One of the lovely things about the Shiramizu dojo is the variety of instruction available. The diversity of the Sensei in terms of experience and instruction style insures that I receive a variety of perspectives on my progress as I train. At this point, I've interacted with some Sensei more than others, but I'll just use this blog to talk about my experiences with a few of them.
There are two female instructors who I mentioned before, Yoshihara Sensei and Yamazaki Sensei. These ladies motivate me so much for a variety of reasons.When I first began this journey and everything was new, they really came to my aid in a very basic way: by telling their stories how they both started Karate in their 40s, how they have gotten good enough to teach at Arakawa Sensei's dojo, and how they have done well in various competitions.
On the one hand, it's awesome to know that I'm training under the umbrella of Arakawa Sensei, someone who is internationally recognized for his talent, and who has a room full of medals and awards that signify his exceptional martial arts ability. Learning under someone who is so throughly accomplished makes me feel that I am in good hands as every time I train at Shiramizu.
However, it can be intimidating and difficult to relate to someone who's been immersed in Karate for longer that I've been alive! Therefore, it's easier for me to see Yoshihara Sensei and Yamazaki Sensei as more immediate role models because of their background. Through training everyday, they developed a love and passion for karate, along with great skill. Even though they haven't practiced Karate for decades, they have a spirit of learning, and continual improvement that is thoroughly transparent and contagious, and I'm always energized by their presence and instruction.
On Sunday, we had a special "girl's only" practice and both Sensei made the experience great for everyone.
Female only Practice! The Dojo certainly smelled different that day :)
Uehara Sensei has also been a great help to me. He is very gentle, but stern in his instruction, and he has really helped me to break down many of the different Kihon. I can repeat a move over and over with him and he will continue to help me correct my mistakes until I gain confidence.
I've also recently begun training with Peter and Richard. While Peter isn't a dojo Sensei of course, I feel I really benefit from the occasional private practices we do together, not only because he speaks English, but he's also incredibly funny when he explains things, which helps me not to take things so seriously. While of course the internship is serious business, I'm also a beginner and he helps me to remember that that's not a bad thing, rather, it is something everyone has to experience to move to the next level. He is definitely encouraging as well, and because he was the former intern, I know that we have some shared experiences which helps me put things into perspective.
Training with Richard is great not only because of his own long and impressive martial arts background but also, due to the fact that I see him once a week, he is able to evaluate the changes in my ability differently than the other Sensei who see me every other day or so. When I train with him, he also gives me great insight into the reasoning behind moves and he helps me to understand what I should be thinking about and what others will be looking for when evaluating my Kihon and Kata.
All this instruction will soon culminate into my first belt test, which will be on July 9th! Last week, there is no formal Karate instruction at Shiramizu, so my preparation will be mostly self-training. I'm still nervous, but hopefully a few solo trips to the dojo will help give me the confidence I need for the weekend!
(Editor's note: Erica's belt test report & results will be the next post up later this week!)