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   All Posts (Kevin)


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Play, Spirit, and Character
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Greetings, all;

Yesterday while working on the house, I had NPR on and my local station carries a show called "Speaking of Faith".

There are frequently some good discussions on there but as a soon-to-be first time father, and a practitioner of this art, I found this week's show to be of particular relevance.

The guest this week was Dr. Stuart Brown, and he studies Play and how it affects our development as human beings.

The show is available, along with links to Dr. Brown's work and other resources, at:

Speaking Of Faith on NPR

A couple of points that hooked me pretty hard:

-the murderers that Dr. Brown has studied universally did not engage in rough-and-tumble play as children. He believes it is critical to learn empathy through shared experience and, gasp, even pain (wow, it hurt when I got hit too hard, maybe I shouldn't do that to someone else).

-Animals constantly challenge themselves against other individuals (chase, play, etc) but do not engage in zero sum COMPETITIONS with each other - "I win, you lose". They self handicap and efficiently and frequently change roles of aggressor and defender.

-The cerebellum, seat of our "purely intellectual" knowledge, is in fact stimulated more aggressively when movement accompanies learning.

There is lots more on the show. I hope some of you find it interesting as well.

best regards,

Kevin

Posted on: 2007/8/28 2:17
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Kevin Courter
Bujinkan Ukibane Dojo
Longmont, Colorado, USA
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Re: 2 Piece Bo Staffs - Opinions Needed
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One other note I'd add to this discussion (which I think has had some excellent comments) is this:

"appropriate length of weapons"

although I've seen the bo referred to as rokushaku bo, which denotes a fixed length, I've also seen bo as long as 8 feet (try spinning that one neatly!), and as short as a jo staff. We try to train with different length staffs in my shidoshi's dojo so that you learn spacing as a function of the real weapon length, not an expected length.

One view I've heard is that the length of the staff should be related to your body - since it's moved by your body.

Thus a bo staff becomes head height or a bit more.

A jo staff comes to your armpit and is easily disguised or used as a walking staff.

A hanbo, half bo, is of a length such that with one end on the ground and your palm resting on top of it, you can easiliy sink to grasp the staff at the 1/3 point.

Just something to consider - maybe if you are 5'2", an appropriate bo staff might be closer to 5 feet long and a bit easier to carry/maneuver? Hope that helps!

P.S. Perhaps the sniping should be moved to PM?

Posted on: 2006/11/15 2:01
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Kevin Courter
Bujinkan Ukibane Dojo
Longmont, Colorado, USA
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Re: Road Trip: National Bujinkan Dojo Tour?
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Hello Travis,

Feel free to stop by and visit our group (Ukibane Dojo, Shidoshi Nathan Paris) in Longmont as you come through Colorado! Contact me and I'll be glad to give you more info about when, where, etc. Alan Witty is running a dojo just a half hour north in Fort Collins, too, so you could potentially visit a couple of different groups without too much travel between.

cheers,

Kevin

Posted on: 2006/5/24 4:27
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Kevin Courter
Bujinkan Ukibane Dojo
Longmont, Colorado, USA
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Re: How to become a "good" student?
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I think everyone has experienced this - watch it, "OK, I got it" - try to do it, "Oh, I don't got it... "

I experience a very different view of a demonstration depending on whether I am the uke or an obsever. Sometimes as uke you get a great "internal" perspective - "aahhh! he's controlling my balance through my left hip!" and it blinds you to the "external" view - "45, shuto left, step right etc". Often times I need to see it done on someone else if I've been uke or I can't "get started" when it's my turn to try the technique. But I have a better FEEL for what's happening than those who just watched. So it helps me to do both - volunteer to be uke a LOT - it's a great opportunity - but don't hesitate to just watch too if you are having trouble translating the feel into the movement.

WRT to learning, teaching or helping someone thru the technique (if they want it and ask for it) - I really like what Shihans Legare and Pearce have been doing a lot in their Shinkentaijutsu videos - "The 'One Point' we are trying to show in this technique is...". If you are overwhelmed (or your partner is) try to find a single point to focus on at first. Reference it to something they KNOW - sanshin movement, or kihon movement - and then build the details of the technique from there. Generally, I find that if you can get your feet to take your body to the right place, the rest of the technique becomes much more manageable...

