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Visitors in a Traditional Dojo

October 25, 2016 Leave a comment

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Early evening on any Monday and class is in session at a local karate dojo. There are eight to ten students in the room. Sweat is pouring and occasionally a shout cuts through the air. To the passerby the studio may look almost empty. Surely there are more students than this? The Sensei and his Senior Students (Sempai) walk through the group correcting a technique here, offering advise there. Sensei is happy. To him, this is a medium sized class. If there were very many more students he might miss something in one’s training.

 

The average on-looker judges by what they see. There is a karate school around the corner and down the street that has a class going with at least twenty students. There are a lot of children in it. They are playing games and laughing. Earlier one of the instructors was holding a hula hoop and all the kids were taking turns diving through it and landing on an over-stuffed mat. The two or three younger students in this dojo are punching and kicking a hand mitt that one of the Sempai is holding for them. Then on his command, they break away and begin working on kata (open hand forms). As they diligently work on their kata the Sensei will stop one of them every so often and make a correction on a technique. “Make your kick stronger!” “Punch to the solar plexus!” and several other commands can be heard often as the session continues.

 

After a bit Sensei shouts “Yame!” and the students cease whatever they are doing and come to attention. The teacher lines them up and calls one of his Sempai up. He then breaks one of the kata down by sets of movements and demonstrates the “bunkai” or practical applications of what they have been doing. He then tells the students to get a partner and do what he has just done. Even the children are taught the techniques and taught to use them on a partner much larger than themselves. After a bit of this he nods to his most senior student who shouts another word in Japanese and the students fall into line facing the front of the dojo. They bow. They kneel. They close their eyes and sit perfectly still for a couple of minutes. Then they do a kneeling bow to the Shomen. Sensei turns and they then perform a kneeling bow to him. They then stand coming to attention and bow to Sensei who then dismisses the class. As they head for the changing area, they pause before leaving the training floor and once again bow facing the work out area.

 

Most people who witness a traditional karate class for the first time are a little confused. They do not understand much of what they have just watched. They have come to the dojo with a preconceived idea of what is going to happen and in most cases are shocked that this school that professes to be a traditional dojo doesn’t play a lot of games with the children. They are surprised to see that the smaller students work right alongside the older, larger, stronger ones. There is a lot of bowing and a lot of words being spoken that they do not even understand. Most of them will never come back. There is no flash or glam here. There are no wildly colored uniforms. There are no hoops or bouncy balls for the children. There is only…karate.

 

Sadly, what has been forgotten (or never realized) by most people outside of the martial arts is that karate is not a game.

 

Karate is training. It is learning how to defend yourself and learning to defend yourself from attackers that are larger and stronger than you are. If Little Suzy spends her class time bouncing tennis balls off a huge round piece of brightly colored tarp with ten of her BFFs, she will never learn how to defend herself. Likewise, if Little Johnny spends his class playing Red Rover he will never grasp the concept of bunkai. If the student is never encouraged to do better, work harder, and try their best at the art they are learning, they will never grow. They will never become stronger.

 

Karate is dedication. Like the person who was checking out the class for the first time, a staggering percentage of students will take classes for a while and then become bored with the constant repetition of techniques. Every class starts the same. Bow in and do basics. Basics, basics, basics. They never comprehend that they are trying to perfect a technique. They never truly understand that they are building muscle memory. They get bored. They get burnt out. They leave. It’s a sad thing. It’s sad for the student and it’s even more so for the instructor if “growing a business” is the only thing he is there for. The student must be willing, no the student must be strong enough, to endure boredom, repetition, and constant criticism. That said, the traditional Sensei is not heartless. The traditional Sensei knows what limits are. He or she also knows what kindness and compassion are. Sensei will take the student to the edge of what they think they can do and help the student break the barriers and limitations of their beliefs. In doing this, there is growth.

 

Most people ask, “What about team building?” That’s one of a huge number of New Age politically correct terms that we have adopted in our society today. By training with each other and working hard towards a goal the student learns valuable lessons that will last them an entire lifetime. Once they have accomplished a task or reached a goal, they have something to look back on and be proud of. When they reach this state and they see another student struggling with the same obstacle they overcame, they reach out to that student and help them overcome it as well. You see, it’s not team building. It’s not a team. It becomes a family. Families help each other. I’m not sure about you but I would much rather that my family had my back than my team. Most business professionals today would have you believe that team and family are the same thing. They are not and they never will be.

