Posts Tagged ‘Karate’

Sensei Ligo

Posted: October 30, 2011 in Karate, Kyokushin Kai
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Here is a news story about Sensei Ligo who wrote the book Mightier Than the Sword: A Kyokushin Karate Coming of Age Story.  I trained with Sensei Ligo in Japan, back in the day.

This book was written by a guy, Nathan Ligo,  who trained at the Kyokushin Kai Kan Honbu Dojo in Tokyo Japan at the same time I was there. He was an uchi deshi, one of Sosai Mas Oyama’s personal students. This is his story in his own words.  I have only read excerpts, but so far I’m impressed.

According to a study done by AC360° in 77% of bullying incidents, no bystanders intervened to help. This reinforces my belief that the only one who can truly help a bullying victim is the victim.  If the incident takes place in an isolated area, parents can’t help, teachers, administrators and even police can’t help, at least not until after the fact.

Again the biased martial arts teacher is going say that studying martial arts can help potential victims help themselves. My oldest child, now 13, started karate at 4 and holds a 1st degree black belt in a traditional Japanese Martial Art, Kyokushin Kai Karate. He says he is not afraid of bullying, and in fact fought one off just yesterday.  It was satisfying to see that the king’s ransom I put into karate lessons over the year were worth it. Also it was satisfying because I personally taught him the krav maga technique that he used only a few weeks ago, and also because he exercised incredible restraint. The finish to move can literally pound the attacker into the ground, and the attacker certainly deserved at a least a little pounding. I have seen my son get stronger and stronger, and when he hits the pads or the heavy bag, (or me) he can hit pretty hard.

I believe so strongly in Self-Defense, that I named my company after it (instead of say the karate style I teach). I also mix Krav Maga techniques and drills into kid’s karate classes, because kid’s need self-defense & they need it now. They can get it from karate, but the traditional approach is in no hurry. I enjoy and believe in the traditional approach and the values that come with it, but I want kids to be prepared to defend themselves within weeks of joining, not years.

When I was a kid, I took Judo lessons, and I loved it. I was good at it. But Judo is more of a sport, and we did very little self-defense there. When we competed, there were weight classes. Judo doesn’t really contemplate fighting off a larger opponent in a self-defense situation. Consequently, when I tried to use it against a larger bully, I ended up flat on my back, pinned, with the bully taunting me and smacking my face. Krav Maga has a technique to escape from that position, and it’s the first style I learned that addresses that and many other attacks and positions.  If you want to bully proof your kid, Krav Maga is it.

While researching links & such on Google, I stumbled upon a link to LIGO DOJO of BUDO KARATE. This dojo was started by a guy I trained with while I was in Japan training at the Kyokushin Kaikan Honbu Dojo, the original headquarters of Kyokushin Kai, in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. At the time, the founder and grandmaster Sosai Masutatsu Oyama was still alive and teaching a few classes a week. I knew Sensei Nathan Ligo only as “Raigo-San.”  In Japan you go by last name even if you are foreign.  All I remebered was,  Raigo-San, it was 20 years ago after all.   Raigo-San was an Uchi-Deshi, a House Disciple, a personal student of Mas Oyama.  Raigo-San, was the ripe age of 19. Uchi-Deshi, lived in a dormitory behind the dojo, and they trained I think 3 times a day;  once at  Uchi-Deshi Keiko (House Disciple training),  once in a regular class, and once on their own, weight training or running & such.  They were required to keep a journal of their training. An Uchi-Deshi trained I think about 6 hours a day or so, and they had other duties too, like cleaning the dojo. Advanced students teach, and I remember one of the Uchi-Deshi chauffeuring around Sosai (the Grandmaster).

At that time, no foreigner had completed the 1000 day Uchi-Deshi program.  Raigo-San was the only American to receive a certificate of completion, and to date I think only three foreigners (including Sensei Ligo) have completed the program.  The program was intense, to say the least, and I don’t think I could have lasted a month.  The Uchi-Deshi are restricted from leaving the dojo for the first year. I think there are some exceptions, but mostly you live in a karate dojo for three years with very little break, or rest, or contact with the outside world. You train injured, and you train and train and train.

Although I trained hard while I was in the dojo, I trained only three or four times a week for about an hour and a half.  I lived in my own apartment, ate whatever I wanted and had a Japanese girlfriend at my beck and call.  Actually I lived a pretty good life while I was in Japan.  Although I’ll never reach the skill level of the Uchi-Deschi, I still experienced the epicenter of Kyokushin Kai, and I lived a much more comfortable and enjoyable life.

One day, a Saturday I think, I went to the dojo,  trained and then went to one of the nearby department stores to buy something.  When I went to pay, I was shocked to find that I didn’t have enough money in my wallet.  I realized someone had stolen money out  of my wallet in the dojo.  We had no lockers, so someone  just cleaned me out.  I went back to the dojo to let them know, and it was Raigo-san who translated for me.  It was then that I learned the word “Nusumu, ” to steal.  After that day, we left our wallets at the reception desk, where the receptionist held them for us until after practice.  Undoubtedly this was a change over way things had been done over the previous 30 years.

