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Taira Bunkai Gold Coast 2017

Taira sensei has come and gone in a whirlwind visit to the Gold Coast to run a seminar at Southern Cross Martial Arts on the weekend of the 3rd and 4th of June 2017.

Congratulations to everyone who graded successfully on Sunday. Our own sensei Damien graded to 6th dan renshi in Okinawan Goju Ryu. Congratulations to sensei Bryson Keenan for 8th dan kyoshi, and to Paul Tomassini, Steve Nedelkos, Pete Keogh and Sinn Chew to 6th dan renshi as well.

A fabulous weekend of training and camaraderie. Thanks to everyone who came and made it that way.

We had our biggest turnout yet with 40 participants coming from all over Australia; and one from Indonesia too. All of the participants were from dojo’s affiliated with Taira sensei’s Okinawa Goju Ryu Kenkyukai this time around, and ranged from white belt up to 7th dan. Many of the participants had in excess of 30 years of training under their proverbial belts.

1 What does the Australian Government have to do with martial arts?

In Queensland, there is no Government regulation of the martial arts and combat sports sector. Unlike other States, where there is some sort of combat sports body which regulates promotions, fighters and titles, such is not the case in Queensland. Likewise, there is no central licensing body or authority.

Quite often you will see people advertise that they are fully ‘authorised’ or ‘accredited’ by some Government body or association. This usually means they have done a coaching course, such as the free online coaching courses run by the Australian Institute of Sport. These courses in no way confer any authority or authorisation to do much at all. As for the associations, they relate mostly to rules and policies for sport martial arts – they do not reflect the art or the quality of the instruction.

So in short, aside from regulating things like working with children, OHS and general business practices, the government has very little to do with martial arts.

Sadly it continues to be a case of ‘buyer beware’.

Masaji Taira sensei, 9th dan Hanshi, Okinawan Goju Ryu to Visit the Gold Coast Again

The revised 2017 dates for Masaji Taira Sensei’s Gold Coast seminars. 

The seminars principle instructor will be Taira Masaji Sensei, chairman of the Goju-Ryu Kenkyukai organization of Okinawa, Japan Taira Sensei is a 9th dan and a direct student of the famous Okinawan Goju-Ryu KarateSensei Miyazato Eiichi. He will be teaching the seminar using his unique training methods focusing on kata and applications. 

This seminar will benefit all regardless of style. To quote martial arts author, historian and pioneer Patrick McCarthy Hanshi, “Taira Sensei’s material transcends style”.

Open to all members of the Okinawa Goju Ryu Kenkyukai and guests from any Goju Ryu derived system. Return to the Okinawan roots of Goju Ryu and train in hands on kata application incorporation ‘hard core’ ‘old school’ self defence techniques based on superior technique rather than strength and sport karate.

NOTE: Anyone wishing to grade will need to apply via their Sensei early and be pre-assessed by a member of the grading panel. No ‘walk up’ starts.

Day pass $150 (no meals or t-shirt)
Weekend pass $250 Saturday & Sunday (no meals or t-shirt)
T-shirts (Limited quantity) $40

Seminar registration forms can be downloaded here.

2017 Okinawa Bujutsu Tour

It was a bit of a rocky start this year as despite my specifically asking my travel agent about visa’s for Taiwan I couldn’t get in to the country as my passport expires in five months (not the mandatory six). End result, no Kung Fu training and I had to transit on to Okinawa early and without Hannah, who was in Taiwan with Paul and Anne for a couple of days.

We were supposed to be training with shifu Liu Chang I in the Feeding Cane system of boxing; a close relative of our own Goju Ryu system. I am researching the origins of the different kata and drills to further my own raining and this trip was supposed to be an exciting stepping stone. Sadly it was not to be. The end result; out of pocket for the ticket changes and now two lots of accommodation in two different countries, plus training plans in disarray.

Not our best start.

Our good friends in Okinawa at the Tsuboya Garden House Hotel were able to get me a room despite it being new years and them being near capacity.
Satoshi Kinjo sensei sorted things pretty quickly and before I knew it I was joined by Kyle and we were at the Kubagawa dojo training, then after training drinks for their end of year party, then more shenanigans at Taira sensei’s until the wee hours. The Uechi Ryu & Kobudo folks from Satoshi sensei’s Kubogawa dojo are very hospitable and there was a lot of interaction despite the language barrier.

We presented our “omeage” (literally “souvenir”, traditionally food from home country) which this time around was honeycomb from a local bee keeper. Honey and bee keeping is still new in Okinawa as they were only introduced relatively recently so we had a bit of explaining to do. Once they tasted it they were sold though.

We also presented Satoshi Sensei with an Aboriginal fighting shield we had made by Aboriginal artist Patrick Ferguson of the Pitjantjatjara. It was hand carved from a single piece of mulga.