 

The traditional dojo is struggling these days. We live in a society of instant gratification. We see something. We want it. We get it We do this sometimes regardless of the situation. I can’t pay my mortgage this month but I sure do have a fine new truck. Some people walk into a martial arts school these days and they want it all and they want it now. They want to be a black belt in six months. They want to run their own school in a year. They want to have the most popular self- defense course out there in a matter of months. The sad fact is that there are many martial arts schools and martial artists out there that are willing to give someone that…for the right amount of money.

 

Yet people on average take things at face value. They believe whatever hype that someone tells them simply because they don’t know any better. Those who are actually willing to do some research on something often read a huge steaming pile of bull on the internet and take it as gospel because a website said it was true.

 

So here’s some advice for any of you instructors out there that want to take it. If you have a sign on your building that states that you are a traditional stylist, be a traditional stylist. Teach your art for what it is, your art. If you have someone who walks into your dojo wanting to watch because they are interested in perhaps taking your classes, send one of your adult senior students over to sit with them. Instruct them to be there to answer questions the prospective student may have. Don’t preach to them, simply be a source of information. Be proud of your style, your lineage, and the rich history of your art.

 

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When Evil Invades Your Home

April 16, 2015 5 comments

Over the years I have posted a great deal on the subject of Domestic Violence in this blog. I have tried to inform and educate people as much as I could. Admittedly I have been away for a while and have not blogged very much at all. In my time off I have expanded my Defeat the Darkness Self Defense Program to include everyone, not just women. I have also became a member of the Board of Directors for Family Crisis Services Inc here in Canon City. All of that on top of running a martial arts school and working at my “retirement job” at Home Depot.

In that time something very dark and evil crept into my life and my home. It festered and grew right under my nose and the nose of my oldest daughter and we were clueless to the evil that I had fought so hard against all of my life growing stronger and more malignant under our own roof. Ifr

Two years ago (and it hardly seems that long ago) when my wife was taken from us by cancer, my youngest daughter was left vulnerable and hurting deep inside of her spirit as we all were. She had a “friend” who was several years older than her. He and his mom gave her solace and support that somehow her family could not. He had entered my family’s life years earlier from contacts and friends of my other, older, daughter and even though his past was questionable I allowed people to convince me that he was reformed and trying to make a new life for himself. I got a call one night from my youngest daughter with a sound of desperation in her voice. He had been arrested and one of the conditions of his being bonded out was that he had a stable home to which he could be released to. After a few minutes of deliberation I reluctantly agreed.

It’s funny how things slowly evolve. It took them months to actually convince me to allow him to move into her room. The age gap bothered me. Yet, I was basically walking a tight rope. My daughter was 17 and her 18th birthday wasn’t far away. I didn’t want to take the chance of pushing her away or risking her moving out and away on her own. I foolishly thought that if I kept her close, I could guard her.

For those of you who don’t know, here are some of the things an abuser does to their victim.

Firstly they instill a sense of “us against the world” in their victim.

Secondly comes isolation. Isolating takes all manner of forms. They will do their best to cut their victim off from all of their friends and even family. “No one will understand our relationship or what we have”. He started slowly at first. He began to make her cut off all of her friends, either in the real world or on social media. He would approve or disapprove of who she could talk to or associate with.

Control is the goal of an abuser. Ultimate and undisputable control. They will even go to the point of saying what job the victim may work at and what hours they are allowed to work. My daughter was only allowed to work at places where there were older clientele or, in one case, only young children in a Day Care facility. Places where there was little or no chance that anyone, especially a male, of her age would come to.

Isolation from friends and control are important but isolation from family is imperative, in our case in the very same house. Most of you will read that and think that it is impossible. Trust me, it is not. They are abusers that are experts at manipulation. They will convince their victim to do things totally out of their character (drugs for example) then use those things as weapons against them. Likewise they will get close to the other people in the victims life and try to get as much on them as they can. They will take things and exaggerate them to make them look negative in the eyes of the victim.

When the abuser has everything in place, all of the mind games, all of the lies and intimidation, they will then begin to feel safe. They will feel in total control. It seems they have a talent for hurting their victims without leaving visible marks. The victim, who has been isolated for so long feels as if they have no one they can turn to. They have been brainwashed into believing that no one cares or will believe them.

