Thursday, August 8, 2013

Traditional Martial Arts - A Way of Life in Arizona

Torii gate
Traditional martial arts are a brotherhood and sisterhood of martial artists who prefer martial arts as a 'way of life'. Part of this concept includes 'ryu'. To traditional martial artists, ryu not only means 'style', but also means 'family'. This is why in traditional martial arts a sensei (teacher) is always concerned about students development in and outside a dojo (martial arts school). When one becomes a member of a ryu, the sensei becomes your father or mother figure and he or she becomes interested in your development. As a deshi (student) it is respectful to keep in touch with a sensei throughout your life.

Traditional martial artists are not so overly focused on competition they forget about other members of the ryu. For traditional martial artists, such as those at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate on the border of Gilbert and Mesa, the trophy is seeing others progress in martial arts and gain benefits of martial arts that include better health, focus and self-confidence. Traditional martial artists do not compete with others, only with themselves, but they are offered a curriculum of martial arts that is unmatched in sport martial arts schools. Traditional martial artists are a group of highly educated people who help one another because of their bond in the traditional way. The Great Okinawan Shorin-Ryu martial arts master, Gichin Funakoshi stated, "The purpose of Karate lies not in defeat or victory, but in the perfection of its participants".  This philosophy is still alive in traditional martial arts schools all around the globe.

One problem Traditional Martial Artists face not only in Arizona, but also worldwide, is instructors (sensei) are so focused on helping and assisting others that they forget to focus on finances. Few traditional martial artists are trained in dojo economics like many sport martial arts. On Okinawa, it is traditional for sensei to rely on the generosity of students to pay for the dojo (martial arts training facility) and donate what they can afford to keep the instructor working. Unfortunately, this does not work well in the West.

In the West, many students take advantage of low fees while martial arts instructors, who are taught the Okinawan way (teaching martial arts and not dojo economics) that they are often forced to close dojo doors because they can not make lease payments or salaries. In many cases, this is why so many taekwondo and mainland Japanese sports schools have an advantage.
Kyoju (professor) Hausel teaching jujutsu classes at the
University of Wyoming after being awarded 'International
Instructor of the Year' (University of Wyoming photo)
Pencil sketch of Gichin Funakoshi by Soke
This problem is created by the instructors themselves. Most traditional instructors feel students should be able to read their minds and provide assistance to keep the dojo running. Such marketing practices are unfair to students who ultimately suffer because of dojo closings and are often not aware of the problem.

Walk into any sport martial arts facility and you will likely be accosted by used car salesmen tactics providing a contract before you can even take a breath. Money is top priority, not training. While in most traditional martial arts schools (those without rock n' roll music blaring in the background and without trophies filling windows), the quality of instruction of martial arts is often considerably higher. Even so, few traditional martial artists ever open a dojo and most rely on teaching in colleges, private gyms, etc.

In most traditional martial arts dojo, money is seldom brought up until the potential student asks about fees. The instructor relies on the integrity of students to pay each month and unfortunately, both tactics are not good. Traditional martial arts instructors need to learn to charge more money to keep afloat as dojo leases must be paid each month because landlords never have the same attitude.

Many traditional martial artists in the world have flawless credentials compared to sport and MMA schools. Yet few Traditional Martial Artists ever charge what their martial arts education is worth. As a result, martial arts become an expensive hobby. Many have actually paid more money into martial arts than they have received.
Martial arts student (Kate Lehman) at the University of
Wyoming receiving yudansha certification in
Shorin-Ryu Karate.
I received a call from a private school in Mesa in the Phoenix Valley. They were looking for an instructor to teach karate to about 130 students. We discussed the philosophy of martial arts, the number of students, etc., and like a true traditional martial artist, I did not once ask about salary. After hanging up, I started banging my head against the wall (this is good training for breaking boards and rocks, but not so much for the walls in my office) while asking myself, why can I not think more about money? I guess it has to do with the fact that material things have never been a priority in my life. I was even on the discovery team of one of the largest gold deposits in history, and all I ever received was a consulting fee. It's true, I need help - but I haven't been able to find that rehab clinic for old traditional martial artists.

