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Hombu dojo of 
Shorin-Ryu Karate
    U. S. A.

Kyoshi Michael Mackay
   
Shihan  email Sensei Mackay

109 East 50th St.
New York, NY 10022

 

Shoji screens at the Midtown Karate Dojo

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Calligraphy - "Soku" - Foundation and balance

Reflections

Student artwork and excerpts from student essays.

 

When I first entered the Midtown Karate Dojo I did not realize that I was about to embark on a life-long journey and join a society whose foundations can be traced back many centuries to great Karate masters.  These masters of self defense have developed a system of techniques performed in geometric patterns called Kata that can only be absorbed by the practitioner through time, training and repetition with guidance from those who have been training for longer periods of time. Read more

 

 

In response to a question of whether the karate-do concept remains as true as it had in the past, Master Ueshiro confidently replied,

"Karate teaches you how to focus your being on certain goals, whether it be to perfect a kata, or to master the nunchuck. And this focusing carries over into the rest of your life. Karate is more than just a physical skill: it is a balancing of mind and body. Itís a spiritual system as well as a sport, and one that is as valid today as it was two hundred years ago."  Read more

 

 Kiai

I was reading the "The Shorin-Ryu Karate Question and Answer Book" and came across a quote that stood out to me as what really sums up my experience as a karateka.

"In one self lies a whole world and if you know how to look and learn, then the door is there and the key is in your hand."  Read more

 

 

"Gan" is an interesting quality to consider in terms of warrior spirit. A translation I like is "awareness," requiring a general alertness as well as a generalized focus that encompasses 360 degrees. With regard to a particular individual, the focal point is the throat, not the eyes, and even with that there is a nearly simultaneous combination with glancing about the broader terrain.

Yet try carrying on a conversation with someone while in warrior mode. Read more

 

  Chinto Sangaku puzzle

Pure Action

There are times when I practice kata that I completely loose myself.  I end the kata where I began it.  I bow and I don't remember how I arrived at this point.  I've forgotten when I turned left or right, when I punched or kicked, even time seemed to stop.  Within this "pure action" there is a feeling of completeness, progress, freedom and power.  The more I practice, the more consistently it happens.  And there are also times when I misstep, loose balance, or forget what comes next.  The kata does not end where it began, but I fix my gi, grit my teeth, wipe away the sweat and try again to achieve the loss of self.

 

Thirteen years ago, in my essay for my first green tip, I quoted a passage from "The Shorin-Ryu Karate Question and Answer Book" that said, "Karate should come second to the goals of success, family and education." I wrote in response that I was "not able to find a balance between my karate training and personal responsibilities." Over the ensuing years, my personal responsibilities grew enormously, from career man to husband to father to family man. I kept thinking that somewhere along the way I would find that perfect balance.  Read more

 

 

Although I may have matured simply with age, my demeanor, patience, empathy towards others and my thought processes have evolved over time thanks to the constant repetition of kata. In most situations I realize now that I need to mentally take a step back, assess the situation, and attack it with calmness and a clear mind. Read more

 

Kata

Many aspects of karate are capable of being explained by science. Elements of power, foundation, body mechanics, breathing, and range of motion (to name but a few) can be "broken down" and explained as components of the larger whole. I have spent years pouring over these individual elements, attempting to wring from then all their information and put those pieces of knowledge together with others in the puzzle so that the entire picture may become clear.  Read more

 

 

"Karate is a lifetime marathon." I have watched myself take part in this marathon for many years. As a person who expects a lot and demands much more of myself, I have tried to objectively assess where I am in relation to the finish line. Am I ahead? Am I falling behind? Have I hit the wall? Read more

 

  Yakusoku Kumite Sho Sangaku puzzle

The deck is a laboratory for life; kata, the conduit. The quest is to better your opponent, yourself. The battlefield is both real and imagined; against the external attacker and the internal battle in one's own mind. To succeed one must simply keep moving forward - at times through a subtle shift and others with a full-out charge - and face what's next with full conviction. In trying to vanquish our opponent we make friends with life's dichotomies: to find the ease in what is difficult and to recognize that what comes easily is merely encountering the difficult at its most basic level. Read more

 

 

The benefits of karate are limitless and, at the same time, fixed and peculiar to each karateka. What may be of major benefit to one may be of marginal benefit to another. To articulate why karate is so important to me: I credit the practice of karate with keeping not only my body fit but my mind fit as well, keeping mind and body in touch. Kata helps to keep our synapses not only firing but targeted. Use it or lose it!  Read more

 

Yaku Soku Kumite IV

Some of the words and expressions used in our training get repeated so often we begin to lose sight of their true meaning.

"Step First" - These two words make up the very basis of our karate discipline. "Step first" describes the mechanics, but more importantly, it exemplifies the philosophy. One must be positioned, aligned and rooted before delivering any technique. This is as true in the martial arts as it is in our own lives, personal and professional. "Step First" is more than just a rote movement.  Read more

 

 

In pushing myself beyond my physical comfort level, by working that sweat and bringing out the endorphins, I find that I now possess an increased sense of well being and of being blessed. Read more

 

 

In a word, what has stuck in me forever is this continuing and lifelong interest in "Karate is Zen" - moving meditation, and how our energy (mind/body/spirit) is at one, focused on and at the moment, and can be channeled automatically to move forward to deal with lifeís challenges, whether itís a physical attack, stress at work, illness, etc. Read more

 

  Ippon Dachi Sangaku puzzle

It is amazing to be embraced as a member of this family where we foster growth in each other while becoming stronger as a group. My karate training has been a rem+rkable journey and pillar in my life. I often relate lessons learned in the dojo and apply them to life outside of the school. Read more

 

 

Training in karate means self-respect and respect for others no matter who they are. "Karate begins and ends with courtesy." I consider this an important part of my life and consistent with my beliefs and values. Read more

 

Top

I attended my first weapon seminar on Sunday March 21, 2010 seven months after I was promoted to Ni-Kyu and I must say the seminar triggered a flood of memories of my early teens growing up in Sierra Leone, West Africa and helping out in my grand pa and uncle's farm during school holidays. Those were days of hard work because subsistent faming was done the peasant way, by hand, using tools very similar to the ones the Okinawans used. Read more