The Study and Teaching of Hakko-ryu at Hakko Seishinkan Dojo
This article is a diary of the happenings of Hakko Seishinkan Dojo, teachers Ralph Verde and Steven Glaser. It begins years too late. As a result, a wealth of valuable and personal information is lost. But, better late than never.
The manner in which the information is presented will at times be orderly, by date, and at times haphazard. There will be times when ideas from the past will be revisited, flashbacks if you will, and there will be times when there will be conjecturing of the future (from the writer's point of view).
All this given freely and dedicated to those who desire more than the facts, those that wish an insight into the real lives of my teachers.
9/6/91-This will be a lengthy entry as a lot has transpired during the past month in regard to Shihan Brian's (Shihan Brian W. Workman, Menkyo Kaiden Shihan Sandaikichu, Nishi Kaigan Mimawari Yaku-Licensed master instructor of the deepest mysteries and the three great foundation pillars, West coast overseer) upcoming visit.
During the past few weeks there has been a lot of money and time spent on the dojo and the house. The house, I believe, is owned by Steven Glaser's parents who live in Monterey California, and is located at 13301 Raven St., Sylmar, CA. Its double car garage has been nailed shut and is in the process of being converted into a dojo.
Ralph and I reframed and hung a door that leads to the outside from the dojo. Steve and I finished dry walling, taping, mudding, primering, and painting the walls. It doesn't look fantastic, but it looks good. Well, good compared to what we've trained in in the past. Ralph has already ordered the canvas mat and it should be in on the 11th. That will be nice.
It's been very hot, and besides getting ready for Shihan Brian, I was just tested for Ikkyu last Saturday. Ralph always gets very nervous and excitable just before a test. Sometimes I refer to the week or so before a test as "Hell week." The heat has not been helping and we have all been a bit testy, but usually logic and the desire to make good for Shihan Brian prevail.
The grass in the back yard is really starting to look good. About a month ago we (Ralph, Steve, Natasha, Koji, and I) took pick axes and broke up the sun baked desert. This, the fertilizing, and seeding took us several days. It was a lot of work, but it really looks like we did a good job.
The house is beginning to come together, too. Cleaning and fixing, all day and most of the night. We've put bamboo along the fence and tree bark in the front yard. The side of the house has been made into a dog run to keep Obijo and Nitro from destroying the new lawn. Shihan Brian may never know how much work has gone into preparations for his visit. But, knowing Ralph and Steve on a personal basis, maybe he will surmise.
Tuesday night was my first class in reversals. I don't think I did so well, but Ralph was very patient with me. He told me a story of when Julio (Shihan Julio Toribio) tried to teach him reversals. It seems Julio knew nothing of reversals and when he attacked Ralph, Ralph just threw him. Julio evidently kept attacking on automatic pilot, and Ralph just kept throwing. Ralph was quite funny imitating Julio with his facial expressions, bodily gestures and positions. Coincidentally, Steve later brought the same Julio/Ralph incident up when told of my class. I got to wear my hakama that Ralph bought for me last Christmas. That was great.
Natasha was in the class earlier in the evening, but she began to cry when Ralph corrected her repeatedly. The stress of Shihan Brian's imminent visit, her Sankyu test date nearing, and other personal problems probably caused the emotional overload. Ralph attempted to console her and encouraged her to remain, but to no avail. He became upset when she left. "Any other student would have been kicked out by now," he said bitterly. Love is very forgiving, I think. He told me how she could not and would not compete for his attention to Hakko-ryu. "This is my life." he said repeatedly as he stabbed at our makeshift mat with his fingers. Not even Natasha would come between Ralph and Hakko-ryu.
Ralph made mention of music and his Shakuhachi lessons. Funny, earlier when he was doing a technique to Natasha I noticed a musical/artistic quality about it. His movements were very deliberate, with a deliberate tempo. It's hard to explain unless you've experienced Ralph.
