Many individuals begin their martial arts journeys in their youth. In my case, my martial arts journey began when I started training with my six-year-old son at the age of 37 – I will be 55 in two weeks.
While spending time in the Canadian Armed Forces bases in the 70s, I ended up watching a lot of Bruce Lee & kung fu movies which intrigued & inspired me to start. More importantly, I saw an opportunity to spend time with my son, learn something new, something meaningful, and do something physical. I was hooked in the first two classes, and I’ve been training ever since; 18 years and counting.
I want to take you back to 2009 - The year I had to face the biggest challenge I’ve ever had to overcome in my life. The financial crisis of 2008 was still reverberating around the world, and I suddenly found myself getting laid off from work. I was 47 years old, had been working fulltime for 28 years, had always received favorable reviews, and addressed work with the same energy and gusto that I addressed everything in life.
After a year of hapless searching in a job market that was saturated by experience, and compounded by a large young pool of university kids, I was feeling devastated and meaningless. I began reading, searching and introspecting – I started a study and practice the art of releasing my ego using the ideals I had honed in the dojo, in concert with the wisdom passed down by the masters such as Bushi Matsumura:
"To all those whose progress is hampered by ego-related distractions let humility, the spiritual cornerstone upon which karate rest, serve to remind one to place virtue before vice, values before vanity and principles before personalities".
After my ego release exercises took root, I found myself in a completely different frame of mind – I was no longer pushing to find work. Instead, I began focusing on being the best person I could be, relaxing and exploring things I never would have considered in the past, discovering what was truly important, and allowing the universe to guide my path. This resulted in the opening of my own karate club, The Bunbukan, in September 2010. And coincidently, a month later I was working full time in a three year contract position.
I train in Koryu Uchinadi Kenpo-jutsu (KU as it’s known to its practitioners,) which is a recent art developed from the lifelong martial arts research and training experience of Hanshi Patrick McCarthy, his International Ryukyu Karate Research Society (IRKRS) organization, and his principles of the 36 habitual acts of violence. To quote Sensei Patrick McCarthy, "The fundamental basis of Koryu Uchinadi is to provide life protection skills. In doing so it’s practice also conditions the body, cultivates the mind and nurtures the spirit, in order to improve health, it’s holistic purpose; build moral character, it’s social aim; help empower oneself in order to surmount human weakness, it’s philosophical nature; and in doing so, reveal inner peace and tranquility, it’s spiritual essence".
I did not choose this art – it chose me! There are certain things that happen in life – sometimes we purposefully hop from one thing to the next never finding what we truly need. And sometimes the universe seems to guide us to a place that satisfies us, challenges us and allows us to develop well beyond who we thought we should or could ever be. The universe guided me to martial arts training and KU and I feel one with all that it is.
At the Bunbukan, I choose to focus on those habitual acts and non-sport based training. The school is a place where we endeavor to balance both the physical and mental pursuits (the Bunbu) and embraces anyone who may benefit from our style of training. Our focus on courtesy, respect, humility, effort, focus, patience, perseverance, courage and critical thinking are highly valued by students, parents and instructors. KU training is empowering and we particularly encourage women and children to train with us. The Bunbukan houses some of the finest KU practitioners and instructors in Canada.
Life in the dojo is the same as life outside the dojo for me. Some of the virtues that I have practiced in the dojo and use every day include: patience, perseverance, open-mindedness, work effort, lifelong learning and meditation.
Martial arts has provided an avenue for me to link mind, body and spirit; it has provided me the opportunity to explore myself and grow in ways that likely would not have occurred in other forms of exercise, meditative practices, etc. Martial arts training has been synergistic with everything in my life and has allowed me to see parallels and share experiences across a broad spectrum of my life.