It is somehow ingrained in the thinking of traditional martial arts instructors. Traditional martial arts schools will soon be placed on the rare and endangered species list if something isn't done.

One of my students recently was searching traditional Okinawan Shihan obi on the Internet and found only one or two martial arts equipment outlets that still sell the red and white shihan obi and only one that still sold the black and red kyoshi obi. This is how rare traditional martial artists are becoming - its not from poor martial arts teaching - its from poor marketing strategy. There are hundreds of shady martial arts teachers with schools who have no lineage and no proper evidence of certification.
My best friend, Hanshi Ron Smith (left) and the author at the 2013 JKI national clinic.
I was recently told by another instructor and best friend (Hanshi Ron Smith from Virginia) that my fees are way too low for my qualifications and expertise, and my certification fees are shamefully low. I had no idea how low these were until we had this discussion at the Juko Kai International Clinic in Texas in 2013. According to Hanshi Smith, it is not uncommon for martial artists to pay a few $thousand in Japan for yudansha (black belt) promotions and certifications. I will probably never charge that much for yudansha certifications, but I never raised my rates over the decades for certifications even though inflation has run amok.

What I need to do is to grab every traditional martial arts instructor (starting with myself) and shake sense into them before every traditional dojo closes. Besides, we all love to teach and it would be nice to be able to make a living at what we love to do. What most of us need are not only marketing classes, but possibly someone else to run the marketing and \finances of a dojo. We may be black belts in karate, but we are white belts in marketing.

A common sport martial arts obi? Or a Tibetian prayer
I have one instructor in particular that I am very lucky to have who talks to students as they come into our door about my credentials and ryu. Without Sensei Bill Borea's help, I likely would have lost some potential students. This is the kind of people we need to operate our dojos as most of us are incapable of doing.

Sport martial artists on the other hand often are well off as they require contracts, exorbitant fees, and promotion practices considered by traditional martial artists to be unethical (i.e., promotions every two weeks and providing dozens of colored tapes on an obi [belt] in order to collect more fees). I recently saw a student in Utah who had so many pieces of colored tape on his obi, it looked like Tibetan prayer flags and I had no idea what his rank was.
Sensei Paula Borea (center) and Sensei Bill Borea (far right) have provided
many donations to the decor and weapons cache of our dojo. I am very
thankful for these two wonderful people.
Over the years, because of my inability to effectively run dojo finances, I've always appreciated training equipment donations by others who have made our facility much more usable. I would like to acknowledge the following people for their generosity: Sensei Bill Borea and Sensei Paula Borea provided much of the traditional Japanese decor in our dojo. Paula is originally from Japan and Bill spent five years in Japan as an Air Force pilot. Sensei Bill Borea also periodically acts as a handy man in the dojo and he and Paula also provided many hanbo and bo training weapons. Both Bill and Paula periodically donate time to teach at our hombu dojo when I am out of town on vacation or business and annually donate their house for the dojo Christmas party.

Dai-Shihan Neal Adam provides time to teach classes when I am out of town and periodically creates weapons that he donates (we also appreciate his creativity in kata). Neal is always considerable enjoyment to talk to and we enjoy having him at the dojo. He has been a student of mine since about 1990 when we first met at the University of Wyoming.
Dr. Neal Adam, professor of biology at Grand
Canyon University and Dai-Shihan for Seiyo
Kai International.
Ryan Harden has also donated weapons to our dojo which I very much appreciate. Ryan has a great attitude and has built a reputation on bruises. He is always willing to assist anyone in training. I also thank Ryan Nemec and Amanda Nemec for their training weapon donation (an old rifle), photography and also some of the best pizza any we ever tasted. These two people brighten the dojo every time they walk in and when they don't make a class, it is notable as the dojo lights seem a little dimmer.

