Friday, September 7, 2012

Traditional Karate and Kobudo in Gilbert, Arizona

Traditional Karate and Kobudo at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate.
Students at the Arizona School of Traditional Okinawa Martial Arts enjoy training in classes taught by Soke Hausel, a member of the Gilbert Community and Hall-of-Fame martial arts instructor and geologist. Soke Hausel, a polymath, is a grandmaster of Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo (西洋少林流空手道) but is also known for his geology, books, lectures on martial arts and geology, astronomy and art. The training regimen students receive at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate on Baseline at MacDonald, is superior to most schools according to the students.  The Karate Classes in Gilbert are open to adults and families.

The martial arts school is located at 60 W. Baseline Road on the border of Gilbert and Mesa. Students from all over Phoenix Valley train at the school each week. Others periodically travel great distances to train under the hall-of-fame martial artist for a few days or a few weeks. Over the past few years, students have traveled from Massachusetts, Utah, Wyoming, Florida, Switzerland, India with other members from India, Vietnam and Greece planning to travel to the Arizona martial arts school in the near future.

University of Wyoming Campus Shorin-Ryu Karate & Kobudo
Many like training at the Gilbert martial arts school because of the Okinawan decor. They also are impressed by the extensive background of their martial arts instructor who has been training since the mid-1960s in many different martial arts and has certifications in 23 martial arts.

Soke Hausel was inducted into several Halls of Fame for martial arts as well as a two Halls-of-Fame for contributions to geological sciences and education, making him one of the few in the world who is a member of several halls-of-fame. His extensive background in martial arts equates to a superior martial arts education for his students. A 12th degree black belt in Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo as well as black belts in some other arts as well as Shihan ranks (master instructor) in four martial arts. He even holds a black belt rank in a secret art that involves Shitai Kori (body hardening).

Only traditional Okinawan-Japanese martial arts are taught at the school. This means there is no competition. When karate was created on Okinawa, it was kept secret from all outsiders. Karate was developed only for self-defense and self-improvement and never meant to be a sport. To train in karate, one had to swear an oath of secrecy. This worked so well that karate had been practiced for at least 3 centuries on Okinawa right in front of a Japanese occupation force, and no outsider had any idea it existed until was introduced to the world by two famous Okinawan martial artists - Shihan Anko Itosu (糸洲 安恒) (1831-1915) and Shihan Gichin Funakoshi (船越 義珍) (1868-1957) at the beginning of the 20th century.

Being that Okinawa was assimilated by the Japanese, the Japanese were exposed to karate only after its introduction to the school systems on Okinawa and later Japan. Many Okinawans now wish it would have been kept secret because of perceived abuse by outsiders. First the Japanese modified the combat art into sport at the objections of Okinawan karate masters, and then others (notably Americans) modified it into dance-like competitions with brightly colored uniforms, glitter, twirling and gymnastics - making a mockery of the original art designed for empty hand self-defense (known as karate) and weapons (known as kobudo).

We can gain insight into the original form of Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo by reading some concepts by some great shorin-ryu masters and grandmasters. Gichin Funakoshi wrote, "The purpose of Karate Lies not in defeat or victory, but in the perfection of its participants". Shoshin Nagamine (長嶺 将真) (1907-1997), Grandmaster of Matsubayashi Shorin-Ryu Karate wrote, "if there is no kata, there is no karate, just kicking & punching", in reference to the direction some so-called martial arts were taking, such as MMA. He also wrote, "One must embrace a mu gen proverb that there can be no end to learning and that karate begins and ends with the study of kata".

Shorin-Ryu Karate, the art taught at the martial arts school on Baseline, is based on shaolin kung fu. "Shorin" translates from Japanese as "Shaolin". It was modified from kung fu and includes very unique techniques of White Crane known as hakutsuru. Hakutsuru is based on the movements and actions of white cranes and is thought to have been developed by a female Chinese martial artist before being adapted to karate on Okinawa. It is such a unique, powerful and complex martial art that few Okinawan martial arts instructors teach it to anyone other than their most trusted students.

Kobudo at the martial arts school in the East Valley of Phoenix includes many martial arts weapons as well as modern tools. Kobudo is thought to have been created by on Okinawa in the 15th century after king of Okinawa - Shoshin, decided to outlaw bladed weapons. This left Okinawa without any standing army to defend itself; thus the peasants began to arm themselves in secret using tools of trade from fishing and farming. On Okinawa karate and kobudo have been combined as one art for centuries even though most Japanese and American martial arts neglect kobudo.

In the context of martial art, ryu in Shorin-Ryu translates as system, or style. But it is much more.
Ryu also implies family. So members who train at the Arizona Hombu can be likened to an adopted family of martial artists led by a Soke (Head of Family). It is encouraged to make close friends in the dojo similar to members of a family - meeting each other for additional training, talking about martial arts at the local coffee house, etc..

Many martial artists in a traditional Okinawan Karate & Kobudo become friends for life. The ryu is officially known as Shorin-Ryu Karate & Kobudo. The branch of Shorin-Ryu that we study is known as Seiyo-Ryu. It is govern by Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Karate Renmei also known as Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Kai, or Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Budo Bugei Renmei.

The Soke is the head of the ryu and educator of all members. Because of this position, the Soke can only be a friend at a distance.  When a new member signs up for classes, they are greeted by all dojo members.

Sensei Paula Borea wears her komono at
Birthday party during Christmas


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