Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Back from my travels...

Ehm..I'm sixty next year...am I getting too old for this?
At last, I've stopped floating after the fifteen-and-half hour flight from Vancouver to Sydney a few days ago. By comparison, the preceding four hour flight from Toronto to Vancouver and the two sixty-minute flights that brought me home to Tasmania from Sydney via Melbourne, were a breeze! Time travel is possible, I know that now; on my way to Montreal I arrived in Canada on the same day, a full two hours before I left Australia! (cue the theme from Dr.Who!)

So, why travel all that way to practice karate, especially when I'm not a big fan of seminars? Well, I had a few things to attend to, people to train with, to learn from and converse with in the two days before the seminar began. Seminars are okay, but they give some people the wrong impression. Many mistake seminars for opportunities to get a promotion or a photo with a well known teacher, while others believe they are somehow stepping out of their comfort zone and developing their karate by training with a sensei they have never met before; but I'm not sure that's possible in a room with 200 hundred others.

Helping out a little
Seminars, if approached correctly, are a great chance to practice with karateka from outside your own dojo, and to observe other sensei; they provide a chance to make friends with like minded people and to exchange thoughts and techniques. You can work up a good sweat and work on training drills you don't usually work on; you get to extend your time training over a short period of time too. But what you're not doing (IMHO) is personal investigation. Okay, maybe if you're a kyu grade student you can allow yourself  to feel that way, but if you wear a black belt, you had better be doing something less public, less easy-going, and far more confronting than attending seminars if you want to claim personal investigation as your reason for being there.

What's Clarke-san up to?
Of course my time at the seminar wasn't all helping others, I found opportunities to train too. Setting an example is in my opinion the best way to teach karate, and even though my technique was in no way the best in the room, I did what I could to conduct myself correctly, whether teaching or training, interacting with my seniors, or karateka with only a year or two of training under their belt. I'm aware that students watch their seniors, and I'm mindful that what they see should enhance their belief that karate is a good and wholesome activity to be involved in; this is the bit that many senior karateka forget

41 years on, and I still love to practice karate
With two days of pre-seminar training, and three days spent in the company of some very talented and humble young karateka, I left the Montreal seminar buoyed by the keiko I had been a part of. The day long drive to Ontario allowed me a chance to get a look at a country I have many great memories of  from my time there 25 years ago. My host, Jean Frenette sensei, did a magnificent job, and put together a great team to organize and help run the seminar. I'm not sure if anyone from Montreal will ever read this, still, I want to extend my gratitude and thanks to them and their sensei for the hospitality I received.

Happy days!
Oh yeah.....I doubt I'll ever be too old to practice karate!