The situation will then follow the typical cycle of Domestic Violence. There will be an outbreak of violence. Then the abuser will apologize, not out of real guilt for what they have done but out of fear of being caught. The abuser will make sweet and nice gestures. They will swear it will never happen again. The victim, who wants to believe, will accept the apology and continue to believe that the abuser is really a good person (they have been brainwashed into that frame of mind after all). That leads to the “honeymoon” stage where everything will be nice, peaceful, and wonderful for a while. Then the abuser will begin to get aggravated at little things. He / she will start letting anger and frustrations pile up until the explosion comes and the violent outbreak occurs again.

My daughter was beaten within inches of her life. Her internal injuries were so sever that she had to be transported via helicopter to another city for emergency surgery. She was in the hospital for a week. No broken bones. No cracked ribs, mind you. The force of the impact of his blows and kicks did all of the damage. Someone asked me the most foolish question anyone can ask of a DV victim today. They asked “What did she do to make him that angry?” The answer is quite simple: nothing. The victim of DV doesn’t “do” anything. What happens is not their fault. They are a VICTIM. The abuser can wake up angry at something that has nothing to do with the victim and the victim becomes his punching bag, his outlet for all of his anger. Another stupid and wrong question: Why didn’t she / he leave? I think I have pretty much explained that. Once again, this is not a question to be asked. They are a VICTIM!

We will go on. We will survive. We are lucky. My daughter could have been killed. She could have died at the hands of her abuser. I came home just in the nick of time. Even then, she was so brainwashed that she was trying to cover up and make excuses for the damage to the house. Oh yes, he did a great deal of damage to things in the house. He destroyed things that he knew had personal meaning to the family. The physical damage will heal. With the grace of God the emotional scars will heal as well. Hopefully the bright, intelligent, young woman that was so full of dreams for a future will once again emerge from the ashes of this broken child. Once again, we are lucky.

If you know someone and you suspect there is abuse, please, please, please, HELP. Talk to them. Tell someone. Be there for them. Trust me it may not seem like it right now but sooner or later they are going to need you. If you are in this situation, for the love of God and everyone around you, get help. Listen to these words and take them to heart. No matter what you believe, no matter what you have been convinced of: They cannot be changed. They will not get better. You can not fix them!

As of this moment, Law Enforcement has still not located the animal that did this to my daughter. My rage and anger are only controlled by the love I have for my daughter and the knowledge that she is going to need me now more than she ever has in her life. Please, if you are out there and you are being abused, if you know someone that you suspect is being abused, DON’T LET THIS BE YOUR STORY.

Through The Dark Night

September 30, 2013 6 comments

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It has been quite a while since I have posted on any regular basis here. For those of you who actually follow and enjoy this blog, I truly apologize.

As most of you know, my wife of 18 years passed away in May from cancer. It was sudden and it was very fast. I think myself and my daughters actually held on to the hope that we would beat it until the very end. Whether that was a good thing or a bad thing has never been certain in my mind or in my heart.

After the funeral was over things calmed down a bit. People stopped bringing food by the house. The visits became fewer and further between. I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. With that came time to think, meditate, and reflect. To be totally honest, that actual time period became a part of the gray “black and white” world I had found myself existing in. If you have ever been very sick, suffering from a fever, and woke up on your sofa in the middle of the night with an old B&W movie playing on the tv you can grasp what I mean. You see the movie playing in the dark. Yet there is no color. You see the people’s mouths move. Sometimes you even hear the sound of their words, but you can’t quite understand what they are saying. That was my life in a nutshell at that point.

Then something happened. I made a decision. I decided that it was imperative that I get some kind of normality back in my life. I had to do things I was used to doing. I had to be places I was used to being. Work was one thing that happened quickly. All of my vacation time and sick time was exhausted and financially I HAD to get back there. But there was something else. Like an old friend or a comfortable warm blanket, the dojo called to me.