I have added things to my dojo, specifically Israeli Krav Maga, and CrossFit, so I can appeal to a wider demographic. But when I think back to my time in Japan, and the people I met, like Sensel Ligo, and the special experience I had at the Kyokushin Kaikan Honbu Dojo, I also want to preserve and teach karate the way I learned it, at the source.

I had four new kids sign up for karate this week.  This is awesome.  But teaching kids can be hard. First you have to worry about each child’s commitment. Then you have to worry about each parent’s commitment.  Although a lot of schools just sell belts, we don’t, you have to earn them.  It should take five years of consistent training to earn a black belt in Kyokushin Kai.  Most kids don’t have the patience for this. Worse, most parents don’t have the patience.  A black belt requires a huge commitment both from the student to train hard and consistently  at least twice and hopefully three times a week,  and from the parent to drive the child to and from the dojo and to keep paying tuition, regardless of economic conditions and other demands for household income.  Then there are weapons, sparring gear, and tournaments, which require a time and dollar commitment from the parent.

I always try to show my appreciation to the parent for trusting me and investing in their kid’s enrichment through my school.  Ultimately, when you see the child make a breakthrough, whatever that may be,  learning a new kata or sparring well or any measurable progress,  it is rewarding; not at all like handing in a boring report to your boss.  When opening my dojo,  I worried a lot about teaching kids,  for many reasons,  but boy it sure beats working for a living!

If you live in the area, I encourage your to stop by and check us out. Bring in your kids for a trial lesson, I’d love to meet you & your child.

Someone asked me yesterday if I only do Women’s self-Defense.  I suppose I could understand the question since I am promoting a Free Women’s Self-Defense Seminar on Nov. 5th, and I do talk and blog about the subject as well.  The answer is no, Krav Maga, and Karate for that matter,  are for Men, Women & Children.  A lot of men are naturally attracted to Martial Arts and Krav Maga,  women, not so much.  Often women need to either be attacked, or have a close call before they start thinking about self-defense. I wish it weren’t true, but that’s just the way it is.  I do these seminars to create awareness and to give back to the community.

I read that 80% of rape victims are between the ages of 16 and 24. That being the case, girls need to get prepared early in life, if they want to avoid becoming a victim. What’s a good age? I just signed up a six year old girl for karate, and she obviously doesn’t have the strength and coordination to do a lot of moves effectively. But if I can keep her interested through her teen years, when she will be strong and coordinated, then she will have a great foundation for self-defense.  So I think as young as possible,  including six, is a great time to start.

But the bottom line is, we teach the same things to men & women, but I feel like women need it more and are less interested; maybe it’s a calling…I want to help women learn to defend themselves against the scum of the earth.

Here is a story of childhood bullying. It is a horrible story and there are many, many like it.  I too was bullied as a child. That’s why I started both of my kids in Karate at age 4.  Sometimes school administrators and teachers are helpful, sometimes not.  There are many instances, like the one in this story, where bullying becomes assault.  Everyone has the right to defend themselves.  Martial Arts is a great way to do that.  Often having the confidence that comes with knowing how to defend oneself makes the fight not necessary.  When I was a kid, my father told me that I needed to punch the bullies in the face and they would never do it again. I think my was father was right. Unfortunately, no one taught me how to do that.  Punching is a skill that is taught and learned,  just like swinging a baseball bat.

Kids Karate

Posted: October 4, 2011 in Kids Karate
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Kid's Karate Class

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At Uwajimaya, Festival Japan, 9/24/2011.

Karate Board Breaking

Posted: September 25, 2011 in Karate, Kids Karate, Kyokushin Kai
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Yesterday at Uwajimaya.

Learn battle-tested Krav Maga techniques for defending against
an armed attacker. The Krav Maga system offers real world self defense designed to be easy to learn, easy to remember, and extremely effective. No prior training or experience is required.

Taught by United States Krav Maga Association Black Belts John and Sue Burton.

register today! space is limited.

Held at:

Oregon Self-Defense & Fitness
11945 SW Pacific Hwy, Ste 230
Tigard, OR 97223 • 503-968-6400

July 9, 12-1:30pm

Learn battle-tested Krav Maga techniques for defending yourself and your loved ones. The Krav Maga system offers real world self defense designed to be easy to learn, easy to remember, and extremely effective. No prior training or experience is required.

Register Free!

Held at:

Oregon Self-Defense & Fitness
11945 SW Pacific Hwy, Ste 230
Tigard, OR 97223 • 503-968-6400

We  have opened a martial arts studio in Tigard.  We teach Karate, Krav Maga and CrossFit classes.   The gym is located at 11945 SW Pacific Hwy,  at Hall Blvd.  We are in Suite 230 of Tigard Plaza (look for JoAnn Fabrics and Dollar Tree).