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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14370
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2016 8:30 pm    Post subject: Often Drilled and Rarely Applied! Reply with quote

No matter the style of martial arts, and no matter the methodology and ideology of the style, blocks and/or deflections are important, not only to the style, but to the practitioner. Without that skill set, one will be left on an island somewhere in the middle of nowhere without any resolve, whatsoever!

Yes, a practitioner can engage without having used one single block in order to survive a determined attack. However, I believe that to be a rare experience. Any individual will have to resort to some type of blocking to protect oneself, even itís only used occasionally.

As a practitioner of the Shindokan Saitou-ryu for 51 years this October 18th, Iíve learned that, without having deflecting skills, any violent encounter will have to be dealt with through some type of proactive defensive mechanisms, if you want to keep any attacker at bay. Especially if one is a practitioner of a style dependant on a conclusive use of Te Waza (hand technique), like Shindokan, which is 85% dependant on its use.

General Blocking Techniques

Iíve taken the liberty of listing two styles of the martial arts, and no more than that. To try to list more would bog down this article and would be redundant.

For that reason, I am going to go with Shotokan and Tae Kwon Do because these two styles are widely known, recognized and respected the world over. While the names may vary from style to style, the core of blocking is well-known, accepted and practiced within many styles. The methodology may differ, but many blocks are shared without fanfare or ambiguity. An effective block is just that: an effective block, no matter how itís executed or labeled.

Letís take a quick look at these two lists, care of Wikipedia. The first list is Shotokan, and the second list is Tae Kwon Do. Either of these styles have their own off-shoots and/or hybrid styles within their respective umbrellas. There might or might not be a more broader and complete list here. Even so, there might be too many to list here. I respect both arts, and no disrespect is meant or intended at all if Iíve not included the brand that you might be a practitioner of.

Shotokan blocks (Uke): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_shotokan_techniques#Blocking_techniques_.28Uke-waza.29

Tae Kwon Do Blocks (Makgic burat): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Taekwondo_techniques#Blocks_.28Makgic_burat.29

Many of these blocks might be familiar, while others might not be. Thatís to be expected. If you wish to gain a clearer picture of the blocking within a particular martial art, some research may be warranted.

Truth Be Told

Practitioners of any martial art spend countless hours on the floor drilling for the perfection of our mind, body and soul; together, theyíre an unbeatable force to be reckoned with.

We continuously try to perfect that which isnít perfect - nor will it ever be. In time, through endless hours of sacrifice and rigorous training, we bring the one technique to bear at the given target of our choice; nothing will deny us, and nothing will deter our resolve.

But when it matters, thatís when the truth will be told. Life and death are at risk. Separate, yet the same!

Directions

As general as I can be, no matter the style of art, there are only four blocks. They are:
  • Up
  • Outward
  • Inside
  • Down
These four have their own unique characteristics, as described by their label alone. It doesnít take a rocket scientist to figure out in which direction you are moving with any of these given deflections.

Then, thereís the parry! This is what one sees more often than the four blocks above, no matter the venue, style or practitioner. The four above are more blunt; whereas, the parry isnít. Parries can be interpreted to be more of a slap than anything else. The parry, like the blunt blocks, is directed towards where the defender decides. Only minimum effort is necessary to execute the parry right into a counterattack by the defender. The more blunt the block, the more directional transition may be required for the counterattack of the defender. That said, the downward direction is the most widely executed of the four.

Letís not forget that there are blocks that are offensive in nature; meant to disable or neutralize the attacker, one way or another. It is said that the best block is to not be there when the attack matures.

Kumite is One Thing

Most karate styles teach 5 levels of kumite (sparring) to their student body. Before one can walk, one must first learn to crawl, and before one can run, one must first learn to jog. Kumite is, after all, another way to drill kihon.
Weíre taught quite a plate full of kihon before weíre allowed to train in Jiyu Kumite (freestyle), and the same is also true for learning the other 4 levels of kumite. Properly seasoned, the dish before you will not be bland, but will excite your palette to no end.

Kumite shouldnít be a crash course, but it is. Students, usually of their own devices, enter the world of Jiyu Kumite at white belt, and thatís fine, because to learn to swim, most of us were thrown in the deep end of the nearest body of water. Sink or swim.

Unnoticed, a bad habit has been taught and encouraged.

Life is Another Thing

If we can be perfectly honest with each other, we are limiting ourselves, even though weíve been drilled from here to kingdom come with all that our styles curriculum/syllabus stand for. With all that a practitioner has learned, and been drilled on, why do we only use a handful of blocks?