Satoshi sensei with his mulga wood heliman (parrying shield)

Before we knew it we were picking up Hannah, Paul and Anne at the airport and off to training with Taira sensei. Suffice to say it was another late night.

For New Year’s Eve we went for a walk around Naha taking in the sights, including the beautiful Fukushuen Gardens at night. That was a first. Karate demos, Ryukyuan dance demo’s and sake and local beer………. Good start to NYE.

We went on to Nominoue Shrine early to beat the NYE crowds and ate from the market stalls, had a few goes on the dodgy side show air rifles and won toys that Hannah terrified the local kids with by chasing them to give them away. Pretty funny.

Believe it or not, we were in bed by 10.

New years day we once again strapped on the walking shoes and wen to Shuri Castle early to check out the ‘Royal’ New Years ceremony, as well as th Ryukyuan dancing etc. It was quite a spectacle.

Okinawans celebrate New Years on the evening of New Years day so we wound up back at Taira sensei’s house with his family and long standing local students for the New Years celebrations.

Monday morning the rest of the crew arrived with Mark and Phil from the Sunshine Coast and Ron and Jo another Gold Coast Dojo. From there on in it was training in Kodudo with Satoshi sensei and sometimes his brother Kenta, and then Karate training in the evenings. Big days!

There was one notable exception which was the Kubogawa Dojo shinenkai (New Year’s party) on the Tuesday night instead of training. Wow what a night! Ron and Jo bought Satoshi sensei’s wife Nanae a beautiful gift of some Aboriginal art, of which she’s a big fan.

Below is a pic of the painting. The story of the painting is that the four large circles represent mind, body, spirit, and emotion to create a whole; this is tied in with the Asian 5 element theory and Musashi’s “book of five rings”. If you look closely you will see earth, wind, fire and water, with the middle circle being the void. The blue is for the salt water, the yellow for the beaches and green is the land/mountains around the Gold Coast.

The painting by Aboriginal artist Wallamarra Elliott

When she received it she jumped up and down clapping about 200 times.

Funnily enough I’ve had several graphic designers try and tie the Gold Coast together in an image for a t-shirt for this year’s camp. Hey have all failed miserably yet this painting does it perfectly.

The story of the painting is that the four large circles represent mind body spirit emotion to create a whole, the blue is for the salt water and the other two sections will be the land/mountains around the Gold Coast.

Mostly we trained…… we walked, trained, tried to sleep then trained again. Our last training session was on Saturday afternoon. In the morning we went on a tour with Miguel Da Luz of the Okinawa Karate Kobudo Liaison Board. He took us to the graves of significant masters in Okinawan Karate and explained their importance, as well as to Tetsuhiro Hokama’s karate museum. Afterwards we went for another long walk through Nominoue Shrine, Fukushuen Gardens and other sites we could get to on foot.
Then we trained. And Taira sensei and his wife threw us a ‘Sayonara Party’. Hannah and I got home at nearly 4am.

Sunday was a little free time and shopping before going to a Korean BBQ restaurant with Satoshi sensei before heading to the Dojo Bar. For most of us it was an early night as we were all exhausted.

Monday we packed up and checked out but as our flight did not leave until 8:55pm we had a full day of souvenir shopping, catching up with friends and chilling before heading off home a tired but accomplished bunch of travellers.

We’re already planning 2018’s study tour. Stay tuned.

Frequently Asked Questions

The martial arts industry of today is vastly different from what it was over 35 years ago when Kaichō Damien started training. For a start, now there’s Sensei Google to ask all of your questions and do your research. That being said, there is a lot of myths and misinformation floating around in cyberspace, as well as a lot of martial arts schools on the Gold Coast. This can make things a little confusing.

We hope the following FAQ’s helps you decide what you want to do.

Do you have beginner’s classes?

Yes, and no; it depends on the program. We maintain high instructor/student ratios and make sure beginners are partnered up with a more experienced student to help them navigate their first few weeks. This helps them acclimatise quickly and, more importantly, safely.

Most classes are open to all and students will be grouped based on their skill level. The curriculum is designed to enable people of different experience levels to work together safely.

Is this a good school to learn martial arts?

Southern Cross Martial Arts Association is the perfect place to begin your journey. The instructors are friendly and caring professionals, the students hold no ego, the establishment is professional and probably one of the best in Queensland. We strive to make this the best place to learn. Our school isn’t a ‘fight gym’, instead it is a place where members of the community come to learn martial arts in a fun and relaxed environment.

Do I need to make an appointment for my introductory lesson?

Yes, please make an appointment so we can make sure we have everything ready for you to go and smooth you transition. Ring us on 56656269 or email info@southerncrossmartialarts.com or even send up a Facebook message via messenger for an appointment.

