CHRONICLES OF THE DOJO #21 in a continuing series— 84 days in the teaching life of an American sensei in 1999)


As a spiritual entity, Mitch might remind one of an agile ape walking a rickety bridge. He won’t fall off the bridge because of his primal nimbleness. But he
may fall off because of spiritually clumsiness. He’s also attuned to his inner
dichotomy, although without naming it. I believe this inner tension is the
reason he’s returned back to karate after a fifteen-year hiatus.

don’t teach pressure points. The myth surrounding them and a false ease in
which you think you can dispense of someone effortlessly with a flick of your
finger makes a quick study of the subject troublesome and potentially harmful.

very skilled martial artists can pull off pressure point strikes against unwilling
opponents. If I did teach pressure points it certainly would not to be to
beginners. They don’t need to be learning vital points when they can’t even do
basic kicks and punches. You need skill in your basic delivery system first.

doesn’t need to feed lobster to a baby to stimulate its growth. The richness of
lobster is lost on an infant. It’s better to let the palate mature to
distinguish more subtle tastes. So it goes with karate techniques and students.
Most of my students are very intelligent. They are not babies, but when it comes
to their intelligence about the martial arts they might as well be infants. I
don’t say this in a demeaning or condescending way. When you step into the
traditional dojo you are entering into a rich and unknown field of study. Very
few can know the full scope of lessons awaiting them.