Year End Review of 2015

HAPPY NEW YEAR

I started Karate Kickin Dwarf because I needed an outlet for my martial arts passion. For many reasons I am unable to participate in a dojo at the moment. So I decided I would share my experiences as a martial artist who happens to be 3 feet tall and has needed to overcome specific challenges throughout life. My goal was simple; entertain, inspire, and hopefully help someone along the way. I have managed to do all three.

Keep in mind when I started I was thinking that the only people that were going to read this blog would be my wife, my parents, maybe a friend or a co-worker. It turns out there has been over 1,140 readers from all over the world that have looked and enjoyed the material from this website. I have reached viewers on 6 continents. I am amazed when I reach people from countries that I didn’t even think I would reach. When I review my statistics and I see people from Russia have been reading my articles I ask myself “Hmm…is Vladimir Putin a fan of my site?” Probably not but someone in Russia is reading my web site. I find that amazing.  As an America and having a poor understanding of geography and find countries I haven’t even heard of reading my web site, I find amazing.

I had in mind to share a few “short” stories as a dwarf and as a martial artist. I wanted to share how I use martial arts to overcome the physical challenges I have faced during my lifetime. By sharing my story I have helped people with problems they have been facing and I have found that I am not alone in facing those problems. I was looking to inspire others. Then that idea expanded into me doing interviews or what has become Kumite matches with the martial artists. The idea is that I interview martial artist that have inspired me and others.

My goal for 2016 is that I want to continue having Kumite matches with martial artist and write about my personal experiences. I would like to try interviewing using different forms of media such as video recording or a podcast. I’d like to hear from the fans on what they would prefer. Another goal is that I want to post content on a weekly basis. I want to post pictures or memes, full length article, or videos. Again, I want to hear from the readers about what you would like to see.

Since you have let me share my stories I want to create a section where readers can share their stories about practicing martial arts or overcoming challenges related to disabilities. The story can be told from the perspective of parents raising disabled child or a person who faces any type of disability. The story can come from the person facing other forms of adversity. I will help you tell your story whether it is inspiring, funny, or serious. They can be about practicing martial arts or participating in another sport or a hobby. I just want to give the readers a voice. I will only post as much as you want me to share.

Finally on a personal note: I want to take a second and give a special thanks for helping me make this web site happen – my wife. She has been there to support my creative talents, provide ideas, and guidance. She believes in me. She is my biggest fan – next to our daughters. They are the reason why I strive to be the best at everything I do. Plus I am sure they are tired of hearing me talk about karate and jujitsu 24/7. I am sure they appreciate me redirecting my martial arts enthusiasm to another audience.

My wife is the one who taught me how to be a writer. Years ago I couldn’t write a simple coherent paragraph. I had to relearn how to write and communicate my thoughts. I love writing now. I am in a job where I do technical writing and research which has been a learning experience. While working on my bachelor’s degree I wrote 3-4 page essays at least 2 times a week. My advisors for my masters program were worried I wouldn’t be able to handle a 1,000 word essay each week. I laughed. I made straight A’s and managed to get a paper published.

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Kumite with Sensei Jeff Burlingame Round 3

Welcome to the final round of Kumite with Sensei Jeff Burlingame. In the last two week Sensei Burlingame provided us with an insight to his personal and professional life. We learned that Burlingame’s experiences with ADHD and Asperger’s inspired him to work with other people who also have the same mental health challenges. Burlingame shares his views on using his martial arts training as a deputy sheriff. Burlingame also discusses the motivation behind opening his dojo. In this final round of the Kumite Burlingame will share with us his plans since he has retired from the dojo. I will attempt to find out what his strategy is for sparing a 3 foot tall dwarf. And lastly Burlingame will add a few more words about other challenges he has faced in life and how being a martial artist has helped him.

 

KKD: Now that you are retired from teaching do you still practice? What style have you always wanted to try?

JB: I still stop in the two locations that my students have and observe and teach from time to time and when I relocate, I may start up a small class working with a few serious students. If I could, I think I would like to study Aikido. Watching the classes that were being taught by the instructors fascinated me but with the back problems that I have, it would not let me do so.

 

KKD: Are there any new/old hobbies or new skills you want to attempt?

JB: Once I relocate I hope to get back into scuba diving and flying, both had been put on hold for various reasons.

 KKD: I have always wanted to learn how to fly. Do you mind if I join you? I don’t take up much space. I can fit in the overhead compartment.

 

KKD: What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened when practicing martial arts or at a competition?

JB: I think the most embarrassing thing that happened to me during class was passing out and waking up seeing my Sensei standing over me smiling. It was a hot day in Tampa (where my Sensei lived), I hadn’t eaten breakfast and I didn’t pace myself properly.

