My blogs have been a little sporadic lately, but with good reason. No blog last week because I was busy hosting an awesome seminar with Sensei Jerry Figgiani, President and Founder of Shorin Ryu Karatedo International. (SRKDI) I was introduced to Sensei Figgiani and SRKDI by my sensei, Kyoshi Brad Wells. Sensei Figgiani holds the rank of 8th dan and comes from a strong lineage of Matsubayasi Shorin Ryu practitioners. Sensei has been training since 1977 and trained with Grandmaster Nagamine and even participated in the demonstration ceremony for the Grandmaster’s 85th birthday back in 1991. He is a published author and a nationally rated forms and fighting champion. He, along with Assistant Principal Chuck More from Longwood High School and Police Athletic League Coordinator Don Yorie, developed R.E.A.C.H. (Respect Education and Always Climb Higher) to improve academic achievement through the study of martial arts. The program teaches character education, leadership skills and nonviolent conflict resolution. Due to his work with children in the community, he was awarded the National PAL Mentoring Service Award by the Suffolk County, NY Police Athletic League Board of Directors. These are just a few of his numerous accomplishments!
Sensei Figgiani, along with Sensei Michael Borreca, arrived in Wisconsin for the first time last Friday. We held a light training session as a chance for some of our participants to meet our visitors from New York prior to our extensive training on Saturday. That session whet our appetites for more! Saturday morning started with a session for the kids. We had participants from Fort Atkinson, Jefferson and Sun Prairie and a great time was had by all. Sensei worked on focus and technique while working with the kids to have confidence in themselves. He also talked to the students about the ABC’s of dealing with bullies: awareness, boundaries and communication. He had a special message for them at the end of the seminar that the kids absolutely loved. I asked the kids this week what was their favorite thing about the seminar. The most popular response was “Everything!” I was happily surprised at how much they remembered days later. Sensei has a way of really getting through to the kids.
Next up was the adult seminar. We had a great mix and adults and teens from Wisconsin as well as Illinois. Sensei took us through kata as well as helping us with our stances, then started working on some drills. As the day progressed, we worked through bunkai. Bunkai, for those non-martial artists reading this, is the analysis of a kata. We use this analysis to determine self-defense applications. This is always my favorite part of any seminar that I go to and this was no exception.
In addition to everything that we learned from Sensei, this seminar was a great opportunity for participants to meet other martial artists and discover our similarities as well as our differences. I love seminars like this because it gives us an opportunity to get outside our comfort zone and try new things with different people and therefore gain new perspectives. As an instructor, watching how my students perceived instruction from someone else also gives me new ways to look at what and how I teach as well. There are things I learned last weekend that I am definitely bringing into our classes. I also loved how enthusiastic my adult and teen students are about the material presented. Although it was a long day of training for them, they remembered a lot and it was fun to watch them working together before classes this week on the drills they learned. It was an all around fantastic experience for everyone that attended. Lessons were learned and new friendships were made.
For more information on Sensei Jerry Figgiani, go to http://www.srkdi.com. Sensei also has several DVDs and books available through his website and Amazon. His new book, The Difference, A Mental Approach to Martial Arts comes out November 24, 2017. See the links at the bottom of this page!