Friday, April 15, 2011

Promotion to Purple Belt in Shorinji Kan Jiu jitsu

Last weekend I graded for my purple belt in Shorinji Kan. I'm happy to announce that I passed. :) After the grading, a course was put on by Andy Dobie Sensei (head of Jitsu Canada) and Steve Hiscoe Shihan (heir apparent to the style of Can-ryu). We were all told that we would find out the results of the grading after the course. I was told to go ahead and change into my Can-ryu gi and black belt, but this of course led to a humourous belt presentation later on.

They called up each candidate to receive their new belts one at a time. When it came to me, Dobie Sensei said, "Hmmm... now where did she go?", then looked at me in the Dan line-up and said, "Oh, there you are!" He even referred to me as O'Connell Sensei when he called me to receive my belt. Since we were taking photos of everyone with their new belts afterwards, I switched my gi, put on my purple belt, then lined up with all the Kyu-ranked students. It was all very amusing. I was proud to be demoted from Yondan to purple belt. :P In the photo below, me and some former white belts are tossing up our previous belts, graduation style.

The course was awesome. Hiscoe Shihan started by teaching handcuffing techniques, which was interesting because this is not something on our usual curriculum. That's the benefit of having the law enforcement influence. Dobie Sensei followed up by showing a number of takedowns with strong emphasis on kuzushi (balance breaking), which everyone appreciated.

These combination style courses are great for students to attend. They get to see different instructors, different styles and different perspectives. I always walk away having learned something and enjoy seeing my students talking excitedly afterwards about the new experience. If you have the opportunity to attend these types of events, I highly recommend it.

I was asked by a few students why I would grade in Shorinji Kan for Kyu belts when I already have my Yondan in Can-ryu. It's all about keeping up with my learning. There is always more you can learn, more you can improve, but sometimes it's hard to get solid training time in when you're an instructor. It's easier to focus on your own learning when someone else is in charge. I've seen many an instructor become complacent in their own learning to the point that they become stagnant and start losing interest. For me to keep my enthusiasm up, for both teaching and training, it's important for me to train outside my own dojo. I chose Shorinji Kan because I wanted to focus a bit more on throwing (which they specialize in more than we do), plus I have the benefit of having an in-house Shodan in that style at my own dojo.

Are you an instructor who cross-trains in another style? What style did you choose and why?


SavageKitsune said...

Congratulations on your promotion!

Anonymous said...

Congrats, I'm sure you deserved it. Personally I don't see why you'd pick another style of JJ instead of something completely different but to each his own. Most JJ styles I've seen are more or less the same (with slight variations or a different emphasis but largely corresponding curricula) so I'd rather focus my efforts elsewhere (groundwork, stand-up striking, weapons). Lately I've been attending kenpo-seminars together with my sensei: a lot more striking then we are used to and nifty combinations while still SD-orientated, don't know if I'll continue with it since I hurt my back due to an inconsiderate/stupid senior student (1st kyu and still no self-control, makes you wonder). After next year I think I'll give krav maga a go (there's a club in town that doesn't overcharge too much), or I'll just enroll in the gym where we train. I am curious to see how other dojo's do things but for me the benefits of improving in other areas by studying other styles compensates for that and we usually attend the monthly inter-club seminar organised by our federation so I do get some exposure to other styles within the art. It's interesting to see that a lot of the clubs in the organisation cross-train too (at least the teachers), mostly in krav maga, BJJ, karate & kali-escrima.

I agree with the statement that complacency leads to stagnation: that is what happened to my old sensei and that's the main reason I quit. Why train somewhere if you're not learning anymore or the teacher isn't enthousiastic about his students development?


Lori O'Connell (West Coast Jiu-jitsu) said...

Thanks for the congratulations everyone! As for why I'd pick another style of Jiu-jitsu, I think that if you saw the differences in the style you'd see how different they are. I've seen styles of Jiu-jitsu that are indeed quite similar, and I agree, it would be too similar to make much of a difference. But there are other styles that are so different, they're practically other arts. Shorinji Kan is one such style. It's like Judo but with a self-defense rather than a competitive focus. As many of my readers know, I have also trained in styles that don't have the "Jiu-jitsu" tag on it like Aikido, boxing, Wushu, Wing Chun, Tai Chi, Taekwondo... the list goes on. When you've been training in martial arts as long as I have, you follow your training whims and go where they take you.

It's funny you mentioned training in kenpo, which I consider to be very similar to some styles of Jiu-jitsu. And Krav Maga is a lot more similar to my style of Jiu-jitsu than others I've seen. But then it may be very different from the style you have studied.

Anonymous said...

Obviously I can't compare styles I don't know so I'll take your word for it. Kenpo is a lot more striking orientated than JJ, at least most of the styles I've seen (including my own) tend to be rather focused on grappling (the original focus being on grappling in armor, making striking fairly useless). Our original style was heavily focused on locking, throwing & choking (including the 40 judo throws, my sensei was also a second Dan in judo) with strikes used only as distractions and not finishers except after a throw or lock. The kenpo style I've been training in (still only a white belt so not long) seems to consist mostly of rapid fire striking combo's of 7 to 10 techniques along with kobudo weaponry for the higher levels (bo, sai, tanto...), there are throws and locks but that's probably because the headinstructor (shihan) is also a 7th Dan in JJ. I'd train krav maga mostly for the training methods (lots of fitness and impact drills) and their weapon defenses since it is supposed to be one of the most practical SD systems and it's designed to be simple and thus learned quickly so we'll see. Aslong as it integrates well with what I already know (no use training opposite reactions to the same problem) and it's effective I'm game, it also depends on when I'm free and how much they charge. Aspects of kickboxing (JKD, thaiboxing & panantukan) and escrima are already integrated into our style/system (what's in a name) along with some ne-waza from judo and shooto so I do have some (very) basic knowledge concerning those arts. Like you said it's best to follow your instincts and do what you like to do, the advantage of training in a somewhat familiar system is that you'll advance quicker leading to the higher level stuff which is always interesting and fun. The upside to studying a completely new system is the pleasure of feeling like a beginner again (the beginner's mind, both frustrating & fun) and skill-enhancement.


PS: are you sure this isn't at least partially about marital competition? (lol)