Saturday, October 26, 2013

October 26, 2013

"Post a blog entry" has been on my to-do list for quite sometime but I have been simply unable to get to it for the past 4 months.  Most of my students probably don't even follow this blog, but I'll do my best to periodically post some information here, I promise!

First, let me talk about some events that happened since the last blog update:

July 21: VMAC 2-year anniversary party
  Thanks all for showing up.  I hope you enjoyed the demonstrations by all different disciplines that we offer.
August 18: Kyu Test
  Passing or failing, I hope you all learned something that motivates you to keep training.
October 4-6: AAKF National Seminar
  Me, Eiko, Jon M, Manny, Joe, Shamane, Jon D and Mike participated.  It was a fun seminar, and I hope we can provide you with more of this type of opportunities.
October 5: Dan test
  Jon Menefee is our new black belt!  I'm very proud of you, Jon.
October 20: TMAC Tournament in San Diego
  Joe and Manny represented us and competed hard!  Now they have some "revenges" to do in the next tournament...?

And some future events in the next couple of months:

October 31: Halloween costume training
  Once a year opportunity to train in any clothing other than a gi.  Don't miss it!
November 9: Nishiyama Memorial 
  We will have a special training on Saturday morning, inviting people from other dojos and possibly be taught by a guest instructor.  Free of charge.  Then we will go visit Sensei Nishiyama's grave.
December 15: Kyu Test
  Are you getting ready??  Remember, your test gets harder and harder as you go up.  You need to increasingly put more effort, or else...
January 6-11: Winter Special Training
  Early morning training (6-7am) for 5 days in West LA.  It sounds awful but it really is...  Just kidding, the hardest part is to wake up and drive at dawn.  I guarantee that you will feel so refreshed every morning after the training, and this is the best way to start the year off right!

And usually by this time of the year I'm getting ready to compete in an international tournament, either Pan American or World.  However this year, I'm not competing mainly because of some political issues that our national federation (AAKF) and the international federation (ITKF) are going through.  Many of you received a communication from the AAKF, so it's time to explain what is going on and where we stand.

Our dojo belongs to a national organization called AAKF (American Amateur Karate Federation).  This is where your membership fee of $30 goes, and where your Kyu certificates have been issued from.  AAKF is a US representative of ITKF (International Traditional Karate Federation) and that's where I compete internationally and you will get your Dan certificate from (upon passing/registering).  Both of these federations were founded by my teacher, Sensei Nishiyama, and naturally our dojo has been a member in good standing since our beginning.

Upon Sensei Nishiyama's departure a newly formed Board of Directors took leadership of ITKF and another of AAKF separately.  Unfortunately the leaders of these 2 federations do not get along, and apparently there were many more in the world who don't like how ITKF is now operating.  Polish federation, the biggest and the most successful traditional karate federation in the world, took an initiative to leave ITKF and many other countries/national federations followed (including AAKF), resulting in ITKF's split in the "current ITKF" and the "New Era ITKF".

In a meantime there were American members who were unhappy with how AAKF was operating, and these people don't like the fact that AAKF is leaving the current ITKF and joining the new era ITKF.  So they decided to split away from the "current AAKF" and to create "new AAKF".  So now there are 2 international federations and 2 national federations to choose from:

  Current AAKF + New ITKF
  New AAKF + Current ITKF

New AAKF, which I heard will soon be established, will have a different name (hopefully making it less confusing...).  New ITKF, however, is trying to keep the name "ITKF" and this matter will likely end up in the court.  Anyway, the more choices the better?  Not in this case.  AAKF and ITKF have been "small but strong-minded organizations" in my opinion.  We can't compete in number of members with other major karate organizations.  Sensei Nishiyama used to value "quality over quantity", but making a small organization even smaller will only weaken it even in terms of quality.  Now either side has less instructors or less athletes, which means less chances to learn from quality instructors or to compete among a large pool of talented athletes in the world...

I have friends/acquaintances that I trust in all 4 organizations, but I also have a few people that I don't trust in every organization, too.  So it is personally very difficult to choose which side I will take.  I know certain "politics" are necessary when we are involved in any organizations, but I prefer to stay out of karate politics because karate for me is about self-improvement and friendship, NOT about power games or hating people.

It is sad that people are fighting over small things or their personal agendas, and in the end we as members/students suffer the most.  We, as your karate dojo, will try to choose the best option for our future growth.  At this point we are still a member of the current AAKF which is now officially affiliated with New Era ITKF, but upon careful consideration our affiliation may or may not change in the future.