What can I expect from my first class?

First you will feel very welcome from the moment you contact us. You will meet a nice group of people who hold no ego in the class. The initial classes will help you get fit and prepare your body for this activity. Understanding the fundamentals is important. You will learn the basics that form the foundation to all martial arts techniques.

All classes begin with some sort of warmup to prepare the mind and body for the exercise to follow. Beginners will not normally ‘know’ the routine but they will be guided by the instructors and the more experienced members of the class. Don’t worry, everyone in the room started as a white belt at some stage. After the warmup there is usually some sort of general conditioning and fitness work, followed by basic drills and then the class curriculum content. Finally there is the cool down phase.

What should I wear for my first class?

Unless you already have your uniform from SCMA, just wear T-shirt and shorts or exercise pants, something you don’t mind getting ripped or stretched. Avoid using clothes with pockets and zippers. Also bring a towel and a bottle of water.

Who/what should I bring for my first lessons?

For your introductory classes you basically just need to bring yourself and your training clothes. If you are under 18 you must be accompanied by your parent/guardian. Please arrive 15 minutes prior to the class to fill in the form.

What is the pricing structure for the classes?

We have a flexible pricing structure. We offer our students different types of memberships / payments methods. Prices vary based on things like how many times a week you plan to train, if you want to pay in advance, weekly, monthly or direct debit.  The cheapest method is annually in advance, whereas the most expensive is cash per month. Choose one that suits you. Please call us or enquire at reception. More details are in the membership section.

Do you offer family discounts?

Yes, if you have other members of your family joining up with you then you are probably eligible to get the family discount. Contact us for more details.

Can I suspend my membership?

Yes you can. Fees do apply depending on circumstances. Contact us for more details.

What do I do if I’m sick or injured?

Please do not come to training if you are contagious and make sure you make yourself familiar with the infection control policy, it’s there for everyone’s safety. If you are injured, discuss your injury with you class instructor to see if it is safe to participate in the classes. You may need medical advice. You can suspend your membership if need be. Contact us for more details.

There’s a school up the road for $7 a class. Why are your classes more expensive?

Our classes are taught by professional instructors in a fully equipped professional school. This is not a hobby school and as such we have overheads like rent, insurance, wages and so on. We also have an obligation to all of our members to keep our doors open. Our fee’s offer great value for money based on the benefits of training at Southern Cross Martial Arts Association, and based on the level of service.

Do you have long term contracts?

No we don’t. We do have ongoing direct debit agreements which can be cancelled with 7 days written notice. Contact us for more details.

Why do I have to give 7 days notice to quit?

The 7 days notice ensures that we process the paperwork and have everything sorted with the billing company in order to change, amend or cancel your membership. Most schools have lock in contracts and we have benchmarked against the standard industry practices and this is a very short notice period and another example of how we go the extra distance to provide exemplary service to our members.

What if another payment comes out during the 7 day cancellation period?

We have no control over when you decide to suspend or cancel your membership, only you do. Any payments that may come out during the cancellation period are non-refundable.

Do you have a ‘cooling off period’?

The Fitness Industry Code of Practice here in Queensland mandates a 7 day cooling off period for direct debit agreements and contracts. We actually go far above and beyond this and offer a 30 day money back guarantee.

Why is the enrolment process so long?

The enrolment process also includes an induction into the school and covers all the basics of membership including our health and safety policies, our membership system, our cancellation policy and so on. It is designed to ensure everyone knows exactly what they are signing up for, and for how long, as well as to answer any questions. During the process you will complete a physical activity readiness questionnaire (PAR-Q), a waiver/indemnity form, and your direct debit form (if you’re paying that way). No-one wants any surprises after they’ve joined up!

The first stage is to enrol online and complete our online induction video, and fill in an online form and make payment through one of our online payment methods (i.e. online payment portal, direct deposit or PayPal). We send you the information after you complete your trial program. Once the online portion is complete you make an appointment to book in and complete the process, sign the forms and receive your uniform (if applicable).

For the record, in the 17 years since we implemented the enrolment guarantee, we’ve never had anyone claim on it.

What do I get when I enrol?

That will depend on the class or program you enrol in as different martial arts systems have different uniforms and requirements. In some programs you may receive your initial uniform and belt during special promotions. Talk to the staff at reception for details.

For most classes you will also receive a CD-ROM. This contains a copy of the induction PowerPoint, plus details of your class curriculum. For the children’s programs there are welcome booklets and some introductory videos as well.

What makes you different from the other martial arts schools?

That’s a tricky question.