We drill blocks in kata endlessly, without a pause, and for decades. We have the blocks within us; however, we only ever use the most miniscule amount of them. Sure, weíll use them drilling in the school, and thatís because we have to, because we were told to by the instructor.

Yet, we freely choose to use only one, two or three blocks in the school, at the tournament or at the seminar. Why? Is our comfort zone that narrow?! Is our confidence so little?! Are our memories that short?! Do a drill? No problem! Do a testing cycle? No problem! Learning? No problem! Teaching? No problem!

Letís break this down:
  1. Downward block
  2. Upward block
  3. Outside/inside block
Thatís about it. Of the three above, the downward block seems to be the most widely used, no matter the venue. Doesnít that limit us/you/me?!

Do our kumite sessions, school-based or not, limit us? Do those sessions birth limitations within us? Why donít we use more of the taught blocks outside of the dojo?

Whose fault is that? Ours or the instructor(s), for allowing us to get away with using one to three blocks during Jiyu Kumite, or worse: in a fight where everything matters.

Conclusion

If itís by choice that we only execute a few blocks, Iím fine with that. But is that really the case? ďUse what is useful, discard the rest.Ē Thanks for that, Bruce!

Why learn all of these different blocks if weíre not ever going to use them unless we're drilling some way? It seems like a waste. Or is it? Iíd rather have more than enough, than to not ever have enough! When choosing between unlimited possibilities, and those which are limited, Iíll take always take the former.

While this article speaks to blocks, it applies to more than just blocks The tone of this article applies just as well to punches, strikes, kicks and every other martial arts technique. Just how many do we drill, repeatedly, but never apply when the chips are down?

References

Karate: The Art Of ďEmpty-HandĒ Fighting by Hidetaka Nishiyama and Richard C. Brown, Tuttle Publishing, 1960, pages 112-117
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Patrick
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Joined: 01 May 2001
Posts: 27029
Location: Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2016 8:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the submission, Bob.

Patrick
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The Pred
Blue Belt
Blue Belt

Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 329

Styles: Goju Ryu

PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2016 10:22 pm    Post subject: Re: Often Drilled and Rarely Applied! Reply with quote

sensei8 wrote:
No matter the style of martial arts, and no matter the methodology and ideology of the style, blocks and/or deflections are important, not only to the style, but to the practitioner. Without that skill set, one will be left on an island somewhere in the middle of nowhere without any resolve, whatsoever!

Yes, a practitioner can engage without having used one single block in order to survive a determined attack. However, I believe that to be a rare experience. Any individual will have to resort to some type of blocking to protect oneself, even itís only used occasionally.

As a practitioner of the Shindokan Saitou-ryu for 51 years this October 18th, Iíve learned that, without having deflecting skills, any violent encounter will have to be dealt with through some type of proactive defensive mechanisms, if you want to keep any attacker at bay. Especially if one is a practitioner of a style dependant on a conclusive use of Te Waza (hand technique), like Shindokan, which is 85% dependant on its use.

General Blocking Techniques

Iíve taken the liberty of listing two styles of the martial arts, and no more than that. To try to list more would bog down this article and would be redundant.

For that reason, I am going to go with Shotokan and Tae Kwon Do because these two styles are widely known, recognized and respected the world over. While the names may vary from style to style, the core of blocking is well-known, accepted and practiced within many styles. The methodology may differ, but many blocks are shared without fanfare or ambiguity. An effective block is just that: an effective block, no matter how itís executed or labeled.

Letís take a quick look at these two lists, care of Wikipedia. The first list is Shotokan, and the second list is Tae Kwon Do. Either of these styles have their own off-shoots and/or hybrid styles within their respective umbrellas. There might or might not be a more broader and complete list here. Even so, there might be too many to list here. I respect both arts, and no disrespect is meant or intended at all if Iíve not included the brand that you might be a practitioner of.

Shotokan blocks (Uke): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_shotokan_techniques#Blocking_techniques_.28Uke-waza.29

Tae Kwon Do Blocks (Makgic burat): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Taekwondo_techniques#Blocks_.28Makgic_burat.29

Many of these blocks might be familiar, while others might not be. Thatís to be expected. If you wish to gain a clearer picture of the blocking within a particular martial art, some research may be warranted.

Truth Be Told

Practitioners of any martial art spend countless hours on the floor drilling for the perfection of our mind, body and soul; together, theyíre an unbeatable force to be reckoned with.

We continuously try to perfect that which isnít perfect - nor will it ever be. In time, through endless hours of sacrifice and rigorous training, we bring the one technique to bear at the given target of our choice; nothing will deny us, and nothing will deter our resolve.

