I have been teaching martial arts since 1969 and here in Albuquerque since 2015. We teach and train in Kobudo (weapons), Shaolin Kenpo and Kajukenbo among other disciplines. We train hard to stay strong, be observant, avoid trouble and protect our loved ones.
By Eugene R. Sedeño
Why practice? Well, people do it for many reasons: To lose weight, to get fit, to mentally train themselves, or because they just saw a kung fu movie and want to learn how to jump over walls and fences.
What ever the reason, that’s what brought them to class. Now is when their real martial arts education begins. The martial arts work on the mind, body, and spirit. When properly taught, they continually tie the three together.
I want to discuss why I expect all students to not only practice, but practice at 100%, and no less.
When I was a boy in the early ’60’s (that’s 1960’s) I started taking Kajukenbo from Mr. Walter Leo Niakala Godin. Mr. Godin would not let me join his school until my parents came and watched the class go through the normal two hour workout. He explained to us that this was harder than football practice and that you had to be dedicated to learn or you wouldn’t be able to stay with it.
We watched as the students had to stay in a horse position and do all their basic exercises for one hour. They worked out on a solid concrete floor that was very smooth, and the more they sweat the tighter they had to lock their legs to keep from sliding. At the end of the first hour the class was given a 10 minute break so they could mop their sweat from the floor prior to the second hour of practice. The second hour consisted of forms and techniques against all sorts of armed and unarmed attackers.
At the end of class, as Mr. Godin lined the students up and prepared to have them remove their belts and be dismissed, he suddenly and very loudly exclaimed “COVER” (get into a fighting stance). He then proceeded to attack the students and make his way through the ranks throwing controlled punches and kicks as he went along. Then he stopped, lined everyone up again, and finally dismissed the class.
I was impressed and got my mother to sign me up in this Kaimuki dojo located above a dry cleaners for $5.00 a month.
I didn’t understand it then, but as time went on I began to understand Mr. Godin’s philosophy. I teach it to my students now. Although all good martial artists always try to walk away from trouble, and as an individual it should be easy to do, you may not be alone when trouble strikes. You may have your spouse, a friend, or even a child or infant in your party and they may not be able to run as fast as you can. This is the moment you should have been training for. You must protect your loved ones! At this critical moment you don’t want to say to yourself “man I wish I had practiced harder”. You need to be cool and in charge or an innocent bystander could get hurt.
A person who races the mile doesn’t just practice a mile but runs perhaps 50 to 100 miles a week. Why? By practicing harder than the race distance, one can put even more energy into that mile race.
You should practice harder than you think you can, and NOT just for yourself, but to help others.