I want to remind everyone that this weekend we will not have our normal classes at the Roanoke Rec. Center. I have arranged for our students to attend a semi open sparring and training event at North Texas Karate Academy in Bridgeport TX. The training is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. and run until 1:00 p.m. or so. You do not have to stay for the full time.
I met sensei Starnes through the AKATO (our parent American Karate TKD organization), and finding a like minded instructor in the martial arts we have become friends and slowly have worked to open up training opportunities for our schools. Sensei Starnes has been a guest instructor out at our school teaching a great class on sparring, I in turn have helped teach his senior students who are attending the AKATO Kobudo (traditional weapons) program. We have had each other sit on belt exam boards for our students so we could see the skill levels of our schools.
Both of our schools have strengths and weaknesses and I believe compliment one another. Our school has a much bigger emphasis on kata, self defense, and weapons work, while his school has a much bigger emphasis on sparring. Sensei Starnes's school is also networked in with several smaller martial art schools out in our area that he has known for years where our school is fairly isolated in regards to cross training with other karate students.
Training with other students is very important, in fact I believe it is vital to a student’s proper development. As a student learning the martial arts in my instructors private dojo we were very insular and my instructor recognizing the need for us to train with others arranged for us to attend other classes so we could train with others students. As an instructor today I still go to outside training opportunities, such as last weekend to the Iain Abernethy camp, to give me a wider view of the martial arts and to interact with different like minded instructors.
This semi open sparring session is just that, a chance for our students (your kids) to go and face some of their fears. Sparring others is fun for some students but to others it can be very unsettling. It is the fear of the unknown, it is the fear of how will I match up, will I get hurt, will I win, etc. etc. Unlike team sports where a person of lesser ability can hide in the team (so to speak) out on the mat it is one on one, it is up to the individual student to stand up and do their best. Sensei Starnes has arranged for 2-3 other like minded schools to be there as well so it will be a controlled environment with other black belts watching over the students and running the matches. I refer to this being a semi open because other schools are involved, but students can’t come in from just any school without being invited.
Attendance at this training event is NOT mandatory, your child won’t be held back from testing etc. etc. It is free, there are no trophies, no awards it is just a chance for you child to face their fear and to get an opportunity to spar with different students and to test themselves against other students. It is sensei Starnes and mine’s goal, if our students have a good time and learn together, to open up more opportunities such as this and to change or rotate locations, so in the future we might be hosting a sparring session like this as well.
But first we need to have good participation to see if we can proceed. If you are interested and you child will be attending please email me so I can get a count. This is also a good opportunity for your child if they are planning to compete in October at the annual AKATO tournament (the one tournament we attend each year) to experience sparring with others but in a non competitive way, it helps to get the butterflies out prior to the tournament. I’ll be sending out and posting directions soon. Here is a link to sensei Starnes's school.