9/8/91-Yesterday Steve and I spent most of the day working in the house and the yard. It's really starting to come together. Natasha spent the morning taking her mother, Connie, aunt Violet, and Hisa Ishigami, a Japanese engineer from Toshiba that wants to stay in the U.S.A., to little Tokyo.
Hisa was visiting with other Toshiba officials from Chicago, and decided to stay an extra day just to go to Ralph's party. Everyone was at the airport, ready to go, when Hisa told them he was staying. Evidently only Ralph and Hisa knew ahead of time of the defection so a certain amount of confusion followed.
Ralph, Steve, Hisa, and I went out to buy some alcoholic beverages and audio patch cords at about 6 p.m. When we got back, Koji was there. It was good to see him, and we picked on him for not writing, calling, or taking pictures while he was visiting his family in Japan.
The party started slowly, but by 8 p.m. things started cooking. That's when Natasha released me from the ban on drinking. I had a beer in one hand and a glass of wine in the other most of the night. And, when my hands were empty I was enjoying muppets. Muppets a.k.a. slammers are made with white Tequila and sprite.
Hisa puked his guts out after telling me that I'm a funny guy when I drink and of woman problems. Seems he loves her and she's disappeared. I told him he should have known better than to mess with her when he found out she had been in the psycho ward for trying to kill herself.
Ralph had one of his friends from work at the party. I think his name is Greg. Greg is quite a bit taller than Ralph but a quick demonstration of Tekagami put them on an equal footing. Well, Greg wanted a demo.
I helped Koji talk a little smack to Natasha. She eventually challenged him to sumo wrestling. It was a lot of fun. People were screaming on top of their lungs for Koji or Natasha. Natasha lost but attempted to save face by letting everyone know that she "whipped him good" before he went to Japan. I made the comment that he won because he was a man. I also said I could take on all the women at the party. I was then challenged to sumo wrestling by two women.
The first match was quick. I wasted no time dispatching them. The second match I didn't fight because I didn't want to hurt them. Natasha got mad because she lost and tackled me. I stumbled backwards and put a large hole in the dojo wall. Poor Steve.
Everybody calmed down and began to talk for a while. Ralph was massaging Claudia, she seemed quite receptive. Things slowed down about midnight, and everybody crashed. It really was a great party.
9/9/91-I was talking with Ralph about the party this morning. He told me that Hisa really drank a lot. There was a time when Ralph was holding Hisa up with one hand and holding his drink with the other. Ralph kept telling him it was his last drink, and Hisa kept drinking.
Evidently, the reason Ralph left the party when he did was because Natasha was jealous of the massage he was giving to Claudia. I thought he just went to bed early (midnight).
Also, Greg didn't exactly ask for a demo in so many words; he either grabbed or swung at Ralph, and Ralph used Tekagami. Later, Greg still was playing and resisted one of Ralph's techniques strongly; Ralph responded by kneeing him in the groin area. I had forgotten about that until he reminded me. The poor guy lay on the kitchen floor for quite a while, as I recall.
Ralph told me I shouldn't feel guilty for damaging the dojo wall during the sumo championships. I really felt bad because I almost hurt the girls in my drunken state. I'm too proud when it comes to physical confrontation with women. He told me they asked for it.
Ralph finished about the party by saying it was a success, everyone drank a lot more than they should have, and let's do it again next year. He said it was our last chance to blow off some steam before Shihan Brian's visit. We're all pretty nervous about that.
Ralph later told me that the people up north (Julio's dojo in Monterey, CA.) called again. They, including Linda, are leaving Julio-do, a.k.a. Toribio-ryu. She is supposed to be sending a letter to that effect to Ralph and Steve.
Ralph used to have arguments with Linda about dojo rules and the ways of the ryu. He explained they were designed to prevent things like Julio from happening. He seemed very pleased that Linda, a Nidan, who in his opinion should at best be an Ikkyu, was finally seeing the light.
Julio apparently ordered everyone to avoid contact with Ralph and Steve. He probably fears they would assist those fleeing his rule to the best of their ability. He's probably right.