We are a non-profit, community based, multi disciplinary, professional martial arts school. Thank you for your interest. As far as martial arts schools go, we’ve really broken the mould! How so you may well ask? Consider this:

  • We are a professional school with a strong community spirit – we support a number of charities (Love Your Sister, Fighters Against Child Abuse, Childwise etc), provide scholarships for kids in need, raise funds for charity with events like our Pink Karate breast cancer event, as well as having a program for teens considered to be ‘at risk’;
  • We utilise a professionally developed character development program in our junior programs;
  • All of our staff are trained professionals – this means they hold an instructor rank (usually black belt, but this can change depending on the art) and hold Nationally Recognised qualifications in martial arts coaching. We have a proven track record in training people to become instructors with our Chief Instructors having run an international school teaching just that, martial arts instructing and coaching;
  • We have an extensive leadership development program which in many cases leads to a formal School Based Traineeship so we can teach them the right way to teach;
  • Our instructor training program prevents the abuse of the teacher/student relationship by making sure student volunteers aren’t exploited, and that students are getting what they paid for – training by some of the best instructors in the industry;
  • We are safety focussed and our senior instructors act as consultants to industry on safety in training, self defence training and much more;
  • We believe in truth in advertising;
  • We offer a money back guarantee;
  • We don’t lock people into long contracts;
  • We enforce our student code of conduct;
  • We offer a variety of professionally designed curriculums; and
  • We have extraordinary facilities and equipment.

Southern Cross Martial Arts Association is a multi-discipline martial arts school with age specific programs suitable for ages 3 and up. We are a community minded school with a focus on personal development, fitness and self defence through martial arts training.

Our programs are professionally designed, our instructors are trained and qualified professionals and our facilities are second to none!

The reasons people take up training are as unique as the people themselves, and our wide range of training programs are all multi-faceted and aim to address the many valid reasons for making the lifestyle choice which is martial arts. Whilst we cater for the hard core martial artist, we recognise that not everyone wants to be ‘hard core’ and our varied programs are designed to meet the needs of the majority, and for those that want more (i.e. to be an MMA competitor or Muay Thai ring fighter), we have an excellent network of like-minded professional schools who can meet your needs.

With that in mind, our fitness and sporting programs within the centre are just that, fitness & sporting programs; they are distinct and separate from the reality based focus of the self defence specific programs. In the martial arts this distinction has become blurred over the years, and not all martial arts are for self defence (i.e. Olympic Tae Kwon Do is a sport), not all of them will make you fitter (i.e. T’ai Chi won’t reduce a young athletes body fat, or increase their VO2 max), and not all of them have a sporting application (i.e. our Senshido or SAFE Defence program). In a school like ours, a balance can, and is, achieved.

In many of our sport and fitness programs, the self defence benefits are incidental – you’ve learnt the techniques of the sport, and these can be (sometimes) used for defending yourself. All that is missing is the training in defensive strategies, defensive tactics and the winning mindset.

We don’t use lock in long term contracts and our payment methods are as flexible as our programs are comprehensive

Are you Government Accredited?

The martial arts industry in Queensland is regrettably unregulated at this stage. That is something we’ve been working hard to change! That being said all of our staff hold a positive working with children check from the Commission for Children & Young People (also known as a blue card), are first aid qualified, hold art specific teaching credentials AND have a variety of nationally recognised qualifications issued by accredited Registered Training Organisations. All class instructors also hold (at least) a level 1 coaching accreditation under the National Coaching Accreditation Scheme (administered by the Australian Institute of Sport) plus a nationally recognised coaching accreditation specialising in martial arts instructing. In short we exceed the accreditation standards for martial arts schools in all states – by a lot!

I have no prior Martial Arts experience. Is that ok?

No experience is necessary. Just walk in, register and prepare to have a good time. See for yourself how much fun and exciting it can be.

Can I try the classes before deciding to sign up?

Yes, indeed. We offer a hugely discounted introductory special through our website at www.southerncrossmartialarts.com

Are your classes safe?

Yes they are. As a sport/recreational activity, martial arts has a great safety record and is far safer than ‘mainstream’ sports like football (all codes), basketball, hockey and so on. The Southern Cross Martial Arts Centre has an excellent safety record that puts us well above the normal school as well. This is due to our professionally trained instructors, well structured curriculum and thorough risk management processes – things like our policies and procedures, our induction process, the use of a PAR-Q and so on.

Nobody likes to get injured and, whilst injuries can occur in any contact sport, we are mindful of the fact that people need to be able to get up and go to school or work the next day. We do everything we can to minimise the risk of injury, and we expect the same of our members.

Are you a McDojo?

Definitely not. Our focus is on developing solid skills. In our school all belts (or armbands!) are earned, not bought and rank is based on objective, pre-published testing criteria, not attendance.

