Shifu/Sensei Koré Grate
We Now Resume Our Gathering!
FOR THE LAST FEW YEARS, we have been dealing with serious struggles, personally and globally. We have learned much about how to run our lives over ZOOM. Thank you to everyone who participated by teaching or registering on Zoom. We became good at it, we even surpassed what we thought we could do in a six-foot radius as our dojo. Having the last two AWMAI conferences online was great, but nothing compares to being together in person. Now let us resume our regular programming.
SO…we will MEET AGAIN!
I am truly excited to return to the BAY CLUB & MARINA in San Diego, CA for our 2023 AWMAI Teaching the Teacher Conference.
The hotel staff was the best we have worked with, the rooms are clean and bright, the location is perfect (close to the airport, great places to eat, great beach across the street).
Even though we are all eager to re-unite, I think there may be a bit of trepidation to travel and/or be with people indoors. I know each one of you who will attend our conference knows how to maintain a safe and respectful environment, as you have been doing this for over two years.
Remember: Protective barriers lessen spread. It’s a bit like wearing a mouth guard when sparring - even though you do your best to block a head shot, sometimes they get through.
I can’t wait to BE WITH my martial arts siblings again.
I have deeply missed you!
REGISTER NOW FOR EARLY BIRD PRICING!
Sign up NOW!
Finally, I find my voice.
Cars line both sides of my street. I pull into my driveway. A car drives past. I check that I have my phone on me. I pull my keys from the ignition. To retrieve the guitar from the back seat, I press the button on my keys to unlock the back doors. Suddenly the front passenger door flies open. A man in a hoodie invades the seat next to me, a bandanna over his face and mouth. He’s very physically fit, bigger, and stronger than me. At four foot eleven, I’m no match for him.
“I need you to drive me somewhere,” he says, calm as can be. Then I see the gun pointing at me. Oh my god! My whole being sinks to the ground. There’s no time to panic.
I’m a third-degree black belt—what’s my strategy?
“Okay,” I say. I am not going anywhere with him, my strategy says. The butterflies calm. Suddenly I know my plan. Instantly I feel centered, at peace. Whatever happens is going to happen right here, in my neighborhood. Then, I look at him. “Hey, I know you.” It totally startles him. He’s trying to disguise his identity. “No, you don’t!”
“Yeah, you’re Darrin’s friend,” I say. I don’t even know a Darrin.
This comment totally flips him out. Meanwhile, my knee presses against the car door.
“Just drive!” he says, more sternly.
My strategy is to play along. I put the keys near the ignition.
Abruptly, I launch myself out of the car and run. I’m small and fast.
"Use your voice!" my head says. I’m not used to screaming. I’ve never had to do this. Even if there’s nobody around, your screaming may startle the assailant enough to leave. In self-defense class, these are my words to students. My instructor’s words to me. Finally, I find my voice.
“HELP! HELP!” I scream.
I dash to my neighbor’s house across the street. I keep my eyes forward. I don’t know where the masked man is... If he shoots me, it will be in my back, on my street. I bang on the door. I don’t wait for an answer. I then run to hide because I don’t know where he is... The yard of my next-door neighbor offers no cover... But I see his car. Quickly, I flatten myself out and slide underneath. At least if the gunman is still chasing me, I’ll be able to see his feet. Remembering my phone, I pull it out, and dial another neighbor. No answer.
“Dammit!” I hang up and shut off the screen, afraid it’s illuminating my face, giving away my location. A moment later, I speed dial my business partner, Michelle.
“Uh, yeah. Call the police! I’ve just been held up at gunpoint!” I hang up. I don’t want the gunman to overhear me.
This is a story of how bullying impacted my life, the ironic choice that changed my trajectory, and how the lessons learned paved the way for a fulfilling, successful future. My story is about living in the present moment and being in the now. It is the only moment that truly matters.
Photo: Helen Yee
Shihan Melanie Fine
Join the AWMAI Hall of Fame
There is still time to get recognized as a 30, 40, 50, or even 60-year Hall of Famer! Get your paperwork started and be rewarded. We have already lined up 30-year, 50-year, and 60-year awardees. Can you fill in the slot for 40-years? Or increase the numbers elsewhere?
2012, the first year Hall of Fame Awards were presented, we gave out twenty-two 30 Year Awards. Were you there? Are you ready for 40? or 50? Check your dates! Know someone deserving? Nominate her today!
