My entry into Karate and eventual path to Shodan began with my son, Bryce. He was 9 years old at the time, and had decided that he would like to try martial arts. We began visiting the local karate and ju-jitsu clubs in our area hoping to find a good one. Each club that we visited I saw from a father’s perspective, hoping to find a club that would teach the skills Bryce was interested in, but would also teach the discipline and respect that I had come to associate with martial arts and the Japanese culture. You see, I grew up in a neighborhood in Torrance where the neighbors are predominantly Japanese and Japanese Hawaiian. As a result, many of my friends were Japanese Hawaiian growing up and I was very comfortable with the culture as I experienced it through my friends’ homes. This may be why when I visited Sensei Nishimura’s Dojo at the Torrance YMCA that I felt immediately comfortable sending my son there to learn. Through the instructors I found that the knowledge, discipline and respect I was looking for were integrated in the USA Wado Ryu Karate-Do program; I also found that adults were there training alongside their children. I signed us both up.
Six months later I had remodeled our front office room into a mini-dojo with the help of my wife Karen, “a very understanding and supportive woman”. We mounted full length mirrors on the North facing wall so that Bryce and I could check our form, and put new hardwood floors in the room for comfortable practice. The only items of furniture allowed in the room were two small desks with computers along one wall, and a stand-alone kick bag for practicing. The entire floor space was open for practice. The room has remained that way to this day and I use our mini-dojo 3-4 days a week for training . Our house also has a long hallway good for practicing Kihon, and the back yard is open and great for Kobudo/weapons practice. There is no excuse for not training in this environment.
Learning Karate with my son has been and continues to be an amazing experience, and whenever I see parents in class with their children I always try to encourage them to stick with it. More often than not the parents sign up for the class because their kids are interested, and the parents fail to continue or realize what this training has to offer them. In an environment where you both start out together with absolutely no prior knowledge, you both can learn together and relate to each other in a student to student way. The whole experience is a blast!
Now 7 years has passed.
Starting out in Wado Ryu Karate I learned early the importance of body mechanics, balance, efficiency of movement, etc. All of this I thoroughly enjoy in the style, because it all makes physical sense and distills to a common goal; self-defense. Ultimately our purpose for studying this art is to be able to aptly defend ourselves in the event that conflict is unavoidable. Balance, muscle relaxation during movement, efficiency of energy in kicking and punching as well as joint locks; these are all words that can be used to describe Wado Ryu. Words easily said but difficult to master. But this is also what makes Wado Ryu Karate so great to study.
When Bryce and I began studying under Sensei Nishimura I was 37 years old, and I have earned rank of Shodan at 44 yrs of age. During this time my balance, flexibility, and stamina has increased in levels that I didn’t think were attainable for someone of my age, especially with such a late start. We have been blessed to experience through the dojo Masters such as Sensei Shiomitsu, Sensei Setamatsu, and Sensei Osaka. Sensei Nishimura’s direction and openness in teaching has been and continues to be a resource that I look forward to benefiting from in advancing my Karate.
The most exciting part of studying Wado Ryu Karate is that there is still so much more to learn. I plan on continuing my study to whatever end and rank my mind, body and spirit will allow, and I look forward to progressing and understanding this art more deeply in the future.