By Travis Parker
Shoshi Nagamine said, “Even after many years, kata practice is never finished, for there is always something new to be learned about executing a movement.” This is a brief recount of my experience in Uechi Ryu and specifically with Sensei Mattson and the Virtual Dojo. The journey begins…
I started learning the art of Uechi Ryu in 1999. I had the honor and privilege of studying under some great Sensei’s during those first years (Linda Diffendaffer, Angela and Frank Kobel). This time culminated with earning my Shodan by testing in front of Sensei Rose Dyer as well as the others. Unfortunately life events took me away from Karate from 2006 to 2010. In 2010 I started again studying with Sensei’s Angela and Frank Kobel. In 2013 the Kobel’s life situation changed, and my family (wife, son and I) found ourselves the owners and main instructors of Yama Bushi Dojo.
With that history in mind, it didn’t take long for us to realize that we needed to continue learning in our Karate journey. We had the fundamental knowledge to train Kyu ranks in the basics, but we learned quickly that we were lacking ourselves in fundamentals, and desperately needed instruction in order to continue our journey. In July 2013 we contacted Sensei Mattson and began our study in Sensei Mattson’s Virtual Dojo.
While we began the process to help us become better teachers of our students, this experience has transformed not only the way that we teach others, but the way that we practice Uechi Ryu ourselves. There are many benefits to learning from a Sensei ‘in-person’. Some of those there is no way to accomplish in a virtual environment. We have, on the other hand, been privileged to receive Sensei Mattson’s instruction as a group, and thus can each hear his instruction and encourage each other throughout the month with how to apply it. Our monthly meetings have at times been humbling, at others frustrating, often overwhelming; however, they have also always been challenging and encouraging. In many ways, this method of instruction, via the Internet and video, may be more challenging in that while an ‘in-person’ Sensei may catch a glimpse of something to work on, Sensei Mattson can analyze and study the video in much greater detail. Each and every month Sensei Mattson has given me encouragement as well as instruction and guidance on what to improve upon.
I’m proud to say that Sensei Mattson has invited me to test for Nidan in the near future. It may seem that we strayed from the initial goal of learning better ways to teach our own students. I would argue that while receiving the teaching from Sensei Mattson for my own practice of Uechi Ryu, he has taught me numerous invaluable and practical lessons on how I can better teach others.
Kenwa Mabuni said, “Karate-Do is a lifetime study.” This philosophy is evident in Sensei Mattson’s passion for teaching others both ‘in-person’ and through his Virtual Dojo. Sensei Mattson’s love of Uechi Ryu will truly be carried on for generations of others in Southwest Colorado!