Tag Archive for shihan walker

Photo Friday: Legacies

I delayed Photo Friday this week so I could take some pictures at the anniversary banquet for Shihan Joseph Walker on Saturday night. The banquet celebrated his 50th year practicing the martial arts, and several of his students from the Academy of Okinawan Karate, including many of the 40 black belts he promoted during the Academy’s 30 years in operation, were in attendance.

I didn’t take near as many pictures as planned because I was running the slideshow and helping with the video presentations, but I made sure to grab a few photos of the Kamiza.

The left side of the Kamiza display

The left side of the Kamiza display

The kamiza is the highest seat in the room, often the north wall. In a martial arts dojo there is often a Kamidana Shinto shrine placed on the kamiza, and it’s the wall we bow to upon entering the dojo. In the Academy of Okinawan Karate dojo, a cross replaces the kamidana and students are encouraged to bow to what they believe in.

The right side of the Kamiza dispaly

The right side of the Kamiza dispaly

When a student is promoted to black belt, the school holds a kamiza ceremony where they formally join the other yudansha in the top spot in the dojo. The new black belt brings a bottle of sake to share with the other members of the ceremony, and Shihan keeps the bottle for use in future ceremonies to represent the other black belts. The bottles were set up at the banquet hall to represent the school’s history, and the legacy Shihan has created so far in promoting 40 black belts in the school’s 40 years of operation.

The weekend went very well, and Peoria’s Journal Star ran a nice article congratulating Shihan on his 50 years in the martial arts. The banquet was followed by a selection of seminars on Sunday afternoon, and by all accounts everyone had a great time.

I feel fortunate to be part of such a great school, and while I intend to celebrate earning my Ikkyu (first degree brown belt) rank very soon, I look forward to the day I’ll earn the right to add my own sake bottle to Shihan’s collection.

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.

Karate: Always Moving Forward

Karate has been quite eventful this summer. Every time I tie on my belt and bow onto the mat, it amazes me how far I’ve come in the two years I’ve been studying.

Earlier this month, my sensei named me Senpai of our dojo. This is loosely translated as senior student, but when used as a title it is indicative of a mentor relationship, often used in the sense of “older brother.” It doesn’t change the way I’ll train or attend classes, but it’s an acknowledgment of my efforts and contributions and I’m honored to have received the title.

Now I just have to get used to people calling me that…

We also had our annual Break Day last month, where every student gets an opportunity to break a board. This time I chose to try a standing empi (elbow) strike.

Too bad I cant solve problems at work this way

Too bad I can't solve problems at work this way

Sensei suggested I try one board because I’ve never done it before, and it was a lot easier than I expected. I also wound up doing it twice because we had trouble with my video camera. Of course by the time I got around to doing it the second time the video camera battery ran out, so I’m stuck with stills for this year. Ah well.

In May I was asked to be on another student’s attack team for his black belt test. I hear a lot of horror stories about black belt tests at our school, and this will be a good opportunity for me to see one first-hand and get a better idea of what to expect when my turn comes around in a few years. My job is to attack the black belt candidate in his kata, short forms, and self defenses, and while our Sunday workouts are intended to help us all prepare for the test day, they also give me a good chance to polish my own kata and techniques and pick up a few extra insights from the other, more experienced students on the team.

These are exciting times for my school, the Academy of Okinawan Karate, as well. They celebrated their 30th anniversary this week, and last night they threw a party. They covered most of one wall with photographs from those three decades, and it was interesting taking in all that history and listening to Shihan Walker’s stories behind several of them. It made me realize while I’ve come a long way, I’m just getting started.

When I look forward, I often think about one thing: black belt. This is not uncommon, as it’s the first major goal for any karateka. But what happens then? Right now it’s like looking into a fog: I know there’s more karate for me out there, but I can’t be sure of which direction it’s headed or what shape it will take.

The only thing I’m sure of is I’ll keep moving forward.

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.

Cunning Linguists

Language is a funny thing, particularly when it’s translated through foreign understanding.

I learned a new kata on Saturday called Shudoso. It was developed by Robert Trias, the founder of Shuri-ryu, the style of karate I study. It’s short and sweet, but I was already losing the proper ending, so I hit Google to see what I can find.

Not much, as it turns out. But I kept finding constructs like this:

“i feel i shud oso settle for 912, but worry of the wet road performance”
“They shud oso hav 24/7 polyclinics to serve a rising population mah?”
“de org shud oso consider de fact dat most likely de attendees wud be within those teens dat have waited patiently for dis bands”

I scratched my head for a moment, then noticed they were trying to translate should also. These were all posts to message boards and websites in Singapore, so they were typing the words as they understood them. It’s kind of like how we get “vamoose” out of vamos.

Of course, this is also how most of the English language was born.

As for Shudoso itself, my school’s director, Shihan Joseph Walker, didn’t claim to know what language the name came from. It’s supposed to mean “monk form” or “priest form” because Grand Master Trias developed it after a visit to the Shaolin Temple. He demonstrated another tension kata and the monks told him it was too long, so he developed Shudoso. It appears to be part of the Kosho Kempo style, which includes Trias in their lineage.

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.