But when it matters, thatís when the truth will be told. Life and death are at risk. Separate, yet the same!

Directions

As general as I can be, no matter the style of art, there are only four blocks. They are:
  • Up
  • Outward
  • Inside
  • Down
These four have their own unique characteristics, as described by their label alone. It doesnít take a rocket scientist to figure out in which direction you are moving with any of these given deflections.

Then, thereís the parry! This is what one sees more often than the four blocks above, no matter the venue, style or practitioner. The four above are more blunt; whereas, the parry isnít. Parries can be interpreted to be more of a slap than anything else. The parry, like the blunt blocks, is directed towards where the defender decides. Only minimum effort is necessary to execute the parry right into a counterattack by the defender. The more blunt the block, the more directional transition may be required for the counterattack of the defender. That said, the downward direction is the most widely executed of the four.

Letís not forget that there are blocks that are offensive in nature; meant to disable or neutralize the attacker, one way or another. It is said that the best block is to not be there when the attack matures.

Kumite is One Thing

Most karate styles teach 5 levels of kumite (sparring) to their student body. Before one can walk, one must first learn to crawl, and before one can run, one must first learn to jog. Kumite is, after all, another way to drill kihon.
Weíre taught quite a plate full of kihon before weíre allowed to train in Jiyu Kumite (freestyle), and the same is also true for learning the other 4 levels of kumite. Properly seasoned, the dish before you will not be bland, but will excite your palette to no end.

Kumite shouldnít be a crash course, but it is. Students, usually of their own devices, enter the world of Jiyu Kumite at white belt, and thatís fine, because to learn to swim, most of us were thrown in the deep end of the nearest body of water. Sink or swim.

Unnoticed, a bad habit has been taught and encouraged.

Life is Another Thing

If we can be perfectly honest with each other, we are limiting ourselves, even though weíve been drilled from here to kingdom come with all that our styles curriculum/syllabus stand for. With all that a practitioner has learned, and been drilled on, why do we only use a handful of blocks?

We drill blocks in kata endlessly, without a pause, and for decades. We have the blocks within us; however, we only ever use the most miniscule amount of them. Sure, weíll use them drilling in the school, and thatís because we have to, because we were told to by the instructor.

Yet, we freely choose to use only one, two or three blocks in the school, at the tournament or at the seminar. Why? Is our comfort zone that narrow?! Is our confidence so little?! Are our memories that short?! Do a drill? No problem! Do a testing cycle? No problem! Learning? No problem! Teaching? No problem!

Letís break this down:
  1. Downward block
  2. Upward block
  3. Outside/inside block
Thatís about it. Of the three above, the downward block seems to be the most widely used, no matter the venue. Doesnít that limit us/you/me?!

Do our kumite sessions, school-based or not, limit us? Do those sessions birth limitations within us? Why donít we use more of the taught blocks outside of the dojo?

Whose fault is that? Ours or the instructor(s), for allowing us to get away with using one to three blocks during Jiyu Kumite, or worse: in a fight where everything matters.

Conclusion

If itís by choice that we only execute a few blocks, Iím fine with that. But is that really the case? ďUse what is useful, discard the rest.Ē Thanks for that, Bruce!

Why learn all of these different blocks if weíre not ever going to use them unless we're drilling some way? It seems like a waste. Or is it? Iíd rather have more than enough, than to not ever have enough! When choosing between unlimited possibilities, and those which are limited, Iíll take always take the former.

While this article speaks to blocks, it applies to more than just blocks The tone of this article applies just as well to punches, strikes, kicks and every other martial arts technique. Just how many do we drill, repeatedly, but never apply when the chips are down?

References

Karate: The Art Of ďEmpty-HandĒ Fighting by Hidetaka Nishiyama and Richard C. Brown, Tuttle Publishing, 1960, pages 112-117


Now are you in the might set of treating the block as not just a block but also as a strike?

I agree with the drilling part, one should try to make their techniques as perfect as possible. Since nerves in a real fight might lower our technique. So if you drill sloppy, than you'll do bad in a fight. However, drilling to the best of your ability will yield more positive results.

My blocks for sparring vastly differs than for self-defense drills. Students need to realize that a block done in a kata should be modified for use in a street fight. Mechanics need to be there of course. For example I'm doing a kata from an front stance and I do a downward block over my left leg with my right arm in chamber position. For starters I would never fight in a front stance, but it's a great way for balance and leg strength. Also my right arm I always tell people that you're doing an elbow strike to a person grabbing from behind. So right there you are practice two techniques. However, in real life I would fight out of sanchin stance most likely, and as I do the downward block with one hand, I would keep the other near my face to guard.
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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
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Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 27735
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 9:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great questions posed in the article, Bob. I don't know that we are limiting ourselves with the blocks we use in sparring as compared to fighting. In Krav, we refer to only two ways of blocking, inside defense and outside defense. Outside defense covers anything coming from the outside, like arcing style attacks (haymakers or round kicks). Inside refers to straight line attacks that get deflected or parried (jabs and other straight punches).

