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.”


Tales of Winter Camp

By Hali Serrian


On February 20th, students from our dojo, as well as students of Yoshukai from across the country, but from Alabama, Georgia, and Florida in particular, converged upon Pensacola Beach, Florida for the 35th Yoshukai Winter Camp. There was a blackbelt test to be seen on Athens Yoshukai Karate Winter Camp FlagFriday night, and a day-long workout on Saturday, with a variety of class topics and instructors. Adding to the fun was the social time before and after classes, where we met instructors and students from all the different dojo represented.

My own experience of this event was thoroughly positive. On Friday I got to watch four brown belts test for Shodan and two Shodan test for Nidan. Though it was a small test, and the testers were all young—each around 13 years old—the experience of watching a blackbelt test is always eye-opening and entertaining. It is especially nice to see karate-ka so young with so much spirit.

Saturday, of course, was the main event. We began with a talk on Respect and Manners, one for the blackbelts, and a separate one for the colored belts on the beach. We were reminded that Respect and Manners is the first of our Precepts for a reason: it is the most important. We should respect our instructors because they have taught us what we know and are more experienced in the art we are studying. We should respect our fellow students because they are our peers and are on the same path as we are, at least when it comes to karate. More importantly, we should respect all these people because they are people, the same as us, and as karate-ka we should hold ourselves to a higher standard of behavior, so that when others see us, they respect us in turn.

After the talk, we took a picture of the entire group present in the shape of a heart. We did this in order to send to Soke, who is recovering from surgery, in order to give him a bit of hope and uplift his spirit by seeing the practitioners of the style he created. And then came the workout…

First we were led in warmup by Master Toyama, who even with one arm is quite formidable. We ran on the beach, punched the sand and beat on each other in some light conditioning. The kiai from the whole group was pretty impressive. We also played leapfrog, which can be a surprisingly tough workout when the line stretches on long enough.

The classes were all helpful. I learned practical application for Seisan, got to practice my Nunchaku and Sai work, learned self defense as taken from Ippon Kumite, and worked with various partners in developing practical self defense routines. Unfortunately we were not allowed to get into the ocean due to the riptide and strong waves, but we found a way to get wet by kneeling on the beach and doing punches and pushups while the Shihan dumped buckets of water on us. It was a blast, and not even that cold.

Then came more relaxation and social time. Our group sat on the balcony of our awesome hotel and talked about the workout, about how things could be improved, and about martial arts in general. There was grappling and lessons in grappling, and only minor injuries, which were given and received in laughter. A good evening followed an excellent day.

Winter Camp is only a weekend, and it may seem a long distance to go for a single day of classes with some people you only see once or twice a year, but that’s not the point of Winter Camp. Winter Camp is about getting together with people who share your passion for karate, Yoshukai karate in particular, and learrning with them, playing with them, and bettering ourselves through Yoshukai. It is social time with your own dojo, whose practitioners you may not see often out of dogi, and getting to know their non-karate personalities a bit better. Winter Camp is an awesome experience, as are all WYKKO events, and if you haven’t gone before, or just couldn’t make it this year, I encourage each and every one of you to make it to the next one. Ask anyone who’s ever been, it’s totally worth it.

Athens Yoshukai Karate Winter Camp 2015