Can I transfer my current rank from another school?

Sometimes this is possible although given that there is no central registration body, belts from different schools have different requirements. The colours are not even in a standard order and it varies from school to school. This means that whilst yellow is the first belt in most of our classes, it may be in a different place in other schools – like the 4th or 5th belt. This can create a problem where students could be mismatched, and increase the risk of injury. So whilst we can recognise your skills, the actual belt colour may not be part of our system, or the requirements may vary greatly (i.e. most Tae Kwon Do schools don’t have grappling in their curriculums, and we do). This means that even if everything else is ‘equal’ you have a skills gap we need to work with you to fix.

Our practice is to recognise that the person coming from another school has skills and we assess them over a period of a month or so to see where they fit in with our curriculum. During this time they wear a different belt, which is outside of our grading system, and everyone else’s too as far as we know. This shows everyone that you’re not a beginner, but we’re looking at your level in our curriculum. Once we’ve worked it out you will be awarded your new SCMA belt (or armband!). If you are a student who has not achieved a black belt yet, you will wear a sand coloured belt during this assessment period (or white with a red stripe in the Little Dragons or Junior Dragons programs)

That being said, we believe that once you’ve earned a black belt, then you’re a black belt. The caveat here is that it may be some time before you grade again as you are effectively learning our curriculum plus your new belt requirements.

Are there any age restrictions?

For safety reasons the answer is yes, although these vary from class to class.

For the Little Dragons program the age is generally 3 and 4 year olds, although we conduct individual assessments for children for these classes.

For the Junior Dragons program the age is 5 to 7 years.

For the Red Dragons program the age is 8 to 12 years although in some exceptional cases children may graduate in to the Youth Karate class earlier.

For the Youth Karate the ages are generally 13 to 15 years of age although some people, by negotiation, may enter the full adult program earlier.

Are there any gender restrictions?

No restrictions on any of our classes. Men, women, boys and girls are all welcome to join.

Are there any other restrictions?

Sometimes there are safety restrictions for classes and this will be discussed during your induction. If you have a serious chronic illness or injury, have had recent surgery or other health complications, then we may require a doctor’s clearance.

Why don’t you offer one day a week memberships?

We used to but discontinued them as they were quite dysfunctional and disruptive overall. For starters, one session a week vastly reduces the students ability to progress with the curriculum. Progress is not half as fast, it’s more like 1/10 for most people as the gaps between classes mean that they have forgotten the previous lesson before the skill comes around again. This is frustrating for them (and us), particularly given all of their classmates who train two or more times a week have moved on up the ranks.

Whilst martial arts provide many benefits to participants, these benefits come from actually training, not from attendance or membership.

If you can only commit to one session a week then we’d suggest another Dojo as we feel we’d be taking membership fees without delivering maximal benefit.

1 How Young is Too Young for Martial Arts?

So how young should you enrol your child in martial arts classes? Well, that depends… it depends on what you want to get out of it, what the developmental stage of your child is, is there an instructor or a school that is a good fit for your child’s age (and specifically, your child). You see, there are a lot of variables.

We now see classes aimed at kids aged between 18-36 months. Is that too young? Well again, that depends. It depends on all of the variables above. It is my opinion that these classes are not ‘martial’ at all – that is to say they are very far removed from the original intentions of the fighting arts, staying alive on the battle field or self defence as a civilian or law enforcement officer. They are more like a combat sports/martial arts themed activity to teach kids a good solid foundation of physical and social skills. It prepares them for life in an age appropriate manner. Once you get the difference there should be very little angst.

Here’s a short explanation of how martial arts can teach valuable life skills:

  • Confidence: By learning how to protect themself, your childwill develop confidence in their ability to handle life’s challenges. In turn, their improved confidence will give them the courage to say “no” to negative influences.
  • Focus: Kids increase their focus by giving them clear goals and showing them how to reach those goals through hard work and being consistent.
  • Self-control: Kids learn self-control in the martial arts in a number of ways. They learn how important it is to have respect, both for themselves and for others. Martial arts training teaches that in order to get respect, you first have to give it. Once your child learns this important lesson, their self-control will naturally increase.
  • Self-discipline: As a child progresses through the ranks of martial arts the technical and fitness requirements increase (in age specific stages). We work with children to safely explore their physical boundaries and learn some of life’s tough lessons in a caring and supportive environment.
  • Resilience: Martial arts and combat sports give kids a place to test their boundaries and take calculated risks in a risk managed environment. They learn consequences of actions and that failure is not the end of the world.

Martial Arts is ideal for children who do not do well in team sports. The combined physical and mental practices enable them to flourish in this activity. Many do not realise this, but it is a fact that martial arts training is safer than most other sports.

