Senshin: The Enlightened Mind

Martial Arts Blog

normrobitza On July - 31 - 2013

ClickHandler.ashxRecently, this past Sunday, my family suffered the loss of our beloved dog, Snowy. As with any loss, a family grieves for their deceased loved one. My daughters and wife are grieving for a companion and a playmate, I also grieve for the loss of a training partner.

Okay, you are thinking, Sensei Robitza has gone crazy but think about yourself. If you are a dog person, you probably run with your dog. At the very least go for walks with your furry friend. You see people everywhere walking or running with their beloved pets. I didn’t walk Snowy much, she liked to pull when she got on a lease and it caused for a struggle of who was in control. Running was horrible with her, if you started to jog, she would take off like a rocket. For a medium sized dog, she was super strong and could easily pull me off balance.

What does this all have to do with karate? Well, Snowy helped me with things that I didn’t even realize until she was gone. On a daily basis, I practice some aspect of karate be it speed training, timing, focus, kicks, stances, etc. Snowy was always sitting there watching. She was the most attentive student I have ever had but more than that, she would physically train with me. Okay, your thinking, he is losing us again.

Think about the games you play with your dog; tug-o-war, fetch, etc. Can they be adapted for karate training? Yes. Snowy loved to play fetch but she didn’t like to give up the ball. She would bring it to you and hold it there in her mouth. Then as you reached for it, she would body shift back or to the side. To get a hold of the ball, you would have to be faster than her. This helps to develop reaction time and speed. She loved this game and would do it with other toys as well. Not just the ball. If you got a hold of the object she was holding, it would immediately turn into a game of tug-o-war. This helped with strength training and focus. Now if you did get the object away from her, she would try to snatch it away from you. Now I could practice my body shifting.

We also played another game that helped with body shifting. I would standing in a fighting stance and she would stand in front of me. I would either shift or step forward. She would shift or move out of the way. I would recover so I was facing her again and we would continue. She would take a defense stance and then lunge at me playfully, I would shift or move and the whole thing would start again. Now I don’t suggest playing this game with a dog that you do not 100% completely trust. They could find this as an aggressive display and seriously injury you. I trusted this dog with my life and knew she would never hurt me on purpose. On occasion she did nip at my hands while playing this game.

I find it interesting how the simple little things that we do with our pets to play with them can actually help to improve your training.

Without my daily training partner, I don’t how it will effect my training. Especially where I can’t do a lot of dojo training until I get my knee surgery and recover from that. I am going to miss the games that we played that kept her fit and helped me with the skills that are required to improve my karate.

I am not capable to award official ranks, I am working towards it, and no organization would recognize a rank give to an animal. However, unofficially, Snowy was a Shodan, a karate dog!



Categories: Teaching/Training

One Response

  1. Jill Lampi says:

    What a wonderful ode to Snowy! Thank you for sharing, best wishes to your family.

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