Shuri-ryu: Year One

Karate Moleskine

Originally uploaded by MikeOliveri.

Last week marked the one-year anniversary of my Shuri-ryu karate training at the Academy of Okinawan Karate.

It amazes me how far I’ve come in just one year. In addition to losing a lot of weight, my stances have become longer and lower, my kicks have gotten higher, and my techniques have become a lot sharper. I advanced two belt ranks, I learned two kata, and I’m learning to use the sai and bo.

What surprises me most is we never stop learning; not just new techniques, but new applications for or tweaks to what we already know. For example, just as a punch feels natural, sensei starts pointing out finer detail like elbow position. Also, I’ve been running my kata the same way for weeks with little comment. Last night, sensei tells me my hand techniques look great, now we can work on my stances in the second half of the kata.

Something else I just learned was I should have had a notebook all along. I showed up to a Black Belt Club workout and saw several people with notebooks. I asked my sensei if I should be bringing one, and he told me karateka should have notebooks at every class. He doesn’t always give detailed lessons, but he frequently throws out terms I tend to forget after a week or two.

I bought a Moleskine sketchbook to rectify that, which is what prompted the photo above. I didn’t want it to get lost in the shuffle around the dojo, so I personalized it by stenciling the kanji for the word “karate” onto the front with a silver Sharpie. The sketchbook will be a little sturdier than a lined notebook, it will allow me to doodle in footwork and diagrams, and I’ve even started turning it into a sort of scrap book by including photos of some of the Okinawan masters in the Shuri-ryu lineage. (Yes, I’m a geek that way.)

This first year has been a good one. I’m really looking forward to seeing where this next year takes me.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

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