Later I went over to help clean the house. Koji called off training because he was sick. He gets migraines, and was complaining of a headache. Ralph called Shihan Brian to see if he was still coming. He said yes, and asked if there was some type of plan for the weekend, or were we just going to wing it. Needless to say, as soon as Ralph got off the phone with Shihan Brian a plan was made. The subject of Julio and Stephan came up. Stephan was decided to be the least of two evils, "because he was controllable.
"Stephan Whitwell, a former student of Steve, was young, ambitious, athletic, gifted, manipulative, and unaccustomed to the word, "no." Last year Nidai Soke went to Shihan LaMonica's dojo to give a seminar on Koho Shiatsu. Shihan LaMonica allowed most of those attending the seminar to sleep in his dojo, but wanted to keep his home free of visitors. Stephan told him that he was a personal student of Shihan Brian so he could sleep in his house.
While at the seminar he met a Japanese Shihan that told him to look him up when he went to Japan. Stephan took this as an invitation to train in Japan at Hombu. Stephan asked Steve and Shihan Brian for a letter of recommendation, both said, "no." He asked for Steve's advice, and Steve told him to wait, that it would be a waste of time for him to go until he became Yudansha. He went anyway. Ralph was very upset when he found out that Stephan had indeed gone to Hombu. He swore up and down that if Stephan came back to the States as Yudansha, he would train with him and make him pay.
A letter from Stephan came a week or two ago asking for Steve's forgiveness. We surmised he was kicked out of Hombu. Ralph was very happy, Steve seemed pleased.
We ended up going to the movies in celebration of Ralph's birthday. We saw, "Showdown in Little Tokyo," with Brandon Lee and Dolf Lungren. The movie was so bad we actually laughed during the love scene.
9/11/91-The mat was done. Ralph and Steve had a tough time getting it, though. They got to the place at about 4:30 p.m., and were told that it was locked in the warehouse, that no one had a key, and that they would have to come back tomorrow. They tried making up an excuse about a Japanese dignitary coming the next day, and that it was an emergency. When all else failed, they asked for the manager. The manager, amazingly enough, had the key. So, things were rolling.
Steve and I hunted the valley for carpet padding to put under the canvas mat. We were out scouring trash bins for hours. Ralph, Natasha, and Collin worked on building the frame. When we got back, Ralph was hammering and Collin was sawing. Steve and I started cutting the padding to fit the frame. Boy, did that go slowly. During the course of the evening we picked on Collin. We blamed him for all of England's problems. The whole Faulkland Island thing, what was that about? We ended about 1:00 a.m. the next morning.
9/12/91-We finished laying down the layers of padding. Now, it was time to nail the frame to the floor. The concrete was so old and hard the nails were sparking and bending. I was lucky enough to drive most of them because I seemed to have the most success. Koji helped that night. We kind of picked on him, saying his chi was causing the rope we were using to lace the mat with to tangle. He just laughed. Steve and I asked him if he knew any good jokes about Americans. He couldn't grasp the concept of making fun of another race of people. I explained that Americans do that kind of thing because they're like the bullies he used to run into at school.
The mat was pretty much finished about 10:30 p.m. There were still things to do, but I had to leave because I had to go to work early in the morning. I tried to bow out gracefully earlier in the evening, but they made me feel guilty.
9/16/91-After work Friday I had to get money at the credit union, get proof of jury service, and go to the bank. I had just come out of the courthouse when Ralph beeped me. I didn't recognize the number, but the message was 911 (emergency). I stopped at a pay phone and called. I got Smart Resources (Ralph's work) answering machine and knew it was Ralph. Ralph was concerned because I was not at the house yet. I told him what I was doing and he advised me that Steve and Natasha had been waiting for me. They were on their way to pick up Shihan Brian and he expected them to pick him up in a few minutes. He gave me last minute instructions on dojo etiquette and what needed to be done at the house.
