December 2008 Newsletter

Plumstead

Image2008 brought with it Kushido's 45th Anniversary. To celebrate we held an International Gashuku in Cape Town. All those that attended commented on how they enjoyed the time together, and all the seniors brought their own experiences and specialities to ensure that the Gashuku was varied, but came together in a united whole. It was good to teach the diversity of student and learn just as much from them. It gave time for all of us to cohese more as a system. There was also a get together of ex-black belts towards the end of the year; it was great to see all the old faces again.

I have had to spend a fair amount of time travelling this year, which has put extra load on the Plumstead instructors.

They all met the challenge head on and have ensured that the standard in the Dojo has remained high. Hopefully I will be able to spend more time in the country in 2009.

On a broader note, I feel that the 3rd Dans have started to come into their own in 2008 and are starting to assist to improve the operation of the system. I see some great martial artists emerging from the system in years to come. I am looking forward to seeing a stronger system during 2009.

Riverside Dojo, Johannesburg

ImageThe Riverside dojo during 2008 continued to be a close-knit clan. But we have been fortunate to welcome some new members from the Cape, and reluctantly have wished several well on their new journeys to various parts of the world.

In recognition of his hard work and dedication to the Kushido system and his dojo, Sensei Allan Thomson was awarded the rank of Shihan. Amelia de Klerk and Adrian Rupp were awarded their shodans, several juniors obtained their blue belts, and Sempai Michelle Knights, as part of the Rhodes University community outreach programme, trains a growing group of under privileged children.

Sensei Hannes Loubser has more than ably assisted Shihan Allan by taking many classes, keeping the energy and spirit high and generally driving us nuts.

The Riverside dojo wishes all other students and their families a wonderful festive season and a new year filled with joy.

We would like to end with an extract written by Sempai Cathy which was read at the opening of our Sensei Mike shinzen.

ImageI was asked to think of my favourite memory of Mike, I could not pick one, so instead I will give you a montage of how I remember him:
- Our second lesson, punching like our arm was being sucked into a tube
- Weight-lifting Annie-Rose and Nicky-Tom
- Making me get out of his giant bear hug
- Laughing and stating he was 'special' when I hugged him without prompting
- Sitting down at the 'non' black belts table at gashuku like it was a normal thing
- Trying to work out the chords for 'Smoke on the water' on Hannes' guitar
- Tirelessly tumbling on the floor as Allan demonstrated the Naifunchin application
- Grinning like an imp and pressing on the pressure point on the forearm
- Breaking the window of the dojo and scaring the whitebelts
- Looking 'glamorous' in his corset

Mike taught me how to hug again. He reminded me that hugging was not a sign of weakness. That it was a way to give strength to another. Secretly I used look forward to his warm hugs, but, being stoic me, I never told him this... it would have given him another reason to laugh at me (it was bad enough with my pink gi). His strong arms could hold any weight and his spirit always big enough to lend to my own smaller one.

He reminded me that it was ok to love with the heart - that no pain in this world could ever shatter the spirit completely. His philosophy seemed to laugh louder, give more and live more. He taught me that to live, you needed to experience life - you needed to laugh when it was funny, grin when it was happy, scowl when it was bad and cry when it hurt.

Like the lion he was, he put his family first, defending them with his every action. Like a lion, he could bellow a loud roar and protect those he loved. Like a lion, he carried his 'mane' for all to see - displaying his pride and courage without fear.

His booming voice will echo forever in the walls of the dojo. His footprints are ingrained in the wooden floors. And his spirit lives on in all of us.

Denise Knights.