is much stronger than a sole individual bird could be (except where the individual becomes imbibed in the mindset of the group spirit, or the group spirit is imbibed by the individual—but this is still part of the same process. Nelson Mandela would be one example of this, as he became the symbol and individual representative of the groups struggle against the injustice and oppression of ‘apartheid’) it underlies the importance of relationships—the trust, respect, support and sharing that forms an essential component of karate, and once again, life. It also highlights for us that each individual has something to teach us as well and something that they too can learn from us.
We are all unique and important.
Hanshi mentioned on several occasions during lessons, that karate is a fight with the self. He explained that it was a fight against the one’s desires, those aspects of our self that prevent us from showing our true light , our true colours and potential. This is a truth. It is a commonly-held belief, that life and karate are about fighting and competing with others, but this is a misperception. Throughout life, wisdom has taught us that our greatest enemy is the self, and that it is wise to compete against the self and not another—for one can never change another, not his character nor his destiny but one can certainly change the self. (For example, if your weakness is laziness or as lack of enthusiasm, then acknowledge this weakness but do not accept it, fight it, so that you become a better more enthusiastic person). But life and karate being a learning experience, we should not be too harsh on ourselves either, for we are all human beings after all—we do make mistakes, have our times of gladness, sadness and bitter disappointments, but in the spirit of the Dojo, we should always strive to be better than we are, and never give up.
The last event for the day , was fighting. I pondered on the reasons for this component in our promotion routine, and realized that it was there to teach us a few lessons too. Well, firstly, fighting has some rules. No punches or kicks to the face, only kicks to the body . It seems simple
enough, but in reality, keeping to these rules actually signifies much. It means that you’re putting your trust in the person you’re fighting with, that you trust them to follow the rules, and by you yourself following the rules, you’re also showing respect for this person. The other significance of being placed in such a situation, is that it is meant to prepare us, in the event that we are confronted with an attack in our real lives (Lord forbid). It helps us to plan ahead, to determine where we need to improve (on the self) in order to be better prepared for such an attack, as well as helping us learn to tackle and eventually conquer our unique fears, emotions and even inhibitions.
At the end of the promotion session, I left the Dojo with a sense of exhilaration and surprisingly—renewed strength. (no more butter-f– LIES! It was just a state of mind more than a state of being after all.) I felt that more than having gained the qualification that would bring me to the next level in karate, I had seen, learnt, and practiced valuable life-lessons. I am grateful for all the learning opportunities and experiences that life has brought me, and for the patience and generosity of life and all its teachers. I would like to conclude as I began: life is a process of learning and teaching. Of sharing, and teamwork. And most importantly, it is a journey of self-discovery. In the same way, karate is an art that focuses on these fundamental aspects of life.
Thank you, (special thanks go to Hanshi Solly Said, Kyoshi Ahmed, and all the Sempai’s (Yusuf Bukhari, Jan-Nita, Hendrik) as well as all those who participated in this event).
Sumayya Soni (3rd kyu, Adv. Green)
Said’s Gym news
There has been a recent interest from our members of the gym regarding a Body Building competition to be hosted by Said’s Gym. Hanshi has been considering this for a while, and if there is enough interest amongst the gym members. There is a good possibility that we could host one early next year.
In the meantime, those members interested please submit your names to Irene at the front Desk.
The new heavy-duty Life treadmills, Life cycles and recumbent cycles have been excitedly received by all the gym members since their arrival. The older treadmills have been sent in for repairs and will add to our cardio facilities.
We have also installed lots of new lights which has considerably brightened the Gym. Thanks to Kyoshi Colin Moothoo. No words can express our gratitude to Kyoshi Colin for his indomitable spirit and undying support throughout the years.
Women’s healthy living workshop
Sensei Ronald hosted this workshop exclusively for women, which was held on 24th August ‘07 at Summer Place in Hyde Park. This was a highly interactive experiential one-day workshop with less talk and more demonstrations and was designed to engage, inspire and encouraging women to live healthy and more fulfilled lives.
Hanshi was invited to conduct a workshop on empowering women from a physical and mental perspective.
Teaming up with Sempai Shamsa Said, Sempai Yusuf Bokhari and Fatima Docrat. They gave a spectacular demonstration and workshop combining aerobic kick-boxing with music, hard-core kick-boxing and ended the programme with a fifteen minute quiet meditation session. Needless to say, everyone had a great sweat, lots of fun and emerged not only feeling energized but composed and calm after the meditation.
Hanshi is often invited to conduct motivational talks and workshops of this nature and also appears on radio and television shows nationally and internationally
Spring General Promotion
On Sunday, 26th August, and unusually large promotion was held at the Honbu Dojo. Kyoshi Ahmed and his team assisted Hanshi throughout the day as they meticulously screened and assessed, at first all the juniors, and thereafter all the seniors. And the overall summation was that it was wonderful to see how the level and standard of students in general has been rising with each promotion.
The seniors commended Hanshi as the new syllabus he has implemented is now bearing fruit.
