The Kancho Experience
It has been a most informative week thus far at Goju Ryu. The Kancho of KDISA is currently visiting. Behold his impressive biography below:
Dr.Rony Kluger – Ph.D.-Ed. (Official of Dai Nippon Butokukai, licensed as Karatedo Kyoshi – Hachi Dan) is the head Master of Karate Do International Renmei (Shibucho of Okinawa Goju Ryu Karate Sho Honbu Jundokan). Dr. Kluger’s title “Kancho” means head of the School, for the past 35 years he has been a full time professional Educator and Teacher of Budo.
Kancho Kluger has trained with many great Sensei of Karate Do (Goju, Shito and Shotokan). Kluger Sensei, is an official representative of the late Grand Master Eiichi Miyazato, Hanshi (Okinawa Goju Ryu Karate Do, Jundokan) and is the official representative of the prestigious “Dai Nippon Butokukai” – Kyoto, Japan. He also trained in other Martial Arts: Ju Jutsu – 8th.Dan, Judo – 4th Dan, Aikido, Kendo, and Tai Chi to widen his horizons.
Last night (Tuesday night) may have been the most singularly embarrassing class of my entire martial arts career, including the time my gi spilt Astros aplenty over the mat during a judo competition. (No, that’s not a euphemism. I stashed a box of sweets in my gi rather than leave them on the side of the mat while I competed.)
It started with Kancho Rony Kluger (the head of my Goju Ryu federation) correcting my shishochin technique. The more he corrected though, the more flustered I got and the worse my technique became. When he said (and I swear this was loud enough for the four rows behind me to hear) “do you know shishochin?” I wanted to die from unadulterated shame. I wanted my gi to turn into a black hole and consume me. I really do know the kata, but I’m still fine-tuning it, and I hadn’t been drilling it because it is not my grading kata and I have been focussing on the ones I do need for my grading in June.
But that wasn’t even the worst part.
Fifteen minutes later, after drilling Shishochin, I and two other brown belts were called forward to do the kata in front of everyone. Allow me to set the scene for you. The school hall is sparsely decorated. Nearly 50 martial artists, 45 of which are black belts, circle me. There is a universe of space and knowledge between them and myself. Violetta and Fumo stand to my left. We are told to begin the kata. I butcher it because of nerves and a lack of confidence, my very spirit and knowledge eroded away by the lack of progress I have been making over the last two years. After the abortion of a kata is over, each and every person had something to say to the three of us. I received criticism on my kata from all but 12 of the karate-ka around me. I respected their input and thanked them, though again I really wished a miniature comet had plunged through the roof to kill me on the spot. Occasionally the embarrassment was thankfully swamped under irritation every time someone called me ‘girl’ (really, I thought it was an adult class, but apparently I was wrong) so I was grateful to have something to distract me from my deepening embarrassment.
But I’m over it now. It was a necessary experience, and I’m sure that, in his wisdom, Kancho saw a need for such an experience. Or I’m pretty when I blush, who knows.
There was one particular highlight, though. The next exercise was to pair off and to work on blocking chudan-ski (chest punch) and then countering/blocking. It was a little like randori, but also meant to focus on sticky blocks. Most importantly, Kancho wandered by, saw me doing a neat little konsetsu-geri after a hike-uke, and then said ‘very good’, chucked me on the shoulder and glided away. I squeaked a very pleased ‘thank you!’ and felt a great deal better about my evening.
Fire is the test of gold, and adversity of strong men, said Seneca. That I didn’t cry or completely fall apart in front of so many, and especially not in front of my dojo’s members is something I’m quite proud of. Receiving criticism is something I’ve always struggled with, and I hope to get better at accepting it over time. None of the criticism was personal (except for maybe ‘that girl at the end’) and I shall work on applying it to my kata in general. More than that I cannot do – I can only try to get better and stronger.