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Jan. Newsletter

 A.S.K.A. Dojo Jan. Newsletter .  


Welcome to  our second newsletter and a new year!

          We hope you are enjoying the holiday break (but not too much…!), and will be refreshed and ready for a new year of growth, skill building, and challenge in training in 2003! Training will resume on Thurs., Jan. 2nd. at 8:15 p.m., and we look forward to seeing you all back for a good opening session. As a reminder, Sat. classes will begin as of Sat. Jan. 4th at 9 a.m., so please add them to your calendar of weekly events. There will be some other changes that will be implemented in the new year as well, but these will be discussed in a separate posting, so look for it in your e-mail box soon!
     If case some of you are wondering where the above print came from, don't feel alone-so do we! I think I copied it from the Koyo Gunkan (making it a Takeda battle scene), but Jeff thinks that it's “something we found on the web somewhere…”. In any case, it's cool, it's old, it has samurai, and horses, and swords, (oh my!), so therefore has earned a place at the head of our newsletter.
     Speaking of newsletters, we hope you have all checked (or will) the new Hombu newsletter that can be viewed on-line and printed so that you may build your own archive. We think that they did a great job of it-it has nice articles and good eye-appeal, so if you haven't already done so, mitte kudasai (please look)! A link to it can be found off of the Shinkendo-L in the form of an announcement. You will need an Adobe Acrobat reader (which can be downloaded off the web for free) to view and print it, however. If you have any difficulties in obtaining the right stuff to view/print it, we will print some extra copies that we'll carry in stock, so just ask!

We now interrupt this program for some announcements:

1). Testing: Sat., Feb. 15th @1 p.m.
    In keeping with the revised test schedule we have set for 2003, the first test invitations will be handed out on Thurs., Feb. 6th, and at that time, those who are now borderline in attendance will be advised of their status (that is, whether or not they will be required to complete an additional test-day regimen to make up for their absences).  As for the accounting, there's 30 classes available for attendance between the Nov. test and Feb. 15th date. As of Jan. 2nd, there are 20 classes remaining. The 60% attendance requirement makes 18 the magic number required for unrestricted (meaning; no extra activity) testing.  The moral of the story is: make classes to build your skill, or end up working much harder at test time to make up for it!
2). Test-Cutting and Samurai Movie Night:
Special New Year's Eve Edition, Tues. Dec. 31st
     What a way to bring in the New Year; with some tameshigiri, followed by some chow, topped off with a samurai movie! Now we ask you; does it get any better than that? Due to the early darkness and cold temps. typical of winter, the cutting segment will be held at the dojo this time, and the dinner/movie will follow at our uchi (house) afterward. The tatami vanquishing will commence at 6 p.m. in order to give those who work adequate time to get situated. And, oh yes, did we mention that, as a belated Christmas present, those who are qualified to cut get a free ½ mat? When we asked Santa whether he thought you all had been naughty or nice, when he finally stopped laughing, (and this took awhile…), he said it was o.k. to go ahead and give you guys one anyways….
     In terms of chow, we're going to deviate from our past main course and offer up a main dish with more Asian leanings….no, we aren't going to reveal what, exactly, but trust us, you'll like it! Also, it is not necessary to bring anything this time, the exception being a most ardent request for more of Sue Golmab's ever-so-tasty “kim bop” (or however you spell that…we just eat it, we ain't huct on fonix over here!)
     Our feature film this round has yet to be determined, but we have several in mind, and it will be a good one, we promise!
     For those who are authorized to cut, please e-mail us regarding your mat order. Please keep order to the equivalent of no more than 4-5 (½ mats), and be sure to include the ½ mat that is our gift to you in your accounting.

Feature Article:  Thinking Outside of the Box
    You have a heavy cardboard box and scraggly yard to thank for this article.  It was while tackling seemingly mundane tasks such as these that the inspiration for this article struck me. Many of us have our lives parceled out into very distinct and separate categories as if they were placed in discreet boxes. Over here we have the “house cleaning box”. Then over there we have the “yard work box”. Then over yonder, we have the “exercise box”, and the then across from it we have the “martial arts training box”, the “paper work box”, and the “business box”, and/or the “school box” so on and so forth. In many people's minds these elements of daily life don't resemble each other in the least. They never even meet, let alone blend and interchange in their thoughts, and this sort of thinking can be limiting, to say the least. Unclear on where I'm going with this? Bear with me…