Finally, I want to thank a wonderful individual I just met. Out of the blue, a potential student started communicating with me by email. We had never met until yesterday when this person stopped by the hombu dojo and made a donation of several $hundred in training weapons with some books. Thank you so much Scott Monahan for this donation - I greatly appreciate this contribution as this will help so much in training our students!

Although Scott is not one of my students (even though both of us had hoped otherwise), he will always be welcome at our dojo. Thank you very much Scott!!!

Sensei Ryan Harden (center), one of our best martial artists

Friday, November 30, 2012

ARIZONA MARTIAL ARTS SCHOOL - Internationally Recognized Training, Education, Students and Instructors

We were excited that our Martial Arts School and Quality of Martial Arts Instruction was awarded Best of Mesa for 2013. Thank you Mesa!
During this year, so far, our martial arts instructors and seniors (senpai) continued to earn national and international recognition. Dr. Neal Adam, a professor of biology at Grand Canyon University, was awarded the rank of Rokudan (6th degree black belt) and title of Dai-Shihan (great martial arts master instructor) by Seiyo Kai International. Dr. Adam also received certification as Menkyo Okuden (1st degree black belt) in Juko Ryu Kijutsu (also known as Combat Ki) by Juko Kai International. Combat Ki is one of the toughest martial arts in the world.

Dr. Neal Adam, Dai-Shihan
Our Grandmaster and head instructor at our traditional martial arts school on the border of Gilbert and Mesa, Arizona, Professor Hausel, retired Professor of Budo from the University of Wyoming and senior economic geologist from the Wyoming Geological Survey at the University, was awarded Junidan (12th dan) in December, 2012, and awarded Meijin Wa-jutsu (Master of Masters) in 2013 at the Juko Kai International hombu in Texas. He was also selected for Who's Who in America 2013 and 2014 and Who's Who in the World 2013 and also 2014.

Professor Dan Hausel, Soke
One of our seniors (senpai), Jesse Bergkamp, returned from training in Okinawa and was awarded sankyu by Seiyo Kai International. He also passed exams for PhD in organic chemistry at Arizona State University and is moving on to Rutgers University. We will all miss Dr. Bergkamp and wish him all our best!

Dr. Jesse Bergkamp in Okinawa.
 And one of our deshi (students) was presented a national award at the Juko Kai International Clinic in New Braunfels, Texas for "Outstanding Male Martial Arts Student of the Year". We are very proud that Ryan Nemec was presented this award. Juko Kai International is likely the largest traditional martial arts association in the West and one of the most prestigeous in the world. To be recognized by JKI is an incredible honor!
Group photo at the Juko Kai International traditional martial arts clinic in
New Braunfels, Texas. Ryan Nemec (Front left) was awarded "Outstanding
Male Martial Arts Student of the Year".
Our KARATE SCHOOL servicing residents of Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale Arizona was recognized for its Outstanding Blog Presentations and Education of the General Public in Martial Arts. Snippet.Com from the United Kingdom found information published by the Arizona School of Traditional Karate in Mesa and Gilbert and its martial arts association - Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Kai - to provide great educational value and information on Karate and Martial Arts.

The Arizona School of Traditional Karate at 60 W. Baseline Road lies on the border of Gilbert and Mesa and a mile from Chandler. The School and its blogs were recognized for web presentation about its martial arts classes and training.

 on winning the 'Karate' award.

facts about karate

Because is a project designed to improve the quality of online factual content, we want to promote and encourage this on other websites too! was awarded for one or more of the following reasons:
Accurate and precise informational content.
Interesting and inviting layout and/or writing style.
Reliable source for trustworthy content.
Unique and entertaining information.

Like Us on Facebook to learn more about classes, styles and people in Shorin-Ryu Karate & Kobudo in Arizona as well as in the world.

