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#426758 - 04/30/10 12:57 AM A Return Home Brings a New View
AHallwyler Offline

Registered: 04/30/10
Posts: 1
Loc: New Mexico
Hello everyone.

It's been a few years (I think) since I posted on this fine forum. I was a member for many years under the username Alejandro, but the process of forgetting passwords and changing know. It's good to be back.

Sort-of short form of a very long story, if you don't mind: this year I emerged from a couple years of downward spiraling with addiction and alcoholism, and, after hitting a very rough bottom, began recovery. It's been like starting my life over again. I thank karate for always being there for me, no matter how wretched I became. Recovery is a beautiful experience, but it's not the topic of my post.

I returned home last month, to my small hometown. One thing that's changed for me this year is a revival of my karate training, which, always such a focal point of my life, had been neglected for some time. I've been training on my own as usual, regaining strength and confidence one kata, one waza at a time, to steadily feel the whole of karate. Letting my body remind me of its unique principles: chinkuchi, kime, ukeru; and its powers of the mind: zanshin, mizu no kokoro, and so on. All its wonders. I feel good, and proud to call myself a karate-ka once again.

But I returned to find my home-dojo, the one I trained and instructed in for 8 of my 13 or so karate-years, in strife: disappointed students, inconsistent training, a move away from classical teaching, unprepared students being given teaching responsibility, let downs, over-emphasis on competition, and a host of other issues, etc etc. Basically chaos, or at least a decline and change I'm not fond of. Regretably, I will not be returning to formal training at that dojo. If I do, I know I won't receive the type of training I desire, will be in battle with others over the "correct" way of doing things, will be much too pressured to compete, and will be pressed to take on classes of my own. It's sad to see this change, but it's one I can't control, and will not attempt to. So be it.

In my entire life this year, I've rediscovered the value of simplicity, the small, good things that bring us joy, peace. The same goes for my karate, for budo, as I've realized what few methods I need - provided I use them correctly - to train appropriately. I am content to continue solo training for now, because a simple day containing simple training has been giving me focus like never before.

I can awake early to a calm New Mexican morning, have a cup of java, and step outside to the edge of a dense pine forest. There I have space to limber up, do a few exercises, then clear my mind and body with ten repetitions of a kata, maybe naihanchi or wansu. I can follow that with the focused practice of a couple waza on a makiwara, and then meditate. With that I am fully prepared to face another day, and know it will be a good one. To me, at this point in my life, that is wonderful karate, and good karatedo living.

Is that not budo training in its fundamental form?

I had a time when I was obsessed with learning new technique, studying new principles, swelling my personal library of karate and preparing for the next yudansha rank. That's well and good, but this new perspective of simplicity in budo brings me a different and better type of satisfaction from training - one that is more useful to me, for now. We are all so bogged down these days, the lovely brevity and stripped beauty of a single kata is all too easy to miss. And it is beautiful, and should inspire awe, both from the one who executes the movements, and from observing eyes.

Perhaps, when the opportunity is sought, I will continue formal dojo-training in a specific style, because it is important, it is crucial to the development of the karate-ka. I also just love a good dojo environment, and yearn for many of its aspects. I have access to an old training partner in town, one who has also drifted from the dojo, so I can pursue many areas of training requiring two bodies (kote kitae and bunkai-based kumite, mainly). But at this time and with no rush to change, I am content to be essentially without "style," without ryu, and to embrace the karate that is embedded in my body, learn from it, let it teach me and let it grow.

I am truly grateful for the nature of karate, in that I can take it with me anywhere. It will go with me everywhere I move, even into the dark pits of addiction and despair, and back to a state of peace.

For now I'll observe and read for a while, see what everyone's talking about these days, but I hope to be posting soon. Thanks to all who've maintained this great common space.

In budo,


#426788 - 04/30/10 10:24 AM Re: A Return Home Brings a New View [Re: AHallwyler]
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!

Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
Welcome back, Alex! Good luck with the recovery, and stay strong. smile
"In case you ever wondered what it's like to be knocked out, it's like waking up from a nightmare only to discover it wasn't a dream." -Forrest Griffin

#426795 - 04/30/10 01:17 PM Re: A Return Home Brings a New View [Re: AHallwyler]
Kathryn Offline

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 262
Loc: Washington, DC
Alex: nice to meet you, and I enjoyed reading your post.

It is sad to hear that about a dojo that nutured you so in the beginning. You only have two choices -- get in there and make the change you want, or walk away, because tolerance of that atmosphere just isn't an option.
Be nice, until it's time to not be nice.

#426814 - 05/01/10 07:20 AM Re: A Return Home Brings a New View [Re: AHallwyler]
underdog Offline

Registered: 09/18/04
Posts: 1270
Loc: Mansfield, MA U.S.A.
Welcome back Alex. I do remember you. I remember there was a thread on how people chose their forum names and I remember your post. Welcome back and stay strong and motivated.
The older I get, the better I was!

#426820 - 05/01/10 02:34 PM Re: A Return Home Brings a New View [Re: underdog]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
Hi Alex,

I can understand the disappointment with your former dojo, and yes you can self train to a point. BUT, karate was not meant to be a solo training art, but a sharing community. It's very possible you can't recraft your old dojo, but the greatest synergy you can find, to pull in much more than just karate is to re-experience dojo in it's essence.

I wish you success!
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

#426843 - 05/02/10 05:47 AM Re: A Return Home Brings a New View [Re: Victor Smith]
TeK9 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/22/05
Posts: 2257
Loc: Northern California, USA
Congratulations on recovery Alex.

Perhaps you could see this as a sign of opportunity to begin your own dojo. Where the emphasis of your karate training could be traditional. You don't have to start off big, you can build up your students through a club. You can sign up at your local community center and teach out of there. Later in a few years, having accumulated a loyal following of students you could move your art to a new facility or private business.

Either way I am happy your life is now on the right path of sobriety. Peace,

"Poor is the pupil who
does not surpass his
master" - Leonardo Da


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