Sunday, August 18, 2013

Traditional Karate Schools, Arizona

Japan, photo courtesy of Heather From

Traditional martial arts schools, like the Arizona School of Traditional Karate in Mesa, Arizona, provide a real punch for those wanting to learn a traditional karate. What do we mean by traditional? If you were to walk into a karate school (dojo) in Okinawa, the birthplace of karate, you would never hear rock n' roll music blasting in the background, see brightly colored karate uniforms, trophies littering windows, used car salesmen hanging onto you trying to get you to sign a contract, or belts (obi) with so many colored tabs that the look like a string of Tibetan Prayer flags. Remember the 1984 movie, the Karate Kid? Mr. Miyagi taught the traditional Okinawan way of karate, which included history, philosophy, kobudo, self-defense, lineage, respect, meditation and of course, devastating karate. This is what traditional karate is about - it is about learning traditional martial arts and applying these virtues for self-improvement.

When you walk into a traditional karate school, you will see evidence of certification of the karate instructors and lineage charts providing a succession of the various grandmasters and masters of the martial art typically leading back a few hundred years. The Arizona School of Traditional Karate is no different from other traditional Okinawa martial arts dojo in this respect. Traditional martial arts focus on self-improvement and self-defense and have nothing to do with sport martial arts or MMA, just like the traditional schools of Okinawa.

Dr. Neal Adam (Dai-Shihan) uses Okinawan sai during kobudo training while training
with Sensei Kathy who is using a bo.
No one in the school has ever attempted to win a trophy in karate, but still, the instructors and students have earned regional, national and in some cases international recognition for their martial arts, teaching skills and for their contributions to their professions outside the dojo. All of positive contributors to society in one way or another.

At the Arizona School of Traditional Karate on Baseline Road on the border with Gilbert, and just a mile down the street from Chandler and a few miles from Tempe, one of the friendliest groups of martial artists in the Phoenix Valley train in Okinawan Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo. The only competition is with one self - not with others, and they have a large group of highly educated professors, teachers, engineers, health care workers, scientists, attorneys, accountants, electricians, secretaries, housewives, and Arizona State University (ASU), Mesa Community College, Gilbert-Chandler Community College, University of Phoenix and even Grand Canyon University faculty and students. Everyone supports everyone else. There are a lot of good natured people learning martial arts the old way, and we do not attend karate tournaments. The school focuses on martial arts education and help new students find a path in life - which is the purpose of traditional karate.

Sensei Paula Borea looks on as Sensei Kathy and Sensei Victoria practice karate applications
And like most traditional martial arts schools, the Arizona School of Traditional Karate is affiliated with a group of martial arts associations and federations including Seiyo Kai International, Juko Kai International, Zen Kokusai Soke Budo Bugei Renmei and others.
The Karate instructors have considerable experience. One instructor is a Hall-of-Fame grandmaster, another is a martial arts master, and they also have one who is of Japanese samurai lineage and two who spent time learning martial arts in Japan.

So if you would like to learn karate the Okinawan way without having to travel to Okinawa - the Arizona School of Traditional Karate in Mesa appears to have it all.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Mesa Martial Arts Schools

Just before we joined classes at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate on Baseline at the border of Mesa and Gilbert, my friend and I called to see if it would be OK to observe a class. Many Okinawan martial arts schools have a policy that does not allow visitors to watch training because of secrets taught to students. We were cheerfully invited to stop by Tuesday evening to watch a session and there were no salesmen trying to pressure us to join.

Driving east on baseline from Country Club, we spotted a sign 'Karate' over a doorway at the northeastern corner of Baseline and MacDonald. It was an unassuming sign, so we expected only the typical mall-type martial arts school, but we were surprised and impressed when walking into the karate school. We were met in the foyer by Sensei Borea. He looked like my grandfather and was extremely friendly and talkative. Mr. Borea told us that he had spent several years in Japan with his Japanese-American wife in the air force as a pilot and indicated the martial arts taught in this karate school on border of Mesa and Gilbert was the real thing. Comparable to anything in Japan. So we were excited to learn more.

Wednesday evening samurai arts class with Sensei Kathy
Sensei Borea took us into the training center after passing through a hall with diplomas and awards for Grandmaster Hausel, a former University of Wyoming professor of martial arts and internationally renown geologist. Grandmaster Hausel was also the world head of their martial arts organization. This was my first time seeing certifications written in Japanese with English translations displayed so anyone could inspect them. We entered the training hall and were greeted by all of the students who had great things to say about the class, training, and their grandmaster. I was surprised by the education level of everyone I met: PhDs, engineers, scientists, accountants, lawyers, teachers, health care technicians, dancers - it was much different than I had expected.

The training center was a real surprise. I was expecting a tiny room like most of the schools, but the facility opened up to a large training center with a wooden floor and matted floor. It looked traditional. We watched the class and were very impressed by the power that emanated from the students and grandmaster. This was the place! We signed up the next day and have now been training for a couple of years. If you are interested in mixed martial arts and tournaments, this is not the place for you. If you are interested in learning real, traditional, martial arts - this is your dojo!

Practicing kata on Tuesday nights led by Soke Hausel

Dr. Neal Adam and Dr. Naghmeh pose for photo.

Sensei Paula Borea and Sensei Bill Borea train with Okinawan weapons (kobudo) on Thursday evenings.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Wax On, Wax Off, Traditional Okinawa Karate in Mesa

"Wax On, Wax Off" - Mr. Miyagi

Who can forget that wonderful scene in the Karate Kid?  Mr. Miyagi took Daniel San to clean his old, classic car and at the same time taught him to block by waxing a car. But does this make sense?

Respect is paramount in karate. This is shown in many ways in the
traditional karate school. One notable way is that of bowing.
It does! Karate is about muscle memory, about rote and what we refer to as mushin. Mushin is a method of repetition to teach a student how to react without thinking. This is why Okinawa karate has been such an effective form of self-defense for hundreds of years.

As one progresses in martial arts, they start with no rank, known as mukyu in Japanese and wear a white belt to hold up their pants. But with each major step in karate training, they advance through the mudansha martial arts ranks (color belts). Hopefully, one day, after a few years of training, they will rise from mudansha (one without dan rank) to yudansha (one with dan rank) and put on the coveted black belt sought by all martial arts students.

Karate is about building life-long goals that also teach us to defend ourselves and at the same time teach us to grow as people. Respect and consideration of others is most important in this type of training in martial arts. We recognize this at our martial arts school in Mesa: the Arizona School of Traditional Karate.

Sensei Bill Borea prepares to practice kata (karate forms) at the Arizona School of
Traditional Karate in Mesa.
We have a traditional martial arts school in Mesa, Arizona. And we have our own version of Mr. Miyagi - our grandmaster who has been teaching martial arts for more than 4 decades.

So, if you would like to experience real traditional karate stop by and visit our classes on Baseline Road at the border of Mesa and Gilbert.