You can learn more about the Arizona Hombu and our International Training Center in Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Arizona

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Training in hanbo - the above technique often gets a rise out
of the aggressor. After being struck in the ribs, the attacker is
struck in the groin before being drilled into the ground
with the hanbo.
In April, our dojo (Martial Arts school in Mesa) was visited by martial artists from Murray, Utah headed by Kyoshi Rob Watson, 8th dan and Seiyo Kai Hall-of-Fame member. While in the Phoenix area, the Utah Shorin-Kai trained in Hanbojutsu, Kenjutsu, Iaido, and Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo. As the Soke of our international martial arts style and association, I really look forward to spending time with our Utah members. We always have a great time training together.
Members of Arizona School of Traditional Karate certified in Tonfa Jutsu in May, 2012. L-R (Adam Bialek, Patrick
Scofield, Sarah Kamenicky, William Borea and Ryan Harden. 

In May, five members from our Arizona Karate School tested for certification in tonfa, one of many Okinawan weapons taught at our martial arts school at the border of Gilbert and Mesa, and passed their exams after a year of training with the weapon. These members proved their expertise in kata (forms), kihon (basics), bunkai (applications) and kumite (sparring). When a member becomes certified in a martial arts weapon, they are considered to be an expert in that weapon as few people in the world ever reach this level of expertise.

Other activities included recent kyu (color belt exams) by a few of our club members, training in self-defense at our Mesa School against a person with a knife, club, gun and/or rifle, as well as training in Samurai Arts Classes that include iaido (fast draw samurai sword), naginata (bladed staff), and hojojutsu (restraining methods with rope). Other activities included classes in karate kata and bunkai.

In June, our group is finishing up its study of Pinan Godan Kata, while new members are working on Kihon (basics) and the first group of Taikyoku Kata. Our kobudo class is working on self-defense applications with a single tonfa and moving on to the Okinawan sai. The advanced group is also working on Naihanchi Shodan kata and its bunkai.

As a final note, we have started a line of T-shirts on martial arts on our website and also at CafePress. We hope these will be attractive as one can select the color, size and style.
Utah Shorin-Kai members training in Hanbojutsu at our dojo in Mesa. The
Clinic was also open to members in Mesa, Chandler,  Florence, Gilbert, 
Tempe, Phoenix and Scottsdale.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


University of Wyoming Campus Shorin-Ryu Karate Club with Soke Hausel, red belt, 6th from left in front row.
Soke Hausel (center) with Kyoshi Rob Watson (left) and Renshi Todd
Stoneking at the Utah Shorin Kai Gassuku in East Canyon, Utah.
At the Arizona School of Traditional Martial Arts in Mesa, we have some of the better martial arts instructors in Arizona including one one of the top martial arts instructors in the world!

Soke Hausel is considered the best of the best in the category for martial arts teachers with more than 40 years experience in teaching karate and kobudo. Along with karate he has taught many other martial arts including jujutsu, self-defense and kobujutsu (samurai arts).

While Kyoju no Budo (Professor of Martial Arts) at the University of Wyoming, he taught classes and university-affiliated clubs in karate, kobudo (Okinawan weapons), samurai arts and self-defense and taught numerous clinics in martial arts to staff, faculty, students, other martial arts instructors, law enforcement, military, women's groups, sororities, general public, EMT, scientific groups and others.

During tenure at the University of Wyoming, the school had one of the better established martial arts programs in North America in which a few thousand students from all over the world took part. Soke is a member of Juko Kai International, known as one of the premier traditional martial arts associations in the world and has a reputation for producing many of the toughest martial artists in the world (see Part I and Part II videos).

Soke is a grandmaster and 12th dan red belt and member of several Halls-of-Fame including the North American Black Belt Hall of Fame and World Martial Arts Black Belt Hall of Fame.
He is also the 2001 International Instructor of the Year, 1998 & 2004 Instructor of the Year
2005, 2003, 2002 and 2000 Grandmaster of the Year.
Dr. Neal Adam, 6th dan, at the
Arizona School of Traditional Karate in
Mesa, Arizona.
Other instructors at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate include Dr. Neal Adam, a professor at a local university in the Phoenix valley, who is ranked as Dai-Shihan (master instructor) with 6th degree black belt. Dr. Adam has a few decades of martial arts experience.