Several karate organisations from Soweto, the Free State and Lesotho have approached Hanshi requesting affiliation to our organisation (Ken To Fude No Ryu, Kenshu kai Karate International). The Director of Mameleng Kyokushin Matsushima, Sensei Mandla Mkonde, and the Chairperson of the organisation Sensei Petrus Chaotsane approached Hanshi in June and met with him on the 7th of July
This informal meeting was attended by Hanshi, Sensei Mandla, Sensei Petrus, Sensei Yolanda, Sempai Yusuf Bokhary and Sempai Yan-nita Wilkens. This was just a plenary meeting to discuss Hanshi grading them and their students. Sensei Mandla who has been training for almost 30 years, and Sensei Petrus who has been training for 20 years, hold the rank of Nidan and Shodan respectively.
South Africa has many such cases of people from the formerly disadvantaged communities training for many years that have been either sidelined or overlooked by their organisations when it comes to grading. We are fortunate that we have Hanshi Solly Said who is an internationally graded 8th Dan. Hanshi’s qualifications authorise him to conduct internationally recognised Dan rankings. We hope that, like Hanshi, other masters will make the effort to try to correct this injustice.
After the meeting, both Sensei’s felt that they would like to affiliate to our organisation. Hanshi then suggested that they bring their students for a workshop which was set for Sunday 12th August.
The workshop started promptly at ten thirty in which Hanshi and the Kyoshi’s, Sensei’s and Sempai’s of KFR Kenshu Kai Karate conducted a training session with about 50 visiting students. This was to help Hanshi assess the present status of the students and their Sensei’s. The workshop ended with everybody being pleased that a strong future relationship could develop.
It has now been confirmed that Hanshi and a team of senior members will conduct a mass workshop to be held in Fiksburg in late October this year.
Group photo with Mamelang Kyokushin Karate association Matsushima
Soweto TV Launch
On Saturday 25th August, Kyoshi Jeremiah Mothlabane and Kyoshi Simon Mokele were interviewed by Soweto TV. The program showed a few students performing some basics, kata and kumite and thereafter the two Kyoshi’s were interviewed about our style KFR Kenshu Kai Karate and their involvement in karate-do over the past three decades; their influences and the different traditions through which their karate has developed
School program expands
We are please to announce that two more schools, the Goudveld Primary and High School in Langlaagte, Johannesburg and the Education Alive Primary and High School in central Johannesburg, have fallen under the banner of KFR Kenshu Kai Karate International under Hanshi’s tutelage.
Hanshi is being assisted by Sempai Joseph Du Plessis (nidan) and Sempai Hendrik Thebe (shodan).
Under Hanshi’s watchful eye we hope to see many new stars and talent coming out of the schools.
Here are the results as promised in last month’s newsletter of the WTKA tournament. We congratulate our kick-boxers for a job well-done! 7 out of 5!
Mohammed Abbas (2nd Dan and manager/coach)- 2 gold, 1 silver
Imtiaz Mohammed (Green belt)- 1 bronze
Tauriq Peck( adv. Yellow belt)- 1 Bronze
Imran Peters (yet to be graded)- 1 Bronze
Raashid Peters (yet to be graded)- 1 Bronze
This tournament was held at the Centurion Park centre in Pretoria. Sempai Yusuf Bokhari was the coach and manager and took a small but strong team to participate. Unfortunately after performing the kata (which was fraught with biasness) to add insult to injury, our team was disqualified from participating in the kumite division for not having the correct colour-coded shin and instep guards. Although no such rule exists in the WKF rule book, this rule was strongly applied, and our team, as well as several other karate clubs had to withdraw from the kumite division. This matter needs to be investigated.
Nonetheless patience and tolerance has to be exercised as we understand that Karate South Africa is not yet out of the woods and still struggling to get back on track.
This month is the continuation of Tanweer’s article, this section deals with dressing.
The language of karate is chiefly Japanese. A karate training hall or gym is called a Dojo. The white, pyjama-like garment worn in all training, is called the Gi and the belt that wraps the garment together is called an Obi. More than 200 specific Japanese terms are used for all the various blows and moves that are employed in movement sequences called kata.
Degrees of achievement are formally recognised in karate training, each represented by an Obi of a particular colour worn around the Gi, usual colours being, in ascending order, white, blue, yellow, green, brown and black. Qualifications and colours of belts differ from school to school, depending on the styles and traditions. The black belt, or Dan, signifies the highest proficiency in the basics of karate and, like other belts, is itself qualified by degrees of honour or skill, the highest Dan being ninth or tenth degree.
On 22nd August, Sempai Hayley Grinker gave birth to a lovely baby girl. Congratulations to her and her Husband, Jonty.
Top: New Juniors strutting their stuff at Spring promotion
Womens Healthy Living workshop, at Summer Place in Hyde Park. In this picture, ending with meditation (Seeking enlightenment).
“The dojo is not a place of bliss or relaxation, rather a furnace house for the combustion of the egotistical delusion”