|Posted by texperkin on 15 December, 2017 at 1:25|
A bit about me, or at least my karate experience for those of you who are interested (and you should be if someone is putting themselves out there as your teacher).
The first time I stepped into the martial arts world was when I was 14. From that distant memory (well over 30 years ago) that was on the second floor in York Lane in Burwood under the ultimate guidance of Shihan George Barounis, Myagi Kan Go Ju. I had no idea what I was getting myself into - just that I wanted to be able to take care of myself if needed and if I was being honest, be Bruce Lee.... or a ninja. My choice of school was based purely on convenience.
Eventually, that dojo moved down to Enfield and after a few years I had a basic idea of what I was doing before I had to cut a lot of things out of my life to concentrate on my final year of study at high school. Unfortunately I never went back to Go Ju but during university I did train with a few Shotokan practitioners and some Kung Fu people. However, my main regular training was with Master Sung Do Kim in Strathfield who taught HapKiDo. Again, I didn't worry too much about what I was being taught but really enjoyed the close fighting, throwing, locking and breaking there which I felt was an area lacking in karate. It was only literally decades later when I realised that these techniques ARE in traditional karate - I just wasn't exposed to them or thought to seek them out. This is sadly still the case in many karate schools.
I stopped training regularly for a number of years at the point where I left my tertiary studies in favour of working long hours and eventually moving to England where I started a family. I do regret taking that extended time off although I was keeping fit with running. I did 2 marathons and lots of other shorter distances in that time, mainly because you can run whenever you have a spare hour. A lot of my training for the London marathon in 2002 was well before the sun came up and most martial arts schools don’t really open the doors at those times.
On moving back to Sydney with two young children, I started training again with the local Go Kan Ryu class. Amongst other things, this was very useful for getting my MA fitness back – very different to that which I had cultivated through running. It also reaffirmed my love of the martial arts and now that I was a bit more mature, lead me for the first time to question what I was being taught. They trained hard but I felt there was something missing and I started asking questions about why we were there and what we were learning. The other thing GKR introduced me to was a larger network of karateka who were also asking the same questions.
After a few years there and through some more pragmatic research, I started training with Sensei Mark Greville in Shorin Ryu at Collaroy. The Shorin school traces its lineage back through Chosin Chibana who was a student of Anko Itosu, the founder of modern karate. It was through a study of this legacy that I finally began to understand what karate had been in the past and what it is now. More detail on this topic is probably best left to another piece.
My time over several years with Mark Greville included not only the art we know as karate but also traditional Okinawan weapons known as kobudo and kenjutsu, or Japanese swords.
During this time, I had been corresponding with Sensei Bob McMahon in Brisbane which ultimately culminated in the family and me moving there in 2010. There were of course several reasons for the family move from Sydney however I was extremely keen to train with the McMahons as it was obvious to me that they had travelled the path I was on a lot longer than I had and had a lot of knowledge to impart. I trained with Bob and his son Cheyne whenever I could before moving back to Sydney at the beginning on 2016. I am pleased to say that I can continue to count them both as my mentors to this day, in the same way that they count Mitani Kazuya Sensei theirs. We can discuss Mitani Sensei at another time as well.
As a karate black belt, my continued passion for karate sees me taking advantage of many different sources and I hope to be able to help others do the same.