These two are complemented by Sensei (teacher of martial arts) Paula Borea (2nd dan) and Bill Borea (2nd dan). The Boreas spent considerable time in Japan training in martial arts and Paula, is of Samurai Lineage. Thus we have our own staff samurai!

Our Senpai (Seniors at the dojo) include Sarah Kamenicky (2nd dan), Dan Graffius (2nd dan), Kathy Grieg (1st dan), Victoria Davis (1st dan), Dan Lang (1st dan), Ryan Harden (1st dan), Patrick Scofield (1st Kyu), Rich Mendolia (2nd Kyu), Adam Bialek (3rd Kyu) and Charles Jean (3rd Kyu).
Sensei Paual Borea, Japanese Samurai, at the Arizona
School of Traditional Karate in Mesa near Gilbert and
Chandler, Arizona
Yudansha (black belt seniors) Kathy and Victoria train in self-defense applications at the
Arizona School of Traditional Karate in Mesa.
Soke Hausel demonstrates use of books as kobudo (self-
defense weapons) during self-defense clinic for librarians
at the Chandler Public Library in downtown Chandler,
Arizona with the assistance of Charles Jean.
Sarah trains with Bill during Kobudo Class at the Arizona School of Traditional karate
in Gilbert and Mesa, Arizona.

Sensei Bill Borea with Senpai Dan Lang and Shihan
Neal Adam in background at the Arizona School of
Traditional Karate in Mesa at Border with Gilbert and
Dr. Teule (1st dan), visiting senpai from Utah State University, trains with Dan Graffius (2nd dan), Senpai from Mesa, Arizona

Senpai Sarah works with Amber during kobudo class

Monday, January 2, 2012

Traditional Martial Arts in Arizona

Konnichi Wa!  We look forward to meeting you at our traditional Hombu Dojo in Mesa, Arizona across the street from Gilbert and Chandler, Arizona. 

Our Karate Classes in Mesa are open to the public at our Martial Arts School on the border of Gilbert with Mesa in the Phoenix valley.  Stop by and see why we have some award-winning martial arts instructors.

Soke-Dai Eric Hausel and Soke Dan Hausel. We'll meet you at the gate.
Our kamidana at the dojo shomen
Dr. Neal Adam and Rich Mendolia train in kobudo at
the Arizona School of Traditional karate
View of the Arizona School of Traditional Karate in Mesa on the NE corner of
MacDonald at Baseline Road. Its easy to find. Just drive east on Baseline from
Country Club Road and when you reach the second traffic light, turn left on
MacDonald and then immediately turn right into the parking lot.
Soke Hausel demonstrates secret martial art known as
Hakutsuru karate (White Crane Karate) at Chinese New
Year Celebration at the University of Wyoming.

Members from Utah Shorin-Kai train at the Mesa Martial Arts Center in the Arizona School of Traditional Karate near Gilbert, Arizona.  Hall-of-Fame martial artist Soke Hausel, stands far left next to Kyoju Rob Watson. 
2003 International Shorin-Ryu Martial Arts Clinic at the University of Wyoming with Soke Hausel and O'Sensei Yamashita.

Kata practice at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate (Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Karate Renmei) in the East Valley of Phoenix.

We will leave the lights on for you.

