July 12

City of Peoria: Crime Rate Down in 2013

The crime rate in Peoria is lower than it was last year, according to data released from the City of Peoria.

Violent Crimes Mostly Decrease

Crimes between people – murder, criminal sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault – are down 15 percent.

 
2012
2013
Percent Change
Murder 10 16 60%
Criminal Sexual Assault 78 65 -17%
Robbery 325 277 -15%
Aggravated Assault 594 497 -16%
PERSON TOTAL 1007 855 -15%

As you can see, the only category in which crime increased was murder, from 10 to 16, or a 60-percent increase over 2012.

Violent crimes in Peoria reflect a the downward trend seen throughout Illinois.

Property Crimes Are Down, Too

Property crimes are down 12 percent, which include burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.

 
2012
2013
Percent Change
Burglary 1,436 1,158 -19%
Theft 3,408 3,141 -8%
Motor Vehicle Theft 241 208 -14%
Arson 52 37 -29%
PROPERTY TOTAL 6,144 5,399 -12%

What This Means For You

The downward trend can be traced back to 2009, suggesting that Peoria is safer today than it’s been in several years.

News 25 reported that “many are giving credit to former Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard’s cornerstone program, the ‘Don’t Shoot’ campaign.”

As for martial arts students, or people who are looking to attend a martial arts school, don’t let any instructor fool you. Some martial arts instructors will use fear mongering to influence you to take their class, citing that “crime is getting worse and worse.” The more likely explanation is that crime is prevalent on the news, because as the old adage goes, “if it bleeds, it leads.”

(Also, it should be noted in that News 25 report that they say violent crime is down in Peoria. While true, overall crime is actually up 6 percent in Peoria this year as of May 2014 over the same period in previous years because of more thefts and arson incidents.)

April 13

Karate Black Belt of the Year: 2014 USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame

Martial arts seminars are like family reunions. At least, that was the atmosphere at the 2014 Martial Arts Hall of Fame in Indianapolis, Ind., this past weekend.

Sensei Bockler with the signatures of all 2014 USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame inductees

Sensei Bockler with the signatures of all 2014 USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame inductees

I myself felt like that significant other being introduced for the first time to the family. You feel like an outsider at first, because they have years of history with everybody and you’re getting to know them for the first time.

But I know at the end of the day, I’ll have walked away with stronger relationships. And that’s what keeps me going to things like this.

After a list of thank yous, I’ll give you a sneak peak at just one of my weekend’s highlights.

Coming soon, I’ll post more pictures and video in new blog posts specific to the seminars I attended. You’re going to love it!

Thank Yous

Since we didn’t get much mic time because of the scores of people receiving awards, I wanted to thank some people for this significant award.

Thank you to Steve Aldus for nominating me as the Karate Black Belt of the Year. His support and guidance is invaluable. Receiving an award is nice. But to me, the bigger rewards for what I do as a martial artist, and now as the proprietor of my own school, are twofold.

One, being recognized by an esteemed martial artist like Mr. Aldus is incredible. With all of his knowledge of martial arts and the things he’s done throughout his life, it’s a real honor for me that he thinks highly enough of me to bring me into this group.

Sifu Steve Aldus, Mrs. Aldus, Sensei Bockler

Sifu Steve Aldus, Mrs. Aldus, Sensei Bockler

The second – and most important – reward is that my students come to class every week to learn from me. As somebody mentioned in their Hall of Fame speech last night, we can’t be instructors without students. I go to things like the Hall of Fame seminars, like the a Chinese martial arts seminar, like Iain Abernethy’s seminars and more because I learn so much about my own art and style from visiting others. As a result, the students get a well-rounded martial arts education.

Thank you to Joe Chianakas for starting Metamora Martial Arts for hooking me into the martial arts back in 2003, and thank you to Dave Hawkey for continuing me to push me to get better all the time.

And thanks to my family for their support of my endeavors, and especially my parents for coming to Indianapolis for the ceremony.