I got over to the house at about 5:45 p.m. It looked pretty good. Steve was the only one home all day and had really outdone himself. The old mat had been moved to the front yard and had been covered with plastic, the dog run had been cleaned out, the entire inside of the house looked as though it had been cleaned, the backyard had been mowed, and much more.
I began to work mainly on the dojo and soon worked up a sweat. I hung and rerouted wiring, cleaned and swept, and put a few remaining things away. The time passed quickly and before I knew it, the car was pulling in the driveway.
Shihan Brian got out of the car, said, "hello," and asked if they had given me enough time (to finish cleaning the house?). I acted like I didn't know what he was talking about. We all went in the house and within 20 minutes we were training. No one else was coming that night so Shihan Brian figured, "why wait?"
We all assembled on the mat in a few minutes. Shihan Brian noticed the bruises that I had on my left arm. I told him that they were from Ralph, and that they weren't even from training. They were just Ralph's way of saying how are you, and how's your day.
We bowed in with very quick claps. Ralph later asked whether or not the clapping should be slow or fast. He had been told by somebody else not to rush the kami. Shihan Brian said it didn't matter. Something was said to the effect that our kami probably just had a heart attack. Everyone laughed.
To my surprise, Shihan Brian asked me to train with him first. We, of course, started with kata. He made very few corrections, and I think I did pretty well. I kept looking at Ralph out of the corners of my eyes to see how I was doing. I was trying very hard to make him proud. After the kata was finished, we bowed to each other and changed partners.
Shihan Brian hurt pretty good; had some real fire starters (the shooting electrical pain that starts at the wrist and travels up the arm) in his kata. I later told Ralph that Shihan Brian hurt me during the kata, and he was very happy.
When I first trained with him at the first Gasshuku in Monterey (I think I was a Yonkyu), I was very apprehensive. Ralph had built him up in my mind as the God of Pain. He didn't hurt me, and somehow I felt short changed. When I told Ralph, he was kind of upset. He couldn't believe that Shihan Brian didn't hurt.
After training was done we watched an 8-mm film that Shihan Brian had brought with him. The film was about Sosuishi-ryu Jujutsu, the martial art that Shihan Brian first studied. The quality of the film was not spectacular, and the projector was barely useable (I borrowed it from Letty at work), but it was very interesting. Shihan Brian told us of one technique that was so horrible, pupils would not show up on the night that it was done. Having seen it on the film, I think I would not have shown up either. It looked to me as though the uke was grabbed by the face and thrown backwards at the floor. He told us that the art was practiced only through kata, no henka.
We later watched a video tape that Shihan Brian brought for Ralph and Steve. The first part of it was the news coverage given to this year's Gasshuku. Shihan Irie Yasuhiro was interviewed. Steve was seen taking a great fall. You could actually see part of me walking around in the background. The second part was of Shihan Irie giving Gordon Kiyokawa, a.k.a. Alf-Asian Life Form, a private lessons in Shihan Brian's dojo. It must have been filmed just after the Gasshuku.
Friday night's gathering ended about midnight.
9/17/91-Saturday, 9/14/91, began early for Ralph and Steve. They had a private class with Shihan Brian. Ralph told me they concentrated on two of the lower katas, but I can't remember which ones.
After training they went to Natasha's teacher's house for thin tea ceremony. Ralph told me later that she had trained in Naginata in anticipation of the "Yankees" invading Japan during World War II. Something about slaughtering them on the beaches. Ralph thought that that was great. He did make jokes, though. "Hey," he said to me, "I'm a Yankee.
"They beeped me about 12 noon, and I met them at a Sushi bar on Van Nuys Blvd. in Van Nuys, CA. When I arrived, they were already eating lots of gross raw stuff. I refused to eat anything, even though they had some meat dishes on the menu. Shihan Brian thought that was funny. Ralph and he must have ordered the same thing because after a while they were both served breaded and fried shrimp heads still in the shell. The lady behind the counter, speaking very limited English, asked Ralph if it was his first time. He said, "Yes." She assured him that it was good. He didn't seem convinced but he ate it, antennae, and all. They made me somewhat ill when they began to talk about the brains. The only thing I was thinking was, "MacDonalds."
