since my move to Matlock I’ve not been able to continue training in the martial arts as I’d hoped. About five years ago my partner and I were approached by a representative of the local karate school who was knocking on doors of the neighbourhood to enlist new members. Seeing as how my partner at the time had a daughter who was being bullied at school I suggested it might be a good idea for all of us to join so that her daughter didn’t feel self-conscious when arriving at class and it would be a fun activity for all of us as well as all the other benefits gained from the training. I had done at least three years of Lau Gar Kung Fu, several years before so I had a background in the martial arts and was looking forward to training again, albeit in a different style.
We joined the class and after a few months we found ourselves progressing to the stage where I was invited to join a senior class, this was where certain adults were allowed to train in an adults only class alongside the instructors. After a while we were asked if we wanted to become instructors too, the benefits being our training would be free, more intensive so that we progressed through the grades faster and eventually we would have a class of our own to teach.
The style I refer to is Go Kan Ryu which has become the fastest growing and probably the largest karate federation in the world and because of their reputation for door knocking to enlist new members have been labelled McDojo‘s.
I am convinced the federation has its faults, the main one that I can see is that some of the class instructors who have come through their Sensei Training Program (and I include myself in this) in the eyes of the rest of the martial arts community, don’t have the experience that training for lengthy periods of time gives you, to pass on what little knowledge they have. In some cases this is correct, in fact in most cases that is the case. There are some instructors who have attained the weighty grade of black belt who are very good, unfortunately these are overlooked by their detractors.
I taught the Go Kan Ryu system for over two years and to suppliment my knowledge of karate I studied other styles to further my knowledge of martial arts in general so that I could be a better martial artist and thus hopefully become a better teacher. What I didn’t do was use this other knowledge to water down the style I was teaching, I tried my best to keep that as pure as it was taught to me.
The other instructors who were the brunt of the labelling, and there were only a few, fell into the old ego trap of thinking, ‘because I’m teaching karate I must be good’ which was something I fell into myself for a time. It was only my other studies that made me realise just how little I actually knew in comparison to some other teachers out there.
Go Kan Ryu do an awful lot of good also, they promote self-confidence, self-discipline, help to build good character and they allow you a safe training environment where you can have fun while you get fit. The style does lack a lot of partner work which some styles say is necessary if you want to learn good self-defence but when the majority of classes are filled with children, safety has to be a priority. All the instructors are sent on a first aid course, are given CRB checks and are friendly and approachable people. Its a fun, family friendly club that I am looking forward to returning to this time as a student. I haven’t trained for almost two and a half years what with personal problems and budgetry constraints which were the main reason I had to finish teaching classes.
I will be rusty, I know that but I’m hoping to have fun loosening up the old joints again. My first class is tomorrow morning and I’ll let you know how I got on.
See you soon,