Does this over-simplify things? I don't think so. If the attack is high and coming down, you basically do a high block. If its lower and coming up, you'd do more of a low block.

I think a lot of things have an affect on our styles of blocking in arts like Shindokan, TKD, or Shotokan. At one time, fighters trained to defend against weapons, which one can strike with from a variety of angles with chances of success. A blade makes a downward angled attack to the shoulder/neck area very potent. An angled high block could be useful in stopping that attack. Take the blade away, and there are better targets and attack pathways for an unarmed attacker to take. Therefore, in a fight without this kind of weapon, a different block becomes useful.

Thank you for posing the questions in this article, Bob. Its got me thinking!
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14370
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 12:02 pm    Post subject: Re: Often Drilled and Rarely Applied! Reply with quote

The Pred wrote:
Now are you in the might set of treating the block as not just a block but also as a strike?

In Shindokan, we DON'T treat the block as a block or a strike, but only as a receiver of a technique directed at us. In that, we're deflecting whilst receiving any said technique, and when we receive said technique we're absorbing the energy of said technique.




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MatsuShinshii
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 15 Aug 2016
Posts: 1423
Location: Kentucky
Styles: Machimura Suidi Rokudan, Ryukyu Kenpo, Kobudo, Judo

PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2016 4:01 pm    Post subject: Re: Often Drilled and Rarely Applied! Reply with quote

sensei8 wrote:
The Pred wrote:
Now are you in the might set of treating the block as not just a block but also as a strike?

In Shindokan, we DON'T treat the block as a block or a strike, but only as a receiver of a technique directed at us. In that, we're deflecting whilst receiving any said technique, and when we receive said technique we're absorbing the energy of said technique.


Sensei8,

That is the first time in a long time that I have heard the proper description for Uke outside of my style in a long while.

The term block is commonly used but this is not entirely correct. To Receive is the proper terminology for Uke.

It can be a block, a sweep, a deflection, a re-direction, or a strike. However it is the action of receiving the opponents attack that gives you the edge. By accepting the attack you have the opportunity to choose one of the aforementioned solutions.

I love that you used this terminology Bob. Thanks for the correction.
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14370
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2016 4:42 pm    Post subject: Re: Often Drilled and Rarely Applied! Reply with quote

MatsuShinshii wrote:
sensei8 wrote:
The Pred wrote:
Now are you in the might set of treating the block as not just a block but also as a strike?

In Shindokan, we DON'T treat the block as a block or a strike, but only as a receiver of a technique directed at us. In that, we're deflecting whilst receiving any said technique, and when we receive said technique we're absorbing the energy of said technique.


Sensei8,

That is the first time in a long time that I have heard the proper description for Uke outside of my style in a long while.

The term block is commonly used but this is not entirely correct. To Receive is the proper terminology for Uke.

It can be a block, a sweep, a deflection, a re-direction, or a strike. However it is the action of receiving the opponents attack that gives you the edge. By accepting the attack you have the opportunity to choose one of the aforementioned solutions.

I love that you used this terminology Bob. Thanks for the correction.

You're welcome, MatsuShinshii!!

Within myself, I'll shake my head in surprise when I still hear CI's refer to the "block" as a "block", and if I'm asked by that CI of my opinion, well, my opinion usually turns into a 2 hour class on how the "block" isn't a "block"!! By the end of that class, and for the most part, those CI's no longer say a "block" is a "block", especially as in their terminology. I go even further and teach them that it's not acceptable to use that incorrect terminology just for the sake of the student because that student needs to know and understand the correct terminology, as well, as the receivership of that technique.

Be correct in technique AND in its terminology, as well!!

When I teach receivership, I'll use the term, "block" ONLY ONCE for the beginner, and within that very same breath, they'll learn that that which I'm teaching them is the furthest thing from a "block".



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MatsuShinshii
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 15 Aug 2016
Posts: 1423
Location: Kentucky
Styles: Machimura Suidi Rokudan, Ryukyu Kenpo, Kobudo, Judo

PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2016 6:09 pm    Post subject: Re: Often Drilled and Rarely Applied! Reply with quote

sensei8 wrote:
MatsuShinshii wrote:
sensei8 wrote:
The Pred wrote:
Now are you in the might set of treating the block as not just a block but also as a strike?