Sijeh Sarah Sponzo
Excited to see you in February!
Are you joining us?
I’m very excited to ask “Have you registered for Teaching the Teacher 2023?” and, “Have you booked your room?” because we are back LIVE! FACE TO FACE! IN PERSON!
I always love the conference, but I think that this next one is going to be extra-special. How could it not be? We have not been in the same room for three long years and we all know how important human connections are. We’ve been happy to stay connected by Zoom, but nothing beats “being there.”
It's also special that we are going back to the lovely Bay Club Hotel & Marina in San Diego. This is a sweet little property located on Shelter Island. The island is sort of a magical spot with beautiful marinas, beaches and views of the city skyline. It’s SUPER close to the airport, has good restaurants within walking distance of the hotel and is just a hop, skip and jump to the city if you want to check out The Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy or Old Town one night.
Note that our conference rates at the Bay Club are available for three days before and after the conference. If you are overdue for a little relaxation and fun, Balboa Park, The San Diego Zoo, Coronado, Ocean Beach, Mission Beach and La Jolla are all nearby and make for a great couple of days to explore.
It’s been a long three years navigating the unknown and plenty of stressful situations. You might think of the Conference weekend as a little reward for yourself for coming though all of this. Maybe use it to re-energize yourself for the new year. Or, just enjoy some time connecting with old friends, meeting some new folks, learning and sharing. However you think of it, it will
So, don’t delay, register and book your room…soon!
Check our website for more information and registration.
To make online reservations:
You can also call the reservations department at 800-672-0800 and reference Association of Women Martial Arts Instructors
We are really looking forward to seeing everyone in February for a GREAT conference!
Sensei Parnee Poet
Thank you for welcoming me!
Photo: Parnee Poet, March 2020, Appleton, Wisconsin
I didn't receive any articles about how to increase enrollment... I'll give you more than a week's notice for the next newsletter (see dates below)... So I improvised with two great articles from Helen Yee, Linda Eskin and Camilla Dietrich's insightful poem, Progress.
A little about me...
I am a writer, artist, massage therapist and breathing awareness teacher. Here are some examples of some of my art and a more in depth bio.
I started studying Cuong Nhu Martial Arts January 2003 in Ishpeming, Michigan at Northern Lights Dojo with Sensei Richard "Bud" Place, Sensei Shane Robertson, Sensei Tim DeMarte, Sensei Jeffrey Scott and Sensei Michael Holman. After passing my Cuong Nhu Black Belt test in May 2010, I opened the first Cuong Nhu Wisconsin school, Tara Dojo, in Oceti Sakowin, Myaami and Menominee Territories (Appleton, Wisconsin) in January 2011.
I teach self defense and Cuong Nhu Martial Arts classes online and in person. I'm currently preparing my highest ranking student for his Cuong Nhu Black Belt test, who is hopefully testing May 2023 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
I am blown away by the support I received. Thank you so much to those that reached out, made me feel welcome, helped me create this newsletter, gave me ideas for future newsletters and showed me the support that so many of us need during this challenging and uncertain time.
I've got big shoes to fill as Master Didi Goodman made room for me to take over this newsletter.
As a Tagalog/Kapampangan American, I wanted to mention that as many of you know Asian Hate has risen dramatically, in the last few years...
Do you know that during the pandemic in the last two years, that more than 5 million Americans became first time gun owners and 43% of those sales are from the diverse spectrum of the Asian community?
What does this mean for martial artists? How can we support all the communities affected by the rise in violence?
How can we rebuild our local communities and our whole earth community?
Photo: Sensei Parnee Poet with Master Elizabeth Roman and Master Robert First in October 2019, at Northern Lights Dojo in Marquette, Michigan.
Suggestion of the month:
What brings new students to your dojo? What makes them stay?
Share your best advice for putting on a successful event or seminar.
What, if anything, will you miss about Zoom, when you're 100% back in person?
Send us a poem!
Send submissions to email@example.com.
by Camilla Dietrich
The swirl of emotions & tangle of bones
Pebbles & rocks, boulders & stones
Good for building or stuck in my path
Blood drying in the aftermath
Can learning how to block & evade
Heal bruises i forgot were made?