Speaking with Ralph on the phone today he assured me he had all he could do to hold it down. He had to consciously resist the urge to vomit.
9/18/91-Mike Hannah showed up just before we went out to train. Going into the dojo I noticed a beautiful picture of Nidai Soke in the alcove along the back wall. I'm not exactly sure when Shihan Brian gave it to Ralph and Steve, but it was perfect. The picture was taken when Nidai Soke was made Soke.
Ralph made a special point of showing me what it was like to train with a truck, or something to that effect. He resisted my Osae Dori techniques strongly. I thought he was trying to show me that I was doing something wrong, as he does quite often. I thought nothing of it until he told me that if I didn't resist so much, I might not get hurt as badly. I kept thinking that the whole thing was strange, as I didn't remember being injured lately. Later it dawned on me that maybe he was mad about what I had said to Shihan Brian about the bruises, and that he had been embarrassed or disgraced.
Some variations to the kata were shown to Ralph and Steve in their morning class, and Ralph showed them to me at this time. For one thing, the attack was different. The hands were not allowed to rest on the knees, but, instead, were held above the knees. The kick-block done in Tachi-Tekagami was done with one hand instead of two, and a few others. I believe they are the same variations that Shihan Irie showed Gordon in the tape.
During the class a small cut began to bleed on my left palm. Ralph, fearing that blood would get on the mat and on people's gis, insisted that I have Natasha bandage it.
I think it was after training that Shihan Brian mentioned he felt uneasy about bowing to himself. This was in reference to the picture of him that is always in the kamiza.
Koji and Natasha went to the market to pick up some fish for a barbecue we were going to have. Shihan Brian was encouraged to light the barbecue because of his passion for roaring fires. Talk revolved around the martial arts in general, who was good, who was not, magazine articles, and life in general.
Pretty much everyone ate the fish. I refused, of course. Shihan Brian went so far as to eat an eye off a fish head. Ralph, normally willing to experiment, decided to pass.
Training after dinner went quickly with Mike getting a lot of attention from Shihan Brian.
We adjourned at about 9 p.m. to the living room to watch the tape of Shihan Irie again. Natasha broke out the brew, but everyone pretty much passed when Shihan Brian only wanted water.
I left for work at 9:30 so I do not know what transpired after that time. But, I believe they watched "Sword of Doom" after I left. This is a favorite of Natasha's. It's a Japanese martial arts movie with English subtitles. It has a plot that's virtually impossible to follow without the assistance of Natasha.
9/19/91-On Sunday morning Ralph and Steve showed Shihan Brian the tape of my Ikkyu test. When I got there Ralph told me that Shihan Brian really liked it. He especially liked, what in Ralph's opinion was the worst part of the whole test, when at the end of the test I was so exhausted I could hardly move but kept trying anyway.
Ralph, Steve, and Mike had a private class. Our class was at 11:15. We grouped into pairs and trained until the sweat ran into our eyes. Everybody started to slow down and Shihan Brian asked if we wanted to call it quits. No one wanted the weekend to end so we all said, "No." Shihan Brian seemed pleased and asked me to train with him. I had asked him to help me with reversals on Friday night and now he showed some to me. Ralph watched from afar at first, then asked questions, then took my place. He explained that Julio knew nothing (at the time), and that all he knew was self-taught.
The reversals were very simple but effective. Shihan Brian's advice was that a kazoosh was the simplest, fastest, and usually most effective way to do a reversal. "Just upset their balance." and "Interrupt their technique." were the two pieces of advice that I remember.
After we bowed out Shihan Brian thanked us for our support, told us the dojo was nice, and gave Ralph and Steve a wooden plaque. He carved the yotsume and the kanji into it himself. The kanji when translated said, "Even dust when it accumulates becomes as a mountain." He had said that at the first and the second Gasshukus. I always thought that that saying was profound.