Children with special needs, such as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder), learning difficulties and hyperactivity are often recommended to participate in martial arts for kids because of the clear benefits in its structured training techniques.

As you can see, our Kidz Karate programs teach so much more than “just kicks and punches.”  We help children develop life-skills that will take them far beyond the walls of our martial art school  – benefits that will last them a lifetime.

Understanding how to wait their turn, not throwing objects in frustration, learning how to follow directions, being excited to exercise and learn new things and having the confidence to tackle new challenges are all lessons that a child must learn. 

There are many factors that will affect a child’s development and behaviors, but there are few places to turn that can do so in a fun, positive and enthusiastically educational way. Our Kidz Karate Little Dragons program addresses these issues and more. 

What do we mean by “preliminary” martial arts training?

When we refer to preliminary martial arts training, we are referring to fundamental skill development necessary to efficiently and effectively participate in the martial arts. Children ages 8 and under are not ready for intense martial arts training – they need to have a solid foundation in fundamental martial arts preparation. Premature exposure to intense martial arts training will limit a child’s ability and slow their development. This will lead to a lack of ongoing motivation and ultimately restrict their capabilities. 

We will target their stages of development and maximize the results by providing our students with age-specific programs. A foundation must be laid before a child begins martial arts training in fundamental skill development. Because 5 & 6 year olds already have a clear understanding of following directions and interacting positively with others, they can enter a martial arts training program without having to lay a foundation. Three & four year olds, however, need to spend time learning how to lay the foundation in a manner that is consistent with their stages of development. 

The Little Dragons Program will also prepare your child for our Junior Dragons Program. In the Little Dragon classes, your child will be exposed to positive social interaction. They will learn how to work with others and follow directions from their instructors. Our Little Dragon instructors are good role models who are trained specifically to work with children of this age.

So how young is too young? Do your homework. work out what your goals are for your child and try to ensure they fit with what the child wants too. Check out the schools, the classes and the instructors. Simple right?

In Karate There Is No Bench

The benefits of sports for boys and girls are very well documented, but there’s debate of how good team sports are for children; and that debate is heating up now that the traditional models of physical education at school, and of course how kids spend their recreation time, is leading to an increasing number of kids who are not as physically ‘literate’ as others.

I am among the first to say that if a team sport is something your child wants to do, is engaged in, happy with, and enthusiastic about, then by all means continue. However, the experience that many children have in team sports can be frustrating and somewhat harrowing, turning what should be an experience with lasting lessons into a lasting trauma.

Researchers say that children are happiest at sports when the following factors are present:

  1. Getting to try their best.
  2. Coaches treating kids with respect.
  3. Getting to play.
  4. Doing well as a team.
  5. Getting along with teammates.
  6. Exercise and activity.

The problem with team sports is that some children never get to play, and sit on the bench as adults play favourites and politics.

Others are bullied by their own teammates. Often times the pressure to “be a team player” leads to keeping silent about behaviour that adults need to know about.

Or sports are turned into a machine that chews up and spits out kids as the field is winnowed for the most talented.

Or parents push their kids too hard. Certainly, it’s not all sports and not all parents, however some fields are more fraught than others. I doubt you’re going to see a brawl at a rowing competition, for instance. In general, the more prestige that a sport has, the more fraught the atmosphere. The goal is not participation, not learning, but a grooming for excellence that few can hope to attain and one that puts younger, less coordinated, less experienced players at a severe disadvantage.

Winning, playing in tournaments and championships, and practice are less a child’s priorities than they are those of the adults. Everyone wants their child to do well, but there comes a time to pull back and ask yourself if it’s for them or if it’s for you. Do they own those medals, or are their accomplishments part of your brag book? Are you seeing bad behaviours from a star player rubbing off on the other kids? Or is your child so discouraged that they just want to quit? Martial arts might be a good alternative to offer your child, and to try for yourself.

There is no bench in karate! Everyone plays and everyone participates. Everyone gets a chance to learn and grow.

Individual achievement: Everyone starts as a white belt, no matter how old or young, and they rise through the ranks at their own pace.

Martial arts last a lifetime: Not many players get a chance to practice their sport into adulthood. Some will play through high school and college, but unless they enter the ranks of professional sports, they may find that they have lost the sport they loved. Karate is something you can do for a lifetime, no matter where you go, in and out of school.

Parents can play too: Leading by example is best, after all, and even adults can use the principles of karate in their lives.

Self-confidence: It is well documented that martial arts build the qualities that make good leaders. Researchers have long noted that martial arts change how a person views themselves, makes them self-confident, and believe that they can achieve their goals.

Your child will not always have a team around them, or you coaching from the sidelines. The must one day go out into the world on their own. Learning karate can give them a solid footing on which to build their adult lives.