I have to admit the first time I entered the building was rough. You have to understand that my dojo is decorated and furnished to look as much like a traditional training hall as possible. It is at least done that way to the best of my knowledge and ability. There are fans on the walls, oriental screens set around, and various wall hangings and scrolls. My wife had either bought these, been with me when I bought them, or jokingly pitched a fit when I spent what she believed to be too much money on them. There is a collage on one wall with photographs of students, past and present. Of course she is in some of those photographs because even though Carol never took one single formal lesson from me, she was very much part of the life-blood of the dojo, even to the point that a lot of people, students and parents alike, called her “Mrs Sensei”. Her spirit was as alive in that studio as it was at home.

Instead of letting it get me down I began to take comfort in it. I remembered all of the things she had done and things she had helped me do including the benefit for Family Crisis Services which had been the last event she had played a major role in. The day of the event she stayed at the dojo, working the front door until she became so tired and fatigued she was forced to leave.

Something amazing began to happen. I didn’t even realize it at first but with each passing moment spent there I, out of reflex, began to change back into the Sensei I had lost for a long time. My focus shifted to doing what I was supposed to do: teaching. I stopped worrying about what other instructors were doing. I stopped stressing on what bill to pay first. I remembered a saying someone told me or I read a long time ago: “Treat every single class like it’s your last one and every single student like it’s the last time you will ever teach them”. Considering what I had just went through, and still was going through actually, that struck a very deep chord inside of me even though, as I said, I didn’t even realize exactly what was going on.

A few really special things happened in the process. My students sensed something different and it became contagious. Sensei was actually living up to the Go Do Shin (5 Way Spiritual Path) and remembering the “Spirit of First Beginnings”. It became contagious. They started enjoying classes again…and…they told friends who came in to try classes. Many of them stayed.

Something else that is worth mentioning. Many of you who have read this blog at all know that I have had some serious issues with the Fight Like a Girl Women’s Self-Defense program. I’m not saying that some things about it still don’t bother me however, I looked at the phone one day and there was a strange number on the voicemail. I hit the play button and it was Sensei Kym Rock, the founder of FLAG. Sensei Rock had saw my post on this blog about the guy teaching self- defense techniques that were weak and wouldn’t work and calling his program Fight Like a Girl. She had checked and the guy was NOT part of her organization and she had taken steps to rectify the situation. But more importantly, more dear to my heart, the thing that touched me, was that Sensei Rock had heard of Carol’s passing and offered me very sincere and heart-felt condolences. Because myself and some types of modern technology simply don’t get along and I accidentally erased the message and number, I never got to tell her “thank you”. So, Sensei, should you happen to read this please accept my deep and true appreciation for your time and your kind words.

I have also looked back on some things in my life and come to terms with them. Life is too short and far too precious to waste your energies on silly things or stupid bickering. It is far better to let that kind of negativity go and channel your time, energy, and emotions into helping other people with a sincere spirit of care and compassion. Carrying around hatred and other negative energies serves no purpose at all. We are put here in this life for a very short time. It is precious and should not be squandered on trivial things. You can’t live a happy fulfilled life if your spirit is in constant chaos.

Perhaps this will make sense to you. Perhaps it won’t. Either way, reflect on it for a while. We can all find a positive even in the most negative time of our lives if we simply allow it to happen.

ULTIMATE Defeat the Darkness


Ultimate Defeat the Darkness

Shame On You


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In a lot of ways this is difficult, even painful, for me to write, I have never liked “throwing anyone under the bus” but if you know me, you know I can NOT stand McDojos or snake oil salesmen. I was actually writing an article on the history of the obi, the karate belt, and got tired of thinking and started surfing the web for films of self-defense techniques. At one point I went to Google and typed in “fight like a girl self -defense techniques”. This link came up about third down the line.

What I saw in this deeply disturbed me. Here we have a black belt in Gracie Brazilian Jujitsu teaching children self-defense using his daughters to perform the techniques. I had heard that these same sort of techniques were being taught here around town in some of the schools and it bothered me just hearing parents and kids describe them to me.

I honestly don’t know if these techniques are authorized Fight Like a Girl moves or not but they are certainly using the name on the video. Here’s the newsflash for you:

THEY DON’T WORK!

With the exception of one technique where the guy picks the child up from behind and she starts kicking him, they are worthless. The ending of that technique is fundamentally wrong as well. Whoever created these moves has absolutely no understanding of either body mechanics or insight as to how a predator attacks. I know. I, wanting to at least give it a chance, went to the dojo and worked with several students of different ages, sizes, and degrees of body strength. Not even adults could get the first couple to work. I can’t understand for the life of me why a black belt in a grappling art would waste his time putting these out there.

