Lineup Protocol

A couple of Winter Camps ago, the Shihan-Dai (4th degree blackbelt) line was AthensYoshukaiLineupWinterCamporganizing itself.  In the line (from left to right) was Mr. McInnish, Ms. Brinkley, myself, and Mr. Wheeles.  Mr. McCullars got there after we had organized ourselves and got into the line at the far right.  Each of us already in line continued to shuffle him to the left until he was in his rank-appropriate place at the head of the Shihan-Dai line.  In this anecdote, two good, important things happened.

The first good thing that happened is that a late-comer placed himself at the ‘end’ or right hand side of the line.  Mr. McCullars didn’t just appear at the left hand side and ask us all to move down, although he very well could have, as the highest-ranked in the line.  We were already lined up, so he went on to the end.  He was showing respect and modesty.

The second good thing that happened is that everyone else in the line identified a problem with our order and corrected it.  We were showing respect and attentiveness.

When you line up, the first criterion is by rank, then by test date, then by age.  Unless you are very confident that you are the highest ranked student in a line at an event, you should not head directly to the front of that line.  For example, I know that Ms. Brinkley is the only active Shihan-Dai who outranks me at the time of this writing.  If she is not at an event, I know I should be at the front of the Shihan-Dai line.  When I was a Nidan, I would usually mill around near the middle of the Yudansha line.  I would never place myself at the front of the line, and actually was only at the front of the line once- when bowing in for my Sandan test.

AthensYoshukaiLineupAtTournamentWhen in doubt, you should not place yourself at the front of the line.   If you know there are students present who outrank you, you should move them to your left.  The first time I met Mr. Trawick, I didn’t know when he had earned his Yondan, so deferred to him as probably being senior to me- I moved him to my left.  If you aren’t certain you are the highest-ranked student present, you should probably not be at the head of a line.  When in doubt, you could ask those around you.  My solution was to just put myself in the middle of the line when I was Yudansha and Sempai.

You should always be showing respect, modesty, and attentiveness.  If your goal is to make it to the front of the line, your plan should not be “get there first, and quickly run to where the line will form.”  Your plan should be, “I will continue to train until I know there are no students to my left.”

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A Gift From Sensei

Athens Yoshukai Karate MugBy Erik Hofmeister

Training at Athens Yoshukai is demanding.  There’s an expectation for a high degree of performance and great dedication to the dojo and organization.  When a student reaches green belt, they’re about halfway through the path to their black belt.  In order to test to green belt, you need to learn Seisan, one of the most complex forms we teach.  Earning a green belt is a sincere accomplishment in our school.  Students have invested a substantial amount of time and energy to achieve that rank.  At green belt, I invest a special amount of time and energy in each student in the form of an engraved mug.

When the dojo first opened, students brought their own water bottles to class.  Sensei Blumreich donated the water dispenser we use now, which begged the question as to how I would handle cups.  Would I have a cup dispenser which required refilling and contributed to waste?  Would students just be able to fill the bottles they brought?  I decided to have a rack put in to hold the mugs of individual students who had put in the time and dedication necessary to earn their green belt.  It is a small acknowledgement, but one that indicates that I feel they are becoming a permanent part of the dojo.

The first mugs I made were for Sensei Hines and Blumreich when they earned their green belt.  I wanted to show them how much their achievement meant to me by spending my own personal time to engrave personalized mugs for them.  Thereafter, I kept up with the tradition.  Students who transferred or left the dojo took their mugs with them, and I’d like to think they remember them fondly for the years they spent training at Athens Yoshukai.

I rarely make the mugs on demand, because they require a substantial time commitment to make.  I batch them when several students have earned their green belt.  Sometimes this means a student has to stick around for a while after earning green belt to receive their mug, whereas others get it right away.  The etchings are imperfect, but are not intended to be artistic or precise.  They are intended to convey my sincere appreciation to the student for their continued and ongoing efforts.  It’s my way of showing that I am paying attention and acknowledge their accomplishments by investing even more of my personal self in their progress at Athens Yoshukai Karate.  It a genuine gift from me to them.

 

For those who are interested, my process is described below.

  1. Acquire mugs.  I use a very basic type of sturdy mug acquired at Bed Bath and Beyond.
  2. Print stencil.  This uses an Asian-looking font which has changed slightly over the years.  I use the student’s last names.
  3. Cut out stencil.  I place the paper on a wood cutting board and take a sharp utility knife to cut out the letters.
  4. Use stencil.  I tape the stencil to the mug, then use a permanent marker to fill in the cut-out letter shapes.  After removal, the student’s last name is printed in an Asian font on the mug in marker.Athens Yoshukai Karate Mug Stencil
  5. Etch.  I use a diamond-tipped bit on my Dremmel.  I trace the edges of the ink and then fill it in.  I use a vacuum to remove the glass dust periodically.Athens Yoshukai Karate Mug EtcherAthens Yoshukai Karate Mug Glass DustAthensYoshukaiKarateNProgression
  6. Once the initial etch is done, I go back over it to do clean up and make sure the lines are as smooth as I can make them.
  7. After the entire name is done, I go over it again to fill in any small defects.Athens Yoshukai Karate Finished Mug
  8. I use an ink remover to remove any residual permanent marker.
  9. The mugs are washed and ready to be gifted!