How does karate training achieve this? The wonderful thing in karate is that there is no bench. In karate, with the right instructor, everyone gets an opportunity to shine.

One analogy is that kids are like flowers and they need constant water and sunshine to grow, otherwise they will wilt under the weight of discouragement. What can be more discouraging than working your heart out in practice and doing your very best just to be put on the bench by the coach with never a chance to play in the game. The bench is a statement that shouts out to the child and all his peers, “You’re not good enough!” This happens at one of the most fragile times in a young persons development. They need that encouragement and the affirmation that they are valuable and have something to contribute.

Karate offers an avenue for kids who are forced on the bench in other sports to play right along side the “star players” and when you get an opportunity to play you naturally improve.

One of the problems with competitive youth sports today is that the coaches don’t allow mistakes and the child would be on the bench. And it’s hard not to make mistakes when kids are rarely taught the basics of physical education at school any more as the Phys Ed model has changed in modern times. Things like learning to run, throw, catch and kick a ball now (mostly) optional at school. To add to this mortgage pressure means kids are spending the time they used to spend at home playing with parents, siblings and friends either at after school care (and even before school in some cases) or playing video games inside. Mum and Dad have to work so there is often no time for the play interactions taken for granted with previous generations.

Sometimes it can be made even worse with a coach who they look up to that may humiliate them and reprimand them in front of the rest of the team.

In karate you perform up to your potential and not up to the expectations of a coach.

Students are not judged based on the performance in a particular game, but on their individual potential, their individual development and their hard work. They have the opportunity to fail, without failure being fatal;  fatal to their confidence and their opportunity to continue to participate and improve.

Many parents are under the assumption that if they choose a team sport like rugby, AFL, soccer or the many other options available to parents today that it will give their child a chance to be a star. Unfortunately that dream is greatly over rated. Out of all the kids who become a star for their sport, there are thousands who do not. Karate in contrast may not give students the opportunity to earn fame, but it does help them gain something far greater. At our school, Southern Cross Martial Arts, students in karate gain the life skills that are required to succeed inside and outside of the dojo. Skills like self-discipline, confidence, loyalty, honesty and persistence. We develop their character by helping them to own and master these and many other traits. It has been said that character is the some total of a person, which includes their beliefs and values. These beliefs and values are developed at the dojo and reinforced by teachers who are models of character. Sure these skills may not earn a student stardom, but they are attributes that will benefit them the rest of their life. You combine that with the hard work ethic they learn in the dojo and they can definitely apply these skills to be successful academically too.

In addition to these many benefits of children participating in karate, we cannot forget about the self-defence skills. In an ever increasing dangerous world, learning practical self-defence is a valuable asset at any age and especially for children. When I speak of self-defence I am not just talking about learning how to punch and block, but more so how to use common sense and develop a spirit of confidence to defend one’s self and not be a target of an attacker. These are skills learned in the karate school and not on the bench.

The karate school, with a good instructor, is a place where kids can grow up and flourish. A place where they find their identity and build their self-esteem. A second home where they can develop life long friendships and skills that will take them far beyond the doors of the dojo. To give your child the gift of karate is a far greater gift than having them sit on the bench, just because their friends do. I believe in the gift of karate and I hope you will too.

The many gifts that karate offers a student, cannot be attained by sitting still and watching everyone else play. You have to be involved. With karate the only limits on an individual is the limits they place on themselves. Everyone in the karate class has the opportunity to reach their full potential. One of the greatest gifts of karate is that there is no bench, and everyone plays. I encourage you to look at a new path for your child to reach their full potential. Instead of the traditional route of team sports, give karate the opportunity to change their life. Find them a good school with a great instructor that matches the values you desire to instil in your child and it will be a worthy investment into your child’s future.

For further information on the positive psycho-social benefits of karate training, Free report on the positive benefits of martial arts.

To book our web special introductory package for you or your child call or message us on 56656269 or use the link above.

Adapted from an article by Sensei Dave to suit Aussie sensibilities.

Virtuosity and Martial Arts

Virtuosity means simply “to perform the common uncommonly well”. In my 30+ years of martial arts training I have the pleasure of training with a number of people who have displayed this quality admirably – some were teachers, some were combat sports athletes and some were simply students like me.

In sports like gymnastics and diving, the perfect 10 is a rare achievement as it requires more than perfect technical ability. It requires risk. Completing a routine without error will only get you a maximum 9.7. To achieve the last three tenths of a point, you must demonstrate “risk, originality, and virtuosity” in addition to making no mistakes in execution of the dive or routine.

Risk is simply executing a rarer, more complex movement that is more likely to be missed or botched; originality is a movement or combination of movements unique to the athlete, a move or sequence not seen before.

