Breaking Boards… Breaking Shackles

Breaking Boards

 Kai-Shin Karate ~ Haliburton

Yesterday was a day for breaking boards and breaking shackles... a most gratifying but unusual day! I attended a seminar at the Kai-Shin Karate Club in Haliburton, Ontario. The seminar was conducted by Sensei Mike Chapman (6th Dan) and was well attended by affiliated club members, some who had traveled 2 hrs or more to attend.

I had not met Sensei Chapman before this seminar… he’s strict, tough, but a most likeable instructor. He’s not a big man physically and I dare say (respectfully) if you saw him on the street, only his confident stride would give you any indication of his skill and mastery of this martial art.

In attendance there was a good representation of the many levels from beginners to expert, both male and female. There was , I’d guess about 50 or so participants including 15 -20 Black Belts. Everyone was paired up with a team member whom they would spend the seminar with breaking boards.

I referred to it as “breaking boards… breaking shackles” because only through experience will you ever know what you ARE… or ARE NOT capable of. One of the most astute attendees was a young lad, a Green Belt… who was probably no more than 10 or 12 years old. Sensei Chapman endearingly referred to him throughout the seminar as “a Monster”…not because of misbehavior, but because of his tenacity. I think the kid outperformed some of the BlackBelts inasmuch as he broke every board, except 1 on his first attempt.

I had the good fortune of working along side the Head Instructor of our own club Bancroft Martial Arts – Sensei Dave Dalley, who would extend the benefit of his knowledge which helped me position myself correctly and focus properly on the clean execution of  the techniques we were practicing.  (…and yes, for the record I made clean breaks on each first attempt) We also had several other senior belt students from our club attending… all of whom did exceptionally well. (My thanks also to Sensei Wayne Lord and fellow students  from Bancroft Martial Arts – Diana, Paula, Victoria, Bill, Celum, Kevin and Fraser)

Sensei Chapman did a lot to put the group at ease just by his demeanor, his straight-forward manner of speaking – imbued with some subtle humor, and of course, his technique. He assured all of us that some would be successful, others may not… but the key was to learn something from the experience. He also suggested that “attitude” and “focus” would prevail. If  you practice, focus on what you’re about to strike… you will be successful, he said – it’s easy!

My observation was that there were some students (including some BlackBelts) who did not have the focus or the attitude to break the boards, (and later concrete) for no apparent reason… they beat themselves. Our little Green Belt “monster” was breaking the same boards as everyone else. My guess is that he did not think that he would notso he did!

As Sensei Chapman came by our stations throughout the proceedings, he would comment on one’s apparent readiness, posture and technique. I took a couple of shots to the chest, ribs and abs as he demonstrated for me – on me – what the technique I was about to perform would do if executed correctly. Let me just say… Sensei’s gentle shots were well placed and effective.

That’s really where this story comes full circle. Prior to attending, I wasn’t sure about breaking boards and was hoping that I wouldn’t embarrass myself. (* I had worked hard to earn Shodan {BlackBelt 1stDan } in Shorin-Ryu Karate 30 years earlier, but until a couple of months ago had never been back to train, gained 30 lbs. and have Parkinson’s) These type of events are something where you can defeat yourself with the wrong attitude. I learned alot yesterday, about myself, my focus and my abilities.

As a metaphor for achieving what you want in life, it was a good exercise to illustrate what you can do with the right attitude, no matter how big, or how small you are. Breaking Boards… Breaking Shackles

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