I can always expect to return from Nationals with a lot of great memories, new and renewed friendships and an inspiration to keep training hard! Having recently returned from 2012 Nationals in Wilmington, North Carolina I can gladly say that this year is no different. A huge “Thank you!” to the SR Nationals committee and to Sensei Aaron Lawrence and his dojo for organizing such a rich and memorable seminar.
The event began Wednesday, August 1st with a very informative Instructor’s Seminar. The Shoshin Ryu Board has compiled and created not only a new Instructor’s Guidebook but also a systematized certification and ranking of Shoshin Ryu instructors. Now new black belts who want to teach will not only have a new curriculum to get to Nidan, but also a curriculum to follow in their path to becoming a great teacher. The new system includes requirements like written tests, required readings, and the need to produce a certain number of new black belts, thus helping to secure the future health of Shoshin Ryu. The new Instructor’s Guidebook is full of useful information covering many areas. From starting a new dojo to how to retain students, from martial arts history to Anatomy, every sensei should be able to take something useful from this guidebook.
After dinner that night was the official bow in and that’s when the training really began to break out. Sensei Combo led the group through several self-defense techniques from both standing and on the ground with a standing opponent. Almost everything taught was simply a different way of looking at a simple basic that most folks already had. Not only were the techniques fun to train but the bigger lesson showed everyone that even the most simple basic can be so much more, if only one has the eyes to see it.
The next few days were full of training as the schedule went from 9am-9pm each day, followed of course with lots of stories and laughs in “Cabin 8” (the official name of SR Nationals post-training social gathering). We were incredibly fortunate to have both Sensei Pete Campbell from BSU Judo and Tuhon Ray Dionaldo from Filipino Combat Systems as our guest instructors. Sensei Campbell’s flavor of throws incorporate great motion, we were fortunate to have him teach daily. It was interesting to see how some of the techniques fit right into self-defense scenarios. Tuhon Ray taught some great sessions on defending against both knife and stick, as well as some knife and stick templates that really help in finding the flow of those weapons. He even showed many techniques using a traditional scarf-like piece of cloth called a sarong. If you were fortunate enough to feel Tuhon Ray put a choke on you with his sarong you saw just how quickly it could be lights out!
Along with all the great information and training we got from our guest instructors we trained lots of SR core. Sensei Bair and I both had the opportunity to teach groups in Ne Waza and Kata. With Sensei Coniaris we trained some dynamic self-defense scenarios against multiple attackers that really got the mind and body moving quickly. Sensei also gave some very informative presentations: The first day on the Glycemic Index/Glycemic load and diet, the second day on the benefits of cross-training. Soucy Sensei taught very helpful sessions on how to use the body’s anatomy and internal mechanics to make virtually every area of our art stronger.
After a great weekend of training we got to enjoy many demonstrations as is tradition at SR Nationals. Many folks took the opportunity to get up in front of the group to demonstrate some new or elevated skill they have picked up during the weekend. I considered one of the highlights to the demo by our own Jim Bongiovanni who got up and flawlessly executed several knife disarms.
Finally with the training behind us for another year we gathered at a nice restaurant in downtown Wilmington for a closing banquet that in my opinion may have had the best post-Nationals banquet dinner yet. We enjoyed the great food and each other’s company as we wound down from the weekend and discussed our plans to do it again next year. In the mean time I will be riding that wave of inspiration that always drives me after attending Nationals. It was announced that next year’s Nationals will be in Minneapolis, MN. And don’t hesitate; start preparing now because Nationals in 2014 is going to be held in JAPAN!