More than just a Party

Another year is almost over and we had just celebrated the 2011 BKJ Martial Arts Xmas and Presentation last Friday night.  What was different about this one was not all students were from Budoshinkai Karate; we also had our kickboxers, students from BJJ, and persons from the fitness classes (all under the BKJ Martial Arts banner) – all in all, 130 people in attendance.

Special guests included Professor Rob Naumoski (Roots BJJ), Shihan Rob Janceski of Ryu Bujitsu Kai, Sensei Mark Szalajko (of Narellan BKJ and Bujutsu Martial Arts) and Sensei Roland Winter (and his black belts) of Zen Do Kai Karate. 

It was a beautiful evening with everybody together at a great venue for a 3 course meal.  There were no complaints, only compliments (too many emails and sms’s to reply to), so thanks to everybody if I missed out anyone.  The speeches summed up what we were all about and saw selected students being presented with one of the extraordinary awards, however, those who did not receive one of these were given a special award instead because they, too deserved, recognition on the evening.  There’s nothing better than a student walking up in front of guests, friends, instructors and families and accepting an award in this environment; it's also about the experience.  The atmosphere was spellbinding.

Our entertainment was full of surprises with my son, Jonathan, taking the stage with his sister, Marcia, and keeping everyone attentive and amused (I just don’t know how they just come up with these things).

At one stage when we had a large number of students standing up front (see pic), I took a few steps back to have a look and told the crowd I just wanted to see what it looked like with so many students standing together.  My final comment, on the night, was telling students to train till the very end of the year because that’s what we martial artists do.

BJJ for Black Belts

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), to a number of other martial artists, may be controversial because of the nature and complexity of the art.  Nevertheless, if Kickboxing rose to the occasion despite the failed attempts by the traditional and classical martial arts to obstruct its propagation, then it seemed likely that BJJ and MMA would also take their rightful place in the martial arts industry.  Today, armbars and chokes appear to be on everybody’s mind.  You only have to look at the demonstration events at open martial arts tournaments, everybody's doing them although feeble attempts. Kickboxing and BJJ are only a small part of the martial arts world but it is worthy to note these particular arts had to fight for their claim to fame in an already established industry. 

The popularity of MMA has prompted many people to take up BJJ, or even Kickboxing, which may has caused concern for many Instructors of other martial arts to re-evaluate the future of their school.  The difficulty for many Black Belts is making the decision to cross over that line.  BJJ requires many hours of hard work and a black belt is not given out lightly and only some will ever get one.  In terms of skill and the hours spent, a blue belt in BJJ is equivalent to a brown belt in karate; a purple belt is equivalent to a black belt in karate (now that’s tough).  In most BJJ schools you have to fight for your belt, usually in competition. This does not undermine other martial arts, far from it. This is just the way it is with BJJ. 

With over 5.5 years of intensive training I may have become a honey pot to Black Belts who are shy to approach a BJJ school fearing what awaits them after they sign on the doted line.  I can tell you it’s like a lamb to the slaughter because the black belt you have been wearing for many years, all of a sudden, can be your biggest nightmare in not being able to live up to your reputation in that environment.  As a Black Belt in Karate I make Black Belts, who want to learn BJJ, feel at ease because I do have a better understanding of them than most BJJ Instructors.

The first thing Black Belts ask on their first lesson is if it OK to wear their black belt.  I remember asking John Will the same thing, which he replied, ‘you can wear whatever you like, I don’t give a shit’ (well said).  On the next seminar, I wore a white belt because I realised I was only going to learn starting from the bottom; if it was good enough for Chuck Norris, Richard Norton, John Will to wear white belt, then it is good enough for me.  When those Black Belts come back after their first lesson wearing a white belt, I congratulate them, ‘you are ready to learn; now we can begin’.  It's about climbing the mountain not being put on the mountain.

Sensei Benny ‘the Jet’ & Kyoshi Norton

Looks like I have been slowing down between blogs lately.  I am not too sure whether the full time centre is taking up much of my energy or Facebook absorbing a lot of my ideas.  How does John Will do it?  He has them coming out on a conveyer belt (to quote, ‘what else am I going to do?).

What a grand time we had with Sensei Benny Urquidez putting a seminar on a recent Sunday (13/11/11) with Richard Norton as surprise guest.  To have two martial arts legends in the same room is a historical event.  Those who were not able to make it will just have to live with it because it is not an easy task to bring the two together.

Apart from the fabulous martial arts content, the incredible talks by Sensei Benny, to the 40 people who attended, were truly inspirational.  He just about sums it up when he talks about dedication, striving for technical excellence, sharing of knowledge and wisdom, respect for everyone and chasing a long life dream in the martial arts.

 Richard stunned me by giving me his original purple belt in BJJ.  (this was given to him by the Machado brothers).  Sensei Benny spoke about, for an Instructor dsto give this to someone, is honourable and very special, ‘the value of that belt is one man’s sweat and history’.   Unfortunately, a little tight for me because I would’ve liked to wear it at seminars but it’s not so much the belt that was important it was the thought behind it and what Kyoshi Richard Norton and Sensei Benny had to say in front of everyone. 

Sensei Benny is still going and is still very popular with 18 seminars in 5 states in Australia.  Sorry, to those who missed out this superb day.  It was really brilliant seeing Richard Norton (a student under Sensei Benny of over 30 years).