Under the Influence,
By Sensei Neil Prime.

I was going to take it upon myself to reflect upon the most recent seminar that was hosted by the St.Catharines Wado Kai Karate Club but I want to hear more about what others in attendance have to say. I would however, like to express my views in regaurd to the seminar from a different angle.

I believe we are in karate to learn and to better ourselves as individuals and athletes along the way. There are so many aspects as to why the martial arts in general are so positive that I think it would be a real loss to someone who doesn't experience all the different aspects of the martial arts. As an instructor, I also believe that I have taken on a responsibility to make sure that my students have every opportunity to learn all that they can about our art. This has to include learning from other instructors also, since I can't possibly know everything.

We as individuals may never be as flexible (in the physical sense) as someone like a Chris Natzke or a Bill Wallace. We may not have the physical strength of a Joe Lewis. We may possibly never have the purity of heart and attitude of our own Sensei Shintani. We may never have the lightning quick speed and conviction in technique of a Kathy Long, whom I compare as a technician to Sensei Ron Mattie. We may never have all these attributes quite the same as these "masters of the arts" but without experiencing them as people, we'll never know what the possibilities are.

I have taken the opportunity over the years to attend as many martial arts seminars as I possibly can and in most cases, those seminars have provided a real direction in my own training… which ultimately reflects within our club.

I don't question my training. It is planned out almost methodically. I don't question the fact that I practice a traditional martial art when there are so many to choose from. To me, Wado Kai offers personal satisfaction. I don't question my instructor, Sensei Shintani or any of the other instructors that I have had the wonderful opportunity to learn from over the years. Without the traditional Wado Kai instructors like Brad Cosby, Brian Chmay, Peter Ciolfi, Denis Labbe, Ron Mattie, Bob Graham, Dave Bockus, Mike Bannister, Mitch Orr, and of course my long-time partner Walt Fast, I wouldn't have the opportunity to grow within Wado Kai and become who I am today. (There are many more within the organization, but these gentlemen are the main influences on my karate.) I don't disregaurd the inspiration that I get from the people I have taught also, as they all have much to offer and are a large part of why I continue to train.

Just as important though, I have been heavily influenced by such wonderful martial artists as Kenny Graziano (my original kickboxing trainer). I have spend countless hours working drills taught to me by Joe Lewis (former World Heavyweight Champion). I still dream of kicking like Bill Wallace (former Undefeated Middleweight Champion) and Chris Natzke (Senior ITF Tae Kwon Do Heavyweight Champion). I am in awe with the conviction and speed of Kathy Long (5 X World Champion). I now look at the techniques used in karate to develop power from only 1 seminar with Jeff Daniels (Head Instructor of Shukokai, Britain). I look at open mindedness with a real open mind after meeting Jhoon Rhee (Father of Modern Tae Kwon Do). Again, there are others but with some of these people, only a brief meeting has spawned a life long inflection.

I mention all these people not only as an acknowledgement and a thank-you to each and every one of them, but to give you an idea of the importance of obtaining knowledge from more than 1 single source.

I wish more people within our organization would take advantage of these learning opportunities… learning from more than 1 instructor and learning from more than 1 direction. I sometimes can't hide the disappointment of the hours spent trying to organize something like this most recent seminar and having such poor support from within our own organization. But to no avail, I will continue to look beyond the borders and nurture any possible resource of learning that I can find. Judging from the response of the people who did take advantage of this seminar, we are going in the right direction. As long as our club continues to benefit and what the heck, as long as I'm having fun and can benefit, we'll continue on the same path that we're on now.

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