Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Featuring Two of My Blog's Readers

One of the coolest parts of attending the Shorinji Kan Jiu-jitsu event in Spartanburg was not only meeting but actually getting to train with two people who regularly read my blog. I'd like to tell you a little about them because they were both great martial artists and very cool people.

Jennifer Higgs has been training for several years and holds a brown belt in Shorinji Kan (seen here on the right). She currently trains in Toronto. From what I've heard of her, she is truly dedicated to the study of Jiu-jitsu, having persisted in her training after sustaining multiple injuries that would have caused most other people to simply drop out of the martial arts altogether. I trained with her a few times over the course of the conference. She trains with both an appreciable level of skill and a keen interest and enthusiasm. She is around the same size as me... ok, maybe she was just a little taller. My point is that being a similar size, it was interesting to see that we moved in similar ways. It's cool for me to discover training partners like her as we likely have had similar challenges throughout our development as martial artists. Jennifer is planning to come visit our dojo in BC in the fall some time. I very much look forward to the opportunity to train with her again.

The other reader I had the pleasure of meeting was Ian Purnell Sensei, instructor of the University of West England Jitsu Club in Bristol, England (seen here on the left). Ian has been training for over 2 decades and was awarded the rank of senior second degree black belt (a high level for this particular style) at the conference for all his hard work and dedication to the art. He is taking the helm in the organization of the next international event to be held in England 3 years from now. I had the pleasure of training at two different seminars that he taught, one on shiatsu and another in which he taught a number of practical self-defense techniques. Both were well-taught, interesting and thoroughly enjoyable.

There was one exchange between him and one of his students I had the privilege of witnessing outside of the seminars he led. His student stepped off the mat having been severely winded from a blow. She was looking panicked as she tried to draw breath to no effect. Without even getting up to his feet, Ian tapped her on the body with an open palm then drove a thumb into a point at the top of her chest, which had the immediate effect of causing her to take a huge breath of air. I couldn't help but be impressed and immediately asked him to explain what he did. Essentially, he drove his thumb into a shiatsu point known as 'lung 1', which can be used to stimulate the breathing process. Ian explained that this point can be used on people having an asthma attack if they don't have an inhaler. He himself uses it on students while they fumble to find their inhalers in their bags, fixing the problem so effectively they have no need of them when they finally do find them.

I'm very glad to have had the opportunity to meet and train with both Jennifer and Ian. I feel very honoured that my blog has attracted such impressive martial artists.


Anonymous said...

I am completely at a loss for words-- partly because I still haven't caught up on sleep, partly because this is incredibly touching to the point of being an honour. Thank you so much for all the kind words (I have some replies jumbled in my head, but too exhausted to put them to words of my own), and thank you for making Internationals such a fantastic experience for me!

I.O.U. a coherent, more eloquent response after I catch up on sleep...

- Jennifer "Barn Swallow" Higgs

Lori O'Connell said...

Awww... I look forward to your eloquent response, but it can't imagine how it could top this one :)

Ian said...

Yeah exactly what she said. Thanks Lori, if Jenn was at a loss for words what am I to say ? Even if I had not only just got back to the UK after my extended trip I doubt Id have replied before now -thank you for such kind words. My promo to secondary Tutor (senior 2dan) left me fairly speechless, but

It was realy great fun training (and drinking) with you. I am so glad you enjoyed the seminars, It was also surreal enough to meet and train with you after reading the blog, but now to be in it myself really is odd.

I look forwards to getting out to Canada sometime before our next international.

Lori O'Connell said...

You just let me know when you want to come. By then I should even have a guest bedroom if you would like a place to stay. My future home is already lovingly being referred to as the "Jitsu Hotel." I look forward to it! :)