Blue Quill Karate Classes for January – June 2018

Karate classes will resume at the Blue Quill Community League after the Christmas break in January 2018.  The address is 11304 25 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB.

Regular classes will run weekly beginning Wednesday, January 10, 2018 from 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

The Winter semester is January 10 – March 28, 2018 inclusive.  Cost is $180 for members of the Blue Quill Community League (non-member rate also available).  The Spring semester will run from April 4 – June 20, 2018.

A great class for beginners and returning students – adults, kids and families!  Classes are suitable for ages 8-80.

Invitation to the Sylvan Lake Goju-Ryu Karate Tournament – December 3

Our students have been invited to participate in the annual Goju-Ryu tournament in Sylvan Lake on Sunday, December 3, 2017.

It will be an exciting day of competition, fellowship and learning.

This tournament is being hosted by fellow traditional karate club.

Doors open at 9:00 a.m. for registration with the tournament to begin at 10:00 a.m. until approximately 3:00 p.m.

The address is 31 Cuendet Industrial Way in Sylvan Lake.

All ages all belt ranks are welcome.  There will be medals awarded and participation prizes too. Events will include sparring, kata, team sparring and team kata.

Blue Quill Classes for Fall 2017

Karate classes will resume at the Blue Quill Community League in the Fall of 2017.  The address is 11304 25 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB.

We have a ‘free trial class’ on Wednesday, September 13th from 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Regular classes will resume weekly beginning Wednesday, September 20th from 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

The Fall semester is 12 classes from Sept 20 – December 6 inclusive.  Cost is $180 for members of the Blue Quill Community League (non-member rate also available).

A great class for beginners and returning students – adults, kids and families!  Classes are suitable for ages 8-80.

Blue Quill Fall 2016 Classes

Karate classes will resume at the Blue Quill Community League in the Fall of 2016.  The address is 11304 25 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB.

We have a ‘free trial class’ on Wednesday, September 14th from 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Regular classes will resume weekly beginning Wednesday, September 21st from 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

The Fall semester is 12 classes from Sept 21 – December 14.  Cost is $100 for members of the Blue Quill Community League (non-member rate also available).

A great class for beginners, adults, kids and families!

The Meaning of a “Black Belt”

I started my Karate journey over 40 years ago in Toronto at a Seneca College class being run in the large gym.  I was, at best, a sporadic attendee.  If I missed a class, no big deal, there was always next week.  My first year of college resembled my attendance at Karate, and I found myself making changes and course redirections in 2nd year to the point that I changed faculties, and then I changed schools for my 3rd and 4th year.  After a slight break, I joined a very good friend of mine (who had discovered the main club (Honbu) for Shito Ryu Itosu Kai in Canada in the west end where I lived) and we attended classes properly under the tutelage of Kei Tsumura.  At that time Tsumura Sensei was a 5th Dan in Karate and 5th Dan in Kobudo.

 We had no idea then what that all meant. We had all seen and enjoyed the Bruce Lee films, particularly where he showcased the use of Nanchuku.  We didn’t know it then, but it was a weapon well-entrenched in the history of Okinawan martial arts.  We didn’t really care about authenticity; we cared about flash in the 1970s.  The traditional martial arts flourished in Toronto and one man stood out as embodying the Karate life, Kei Tsumura.  He was more than my instructor; he became a confidant, a mentor and most of all, a friend.

In 1976 I moved to Alberta, returning in 1977 to Toronto for a year of training (and work).  In 1979 a permanent move was to be made and the rest as they say is history.  Over the course of 40 years there have been many discussions about what it means to be a “Black Belt.”  Tsumura Shihan and I have discussed and debated it often.  To put it into perspective, not one of these is more important than the other:

  1.  Time put in.  Plain and simple how much time has the karate-ka put in.  There is a humbling factor when it is not just a given.  We get asked often how long it will take.  The simple answer is “it depends on the person, circumstances, and time put in.”
  2.  Techniques learned and practiced. Karate is considered an art and a sport.  There is a requirement to learn specific ways of doing and practicing techniques.
  3.  Willingness to teach others.  The best way to practice is to teach others what you know.  Being willing to pass it on shows a maturity and commitment to carrying on the art.

