To think that the Palmetto Jujitsu Clinic has been going on for 5 years longer than I’ve been a martial artist still humbles me. 16 years of anything can be impressive all by itself without saying another word. I look back on my time as a martial artist, the people I’ve met, the relationships I’ve forged, and it amazes me. To me, Danzan Ryu is just as much about the relationships with people I have met as it is about the actual techniques themselves. One of the main ways we cultivate these relationships is through clinics. Sensei would always stress to us how important it was to “get outside of the house” from time to time. It is so true.
To meet and share ideas with people that have the same sickness as we do (DZR) can’t be over stressed. I look back to the very first PJA Clinic that I attended 11 years ago. Wow! Has it really been that long ago already? I had just started taking classes at PJA at the ripe old age of 33. I was new enough to still have that starchy feeling in my belt. You know that new belt smell and you can’t get the thing to lay down because it wants to stick straight out. There I was literally taking every class I could until my feet began to peel from being on the mat so much. I will always remember that first clinic.
I remember looking on in both amazement and doubt as I watched Goldberg Sensei do demonstrations of Daito Ryu. I vividly remember going up to him (like an idiot) after watching one of the classes and asking him when they were shaking on the floor was that some form of the kata or was that real? He did not answer, but another black belt did. His name was Josh Grant and he looked at my patch on my new gi and said. “You one of Sensei Tom Ryan’s students?” I said yeah for about 4 weeks. Then he said “Well I don’t believe in bullsh*t, you should come try the class.” While he was calmly folding his gi two things happened in that moment. First, I realized I probably didn’t approach that question in the best form. Second, I didn’t know it at the time but I had made a friend in Josh (maybe not right away but I grew on him).
Had it not been for him making the trip to our clinic, I may have never started those conversations. I may have never learned what Daito Ryu even was. I may not have the relationship that I have with Professor Brzykcy. My point is if it were not for our clinics (and many other clinics out there) I would not have the many relationships with people that I currently have. I treasure these relationships as I am sure many of you do, and I try to add to my Ohana every year through them. Each of our clinics provide a unique experience to the people that come.
I have grown in my own training from the starchy gi white belt to just one more spoke in the wheel that helps to run the PJA clinic. I think our clinic tries to offer more than just DZR to those that come. We have sticks and knives and guns OH MY! The gun classes are always popular. Sensei Wheeler even set up a little house clearing tent about 2 years ago with simunition rounds. Talk about getting your heart rate up when you know they are actually able to shoot back.
Did I mention we also have healing classes the entire weekend? Some of the best practitioners of seifukujitsu are here teaching classes. People you might only see at our clinic, like Michael Burkett. Michael currently works with the athletes at the University of SC so he has plenty of experience with seeing injuries and dealing with those issues. He is just one of the people that have a wealth of knowledge in this area. We try to get each professor out to clinic as they are available. This year I got to spend some time with Professor Cross (not new but new to me) and Professor Shehorn. Both different and yet both exceeded my expectations. I really valued the Shin Yo class that Profs. Cross, Colton and Shehorn gave. It was really nice to get outside of the kata but still see the kata in each technique.
I really connected with and appreciated the words Professor Colton said. What were those words you ask? Sorry you would have to come to the class. Those that comes gets as the saying goes. The clinic itself reminds me every year how far I and the people around me that I share in these experiences have come, and how far we have yet to go. It’s really exciting! You know the clinic is having an impact when you overhear Professor Shehorn (a first time PJA clinic attendee) tell somebody, “I will definitely be back to this again next year.” with a big happy childlike smile on his face.
There are so many good clinics out there to try. My goal in the coming years is to try to go to some of these clinics I have never made it to before. Meet new people I will call friends or even brothers and sisters in my Ohana. I want to take this opportunity to invite each of you to come see us this year for out 17th annual fall clinic. Our dates this year are October 18th – 20th so mark your calendars!