Way of The Gun

I am hot and sweaty from practicing kata’s for an hour and one step kumite. Sitting off to the side of the room my instructor sees me and picks me as his next sparring partner. At this time in my life had been out of karate for a few years working education, career, and family. I had only been practicing a few months, my technique wasn’t the best, and I was overweight. After this class I soon found I had a lung infection and I had developed adult onset asthma which prevented me from getting a full breath and fatiguing much quicker.

I bow to my opponent (Sensei) and I am ready to spar. I am amazed by the volley of kicks and punches that are launched at me. I block everything as best as I can. It feels like 20 minutes has gone by since the start of the match, my arms and legs are burning. I eventually get him to the ground for a kidney shot. We are finished with the match. I can barely see with the sweat pouring in my eyes. I can barely hear with the blood rushing past my ears. It is all I can do to inhale. I feel like I am going to fall over and pass out.

After class was over I asked my instructor about my performance. Sensei’s comments were very critical and like a hard punch. He looked at me and said “you better consider carrying a .22 pistol with you wherever you go.”

Let’s take a quick trip into the future by 4 years. I was a best man for a wedding and took the groom and groomsmen to a gun range. First time I ever had ever fired a gun. In fact it was a .22 pistol. It was the last time too. I stood there aiming the gun. Keep in mind my arms are short; the gun’s slide came back and just barely kissed me. I handed the gun to the best man. I stepped to the side quietly and sarcastically thanking Sensei for the advice of “…you should consider carrying a .22 pistol.” I can see the headlines “Dwarf Knocked Out By Own Gun While Shooting at Thugs Only To Be Robbed of Gun, Wallet, and Dignity.”

Well, that’s not the answer I’d expect to hear from my instructor. I admit that I had been out of karate class for a while and was a little rusty. Even to this day as I write this post, I am still learning from that night, that conversation, and the year and half I participated in the class.

That night sparing Sensei was not about testing whether or not I knew the basics. My brown belt that I wore told him I knew the basics. At this point in my training it was about how to use the basics and bring together in a technique and developing a strategy. It was to see how well I used the basics to my advantage and to my situation. This is a lesson that has taken almost 4 years to learn.

Karate is not a likely option if I were to face confrontation on the streets. I had to go and search for other tools that will benefit me. During my time in my ju-jitsu class I have learned to bring together techniques out of karate and use them together.

I am more confident now then I was that night. I am ready for a rematch with that Sensei…just let me grab my inhaler first.

Join me on Facebook where we can continue the discussion and you can share your experiences.

Follow me on Twitter so you can keep up with the adventures of the Karate Kickin Dwarf.

Sign up for to receive blog post in your email or sign up to receive a newsletter.

Great Dojo

Just shortly before I got my green belt in karate I was already teaching new students. The thought behind this that you should be able to show someone how to bow in to the dojo, into class, prepare for class, and take them through the basics. The finer points of teaching will come much later. Of course this is one of the core principles of the Traditional Shorin Ryu class – To Teach Teachers. The main instructor decided I would focus on teaching and running a dojo.

While in high school I had to take various courses, one of them was a speech and communications class. One assignment was to demonstrate something. I tell my instructors my assignment and they show me everything I need to know about the wrist lock. I get to class and I picked the biggest baddest varsity wrestler (and friend). I demonstrated that it doesn’t matter how small you are, the bigger they are the harder they fall. Ironically we were in the same speech and communications class during our college years. When the assignment was announced he started crying, but more on this later

All of the time in my Shorin Ryu class, I feel like I should take my time and teach what I know. After all it is what I learned to do in that class. In the last few years I have found myself dreaming about owning a dojo. I know exactly how I would have it set up. As they say in business it is all about location, location, location. With that in mind I was running around with my wife one day and we saw an empty Lowes building (original store had outgrown itself and moved across the street into a bigger facility). I looked at her and said “you know that would make a great dojo.” She looked at me and responded “Kind of over kill don’t you think?” I replied no. Secretly I was envisioning a full scale ninja training complex. It has become a running joke when we are in the car and I see commercial land or building for sale or rent. I look at her and say “There you go honey, that place would make a great dojo.”