After taking pictures we went to the living room and talked. Shihan Brian and Mike began to talk of Julio. Mike said that Julio was power hungry, and very manipulative. I didn't hear most of the conversation, but Shihan Brian seemed very forgiving of Julio and his ways. Later Ralph told me that the reason Shihan Brian was so easy on Julio was because even though they didn't always see eye to eye on everything, they were still friends. But, when Mike told him that Julio said that, "The techniques of Shihan Brian, Ralph, and Steve only hurt because they have big egos." he took it very personally.
Mike excused himself and left. The rest of us went to eat at "4 and 20." It was a nice place to eat. Koji had a rough time of it, though. He had to play translator for everyone. Even Shihan Brian, who in Koji's words speaks good Japanese, asked for translations. He mainly wanted to know what certain facial expressions, body gestures, and sounds meant. Ralph asked what the "Three Great Foundation Pillars" are. Shihan Brian told him that there is only one physical technique and the rest is a lecture from Soke. Something about the mental aspects and tactics of fighting. He named the secret techniques in Japanese, but Koji could not translate them. Shihan Brian said something about the edge of a curb (I think he was referring to the curb of a sidewalk?).
After lunch we went to some place where they sell all kinds of weird stuff. Shihan Brian told me that they were probably just trying to shock him because he's from up in the woods, or something to that effect. There was stuff in there about magic, astrology, phrenology, tarot reading, pyramid, etc. Natasha found a miniature edition of the "Art of War" and bought it for Ralph. The place was so weird, but Ralph was funny during the whole thing. At about 4:30 we headed home.
About 5 p.m. Koji and I said goodbye to Shihan Brian as Ralph, Steve, and Natasha drove away with him. Koji and I followed in hot pursuit. Ralph said it was a tradition to act like we weren't going and then to pass them on the freeway taking pictures, making fools of ourselves. They stopped at a gas station and we zoomed down the freeway. I told Koji to drive faster because Ralph drives fast, but he would only go so fast. We were within sight of the airport when Ralph beeped his horn behind us. Koji and I tried to act like we didn't see them.
Koji and I made a few wrong turns, thanks to me. But, we still were at the boarding gate ahead of them because they had to turn in the luggage. When they spotted us, I told them that we were only there because Koji suddenly got homesick and wanted to go back to Japan. I was only there to try to talk him out of it.
Shihan Brian said goodbye when they announced they were boarding his flight. We were all very sad to see him go.
Ralph told me later that Shihan Brian would be back to see Steve and his Yondan exams and my Shodan exam.
We didn't train Tuesday or today. I missed the message that Ralph left for me so I went anyway. I asked Natasha what her most memorable time was for the weekend, and she told me it was when Shihan Brian helped her wash the dishes and talked about his son.
9/21/91-I spoke with Ralph today. He told me that the date for my Shodan exam had been set for the first weekend of December. Steve and he will take their Yondan test the same weekend. He was very excited for himself and for me. He didn't understand my reluctance. I guess he doesn't realize what a terror the whole thing is to me.
9/28/91-Tuesday, Ralph gave me a book about Samurai and hinted it might be a good subject on which to write the five-page report due for my Shodan test. Seemed like a good idea. The Honda car had been towed from the driveway, and I didn't even notice until I walked out of the house later. The engine was going to be replaced by someone else for $600.00. I thanked Ralph repeatedly. It would have been a nightmare for us to do it. We walked down to the local store and had a long talk about personal problems. Ralph must be going crazy with all my problems.
Wednesday-I got into a fight at work with Kevin Roraus, a subordinate guard, today. I called and confessed to Ralph. As my friend he was happy I was O.K. As my martial arts teacher he was upset. He told me that I am a representative of Hakko-ryu Jujutsu and him, and that I was not to do it again.
Thursday-Ralph and I decided we were still a little burned out from Shihan Brian's visit and went to the movies with Natasha instead of training. On the way Ralph talked about Samurai. I told him I didn't know exactly what to write about. Should I write about the history of Samurai, the types of Samurai, or some of their beliefs and practices? He said he was in the same boat with his subject of Shintoism (the subject for his five-page report due for his Yondan test).
