Friday, July 16, 2010

New information that has come to light....

Okay.... As I alluded to in the comment section of my last blog post:

The new brown belt that we have in class apparently sustained severe head trauma in "Operation Iraqi Freedom," and there's been some damage to his frontal lobes. He trained at a different Isshinryu dojo for ten years and earned his brown belt, but he's been away from it for five or six years. Between the injury and the lengthy break, he's suffered what looks like total amnesia, as far as karate is concerned.

Now that I know the full story, I have a lot of compassion for his plight. Saturdays are our freestyle classes, where karateka show up and work on whatever they choose to work on. The senior belts often help out lower kyu, and Sensei is available to offer help, pointers, and corrections.

I'm going to try helping this brown belt. (First of all, I'm going to show him how to properly tie his belt.) I'm going to ask him if he'd like to work on stances, or go step-by-step through the Seisan kata together, or maybe work on charts together. I can use the work on all of these, and as one combat vet to another, he may be receptive to my help. If he's not, that's okay, too.

I can help him with the basic stuff, especially since it's all fresh in my mind. Charts, the Seisan and Seiuchin katas, and basic stances. He's obviously got the training, and as I help him, it will help me. Maybe as we go through different things, it will begin to jog his memory more... He's good about showing up, and I think he's doing his best, so I feel moved to help him. If he's a brown belt, at one time, he was obviously good. I want to help him as much as I can, so that he can become good again.


  1. Good on ya, Frank. "Things are not always as seem," as an iconic movie figure once said. :)

    And you're right, one of the best tools there is to advancing your own knowledge is teaching others. Hope things work out.

  2. Thanks, Jimmy! I'm not used to feeling negatively about people, and it's a bad feeling; like spiritual sludge, or something. I feel better inside of myself too, now that I've come to this resolution.

  3. Good on ya Frank! It pays to keep an open mind until all the facts emerge. It sounds like he could do with some dojo buddies, he may actually start to thrive in a supportive environment and it's a priviledge for you all to train with a war hero - however injured he is. Good luck

  4. Right on, Sue. "But for the grace of God, there I go also..." I was fortunate to do my tour over there, and emerge mostly unscathed. I've had some post-traumatic stress disorder issues, but nothing too debilitating.

    I think the worst thing, would be for him to feel frustrated and discouraged, and give up. Like any warrior, he's showing up and giving his very best. As I reflect on it and see the look in his eyes of feeling lost, it pierces me. So whatever little knowledge I have, if he's a willing vessel, I'm hoping that together, we can make it happen.

    Thanks again!

  5. Excellent Frank! I am sure the brown belt will appreciate the help. :)

    In a dojo, this is a very difficult topic. My husband is the chief instructor in our dojo. Over the years, he had to make difficult decisions regarding students rank and promotions. I am sure there have been decisions that were unpopular with students. He has to judge each student by their own capabilities and improvement.

    Sometimes students in the dojo have goals other than earning a black belt. The belt is secondary to the self-confidence, balance, improved movement, self-control and socialization the dojo environment provides.

  6. Absolutely, Michele. It's certainly a tough and unenviable position to be in. Especially with this brown belt. If he got dropped back to white, and then began to work his way back, he might get discouraged and quit. If he starts training again and starts really making swift progress, then there's no reason to drop him back to white. Anyway, we'll just see how it goes. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for him.