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More, Please!

posted Sep 3, 2011, 4:41 PM by Eric Banks

“Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can - there will always come a time when you will be grateful you did.”

-Sarah Caldwell



It was like eating ice cream....smooth, enjoyable and even before it was done, I was ready for more.  The flight to Dallas, Texas for the first of its kind AAKF National Seminar went smoothly and I was kindly picked up at the airport by one of the students in the Dallas JKA group.  The training took place at the University of Texas there in Dallas and the moment I stepped into the gym, I couldn't help but smile because that small gym had the exact same smell, and nearly the same feel, as the small gym at Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State University) where my training began. 


"This is gonna be good," I thought, and then the seminar started, and it was pretty dang sweet!  Seven of the top AAKF masters taught that day: Robert Fusaro (7th Dan), Toru Shimoji (5th Dan), Mahmoud Tabassi (7th Dan), Albert Cheah (5th Dan), Dr. Tim Hanlon (6th Dan), Alex Tong (6th Dan) and Brad Webb (5th Dan).  Between them, there was easily 200 years of martial arts experience.  Each instructor presented their personal understanding of the theme of center preparation and usage.  The instruction was quite technical and physical, challenging for white belt and black belt alike, and there was an enthusiasm that radiated from each instructor that inspired us all to go deeper.


At the end of the morning and afternoon sessions, the instructors spread throughout the gym and allowed us to ask any questions that were on our minds.  This kind of access, to so many masters at once, at least in my experience, is just unprecedented.  They took the time to work with individuals, answering our questions, no matter how basic or crazy they may have been.


By the time 5:00 pm rolled around, I was not ready for it to end (even though I'd been up since before 3:00 am); I wanted more, and I still want more.  I watched the short dan exam and then was able to speak more with Sensei Shimoji again before we all finally left.   I'm looking forward to the next seminar, even as I work to digest and to integrate the things I experienced this past weekend. 


The entire quick trip, from home to airport and back again, was great, but there were two things that bugged me, two things that were missing from this adventure.  First, I only heard one Texas accent!  That's it, just one, the whole time.  Second, I don't think I had any uniquely Texas food...except for maybe the odd, dark brown honey-mustard stuff that they said was salad dressing...strange...


Anyway, more good, deep, enthusiastic, encouraging, eye-opening training, please!  And I'll take ice cream with that.