Our Karate organization held our annual Godo Renshu this past Saturday. The translation for Godo Renshu is “Unity Training.” We did some of that, but we had even more fun with other events and activities.
Two out of the five of us who packed ourselves into my car for a total of six hours of drive time are international students at the college where I work. I had no idea when I took the job that I’d meet these incredible young ladies who I have the good fortune of knowing and, as they put it, “playing Karate” with. I suspect that if I continue to work for the International Student Program I’ll get to know even more young karateka from around the world.
The day started off with belt testing for color belts. As I’d hoped, I saw someone my own rank test for his next belt. Now I have a better idea of what to expect at my next belt test. I really, really, really need to improve on my combinations of basic techniques and my sparring.
At any promotion after the successful candidates receive their new belts those who are among the higher ranks of the color belts help children who don’t quite know how to tie their own belts yet. I went over to one little fellow and started to untie his belt. Next thing I know, a little girl approximately my own rank came over, called the little guy by his name, congratulated him, then gently took over the belt-tying duty from me. It was such a beautiful moment my heart melted.
Next up for testing were the brown belts going up for their first degree black belts and those black belts who were testing for their next degree. This is always great to watch. The tests are difficult. One sees some great karate, that’s for sure! It’s obvious these karateka (karate folks) have prepared extensively for these tests. I wanna grow up to be just like them. Age is just a number. Watch me.
Sometime in all this excitement we had lunch. My main concern was not getting grape jelly on my pretty white gi (karate uniform)… Yeah. I should’ve opted for turkey.
The actual Godo Renshu was so much fun that I don’t know whether it was two hours or just one. The time flew by. We had what I describe as “mini-seminars” from a few of our Sensei (black belt instructors). This worked very well. No one Sensei had the pressure of keeping everyone busy for a couple of hours because the workload was shared.
Either my Karate is so abysmal I need the attention, or black belts pay more attention to those my rank and above, or both. In any case I noticed a definite uptick in the amount of input, feedback, and help from the Sensei who took it on themselves to help us color belts. I always appreciate that individual attention in any setting!
I admit I struggled with one of the drills we were taught. That said, it was my favorite “takeaway” from Godo Renshu. I write down drills I can use in the future, when I am a Senesei. Just because I had a hard time with it doesn’t mean that I automatically dismiss it. Yes, I felt a little discouraged because I didn’t quite manage to perform it, but I recognized its value. Others were having fun with and being challenged by it and that’s enough for me. That and there’s something to be said for teaching the drill to my fellow students back home – I will learn it better myself.
As if all that fun wasn’t enough, we were divided into teams for team kumite (sparring). I had a lot of fun cheering for team-mates and I got to fight once. The feedback I got about my sparring from three of our organization’s black belts was very welcome. I found myself itching to do more sparring in order to start building better habits. But alas, the day was almost done.
All good things must come to an end. To celebrate everything we’d accomplished and learned, we had a big party. Good food, good people, games, and dancing was a perfect end to a great day.