 KKD: At least you didn’t drink a bottle of Pepsi while walking through Lowry Park Zoo in 120 degree weather. Then subsequently vomit for the next 48 hours.

 

KKD: If you could meet anyone from the past who would it be? Why? What would you hope to gain from this encounter? 

JB: One person that I wish that I had met would be Shimabukuro Zenryo, the father of Seibukan Karate. He died in 1969, but I currently am a student of his son Zenpo of Okinawa. I had heard many many stories from Takae Sensei who trained under Zenryo Sensei and to be able to see how he moved and taught would be priceless. I haven’t even been able to locate any films of him teaching or training. Back then most Sensei did not allow films to be shot during class time.

KKD: I found old videos of Takae on YouTube demonstrating several of the Seibukan katas. A few years ago I was preparing for a trip to Florida and had planned to stop off and see Takae. By the time I got there he had passed away the week before.

KKD: Based on your martial arts experience; if you were to teach me one thing what would it be? 

JB: Every student is different, with different needs and abilities. If there is one thing that I tell people is to keep training, never give up and don’t let people tell you that you can’t do something.

 

KKD: Have you ever sparred a 3 foot tall dwarf? If you have, how did it turn out? What was your strategy? 

JB: I can truthfully say that I have never sparred a 3ft dwarf before but I know that I would rather spar someone my size or taller than myself. In my early days I had a friend in the dojo that was substantially shorter than me and he always aggravated me during sparring. He would always stay on the inside , staying close so he could reach me with his punches and kicks but with him staying so close I could not get many kicks off. I learned from this and when I teach student sparring I explain how to take advantage of partners taller and shorter than them.

KKD: If you haven’t, how would you proceed to spar against one?

JB: If I did spar a 3ft dwarf, I defiantly think I would wear a cup. Ha Ha.

KKD: That is the typical strategy of averaged height people.

 

KKD: What else would you like for the world to know about you that you haven’t mentioned?

JB: Over the years I have had my share of issues that I had to deal with; in1986 I was diagnosed with testicular cancer and lost my left nut. Then in 1987-88 I was diagnosed with Lymphoma. Luckily I was taken to the Cleveland Clinic and they had developed an experimental toxic waste that they tried on me that worked. Between 1991 2013 I had 10 back surgeries and two fusions due to herniated disks. I still and always will have issues with my back and have just needed to re-evaluate how I train. My back pain is moderate but I waited too long between two of my surgeries and the herniated disk pressed up against my spinal cord and damaged the serves that go to my feet. Now I have delayed touch sensations in my feet, balance is affected but other than that health is very good. I credit my training in Martial Arts for helping me through my cancers (positive attitude) and physical conditioning on my back recovery on my back surgeries. Looking to relocate to somewhere in Central America in the next year or two, maybe Costa Rica, Belize, or Panama, or maybe buy a bot and travel the Caribbean.   Only time will tell….

Awards and Accolades:

  • 2009 – Inducted in World Karate Union Hall of Fame: Master Instructor of the Year
  • 2009 – Received “Golden Life Achievement Award” 40 years of service
  • 2010 – United States Martial arts Hall of Fame – “Traditional Master Instructor of the Year”
  • 2011 – Appointed to Medina City Civil Service Commission
  • 2012 – Member of Medina Sunrise Rotary
  • 2013 – Received Shimabukuro Award – Seibukan USA
  • 2113 – Appointed to Board of Directors of Seibukan USA
  • 2014 – Inducted into the International Seibukan Shorin-Ryu Karate Hall of Fame

 

KKD: Thank you Sensei Burlingame for taking the time to be a part of the Karate Kickin Dwarf Kumite experience. I wish you a happy retirement.

Any readers have questions or comments please feel free to post them below. If you have a story about using martial arts to overcome challenges in life and want to share then send me an email. Be sure to sign up for the newsletter so you don’t miss the next Kumite with the Karate Kickin Dwarf.

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Kumite with Sensei Jeff Burlingame Round 2

It is round 2 with Sensei Burlingame. This week we will look at Burlingame’s views on Kata vs Kumite and methods for practicing. Has Burlingame ever had to use his martial arts skills while he was a deputy? Which TV cop does Burlingame compare himself too?

KKD: What are your thoughts on Kata versus Kumite?

JB: Kata vs Kumite; Coming from a very traditional style I don’t feel that there is a “competition” between them. Both are needed to have an effective Art. I have seen many tournament fighters that are too mechanical and many Kata competitors that are just going through the moves. Each benefits the other; Kata teaches us concentration, perfection of technique, and fluidity, while Kumite adds the practical aspects of the techniques allowing one to “test” their abilities with another. This gives the student to time to increase their reaction time to various attacks. To be good, a karate-ka must embrace both Kata and Kumite equally and not just one or the other. A karate-ka that just trains in one or the other is easy to spot in the Dojo or at a tournament. I have seen some in Kumite competition and they look like the preverbal “bull in the china shop”, lacking focus, control, and technique and I have seen many Kata competitors that look like a gymnastics routine more than Karate. Both are needed, why else would the Sensei from the past develop both.

