How Do You Practice Karate When the Dojo is Closed?
Great question Grasshopper! After starting training with Sensei Iha I suffered (?) through 4 overseas diplomatic assignments. That did not stop my karate training though as I found innovative places, people, and ways to train. You can do the same.
(Pressed for time? Skip down to the next to last paragraph for training hints.)
In Argentina I had long work hours and a new baby at home. The first year I did kata at home in our utility room. Then we moved to a penthouse apartment overlooking the zoo and not far from the US Embassy. It was a 20-minute drive to the Embassy or a 10-minute walk through the zoo. I would walk home on my lunch break to do kata on the balcony or on the roof overlooking the zoo with the Rio de Plata in the background. I really enjoyed watching the guanacos (low-land llamas) spitting hockers at unknowing tourists and giraffes stealing kids’ ice cream cones on my walks to and from the Embassy.
In Santiago I had an enormous room available for training with the local Marine Detachment, US Security Personnel, DEA, and other people. I held normal classes with 2-10 students in class.
In Milan I could Kata outdoors in my yard, we lived in a Contessa’s ground floor apartment, or in the Consulate Gym. Most of my students were with DEA, CIA, Customs, Secret Service and other unnamed agents.
In Vienna I had a wonderful yard again for kata, plus a near-by gym, and the US Marine Detachment’s residence. Most of my students were Marines, Security-types, and foreign security operatives. Historically, Vienna was filled with spies, or as we say, intelligence agents. It still is. I had ample student interest.
While stationed overseas I would infrequently see Sensei Iha. Yet I did kata. I did Kumites 1-16 like kata, switching between attacking and defending. I would do bunkai imagining the attacks and then attack from each position on the quadrant. Then I did more kata! I recall sitting at a beach in Chile watching a beautiful multi-color sunset enjoying the view, the breeze and trying to do Kusanku Dai kata mentally. This effort left me drenched in sweat and I had moved no more than the hand holding the beer to my mouth. The effort of doing the kata mentally wiped me out! You might be happy to know that I ordered another beer.
When possible I would set up a makiwara and kicking bag. When that was not possible I did knuckle pushups (I hate them) and kicked telephone poles. Note: While recalling tales of Kung Fu Masters killing trees from constant kicking and punching I unhappily report that all telephone poles survived! My images of telephone poles knocked down by an energetic karateka were shockingly jolted into painful a very reality.
You can figure out your own way to practice Karate. Sensei Iha says you only need one friend to practice with. His friendship with Sensei Miyazato is a good example for all of us. Make Friends with Karate!
Sign Up for Karate Classes via Google Classroom. Enter your GMail account, or sign up for one, click on the square dots in the right hand corner and scroll down to Google Classroom, then enter the class code: cai2ldf.
Kiyoshi, 8th Dan, Virginia Dojo
Roberto is an 8th Dan, Kyoshi, awarded by Grand Master Seikichi Iha, 10th Dan, Beikoku Shidokan Shorin Ryu. Roberto began his martial arts journey in 1969 and started training with Sensei Iha in 1979. He continues to train with Sensei Iha and is now one of Iha’s senior students.
As a retired Foreign Service Officer he concentrates on teaching proven-effective adult-focused self defense karate at the Virginia Dojo in Alexandria VA. Many people call the Virginia Okinawan Karate Dojo the Martial Arts Grad School because Roberto teaches proven effective often brutal, pressure points, joint locks and grappling applications that Sensei Iha taught him during 40+ years of instruction in addition to the obvious percussion techniques of punching, kicking and blocking. See examples of traditional Kata, Kumite, & Bunkai here.
Roberto is a member of the East Coast Beikoku Shidokan Karate Black Belt Promotion Board and the National Black Belt Promotion Board. Among his numerous awards are:
“Best Martial Arts Teacher in Washington, DC” in 2017; “Best Martial Arts in Washington, DC” 2018; “Best Martial Arts in Alexandria” 2019; and “Best of Lessons.com” in 2018 and 2019
Virginia Dojo, 6416 Grovedale Dr., #302-B, Alexandria, VA 22310