Then one day while running around town; I noticed an empty space at the local strip mall. I looked at my wife and asked her what she

Since Radio Shack closed, there are now 2,000 potential new dojo.
Since Radio Shack closed earlier this year; there are now 2,000 potential new dojo to choose from.

thought they were going to put in there. Without thinking she responded “Probably a dojo”.

This has been a running gag for a few years now. Kind of similar to the Punch Bug game for when you’re in a car and another passenger spots a VW Bug first and gets to hit the person who didn’t see it. Instead of Punch Bug our thing became a dojo punch. Except I don’t punch my wife; she punches back.

What makes a good dojo?

Truth be told, any place can be a good dojo or practice hall. It is what you as an instructor put into the lessons and concepts for your students. There is an experience to be shared between teacher and student; whether or not it leaves a lasting impression on the student’s life. Lastly, the student can apply the knowledge outside the boundaries of the dojo.

Join me on Facebook where we can continue the discussion and you can share your experiences.

Follow me on Twitter so you can keep up with the adventures of the Karate Kickin Dwarf.

Sign up for to receive blog post in your email or sign up to receive a newsletter.

The Days Before I Knew Ju-jitsu

I remember when I first started practicing jujitsu my instructor made the comment “everyone in their life has done some form of jujitsu whether they knew it or not.” To illustrate his point he refers to two kids rough housing and wrestling with each other. Ah, a wave of nostalgia and memories the middle school days, hanging out with my friends; the days before karate and jujitsu.

I’d go to my buddy’s house and all of us (kids around the block) would end up in wrestling matches in the rec-room. In most cases I would end up on the floor unable to get up off from ground until someone helped me. I want to point out I had a major back operation the year before and was in a Milwaukee Brace. The bar on the front side of the brace made it easy for my friends to drag me around on the ground. However having a brace of any type on your body gives you the upper hand.

I would roll from one side of the room to the other. Several of my friends would leapfrog over me as I got next to them. Occasionally I would reach out and grab a foot and hold them down. With the extra bulkiness of the brace it made it easier to pin down an opponent. I also had a few other tricks up my sleeve that my brother in law taught me.

One of my earlier lessons he taught me: “the body goes where the head goes.” With this knew found knowledge I was unstoppable in the rec-room wrestling matches. I thought I was cool stuff because I knew a little bit of martial arts and was capable of holding down my friends to the ground. Knowledge is power.

I am a firm believer that knowledge is power. However I want to add that if you don’t know something, then don’t waste your time pretending you do and teaching it to other people. One night in karate class the assistant instructor decided he was going to teach us jujitsu. I want to point out that this instructor had never taken a jujitsu class. He even admitted to the class about not having a clue on jujitsu. However he wanted to give it a try because he had seen some moves off of a WCW wrestling match on TV. – Hmm…that may explain why the main instructor was adamant about disconnecting movie karate from real life.

Before I continue with my lessons learned from our attempt at jujitsu, some disturbing mental images may appear as I type this. I am haunted by the flashbacks. The events of that evening from over 12 years ago have been seared into our minds. I still talk to some of the former classmates; apparently they cringe from the images.

Because of that night I am grateful for jujitsu Gi’s and rash guards. I am haunted by the flashbacks of disturbing mental images of the assistant instructor soaking with sweat attempting to demonstrate grappling techniques on the dwarf. I learned that night is that karate Gi’s are very thin and do not retain any sweat. The assistant instructor was 5’8 and 230lbs lying directly on top of me an hour after doing warmups and katas.

…Excuse me while I go back and take another shower…

Join me on Facebook where we can continue the discussion and you can share your experiences.

Follow me on Twitter so you can keep up with the adventures of the Karate Kickin Dwarf.

Sign up for to receive blog post in your email or sign up to receive a newsletter.