KKD: Now that I am older I have a greater appreciate for kata. It helps me figure out what I need to work on. It also centers me and helps me focus. I am amazed at that one sequence of moves can have so many interpretations. After I started practicing jujitsu I realized that the possibilities are endless.
Plus kata is really good to do when you are standing around waiting to use the restroom at work.

KKD: Do you listen to music when you practice? If so what type? Why? 

JB: I hate to sound like a broken record, (no pun), but we have a very traditional style and music doesn’t play a part in our classes. My students teach the way I taught them, I teach the way I was taught, My Sensei (s) taught the way they were taught and so on. While I am not saying that teaching with music would be bad, it’s just not our way.

KKD: I enjoy listening to some fast paced rock or techno music when punching pads. Occasionally I’ll listen to music when doing kata.

 

KKD: Have you ever practiced in the country your style originated from?

JB: I have been fortunate enough to have visited and trained in Okinawa at the Hombu Dojo located in Chatan, Okinawa and recently took some of my senior students there to train with Shimabukuro Zenpo. It is a wonderful experience and I strongly suggest it to any serious student of Martial Arts.

KKD: It is on my bucket list to go over to Okinawa to practice Shorin Ryu, mainland Japan to practice injitsu and jujitsu, and China to practice wing chung and tai chi. I think it would be a fun experience to work out in the home of the styles I am interested in. If I do get to go my goal would be to write a book on the experiences on working out, trying different foods, and family fun activities to partake in.

 

KKD: Why did you become a deputy?

JB: I started with the Medina County Sheriff’s Office (Ohio) in 1975 as a Deputy working uniform road patrol in 1980 I was transferred to the investigations unit as a detective. At that time each of us were given three townships within the county and were responsible to investigate crimes that were committed in those townships. When a major criminal offence occurred such as a kidnapping, murder, etc a number of us were assigned the case. In 1983 I established the Medina County Crime lab and in 1985 promoted to Detective Sergeant in charge of death investigations throughout the county and Director of the Technical Services Unit encompassing the Forensic Crime lab, Fingerprint section, crime scene photography, and E.O.D. Unit. My sound corny, but I got involved with the Sheriff’s Office to help people. I retired in 1998.

 

KKD: Did you ever have to use your martial arts skills while going after perps?

JB: I can’t say that I really ever had to use Martial Arts anytime in my life. The only times I needed to get somewhat physical with individuals were them resisting arrest and both instances they were dealing with mental issues and they were controlled without them sustaining any injuries. While there were some of my co-workers that seemed to always get into physical confrontation with suspects, I did not. I feel that the individuals that I came across sensed an underlying self-confidence that I had and complied. I do feel that this was one of the benefits that Karate gave me.

KKD: I remember listening to the stories my dad would tell me when he would be on road patrol. Dad used to ride around with a deputy that was a black belt in judo and in karate. Hearing these stories is where I started to become fascinated with karate.

 

KKD: Do you consider yourself to be Ponch or John (from ChiPs)? Or Starksy or Hutch? Andy Taylor or Barney Fife?

JB: I really never did parallel myself with any TV officers but I guess if I had to be Colombo. Being more analytical than physical buy I never wore a trench coat.

 

KKD: What prompted you to open Asian Martial Arts?

JB: I had been teaching since 1971 but started Asian Martial Arts, Inc. in 1998 when I retired from the Sheriff’s Office. My idea was to acquire various Traditional Martial Arts Instructors that had a definable lineage and offer different types of Martial Arts under the same roof without egos. Over the years between 1998 – 2015, we held classes in Shorin-Ryu Karate, Aikido, Iaido, Kendo, Jujitsu, Wutang Kung Fu, Kenpo Karate, Uechi-Ryu Karate, and Judo.

KKD: I would love to open a place like that myself. I would try to get a few other Chinese related martial arts such Wing Chung and Tia Chi. I am constantly looking at big buildings and telling my wife “hey honey, I think this place would make a great dojo!” I would try to incorporate a ninja training facility and a place where people could do parkour. I would love to host some pretty big tournaments and seminars.

 

KKD: Not too long ago you were honored by the State of Ohio? What was this recognition you received?

JB: In 2014 I received a commendation from the House of Senate for my past service to the community involving my work in Martial Arts and for my work with special needs. (2008, I started a non-profit company “Medina Center of Therapeutic Arts”. MCTA, is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that utilizes various Art forms to enhance and develop individuals with mental and / or physical developmental disabilities. We offer Therapeutic Martial Arts, Yoga, Art Therapy, and Music and Dance Therapy for individuals with developmental disabilities which include ADHA, Autism and Asperger’s, TBI (traumatic brain injuries) and post-surgical patients.