Ralph was very excited about a talk he had had with Shihan Brian that day. Shihan Brian wanted to know what my belt and hakama length was. He also wanted Steve and Ralph's measurements. Mine for black belt, and theirs for their eventual Shihan training. He said it was an awkward moment. He never had a student go that far, and he must really be going to Japan in March (of '92).
Ralph also mentioned that Mike Hannah and Leonard (from up North) have been training regularly for a few weeks and are thinking about starting their own dojo. Leonard might also come down this weekend. If he does, Ralph will probably help convince Leonard that opening a dojo is a positive step.
9/29/91-Last night was the demo. Ralph's Shakuhachi teacher, Pete, attended. Koji and I were sent to a city next to Little Tokyo to pick him up. On the way down Koji played a tape of "Princess Princess," a popular rock group in Japan, for me. He was upset when I told him that I wanted to hear traditional Japanese music instead. We listened to it anyway. He told me it was a big thing for bands to sing songs with English lyrics in them, and that I would hear some on this tape. Evidently it passed me by several times, and Koji finally asked me if I heard the English. I told him I did not. We listened to the song over and over again, and I did not hear it still. Finally, Koji had to tell me exactly where the English was and what they were saying. Once he did that, I could pick it out. He thought it was very funny that the enunciation was so bad that I did not even hear it, and he was going to tell his friends in Japan.
On the way to the house I got to answer some of Pete's questions about Hakko-ryu. He seemed genuinely interested. When he asked about Ralph as a teacher, Koji and I both assured him that he was painful and "very serious."
Ralph and Steve did the first three katas as well as a little henka. I kept moving out of seiza because I was afraid my feet would go numb and that would be the time that Ralph would call me up to help with the demo. Luckily for me, he did not.
10/2/91-Last night Ralph had to work late so I trained with Steve. We trained for nearly an hour, first the kata and then henka. While working on reversals in seiza I hurt my left ankle. I'm not sure what happened to the ankle, but it might have been one of the times when he pushed me over backwards. Steve immediately stopped the class, applied ice, and began to administer accupressure (Koho Shiatsu) to the inside of my right elbow. I was sure the prodding was going to cause bruising, but looking right now, I see none.
Ralph called today to see how I was. I told him that my ankle was better.
10/5/91-Ralph and I trained Thursday. Before bowing in Ralph asked me if I had any questions as he normally does. And, as is normal for me, I had none that were in reference to training. I did ask him, though, if Pete, his Shakuhachi teacher, enjoyed the demo. He said, "Pete?" I assumed he was uncomfortable with the familiarity I had with his teacher. I told him that Pete and "his Shakuhachi teacher" were the only ways I knew how to refer to him. He then told me that he had not spoken with him since then, and did not know.
He told me that Koji had a question during his last class concerning the Hakko-ryu philosophy of "No resistance, no challenge, no injury." I think the question was about "no resistance." Evidently he could not understand what that meant or why it was important. I didn't ask Ralph what his answer to the question was. My loss.
We started with the kata and went to reversals. First in seiza, then hantachi, and then tachi. While training Ralph commented on the practicality of Shihan Brian's reversals. They were, to him, superior in every regard to the ones that Julio had shown him.
After a half-hour or so Natasha got home and asked if she could watch the class. Ralph then decided to do just henka. I am not sure why. I don't know if he didn't want her to see reversals, or if he was just tired of doing them for the night.
Different attacks were covered, some of which I was hardpressed to respond to. Finally I decided to use different and unexpected atemis, such as a palm to the face or chest, as a distraction. This seemed to work as planned, but backfired in the sense that it just seemed to excite Ralph. He began to use his elbows for atemi. I made a joke that they should be registered as lethal weapons, and the very next technique Ralph accidentally hit me in the side of the head. The force of the blow was quite strong and I fell to the mat. For a few moments I acted like I was knocked unconscious. Ralph was quite concerned even after I opened my eyes and told him I was just faking.
