Just a reminder not to miss IOK’s in house celebration of Jackie and Bruce’s recent promotions.  Class will be closed at 8:00 PM sharp tomorrow evening, when we’ll gather downstairs at Sully’s for some R&R time.

This fall so far has been a comparatively busy one for advanced ranks.  The visit by Takisan and Higasan hosted by Mark and Connie Flynn was brief but inspirational.  A small handful of very senior instructor students received the ceremonial promotions of 7th Dan.  And, the group was led by our own Chief Jackie ‘Mr. Patience’ Dowd receiving his 8th as Hanshidan.  Ranks of this level are rarely something we get to see in the States.  It is if nothing else a testament to the staying power of quality traditional dojo’s and the instructors who lead them.  It has been reflected that no one should feel ready for a Dan test who has not experienced a few of Jackie’s classes.  We joke with him about his delivery, but he has the memory of an elephant and a heart of the same size.  You may not know it when he’s pushing your limits mentally and physically, but Jackie wants to help people become really good.  If you listen you will learn an awful lot.

Some noteworthy comments from Senseis Taki and Higa;  They were very, very happy to be in Pittsfield with their American karate family.  Higasan used the word ‘family’ with earnest enthusiasm.  Taki’s note to advanced students …as always work hard, but also, at high rank you must begin to understand your karate as an artistic expression.  I understood this in context to mean it is good many people are reaching higher ranks than ever in the States.  He was very happy about this.  Now, students should not stop at good karate, but begin learning good art.  After all our work until now, the learning path should not just stop.

Many of you are aware our good friend and excellent student David Chan shipped over to Iraq with the National Guard this past summer.  I am happy to report many of us have actually heard from David in recent phone calls from his base and he is doing well and in his words …LEARNING A LOT.  Additionally, David has arranged to take his first leave from Iraq in where else but Okinawa.  He is expected to be there the end of this month for several weeks during the time the All Okinawa tournament is being held.  God Bless that kid!

And also in October, we got some more training time in with our new Outside the Box friend from the West Coast, Rory Miller.  I believe he would prefer the term “Explorer”, which may be much more accurate.  Some of us met Rory for another seminar and also an all day scenario training class.  The later was in an actual barroom, with Rory in his tactical training suit playing the bad guy.  This included legal debriefing and a lot of general good martial arts play time.  Rory is not karate, and not at all the typical martial arts seminar instructor.  His biggest contribution is the way he gets you to think critically about the application of the martial arts …that is human violence/predatory dynamics, etc…  Our thing is traditional karate, which we know not to be the same thing.  It would be difficult to argue that we have not been a little spoiled here at IOK under Jack’s tutelage.  So, what Rory is excellent at getting across are concepts some of us who have been around long enough have touched upon.  We’ve not always paid the same attention to these concepts, and can certainly benefit from more work.  That is why it really cool to know another someone who can offer such a great compliment to what we have in an excellent traditional base.

One last note, kids enrollment is cyclically up now that school is in session.  However, adult class sizes on beginner nights has been extremely slow all year.  Try to mix up your nights and be here more often.  Spirit comes from numbers.  And …get out and tell people  how great this thing we have is!  A dojo is people.  IOK is special because of all of you folks.  Let someone know about it.


-Billy G.

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