Let’s walk through the video and I will explain.

0:19

I will start here because this is basically a repeat of the first 18 or so seconds at a different angle.
First of all, pause at 0:22 seconds. Notice the position of the attacker’s body. His arms are outstretched and locked. His hands around the girl’s neck. This shows the attack has just begun. The attacker is attempting to subdue the victim. THAT is what his attention is on. Now, note his body position. He is between the girl’s legs. In most cases a sexual predator will NOT move into this position until he has already gotten his prey under control. (Although, believe it or not, it does make the escape easier). He will straddle his victim to further control their body.

0:23

The girl moves her arms across the attacker’s arms, pulls down, and breaks the choke hold. Notice also at exactly 0:24 he opens his hands thus releasing the hold. NOT! If you are on top of someone attempting to choke them your arms are locked and the majority of your body weight is pushing down. A weaker smaller person will not be able to break the hold in such a manner as depicted on the film. After at least 10 attempts to mimic this move in our dojo with unsuspecting victims, none of them worked. Quite simply the child is trying to use muscle instead of any kind of technique to break the hold. Coming from under the attacker’s arms with both hands to the elbows would probably work better. Then again, turning her head and biting a hunk out of his hand would be more efficient.

Back to the attacker releasing the hold: once someone has you in a position like this, maintaining the hold they already have on you is imperative to them. That is why deceptive moves like going for the eyes or groin will augment a technique and cause it to work…it takes the attackers mind OFF of the primary hold. In this case, the attacker simply releases his hold without attempting in any way whatsoever to regain it, thus regaining control.

0:24

The girl simply wiggles her way out. The attacker doesn’t attempt to regain any kind of control whatsoever. (Dad just lets her go). She kicks him a few times in the chest (no effect if the attacker is a large person). The only redeeming factor is that she finally kicks him in the face, rolls away, and escapes (although with no sense of urgency at all).

0:35

This is so ridiculous I’m not going to even waste a lot of time on it. Sure enough, last time I saw a larger person attack a smaller weaker one they got right down on their knees and tried to choke them. I think the thing that bothers me the most is that it seems to be a re-occurring theme in a lot of these techniques for the child to LAY DOWN on the floor and start kicking. Gee, that puts them right back in the situation we saw at 0:19, aka…JUST where a sexual predator wants you!

0:50

Probably the best idea of the bunch. The attacker grabs from behind and the girl starts kicking him until he lets go of her. This is a good sound move UNTIL the attacker releases her and we, instead of getting away immediately, go right back to laying down on the floor and kicking.

1:21

Another one I can’t figure out why a Jujitsu guy would even entertain teaching. I am a Nidan in Japanese jusitsu. An adage my Sensei pounded into my head over and over again was “If they push, you pull. If they pull, you push”. By following this you take away the attackers strength and basically turn his power against him. I teach my students in such an attack to either move into their attacker with an offensive move or attack his hand as he pulls you. Once again, we find our young heroine on her back on the floor kicking.

Anyone who is out there teaching these things, especially if you have training and know better, should be ashamed. Why are you passing on to children of all people, worthless techniques that don’t work, make no sense, and place them in more danger?

Here are some tips if you are really attacked.

Do NOT lie down! Prone on your back is the LAST place you want to be.

The face is almost ALWAYS open. Punch it, scratch it, hurt it going for the eyes.

There is NO SUCH THING as a “fair fight” when you are attacked. Bottom line: you walk away or you get carried away.

When you get the chance…RUN! Don’t “pretend” to run. Don’t half-way run. R-U-N!! Get away. Get to help!

You’re Doing It All Wrong

April 8, 2013 2 comments

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The dojo completed our Defeat the Darkness benefit for Family Crisis Services last Saturday standing against Domestic Violence, sexual assault and abuse. At the end of a very long day I was exhausted both physically and emotionally. We raised approximately $600.00 toward ending Domestic Violence in our community.

I learned a lot that day. One of the greatest lessons I learned was that all though some people are apathetic to the plague of violence that is rampant in our nation today, there is a host of others that are caring and concerned about the people around them that are suffering silently.