Here’s another way to look at it, more in keeping with North American sensibilities:

  •  Blood, Sweat and Tears
  •  A journey of a thousand steps begins with a single step
  •  A state of mind
  •  ATTITUDE

 It starts to sound a bit daunting, but here’s a few “truths” that categorize traditional Karate well:

  • Anyone can learn techniques
  • Anyone can learn steps
  • Anyone can accomplish the physical given enough time and encouragement

A Black Belt represents a never-ending quest to perfect the mind and body.  It also represents sincerity, self control, confidence, character, effort and respect. Most of all it represents discipline.  Being a Black Belt does not mean perfection.  It means you are on the journey or path to get there.  It is a life-long journey of discoveries, failing and trying again.  It’s knowing that you’ll never reach perfection but you will keep trying.  It is recognizing that no one, especially a Black Belt, is perfect.

The Black Belt represents the journey, not the end.  If you see a Black Belt that is worn and ragged, it means it’s been on a longer journey.  Black Belts are “black” because in the golden days of development centuries ago students wore a white cotton string belt to hold up their pants. As time progressed hands made the white cotton black with use and a “Black Belt” meant experience and time put in.

In North America there are far too many people that think achieving their first degree (Shodan) is the end of the journey. It truly isn’t, it is a stepping stone and represents merely the start of a life long study.  A black belt has definitely not accomplished all there is. They are trying to retain the “beginner’s mind”, no matter how long they have practiced or how many ranks they’ve attained.  When I visited Japan in the mid-1990s I was not asked what rank I was, I was asked rather how long I had practiced.  At that point it had been over 20 years.  Nobody was impressed that I was a 3rd Dan at the time and it seemed 20 years was the norm, not the exception.

It’s important we don’t get too caught up in rank, it is however important to recognize people that have given it all they can and keep coming back for more.  It was a long journey, but what a journey it was.  Stay the course and carry on the legacy that my teacher started over 50 years ago in Canada.  You’re in good company.

Yours in Karate Do,

Joe B. Barrau, Rokudan (6th Dan) Karate, Godan (5th Dan) Kobudo

Chief Instructor, Shito Ryu Itosu Kai Karate, Alberta

Congratulations to Sensei Joe Barrau

The Alberta Shito Ryu Itosu Kai students would like to congratulate their Sensei, Joe Barrau, on his promotion to Rokudan (6th Dan Karate). Barrau Sensei’s tireless work to build and maintain the club in Alberta allows us all to practice an art we love. Sensei Joe started his efforts in Alberta in 1979, and 35 years later, the Club boasts a large number of accomplished black belts in karate and kobudo, and is still going strong.

Congratulations and thank you Joe!

The Students of Alberta

Kata

Is Karate Mysterious? Are there “Hidden Secrets” revealed only by Karate Masters?

The answer is “No” and “Yes”. There are dozens of techniques to be learned, but when explained and demonstrated by the Instructors each seems simple. It is not hard to practice a technique and become faster and more powerful with it as the weeks pass. If karate had been developed as a sport (like boxing) or even as combat against a single serious opponent (as in the Roman gladiatorial arena) that might be enough.

But karate was developed for a desperate fight against odds. The opponent was armed, or much bigger, or there were several opponents. How will you train for such impossible situations?

The answer is “Kata.” The secrets of karate are hidden in these beautiful compositions of lethal movement- the five Pinan, the three Naifunchi,Bassai-Dai, Sanchin, and many others. Most of them are several centuries old; all are the works of Okinawa.

Like other classic works of art, the real karateka learns and practices kata with respect. Kata can be done alone or in a group and they cannot be repeated too often. Even after thousands of repetitions, the karateka keeps discovering new things in them: facts about attacking and retreating, turning and weight-shifting, balance, stance, breathing, the rhythms of speed and power, the problems of concentration and relaxation. These are the many aspects of serious combat which are the real “secrets.”

New Kata are taught at each belt level, and they become increasingly complex and interesting. Kata performance is one of the main criteria for promotion. More advanced students are strictly forbidden to teach their Kata to the less advanced.