As stated above, virtuosity is defined as “performing the common uncommonly well,” and this hold true regardless of arena Unlike risk and originality, virtuosity is elusive, extremely elusive. It is, however, readily recognised by the audience as well as teacher, coach and athlete. Virtuosity is more than the requirement for that last tenth of a point; it is always the mark of true mastery (and of genius and beauty).

There is a compelling tendency among novices developing any skill or art, whether learning to play the violin, write poetry, or competing in martial arts, to quickly move past the fundamentals and on to more elaborate, more sophisticated movements, skills, or techniques. This compulsion is the novice’s curse; the rush to originality and risk.

The novice’s curse is manifested as excessive adornment, silly creativity, weak fundamentals and, ultimately, a marked lack of virtuosity and delayed mastery. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to be taught by the very best in any field you’ve likely been surprised at how simple, how fundamental, how basic the instruction was. The novice’s curse afflicts learner and teacher alike. Physical training is no different.

What will inevitably doom our martial arts training and dilute a teacher’s efficacy is a lack of commitment to fundamentals. We see this increasingly in both training delivery, solo practice and in execution. Rarely now do we see prescribed the fundamental stances, footwork and strikes and an era of Youtube and XMA. Rarely do teacher really nitpick the mechanics of fundamental movements in the fear that they will ‘bore’ the student with the necessary repetition.

It is easy to understand how this occurs. It is natural to want to teach people advanced and fancy movements. The urge to quickly move away from the basics and toward advanced movements arises out of the natural desire to entertain and retain your student and impress them with your vast skills and knowledge. But make no mistake: it is a noob’s move. For example, teaching a hook where there is not yet a jab, teaching spinning kick when there’s not even a front kick, is a major mistake. This rush to advancement increases the chance of injury, delays advancement and progress, and blunts the student’s rate of return on effort. In short, it retards their development.

If you insist on basics, really insist on them, your clients will immediately recognise that you are a master instructor. Focus on fine tuning fundamentals the way a formula one race car mechanic is constantly fine tuning a vehicle, little and often and right down to the angle of the bolts. I assure you they will not be bored; they will be awed. They will quickly come to recognise the potency of fundamentals; the value of high probability techniques. They will also advance in every measurable way past those not blessed to have a teacher so grounded and committed to basics.

In short, fundamentals work. It’s how they made it to being fundamentals in the first place! Train your students until they cannot fail to execute their basics properly, then tune them some more.

After all, shouldn’t the teacher strive to make their students better than they are?

Southern Cross Martial Arts Association Inc – what does that mean anyway?

Southern Cross Martial Arts is an incorporated not for profit association registered with the Office of Fair Trading in Queensland. Our incorporated association number is IA41386. An incorporated association is a non-profit body set up for the benefit of its members and there are no profits distributed to any Directors or Shareholders as would be the case in a business.

Southern Cross Martial Arts Association Inc was set up to (1) promote, develop and deliver martial arts, self-defence and combat sports training using a community focussed, evidence based methodology in ways consistent with:

(a)          the objects, rules and policies of the relevant combat sport peak bodies;

(b)          the anti-doping principles regarding drugs in sport;

(c)          the principles of inclusivity; and

(d)          the Budo culture of martial arts.

To this end our Mission is:

  • To provide research validated defensive skills training that meets the needs of our students and provides them with the ability to deal with the effects of fear, escape from a determined attacker and deal effectively with the legal system.
  • To provide a safe haven of positive energy and support for our student’s mental and physical growth.
  • To provide inspiration of personal excellence through our example as Black Belts both in and out of the Southern Cross Martial Arts Association.
  • To ensure the long term growth of the Southern Cross Martial Arts Centre and its instructors by providing exemplary student service.

Our Vision is:

  • We will develop evidence based methodologies that ensure that our training is ethical, practical, cost effective, tactically sound, legally defensible and have minimum risk of injury to all parties involved whilst at the same time providing the best possible self-defence training.
  • We will continue to spread the message that no one should be a victim of violence.
  • We will provide the absolute best training possible.
  • We will never rest on our laurels and will always strive to learn more, be better and overcome challenges so that we may better serve the community in which we live.

Our Values are:

  • We operate ethically
  • We treat our clients and ourselves with trust and respect
  • We communicate openly
  • We are accountable for our decisions, actions and behaviour
  • We value our expertise and share our knowledge
  • We value personal safety
  • We value community responsibility

Child Protection at Southern Cross Martial Arts

Southern Cross Martial Arts Association Inc is committed to providing an environment that is safe for children and young people to participate in martial arts and self defence training and activities and to provide ongoing education and training to all members, parents, volunteers and staff regarding child safety and ‘duty of care’ responsibilities.

This policy document details our Child Safety Policy and Procedures.