The speakers left an ever-lasting impression on me and I hope to the audience in attendance. These people, many of them volunteers, touched my heart and soul. I even found the courage to tell my own tale and all of it brought tears to my eyes at times.

There are some that turn a blind eye to the subject. There are those who want to help in the beginning, find out what a task, a battle, there is in front of them and back away. Although I understand this aspect of their thought pattern, I wish these people would at least be honest to the public and the victims.

One person related a story to me of a group who went full throttle into helping with the problem. These good-hearted, community-oriented people were great in the beginning. Then at the end of a past Take Back the Night Walk when everyone had gathered in the park (there’s a nice photo and article on this in the archives of this blog) people were allowed to stand up and speak openly. Some people publicly announced they were taking a stand against abuse. Others found a voice and told their own stories of how they had been abused.

This “community- oriented” group and its’ leaders were offended by one or two of the stories that were told. They found the outpouring of emotion and sometimes grief from these people too graphic and offensive. In what I can only consider their self-righteousness they chose to pull out and no longer support the move.

Are you crazy?

Want graphic? How about this…if you have a deep wound and you rip the scab off of that wound, it’s going to bleed! If you have a diverse group of people gathered together on the subject of Domestic Violence and abuse, emotions are going to rise to the surface because the thin veil that is holding back all of that pent up anguish is going to be torn away. This is the real world not some sanitary environment you have created where the boogie man lives outside somewhere. The boogie man lives right next door to you. He may be hiding in your own home. Real life is not a fairy tale where stories of dragons and monsters are told. We don’t live in the Middle Ages where priests told stories of demons and monsters living “out there” in the forests and had rituals and magics which would get rid of them which were never really used because at the end of the day no one had actually saw a monster. This is the 21st century. We have our own dragons and monsters and they are real. We really see them every single day when we watch the news or read the paper.

If you are out there, especially those of you who teach martial arts, and you have this kind of mind set, you need to wake up! The monsters are real. Violence is real. Abuse is real. People come to you in order to learn to defend themselves. Some of these people have experienced violence. They have been attacked or know someone close to them who has. They have met the monster. They have shook hands with the Devil. They are looking to you for help. For you to sit in your little make believe world and refuse to accept that is wrong. For you to teach people self-defense methods and techniques that you’re not even sure will work in real-life is wrong. Most of all and most important, for you to be angry or offended at a person for opening their heart is wrong! Don’t get angry or offended at the victim for opening up. Get angry at the crime. Get angry at the suffering! Get offended at the fact that we see this every single day an treat it like it’s “just life”. Or even worse, we ignore it completely.

In other words: You’re doing it wrong and your heart is in the wrong place. What is even worse is that in your pious indignation you are hurting the very people you claim to want to help.

Take your blinders off. Stop thinking about your reputation and your desire to make money for a moment and realize that you have intentionally put yourself in a position of authority and knowledge. People look to you for guidance. They look to you for advice. In a lot of very deep and personal ways, they look to you for compassion and understanding. If you’re going to place yourself in a position to help people then do it. If you don’t have the talent, knowledge, or courage to see it through then stop dancing around the thing. In the end you will get someone hurt either physically or emotionally.

I’m not a professional counselor. I have no degree. I do not want people to look at me in that manner. However I want to help. I am committed to help. In that commitment I have made connections with people who are professionals. I am set up so that if anyone comes to me and needs help I can direct them to people who can help them.

I suppose you could say I am a “professional” martial artist although I hate to use that term. I am trained and I have real-world experience with violence. I can, in that capacity, teach people how to defend themselves. Although I do attempt to increase my knowledge and continue to learn, I have no need for outside self-defense programs, catering to women or otherwise, to augment my teachings, line my wallet, or fatten my bank account. In that aspect I can confidently contribute to ending violence. I’m not a savior. I’m not even, in my mind, a leader in this fight. The volunteers that man those phones 24/7, the people who put victims up in safe houses, the staff who counsel and advocate for the abused, those are the leaders and heroes in this fight. I’m just a voice. I’m just a single pair of hands that are outstretched to try to help. I am a simple Sensei who refuses to turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to what is going on. I have seen enough real violence in my life that I am not so thin skinned that I would turn my back on anyone simply because I felt “offended”. If you are one of these people yet you have set yourself up to be a champion for the cause; You’re doing it all wrong! And I have to wonder what else you claim to be or take up a cause for that you will simply walk away from because you find something offensive or something doesn’t fit into the nice little box of your life.

