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Spirit, Style, Community! Our Dojo of the Month: The Rio Grande Valley Shotokan Karate Club

We asked the Rio Grande Valley Shotokan Karate Club (RGV), our Dojo of the Month in March, what spirit, style, and community mean for them. Because that are the principles The Shotokan Times stance for. The RGV puts its heads together and wrote us these fantastic and moving answers. They show deep understanding of Do. See yourself. Oss!

Spirit

Spirit means for us… maximizing each individual’s potential.  Although some may have natural abilities greater than others, everyone must “endeavor” to do as much as they are capable of so that they are “seeking perfection.”

Spirit can be evidenced by the passionate teaching in the dojo.  The instructors impart a passion for their art to their students.  As a teacher, I’ve rarely seen a class where 100% of the student population wants to be present 100% of the time.  Yet, this is the reality at RGV Shotokan 5 days a week…every week that classes are offered.  Students can often be heard discussing how they would like to go more often when they are not able to.  There is a longing to be present!  Passion for the art leads to inspired teaching and the students can’t get enough!

Style

Style means for us… tailoring your style of karate to benefit you the most.  How can you incorporate the style of your techniques to suit your own physicality? Even though we are lead by SKIF guidelines, these are to make sure we stay focused on the way, but it is important to experience variations of techniques from other systems to better understand our style as a whole.

Style-Shotokan is a strong style which features hard strikes and long, deep stances.  Body conditioning is prevalent, preparing the karateka to achieve some pretty amazing goals (higher jumps, faster motions, etc.).  Compared to other dojo’s in the area, RGV Shotokan comes across as super-legit!  Students are required to train hard in order to advance, and Black belts cannot be earned in house.  Shodan, and subsequent ranks, can only be tested for once a year in Houston.  Candidates congregate to be judged by instructors from SKIF headquarters in Japan.  This brings a high level of authenticity to the goal of earning advanced ranks!

Community

Community means for us… leaving a place better than you found it.  Sometimes this takes understanding and adaptation, but sometimes this takes plain hard work mixed with repetition followed by reevaluation. Whether this is our small dojo community, which includes not only dojo member but their families, or the local community people and natural wildlife.

RGV Shotokan is more than just a dojo, it’s a community of instructors, members , and parents, who go out of their way to support other members outside of the dojo. From attending each others’ plays, concerts, musicals, and other sports events to planning parties for the members of the club; RGV Shotokan is a place to truly feel welcomed and encouraged!

 

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Dojo of the Month March: The Rio Grande Valley Shotokan Karate Club

Our Dojo of the Month March is the Rio Grande Valley Shotokan Karate Club (RGV) located in Harlingen, at the lower tip of Texas, USA. Jeremiah Walker, Director of the club, wrote us a convincing application especially focusing on the family and philanthropic activities of the club. Thus, we let you take part in what convinced us the most in the following short portrait.

The RGV was found in 2004 and is a charter club by the SKIF. It regularly vistis seminar with instructors like Manabu Murakami and Fumitoshi Kanazawa on a regular basis. All their Dan ranks are tested by them.
Head of the SKIF-USA Board of Directors, Ruben Fung, travels to Harlingen area twice a year to help us adhere to guidelines of SKIF. This strong connection to the SKIF shall lead to the maintenance of a high level of technical skills.

What us also convinced, that the RGV should become the Dojo of the Month March, was their approach to inclusiveness and social aspects of the club. According to Jeremiah the Dojo has “various levels, ages, and even styles … that train together.” For instance, they offer “an open mat” session “where we have a good relationship with other martial artists in our area and either cross train or work on focus points of our Shotokan curriculum.”

Seminar with Kagawa Shihan of the JKS
Open Mat session

The Dojo also offers additional cross training and outdoor fitness training. They also participate in 5k runs together. Very convincing for us was the “family kickboxing day on Saturdays. Here, Jeremiah explains, “some of our members bring family to sweat and learn some striking skills to help get their family more active.” We appreciate this family kickboxing day because it offers a joint activity for families. This can be an adventure and leads to shared experiences. It also opens a low-threshold gateway to martial arts in general and Shotokan in particular. However, while not all family members may want to take part in Shotokan classes, they still become related to the Dojo and the community.

Family Kickboxing Day

But most importantly for us, the RGV also participates in local philanthropy activities like beach clean-ups, public library summer events, and reforestation projects. For Jeremiah it is important “to help our younger members develop a sense of giving back and community.” Such activities cannot be overrated. They build character, lead to mutual understanding, and bring the Dojo, its members, and Shotokan closer to the community and society. As grand master Funakoshi wrote in his 3. principle:

空手は義の補け (Hitotsu, karate wa, gi no tasuke) = Karate stands on the side of justice.

This does not stop to count behind the exit of the Dojo. It has to be carried into society. Oss!

Karate Philantrophy – Joint Beach Cleaning