Spirit broken but seeming healed
Why rub at wounds already sealed
Learning's so slow by trial and error
At least no more on the edge of terror
The weight of the past becoming lighter
Working to become a fighter
Seasons & weeks and pools of sweat
I need responses i can't forget
Fights were lost but I didn't submit
My body remembers all done to it
The weight of the past becoming lighter
Moving much more like a fighter
Training new patterns over old tracks
For smoothness inexperience lacks
How to avoid, when to face,
Trust in reflexes ground into place
Tests passed and matches lost or won
My body remembers all it's done
Experienced enough to be less tense
Seeing the gaps in another's offense
No longer do i stand alone,
A new community now my own
The weight of the past becoming lighter
Proud of the new title: fighter
Camilla Dietrich started Martial Arts by accident in their 40s, bidding on lessons to raise money for a colleague. After trying Kung Fu, Taekwondo and Aikido, I found Karate and stuck there. I received Shodan in two different styles (Shotokan and Shitoryu) before the pandemic, learned and taught online for awhile, and now I'm back in the dojo in my 60s. I hope to stay awhile. I wrote this poem around the time I received my second shodan.
Camilla trains at Nikkei Karate in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.
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Sensei Katie Murphy Stevens
Photo of Katie Murphy Stevens: Sheila Haddad
Scholarships Are Available!
That includes assistant instructors and aspiring instructors. Let that soak in a bit. If you think of yourself as a beginner instructor, this conference is for you! You'll get a chance to see, work with and meet with martial arts instructors who have broad experience and who want to see you succeed.
This is a group that shares and supports one another.
2023 AWMAI Early Bird Registration Deadline:
November 30, 2022
Teacher Application Deadline:
September 30, 2022
November 1, 2022
March 5, 2023
We'd like to see your photos and poems in our newsletter!
Get your creativity and knowledge featured!
Photo: Linda Eskin, Author of No, Your Other Left
Lots of folks, children and adults alike, experience confusion between left and right. Mistakes on something so seemingly "basic" can be frustrating and embarrassing. So how can we help our students learn with less struggle and feel more confident?
Use Meaningful Alternatives When Possible
First, we can often minimize left-right confusion, and improve the clarity of our teaching at the same time, by avoiding the use of "left" or "right" whenever possible.
Worse than being confusing, left/right cues are often meaningless, and even misleading. Kids, especially, will often adopt a left/right instruction as a literal "rule" and will insist on stepping with their right foot even when doing the technique on the other side because "that's what the teacher said."
I have found that descriptive terms like front/back, near/far, or inside/outside work well, because they apply in all orientations, and are more meaningful.
"Do this kind of kick with your front foot, or "Step in with your inside foot." These instructions remain valid regardless of which foot happens to be forward at the moment. Unless the distinction between left or right is truly important in a movement, use an alternative.
Teach Principles, Not Rules
Ideally, we can also explain the principle behind the movement, so students will understand the reasons for it rather than trying to remember an arbitrary "rule" they were told: "Step in with your back foot to get close behind your partner as they punch." Now it's a logical instruction they can visualize in any orientation.
Demonstrating In a Way That Supports Everyone
Some students also have difficultly mirroring, or translating what they see in one orientation into what their body needs to do in another. If I demonstrate a weapons kata, facing sideways, so students can see it clearly, it becomes a hard puzzle for some to rotate those movements 90 degrees in their mind.
To help these students, in addition to substituting descriptive words for left or right, when we demonstrate a technique in front of the class, at least some of the time we can show it facing away from the class, so they see it in their own orientation. Similarly, when assisting a student one-on-one, try standing in front of them and facing away, then have them follow along with your movements, rather than facing them and having them mirror you.
Reduce Reliance on Landmarks
It's tempting to reference the room and objects in it, but be careful. If students are in the habit of always "turning toward the dressing rooms" during a kata, they will be disoriented when doing it in a different orientation, or in a different place (tournament, seminar, or exam!).
Help Your Students Feel Smart
"Feeling dumb," "always messing up," or feeling like "I'll never get this" is a common reason for new students to quit. Nobody likes to feel stupid. We can help our students feel smart, learn well, and stick with it by subtly giving them the information they need in ways that make it easier to understand and remember. We want students to leave class feeling like "Yeah! I was totally able to do that!"
Photo: Linda Eskin
Linda Eskin (she/her) is a Personal Trainer & Behavior Change Coach at Go You Fitness. She is on a mission to encourage people, especially new students. She writes about Aikido and fitness, and is putting the finishing touches on her next book Aikido to Zanshin — 26 Essays on the Martial Art of Peace. You can find her blog and articles at GrabMyWrist.com.