Posted on: 2005/5/6 23:59
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Kevin Courter
Bujinkan Ukibane Dojo
Longmont, Colorado, USA
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Re: Warming up before class
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I see merit to both approaches... and use both depending on the goals.

Some classes, I believe it is very informative to train cold. Street clothes too. No bowing in. No transition from the "real world" to the "dojo mindset". This is testing and evaluating your general level of preparedness.

But...

I'm almost 40. I work out, I stretch, I am building fitness in other parts of my life. My knees suck, chondromalasia (cartilage deterioration on the patella). It doesn't behoove me to accelerate that or introduce injuries by doing a bunch of dive rolls, or super deep sanshin, or getting thrown while stone cold. So a lot of classes, especially when I know that I'm going to be trying to develop NEW SKILLS instead of testing my current ones, I warm up carefully, and make a concerted effort to prepare my body and mind to be as receptive as possible.

Unless training cold is the actual goal, at a minimum, I try to go through a few sets of rotating and swiveling movements on all joints from ankles, up legs, hips, shoulders, elbows, wrists and do some very basic light calisthenics and ukemi to get the blood flowing.

Posted on: 2005/4/9 1:56
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Re: Nidan issue
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I think, as usual, Hachigoro has nailed it on the head.

Everything about the way I got shodan was bizarre (to me). I was graded by Soke in the Hombu, *completely* unexpectedly, on my first trip to Japan. It was early, IMO (not that I was asked :)) and in my Shidoshi's opinion. But my shidoshi grinned and congratulated me, and we ordered the menkyo and I changed my belt and kept training.

In that order of several menkyo, my shidoshi asked for a single blank kyu certificate to fill in the name later on. Well, the order got mixed up - quite. EVERY menkyo in that order came blank, including two shodan and several kyu. And, to make matters more confusing, MY NAME showed up on my teacher's shidoshi-kai card in the same order! (5th kyu to 5th dan in a single bound, ta dah!)

So my shodan menkyo has my name written on it in careful English block letters with a sharpie pen, not a brush, not katakana.

It's still my shodan menkyo. Every time I looked at it, I saw the trip to Japan, and Soke crossing the hombu at 9:50 pm to say "Berry good!"

And in my shidoshi's handwriting (just my name in this case) I see him hugging me when I got back and saying "congratulations".

And now, as Hachigoro said, that menkyo is covered up by a nidan menkyo, with my name in katakana.

Someday that one will be covered too and the layers I can see at the edge of the stack will hold still the memories of all the ones in between.

Posted on: 2005/1/12 1:54
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Re: If you were an animal...
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in no particular order...

a large raptor (falcon, eagle, hawk) - for sheer coolness

porpoise
spider monkey

both of the last two display stunning natural athleticism and a refined sense of play (how fun would it be to brachiate through the forest at 20 mph?)

speaking of playful monkeys... if you've never seen this clip, it's well worth watching for a new year's grin:

(Right click, save as --->) Monkey and Tiger cub

Posted on: 2005/1/2 1:51
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Smile!
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Literally... smile now and then. When I work with beginners, often I catch them scowling with the intensity of their effort. They are trying soooo hard that every muscle stiffens - first their face sets in - then the shoulders/neck, which lock up the spine, then the hips...

So I make sure to point out... yes this is serious budo - but first you must learn to enjoy your movement and your body. You must smile.

My sensei smiles... his sensei smiles... OUR Sensei smiles!!!




Merry Christmas, everyone.

Kevin

Posted on: 2004/12/25 5:59
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I've been in that same time frame (mid-november) and the range for the three weeks I was there was from about 4C to 15C (mostly around 12-15C) and a bit damp, but no outright rainy days. I typically just wore a fleece sweater and packed a very light rain jacket with me and was never uncomfortable.

Enjoy your trip!

Posted on: 2004/11/3 4:10
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Re: Dojo in Boulder, CO, USA?
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Hi Ada,

please check your PMs. I sent you information about training and phone numbers to call if you have questions or difficulty finding our new location.

In general:
we will be training Tuesday & Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings at the Boulder Elks Club located at 3975 28th Street, a bit north of Iris/Diagonal.

Hope to see you at class!

-Kevin

Posted on: 2004/10/16 1:27
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