 

KKD: What prompted you to retire from the dojo?

JB: Due to some health issues and the prospect of me moving I shut down Asian Martial Arts, turned my students over to my senior students in August 2015.

KKD: Well I am sure you will be missed by the martial arts community and by the people of Ohio.

 

KKD: Be sure to check out Round 3 next week as we look to see what Sensei Burlingame’s is planning to do in his retirement. We will also see what type of strategy the sensei would take if he ever fought a 3foot tall dwarf and more.

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Kumite with Sensei Burlingame Round 1

Welcome to this edition of Kumite. In this match up I want to take on Sensei Jeff Burlingame. If you are from the Medina, Ohio (USA) area or you are a part of the Seibukan organization then you may have heard of Sensei Burlingame. Then again, you may have been arrested by Burlingame. It is through the Seibukan organization is how I have heard of Burlingame. My first karate instructor would often refer to him or his teachings in class. Then years later I was apart of another Seibukan affiliated class and they too would refer to Burlingame.

I haven’t officially met Sensei Burlingame. Late last year I made it a goal to carve out some time to go workout with him. However if you have read my article Fighting Sleep and my article about the importance of family  I think readers will understand why I haven’t made it. So I decided I would get to know him and see what he was about. I knew his influences had impacted the State of Ohio sense he was honored by several of the state’s top leaders. I also know he has impacted people within the Seibukan organization.

When I was preparing my questions and doing some research I realized that Burlingame has been affected by ADHD (Spell it out). I read where he has worked with a variety of people who faced mental challenges and physical disabilities throughout his martial arts career. I knew then I had to write to him and see if he would be kind enough to partake in an interview session with me.

Then upon receiving the answers from Burlingame I realized that this man has faced many challenges in his life such as back operations and cancer. He contributes his martial arts training to providing him with the strength and wisdom to persevere through the challenging times.

This week’s round of Kumite we are going to look to see what inspired Sensei Burlingame to become interested in martial arts. Burlingame will provide us with a brief history of the style he practices and its lineage. Then we will look at the challenges he faced while growing up and practicing martial arts.

SenseiJeffBurlingameKKD: When and why did you begin practicing martial arts? 

JB: I started training in Martial Arts (Shorin-Ryu “Seibukan” Karate-Do) in 1967 at the age of 13. Back then Karate was just starting to become known in the States, and thinking that I was going to be a secret agent with the CIA when I grew up and I would need to know that for the job. (little did I know that I really would end up getting into Law Enforcement)

               KKD: I figured with my education in technology, history, and management along with Shorin Ryu karate background I would be an ideal candidate for the CIA. So far that hasn’t been the case.

KKD: What style(s) do you practice? And why?

Seibukan Lineage

KKD: I am very familiar with this Seibukan organization. I was apart of them when I first began karate.

KKD: What challenges did you face while growing up? Do you contribute your martial arts training to your success of overcoming obstacles either in life or career?

JB: Growing up I had a few problems that I faced; our father left us when I was 10 and moved to Medina Ohio from Zanesville and was raised by my grandparents in a fairly strict environment. In elementary school my grades were very poor and it wasn’t till many years later that I found that I suffer from ADHD and Asperger’s and lacked self-confidence. Looking back things started to turn around for me by age 15, my concentration and grades greatly improved, most likely due to the Martial Arts training.

I have been married 4 time (twice to the same person), have a 35 year old son in the Army and currently he is stateside, and two daughters (age 20 and 16) the 20 year old is in collage in England and the 16 year old is still in high school.

KKD: According to WebMD ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Conditions include difficulty in paying attention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. Asperger’s inhibits the person from communicating and socializing with other people.

I have met other people with ADHD start practicing martial arts and it has helped them control their symptoms. They use the structure of their class and apply it to other areas of life.

KKD: Read any good books lately? What book would you recommend for a fellow martial artist to read? Why?

JB: I can’t say that I am not much of a reader due to my Asperger’s and attention issues and it takes me much longer to read through a book and therefore do not read very often, nor could I realistically suggest any.

KKD: Audiobooks are fun. I am not much for sitting down to read a book. However there have been a handful of books that has really pulled me into the story.

KKD: Do you have a favorite TV show or movie? 

JB: Not really into TV much, until recently I was teaching most nights and had little time. If I do watch, I like the history channel, and science channel.

KKD: Be sure to check out Round 2 next week as we look at Sensei Burlingame’s views on Kata vs Kumite and methods for practicing. We are also going to see if he ever had to use his martial arts training on the job.

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