Saturday, 5 July 2014

A day in the life of a Martial Artist

Hello and welcome to my blog. It's lovely to see you again and it's with great pleasure that I bring you the next in the series of "A day in the life of.." featuring Stuart Allison.

Stuart Allison is a Ninpo Martial artist who lives with his wife, Rachel, and their two children in Brighton. 

“We have two very small children who wake me early every morning with, “Daddy, it’s time to get up.” So each morning is blessed with breakfast time with the kids. Then I take my oldest to nursery or some days I get to spend time with my youngest son at home.
            I’m the Headmaster of the Shin Jin Dojo in Brighton, an Amatsu Tatara martial arts school.  It teaches Jujitsu martial art and Ninpo, the philosophical codes, moral and ethics upon which it rests.  
It’s a traditional Japanese school, so when I’m outside the Dojo, I’m Stuart, but inside, I’m Sensei Stuart, which is the honorific Japanese title for teacher. I love the fact that there is this cultural distinction as it takes us into a whole different realm and, in some ways, I think it gives people the chance to step outside themselves.
            I work together with five full-time teachers and three part-time staff and we have about 500 students.
            The school is like an extended family and my relationship with my staff is like an older uncle, very sort of Ninjaesque if you like. I say to the guys, “I’m not the boss. I don’t have a job for anybody, but there is a vocation here if you want to dedicate yourself to it.”
            Many people see me running the school and think, "that must be nice, to do a bit of martial arts teaching and then go home."  I would love to spend more time on the mats teaching, but I seem to spend a lot more time on administration. I worked it out once, for every one hour that I teach there must be 3 – 4 hours of administration for the school. A lot of the time, at the moment, I’m going in and out of the classes and teaching the teachers. Or if they’ve got a particularly difficult area, a new concept, or a new part of the syllabus that we’re teaching, I’ll go in and set the classes and then all the instructors will follow the lead.
            The school follows Grand Master Tanemura’s art and curriculum. I have been his student for 24 years and I still feel like a beginner. Sensei Tanemura has given all his students the task of bridging the gap between east and west to help, almost translate, this martial art, Ninpo-jujitsu, to western minds and to different age groups.
Grand Master Tanemura is a unique man. He is of Samurai descent and he’s not bowed down to fashion and any sort of pressure from commercialism. He’s stayed really strict and true to what he wants this martial art to be. He espouses the ethos of the traditional martial arts and, in my mind, fulfills all those preconceptions of what an old martial artist ought to be, very kind, very sweet and very strict.
I don’t teach people to fight because that’s not what Sensei does. I teach people to defend themselves. That’s a massive subject, which touches on the physical, the mental, the emotional, and spiritual, for want of a better word.
The physical side of defence is about self-protection of the body. The body houses the mind, the emotions and the spirit, so by nature, the Jujitsu art, Ninpo art, is about protecting these four realms of the human being. Then you have the psychology of defence; where are you first attacked?  You’re first attacked in the mind and the vehicle that is used for that is a person’s language, how they stand, or how they intimidate. Then you have the inner workings of that situation, how you respond emotionally to that stimulus. And then you have the spiritual realm, again, for want of a better word, where you’re called upon to dig deep down within you and discover resources that you might not have thought that you had. This is where the challenge comes in, because you’re right out of your comfort zone in a self-defence situation.
            Sensei Tanemura also talks about the traits of a Ninja. At the introductory level, Sensei says a Ninpo martial artist must be honest with himself. He must begin to question himself; did I really do my best? Did I do everything that I could have done? Was I as kind as I could have been? Was I as patient as I could have been?  Then Sensei says that we have to have an enquiring mind, to be passionate about learning. When you have a passion about learning, you’re saying to yourself, “I don’t know everything.” The more you learn, the more you’ve got to give and share. The last basic trait of a Ninpo martial artist is effort. Without effort nothing ever grows.
            This martial art takes time and patience to learn but what you gain from that is so much more than just knowing a few fancy moves or self-defence tricks. You know, if there was some way I could not call this martial arts, I would, because, so much has jumped on the bandwagon of “martial arts” and this is completely different.  
I’m at the Dojo most of the time and the pay off for having mornings with the kids is that I’m not with them for many an evening. But on two nights, I finish early so I’m usually home by about 9.0’clock.  Those are the best evenings and I rush home to be with them. I get to bath the children and to climb into bed with them and read them stories and that’s a really lovely time.
We say our little prayers for the day; what are we thankful for and we remind ourselves whom we love and who loves us. That’s how I’m starting to teach my children about appreciation. I’ll quite often meditate to sleep with them. That has a very lovely calming effect on them and then I’ll get up and have a bit of an evening with my wife."           
      Thank you so much Stuart for contributing to "A day the life of."
      The school holidays are now upon us, so I'll blog as often as I can and NEXT TIME, I'll publish the last in this series of a day in the life of featuring one of our oldest beach residents, 99-year-old William Earl. 
     Thanks for dropping by and see you soon.  

No comments:

Post a Comment