Iaido training

Group photo at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, 2000

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Traditional Okinawan School of Martial Arts in Mesa, Arizona

 Seiyo Shorin-Ryu members train at a traditional dojo in the East Valley of Phoenix in the town of Mesa. Members travel from the nearby communities of Chandler, El Mirage, Scottsdale, Florence, Phoenix, Gilbert and Tempe to train in one of a few traditional Okinawan dojos in Arizona. Being on Baseline between Mesa Dr. & Country Club Dr., the dojo (60 W. Baseline) is easily accessible from the Superstition Highway (60) & a near straight shot from Sky Harbour airport. We have members train from Mesa as well as groups from local businesses and groups from around the world train at our hombu. As martial artists, it is important to understand what a dojo is.
In Japan, a dojo is a gym. But dojo also includes martial arts training facilities. In the West, dojo is restricted to a place for martial arts training. Unfortunately, most people in North America are familiar with the sport variety of martial arts schools; however, a sport facility lacks the beauty and grandeur of a traditional dojo: sport martial arts schools are designed to focus on picture windows to advertise their product and give the public a full view of their training, something that is considered 'taboo' in a traditional Okinawan dojo. In traditional schools, we teach not only traditional karate, kobudo and self-defense, but we also train the individual in respect, self-confidence, self-esteem, and concern for others. As you train in our dojo, you will also learn Japanese.
Rei - bowing to one another - an important part
of karate practice.
In Okinawa, a dojo designated for martial arts is almost sacred. Traditional dojo have rituals where secret arts and techniques are taught to members and not made public; hence there are no picture windows of the training area. The training center is restricted from view by outsiders and it is rare for any public seating in a dojo. Under proper guidance, these secret arts are safe, but without guidance, they can be dangerous, especially to the uninitiated.

As an example, traditional martial artists learn to break rocks (not boards). Rocks are cheap and readily available - but breaking techniques are only used to help build self-confidence and are a very minor part of karate. An individual would place themselves in peril without knowing proper technique when breaking a rock. Other training methods not seen in sport schools is the training with a makiwara - a board designed to build power in strikes.
Many people are familiar with nunchaku or known as the nunchuks or chuks to the layman. In the hands of a trained martial artist, it can be an effective weapon. In the hands of a novice, it can provide considerable entertainment to a nearby audience. As an example, a criminal tried to rob a bank in California decades ago. He did so with a pair of nunckuks. As his bag was being filled with money, he stepped back from the counter to give a demonstration of his prowess for the bank employees only to apprehend himself with a blow on the top of his head. I suspect he was not presented any award for stopping this crime – but should have received something equivalent to the Darwin Award. 

Soke Hausel demonstrates the art  of rock breaking at the University
of Wyoming prior to teaching UW students how to break rock with their

Body-hardening techniques (Shitai Kori) in traditional schools can be extreme, but as one learns these secrets, they actually begin to enjoy them. A novice attempting to mimic such training could end up seriously battered and bruised and potentially in a hospital. Body hardening is only taught to adults and advanced students. For example, the ultra-extreme martial art known as Juko-Ryu Kijutsu is only taught to members of Juko Kai International by its grandmaster: Dai-Soke Sacharnoski and its methods are secret. Anyone attempting to do this art without proper guidance could be seriously hurt. Seiyo Shorin-Ryu teaches a similar form of body hardening modified from the Kokushinkai karate.

Dojo (道場 dōō) literally means "place of the Tao" in Japanese. For those not familiar with Tao (道, Dào), this is a concept of Taoism and Confucianism. The kanji translates as "way" or "path" and more loosely as "doctrine" or "principle." Tao is often expressed through in-yo (yin-yang) arguments where every action creates a counter-action that is thought to be natural and an unavoidable movement. This is true in karate and physics. When we punch (tsuki) we withdraw the other hand at an equal velocity to maintain power and balance. At one time, martial arts dojos were adjunct to temples in Japan because of their importance in the Japanese culture. Many Westerners confuse Japanese, Okinawan, Chinese, Korean and sport street fighting facilities as dojo. Dojo is strictly Okinawan/Japanese and should only refer to the Japanese-Okinawan arts.

Soke and Sensei Donette Gillespie
demonstrate Juko-Ryu Kijutsu
at University of Wyoming basketball
A traditional martial arts dojo, or karate school, is considered special. It should be cared for by its practitioners as it is their facility, not one individual’s facility. It is traditional to conduct a ritual cleaning of the dojo at the end of each training session called souji, which translates as "cleaning". Besides the obvious hygienic benefits of regular cleaning, it also serves to reinforce the fact that a dojo is sacred and supported and managed by the student body, not the school's instructional staff.