In Shindokan, we DON'T treat the block as a block or a strike, but only as a receiver of a technique directed at us. In that, we're deflecting whilst receiving any said technique, and when we receive said technique we're absorbing the energy of said technique.


Sensei8,

That is the first time in a long time that I have heard the proper description for Uke outside of my style in a long while.

The term block is commonly used but this is not entirely correct. To Receive is the proper terminology for Uke.

It can be a block, a sweep, a deflection, a re-direction, or a strike. However it is the action of receiving the opponents attack that gives you the edge. By accepting the attack you have the opportunity to choose one of the aforementioned solutions.

I love that you used this terminology Bob. Thanks for the correction.

You're welcome, MatsuShinshii!!

Within myself, I'll shake my head in surprise when I still hear CI's refer to the "block" as a "block", and if I'm asked by that CI of my opinion, well, my opinion usually turns into a 2 hour class on how the "block" isn't a "block"!! By the end of that class, and for the most part, those CI's no longer say a "block" is a "block", especially as in their terminology. I go even further and teach them that it's not acceptable to use that incorrect terminology just for the sake of the student because that student needs to know and understand the correct terminology, as well, as the receivership of that technique.

Be correct in technique AND in its terminology, as well!!

When I teach receivership, I'll use the term, "block" ONLY ONCE for the beginner, and within that very same breath, they'll learn that that which I'm teaching them is the furthest thing from a "block".




It's like a breath of fresh air talking with you and others here.

It is tough sometimes to keep your head from exploding when talking to those that do not understand the history, terminology or even the true intent of their art. It's nice to talk to those that understand these things and can talk intelligent about them.

I love the fact that there is such a broad knowledge base here with individuals that actually understand the art.

Sensei8, I appreciate your wisdom and your willingness to share it.
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14370
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2016 6:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Often Drilled and Rarely Applied! Reply with quote

MatsuShinshii wrote:
sensei8 wrote:
MatsuShinshii wrote:
sensei8 wrote:
The Pred wrote:
Now are you in the might set of treating the block as not just a block but also as a strike?

In Shindokan, we DON'T treat the block as a block or a strike, but only as a receiver of a technique directed at us. In that, we're deflecting whilst receiving any said technique, and when we receive said technique we're absorbing the energy of said technique.


Sensei8,

That is the first time in a long time that I have heard the proper description for Uke outside of my style in a long while.

The term block is commonly used but this is not entirely correct. To Receive is the proper terminology for Uke.

It can be a block, a sweep, a deflection, a re-direction, or a strike. However it is the action of receiving the opponents attack that gives you the edge. By accepting the attack you have the opportunity to choose one of the aforementioned solutions.

I love that you used this terminology Bob. Thanks for the correction.

You're welcome, MatsuShinshii!!

Within myself, I'll shake my head in surprise when I still hear CI's refer to the "block" as a "block", and if I'm asked by that CI of my opinion, well, my opinion usually turns into a 2 hour class on how the "block" isn't a "block"!! By the end of that class, and for the most part, those CI's no longer say a "block" is a "block", especially as in their terminology. I go even further and teach them that it's not acceptable to use that incorrect terminology just for the sake of the student because that student needs to know and understand the correct terminology, as well, as the receivership of that technique.

Be correct in technique AND in its terminology, as well!!

When I teach receivership, I'll use the term, "block" ONLY ONCE for the beginner, and within that very same breath, they'll learn that that which I'm teaching them is the furthest thing from a "block".




It's like a breath of fresh air talking with you and others here.

It is tough sometimes to keep your head from exploding when talking to those that do not understand the history, terminology or even the true intent of their art. It's nice to talk to those that understand these things and can talk intelligent about them.

I love the fact that there is such a broad knowledge base here with individuals that actually understand the art.

Sensei8, I appreciate your wisdom and your willingness to share it.

To the bold type above...

As I do appreciate your wisdom and willingness to share, MatsuShinshii, as well as the many KF members as well; the knowledge pool here is deep!!



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sensei8
KF Sensei
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Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14370
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2016 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, MatsuShinshii for your kind and thoughtful words!!

My willingness to share comes from both of my Soke and Dai-Soke for they taught us that there's nothing to "hide" from any student. Shindokan is "for everyone"...and the were quite adamant about that point, and they didn't just preach it, they lived it daily.

I've seen/heard them speak/train those outside of Shindokan with such an open mind about anything and everything pertaining to Shindokan. There's no secrets; not with them!!



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