Declaring War on the Monster

February 28, 2013 4 comments

One thing I have hoped since I began this blog is that it would educate and inform others. If not that, I had hoped it would at least entertain people to some degree. One thing I have noticed is that more often times than not it educates me. At least it makes me think.

My last article was on Domestic Violence. I thought that it was time to begin looking at the subject and getting feedback from others. As I began actually researching the subject even more some of the things I wrote about, and some I didn’t, sickened me.

It seems that not a day goes by that I don’t open a newspaper or turn on the evening news and am bombarded by horrible stories of violence and Domestic Violence. You notice I capitalize the words. That’s because Domestic Violence has become almost a living breathing thing in my mind. An evil thing.

It’s not that I have just discovered it. Neither have you. It isn’t that it just became an important issue. It always has been. Has it grown in intensity? Yes, I believe it has. Yet even noticing that growth is not the reason it has suddenly came to the forefront of my mind I don’t think. I saw it when I was very young. It is one of my earliest childhood memories. I think it has probably lurked in the back of my mind all of my life like a silent ghost.

The thing that I think brought it forward in my life was a story in the news from Colorado Springs a few weeks ago. A man, I hesitate to call him a “Father”, murdered his two children then took off on his motorcycle. He wrecked the bike and killed himself only a few miles from his home.

How many of these stories do we hear every single day? Often times there are more than one or two stories in the same news broadcast. We listen to them. See them. Absorb them. Then we go on with our lives. I have been just as guilty of it as anyone. Finally I threw my hands in the air and asked WHY???? Have we gotten to the point that we are so desensitized to it that it’s “Just life”?

I haven’t.

I have seen a lot in my life. Looking back I think I have actually sought out violence in a weird round-about way. Twenty-four years in Corrections is pretty much putting yourself right in the middle of violence. I know it, have embraced it, have walked hand-in-hand with it. I would say that I have been, because of that life experience, pretty much as numb to it as anyone else could be. Some would say that gives me an advantage. I suppose in a lot of ways it does. But I have come to the point that I will not be as numb as the average person because of it.

Several years ago the dojo began supporting Family Crisis Services here. This organization is simply one of the most wonderful ones I have ever seen. The people there, many of them volunteers, selflessly give of themselves to assist the victims of Domestic Violence, sexual assault, and sexual abuse. They provide training and education to schools, churches, community organizations, and first responders. They offer a hotline 24/7. They also provide a Safe House for victims and are advocates to them as well even going as far as assisting the victims with restraining orders. They help victims develop safety plans for themselves and their children. There are several other faucets in which they act on behalf of those who cannot help themselves. And everything they do is confidential.

One of the things Family Crisis Services is very involved in is the Take Back the Night Walk to raise awareness on Domestic Violence. Several years ago I developed my Defeat the Darkness Women’s Self-Defense classes and seminars to compliment and work in adjacency with Take Back the Night. Even though the program has been a marvelous success I decided it simply was not enough.

This year Defeat the Darkness has taken on a whole new persona. I have decided to do an all-day event including martial arts demonstrations, guest speakers, and the self-defense program. We intend to collect donations for Family Crisis Services and do everything possible to raise awareness and educate the community.

Since I began working on the event I cannot believe the outpouring of support from the community. I can find fellow martial artists to demos at the drop of a hat. That’s no problem for me. The things I thought would be difficult are turning out not to be as much work as I thought. Within one afternoon I had three guest speakers lined up with the possibility of several others. I wanted door prizes and thought getting people to sponsor the event would be problematic. I had seven sponsors within 45 minutes today. I’m not bragging. I feel lucky and very blessed.

I hope this will be only the beginning. As hokey as it sounds, I feel like I am launching a war on a monster. It is a war I am willing to fight but I fully understand it is not one I can wage alone.

I am adding a link to an article one of our local publications printed (including in it a very nice photo of some of my students working out) on the dojo and the subject.

http://www.canoncurrent.com/category/news/karate-school-fights-to-serve-community/

I urge you, please, stop taking the problem of Domestic Violence with a shrug. Get out in your community. Take action. Make a stand. You can make a difference in people’s lives.