Kyoshi Ngo from Vietnam
displays Hall of Fame award
  Another important characteristic of traditional dojo in Okinawa is that dues are donated or set at a minimum level even though the type and quality of instruction is usually many orders greater than commercial sport schools. In Okinawa, it is traditional for members to support a dojo by paying whatever they can give for its operation as it is everyone’s dojo. Imagine your life without your dojo. When a dojo closes, it is usually for good. Over the years, I’ve had many students tell me (after they had graduated from college and moved elsewhere) that they didn’t realize how good they had it in our dojo. This is something that is always taken for granted until it happens, and it does happen often.

View of the Kamidana in background at the Arizona Hombu dojo in Mesa, Arizona. When one approaches the kami, they face the shire and bow twice. Next they clap their hands together, and bow a third time. In front of the Kamidana, Patrick Scofield trains with Ryan Harden.
It is common for traditional (koryu) dojo in the East to be rarely used for training, and instead reserved for symbolic or formal occasions. In such cases, actual training may be conducted outside adjacent to the dojo or in a less formal area within the dojo, but always out of view from non-members.

Most traditional dojo follow a prescribed pattern of shomen (front of the training center) laid out precisely. If the facility was initially built as a traditional dojo, the structure will include special entrances based on student and instructor rank. Students enter the lower-left corner of the dojo (in reference to the shomen) with instructors entering the upper right corner. Shomen typically have a kamidana—a Shinto shrine. Upon entering, respect is paid to the dojo. When the sensei (teacher) enters, all activities cease and the class is loudly called to attention by the senpai (class senior).

Kamidana (神棚 or かみだな) have "kami shelves", or a miniature shrine placed on a wall containing a variety of items related to Shinto ceremony. Kamidana can be found in many Japanese homes as well as dojo.

There are often displays throughout a traditional dojo, such as kanban (poster boards or signs) that authorize the school to practice a particular style or strategy, and items such as taiko drums, armor (yoroi) and kobudo weapons. It is not uncommon to find the name of the dojo and dojo kun ("rules or philosophy") displayed prominently at the shomen. Weapons and other training gear are found on the back wall. A hombu (or honbu) dojo is the administrative and headquarters for a particular martial arts style. Hombu are not necessarily large or ostentatious: most are small. Hombu is considered the head of a martial arts system and like any traditional dojo, all members of a traditional ryu (style) support the hombu financially. Hombu are considered important as all training and certifications originate from a hombu and its soke. A hombu provides credibility for all members. Most Soke are not businessmen and it is rare that any association produces excessive financial support. Rare exceptions included the late Mas Oyama and late Ed Parker, both of whom build international empires for their ryu. For those of you who trained with any Okinawan sensei in the past, this should provide a good example. At various universities, we periodically brought in Okinawan instructors for special clinics and we were never asked by the instructor himself, for his fees. These were all arranged by their senpai, as it is considered an insult in the Okinawan culture for an instructor to have to ask for fees and dues.

The Shomen at the Arizona Hombu in Mesa Arizona.

Traditional dojo have many profundities concealed beneath the surface. A deeper meaning beneath the superficial layer is a recurrent theme in traditional Japanese culture. If one examines the design (hiegakure) of zen gardens they will begin to grasp why there are hidden meanings in martial arts. Hiegakure means "that which is hidden from ordinary sight."

The average individual who strolls through a Japanese garden admiring the sights is only subconsciously aware of the paths beneath his or hers feet. To the connoisseur, these paths offer meaning. Where paths are smooth, they are designed for ease of traffic flow. Where stones are rough, irregular, or stepped, this causes the visitor to slow. Where paths end, they are planned by the designer to have visitors pause and take note of the surroundings. The dichotomy of the obvious and subtle can be found or missed not only in Japanese gardens, but also in martial arts as well as in the dojo.