After class Ralph, Steve, and I measured our waist and belt sizes. I hope we got them right.
10/11/91-Ralph was glad to see me last night as I missed training Tuesday night. I worked late and then when I got home, I had to take my son to the doctor. Natasha showed me to his new office, which was in the computer room. It looked pretty good, they had painted it the same color as the dojo. Obviously there was paint left over after the dojo was done.
Natasha served up some pizza and chips with cheese for dinner. She expected me to eat some as usual. While eating Ralph read a letter to me from Shihan Brian. Linda Woodward (Alvy?) reported to him that Julio had posted an advertisement for a self defense seminar with some guy named Warble (?) as the sensei. The advertisement claimed that Warble was a black belt in virtually every martial art known to man, including a sixth dan in Hakko-ryu. Julio evidently changed the six to a four before he posted it.
What she wanted to know was, is this guy for real? Shihan Brian wrote her a letter saying that she should ask to see documentation proving his claims. He advised that Warble had indeed studied Hakko-ryu under James Benko, the father of Hakko-ryu in the U.S., but that he doubted he attained a dan rank as he trained for less than a year.
Shihan Brian also mentioned that he was checking on whether or not Shihan LaMonica had Hombu's authorization to sell homemade videotapes about Hakko-ryu to the American public. The tapes are currently being advertised in a karate magazine, and they show the waza of Shodan through Yondan.
After kata we worked on reversals. I'm still losing pretty horribly. Reversals turned into sword takeaways and knife techniques. Working with the sword and knife showed me that I would probably be cut real bad in the event of a real attack. Ralph said that I owed it the art not to get stabbed. Ralph came up with a strategy of rushing the knife with the body. By rushing the knife the attacker was forced to commit himself, hopefully before he was ready. This also did away with feinting and parrying, etc.
After training Ralph and I walked down to the corner market and got a beer (Sapporo) each. We stood in the driveway, leaning on Steve's new car, and talked. I told Ralph that it didn't really matter to me if I became a black belt or not. I told him that, yes, I was interested, but that it was not an obsession that I had (as he has). I said that I stayed mainly because of him and that I was lazy to the core. He asked me if I would continue to train if he left. I told him I probably would not. He said he did not know why he liked to train so much. When I was leaving he made a comment that he hoped he didn't bore me with training. I hope I didn't hurt his feelings.
10/12/91-Went over and worked on the swamp cooler and the orange car today. After a few minutes it was decided that the swamp cooler motor was dead. We later found that a replacement would cost about $62.00. That would have to wait until payday. We found a leaking fuel line in the car, and replaced it in a few minutes. We then filled the brake reservoir with fluid and had it washed. It seemed to work fine. Something as simple as a leaking hose kept it from running for months. Oh well.
Steve said he ran into Stephan recently. He said that Stephan apologized but still wanted a letter of recommendation from Steve. Evidently, when he was in Japan, he met Nidai Soke and was allowed to train at Hombu for three days. He was then told that he needed a letter of recommendation to return next time.
10/15/91-Last night Steve and I rebuilt the carburetor for the red car. It needed to be done as soon as possible because Ralph was going out of town for the week. We worked on it until about 11:30 p.m. We replaced most everything, but there were a few gaskets and seals left over. We had been working outside under a desk lamp and were at a point where we just didn't care any more. We hoped we did enough.
Today, Steve told me that the carburetor still did not work, and that they (the people working on the car) are going to tow the car back to the house tomorrow. We were both downhearted. Hopefully it can be rebuilt again. Maybe this time it'll be done right.
Steve and I trained after setting up the trickle charger on the orange car. We did the kata and then worked on henka. He had a headache and his stomach was out of whack so we took it easy. We only did seiza and hantachi henka. It was a delightful change of pace.
Steve is going up north this weekend to visit his parents. While he is there, he might train with Mike Hannah and Leonard.