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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