Demonstration of hakutsuru karate - white crane - a beautiful but deadly martial art developed by a female practitioner of Wu Shu (Chinese kung fu) centuries ago. Many martial arts were developed by mimicking movements of animals.

A study of kata provide subtleties that are missed by the uninitiated. It is not uncommon for some lower ranked students and instructors to scoff at kata as being useless. This is because they lack training and maturity to understand kata. Kata is zen and provides many meanings. The more one practices kata, the more one understands martial arts. As one progresses in karate, periodically a technique in kata will provide new meaning – this is by design as we all have different backgrounds and experiences. To be a good karate-ka, or deshi (student) one must practice all kata many times a week and practice all bunkai (applications) associated with each kihon (basic), chudan (middle level) and jodan (upper level) kata numerous times a week. Equally as important, one must practice all kihon (basic) stances, blocks, kicks, and strikes hundreds of times each week as this is the only way one can gain muscle memory. Calisthenics and stretching must be kept to a bare minimum and replaced by hundreds of kihon. I’ve yet to see anyone defend themselves by outstretching an attacker. Hundreds of full-focused kihon provide a time of mediation when the body reacts and the mind rests.

Do - or the path or way.

Martial arts in the eastern culture are intimately concerned with matters of the spirit. Thus, while a dojo may resemble a gym, its historical inspiration is that of a temple or shrine. A dojo should be treated as a shrine. All of its practitioners should be missionaries or emissaries of a dojo. We all want our families and close friends to share in the benefits of this life. A dojo teaches self-confidence, self-esteem, self-improvement, concern for others and provides benefits of health not available in any other kind of training – so why would we not want this for our friends and family? As a student of a traditional dojo, you should consider ways to attract people you care for to your dojo – a blog on the Internet about your experiences works wonders, a personal business card designed with pride can provide valuable information about you and your dojo: students are the success and voice of any dojo. After a dojo is well-established and the dojo population declines, there is something wrong that needs to be fixed. The student body should remain stable or grow.

In the past, traditional dojo architecture and associated reishiki (etiquette) had three functions: first, the placement of the sensei at the front, seniors on the right, and juniors on the left, this afforded the teacher maximum protection from an intruder. Second, the arrangement shielded the teacher's instruction from those who might peer through the dojo's entrance. Third, the arrangement reflected certain Buddhist rituals. The next time you enter a traditional dojo, look for the subtleties. They are all around you.

Sport Karate schools are not traditional and it is even questionable if they are even a valid martial art. This is particularly true of mixed martial arts and extreme martial arts - they have no traditions, no foundation, no history and no lineage and few practice any traditions or have any philosophy to build better people. There are many talented people who practice these sports which provide good physical conditioning, but by definition, they are not a martial art since they offer no esoteric value for self-improvement.
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Our members from Vietnam train at outside dojo.
Stop by and visit our Arizona School of Traditional Karate in Mesa. Our School is located right on the border between Mesa and Gilbert at 60 W. Baseline Road.

We offer Shorin-Ryu Karate Classes, Kobudo Classes, Kobudo training (Weapons Classes), Self-Defense Classes, Women's self-defense classes, clinics, and training in the Samurai arts. Our traditonal Okinawan karate center is open to the public - our classes focus on Adults and Families. Come learn the traditions of Okinawan Karate & Kobudo, where much of the class is conducted in Japanese and English to help students learn Japanese.

Our school is a member of a International Okinawan Karate Association - Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Kai, and affiliated with one of the most respectful traditional martial arts associations in the world - Juko Kai International

We also teach meditation, philosophy and martial arts history interjected in karate classes. Our schedule is as follows:

Shorin-Ryu Classes -

CHECK our schedule for Classes of Interest

We have some of the lowest rates in the East Valley of Phoenix, Arizona. No sign up fees. No Contracts. Start as soon as you pay for your first lesson or first month. You can pay either month by month or day by day - its up to you.

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