It's “apples and oranges”, not “day and night”…
     What many people fail to recognize, much to their detriment, is that many activities, if looked at from the proper perspective, actually complement their training as opposed to conflict with it. As an example, going back to my earlier reference, I was breaking down a very large, heavy gauge delivery box by hand by tearing it into recycle bin-sized chunks. What's this crappy job got to do with the “exercise box” or the “training box”, you ask? While doing this, I was thinking to myself; “What a great grip strengthening exercise…” At the emergence of this thought, I began focusing on changing the angles of my rips to achieve better and changing ranges of wrist motion, and exaggerating the “loose-tight” aspects of the ripping process as well (remember the importance of this concept in cutting, blocking and striking?). Here I was doing something that could be construed as mind-numbingly tedious, but in truth it actually turned out to be a good training exercise and further, I didn't need a gi, a belt, a dojo or a sword (rats!) or some fancy device in my hands to do it.  All I had to do was unlock my thinking to see how the activity was related to something that I actually like to think about and do, and the difference between “boring task” and “good training” became more one of apples ad oranges instead of day and night.
       A similar thought occurred to me while doing yard work. While pruning back some evergreens gone completely mad, I noted that in pruning heavy limbs, raking loose debris into piles, stripping limbs for firewood, picking up the stuff I stripped off and shoveling it into a green bucket, and sweeping up the remainder of the debris I was in fact working just about every major muscle group, and in a way that nature intended: in concert, in holistically chained movements. This is just the sort of movements and type of strength that martial arts demand in both training and application. I also noted that many of these movements fairly mimicked many moves practiced in training: compressing the heavy pruners resembled executing double hammer fists to the ribs, raking and sweeping could be equated to a shortened form of cutting kesa, a parry-block, a pulling grab or trap, or the palis-palis (passing) movements of arnis. Stripping limbs for firewood involved a push-pull movement seen in many grab-and-counter sequences, or was another good grip-strengthening exercise, depending on the type of tool being used.

Do your “homework”, improve your martial skills in the process…
      In summary, I marvel at the number of people I talk to who will go to a dojo or gym, spend hours and hours grinding on kata or techniques and/or sweating and straining in pushing and pulling particular machines to work particular muscles, yet will cringe and recoil at the thought of doing their own (or their parents') yard work or house work, complain that “it takes too long” or that they get “tired, sweaty, and sore”. Never mind these are the very same conditions that they eagerly welcome in the course of “regular” training or “regular” exercise! Further, they come to the dojo and announce to instructors that they are seeking to develop focus, discipline, and follow-though in life. What better way to help train in these attributes than by seeing less glitzy, non-rank or non-trophy netting, but very necessary tasks through to completion? In reality, such activities needn't be viewed as interfering with training, but instead can be vastly complimentary to it, and can even be looked at as “training for training”. Now, this is not to say that you should never spend time grinding on kata, practicing techniques, chucking iron, running, or other more direct forms of training! Obviously, direct practice is a very, very important part of the training picture and this cannot be stated enough! This is just to suggest that, first, you can make dreary, ordinary tasks that we all need to attend to, but that none of us particularly like, much more interesting and fun if you look for ways that they relate to your training, and second, you can actually enhance your training efforts if you approach these tasks in with the right attitude and correct physical application.
     The trick here is to simply think and look outside of the box. We need to keep in mind that in many cases, our activities in life are all interrelated and to look for ways in which they may be connected. If these connections are sought and discovered, it will be readily seen that other relevant aspects of our life needn't suffer for our training and that our training needn't suffer for our tackling the less glamorous, but necessary and useful daily activities-they're merely opposite sides of the same coin, and each has much to potentially teach us about the relevance of the other.  
About Those Submissions….
     Once again, we encourage those of you with an idea, some literary leanings (or not…), or some combination thereof to please, please, please whip up and submit some fodder for our newsletter!
While we appreciate that you like to read what we have to say, we know that you all have something to say as well, and this is the place to say it! We welcome other authors and viewpoints, so flex that mighty mental muscle and set your thoughts to paper. Can't spell? Suck at grammar? No worries! Just get us the flippin' article and we'll take care of making it purty for your peepers as well as the most inconsolable of literary critics! Put down that remote control, shelve that game, and do something relevant, something that can really make a difference: express yourself!

Train mindfully and safely,
Marlene & Jeff