The Peoria Martial Arts Scene Rocks

Sensei Bockler and Sifu Parker

Sensei Bockler and Sifu Parker

There’s no question about this. The level of martial arts talent that is in Peoria is unrivaled.

There were no less than three tables full of Peoria-based martial arts instructors and students at the Hall of Fame banquet.

One, Mr. Eddy Parker, even represented Peoria by presenting the most fun seminar of the day. I say that despite not attending about half of the events since they took place in different rooms.

However, Mr. Parker’s session kept growing and growing. It was fun, and I think people really learned something, too. I always enjoy seeing Mr. Parker’s demonstrations and seminars, and I can’t wait to share videos and some of my thoughts from his session this weekend.

 

February 16

Why I Teach by Master Steven Aldus

If you are new to martial arts in Peoria and central Illinois, you’ve probably heard of several names in the area. One of those names is probably Steve Aldus.

Having been in the martial arts for 42 years and a teacher for 37, Mr. Aldus wrote to Metamora Martial Arts that he is a multi-disciplined martial artist. He holds many dan (black belt) rankings with experience in karate and tae kwon do, among other arts.

Though, Mr. Aldus said, “I am a Chinese martial artist first and foremost.” He teaches hsing-i ch’uan (Hopei) and old Yang style tai chi ch’uan. In addition, he teaches Chinese weapons, chin na and shuai jiao (Chinese wrestling). Mr. Aldus ran his own school for eight years, but now instructs in Peoria at Cat Ching Do on Tuesdays and with Preston Jackson the Contemporary Art Center on Saturdays.

I owe Mr. Aldus more than he knows; he has inspired me more than he knows.  When I was a little boy, I lived a few houses away from him and was best friends with his son.  I have fond memories of watching Mr. Aldus train in his basement dojo.  The grace, power and mystery of his moves hypnotized me, and I knew that someday I wanted to learn martial arts.  If I had not had the opportunity to watch Mr. Aldus, befriend his son, and have my child mind intrigued and captivated by his martial arts talent, I may never have started training.

To Mr. Aldus: I thank you for being a real inspiration.  As an adult martial artist, I have frequently received your kindness, advice and further inspiration.  Thank you.

One of the features of this blog is asking other martial artists their opinions to create an open forum in order to share knowledge and ideas.

In this first guest post, we asked Mr. Aldus – among other things – why he teaches. Here, nearly unedited, is his response.

Why do I teach?  If you ask different instructors, you will get many different answers.

I teach for various reasons. Fundamentally, I teach to pass on the knowledge unselfishly imparted to me by my instructor, Sifu Li. Teaching Hsing-I Ch’uan is my way to honor my Sifu and all who have gone before him. Teacher Li presented a gift of martial arts to me and I am obliged to pass it along to others. This ensures our martial art lives on through future generations and is not lost.

I have a deep love and appreciation for martial arts and my hope is others will develop the same appreciation through my instruction.

Through teaching others, one receives satisfaction watching the students as they grow and succeed. Their success and growth as martial artists benefits them in life, not just in the kwoon, dojo, or dojang.

Teaching martial arts defines my strengths and my weaknesses. As I work hard to shore up my weaknesses and improve my strengths, I convey this to my students. To see an instructor working as hard as the students on his or her martial art training can be an inspiring lesson.

One of my favorite teaching moments came when I was asked to sit on a testing board. A friend (who I will call Sensei or Master Miller) was testing a large number of his students for black belt. I had visited Master Miller’s school many times and interacted with all of the students testing that day.

Many weeks prior to the testing, a sheet listing the names of the students testing for black belt was posted. After class, on the same day of the posting, I overheard many of the students scheduled for black belt testing complaining about one student up for black belt. They couldn’t understand why this student (who I will name Henry) was testing.

As far as they were concerned, Henry wasn’t up to black belt testing standards. Sometimes Henry forgot or had trouble with parts of his forms, wasn’t able to kick as well as the rest, his self-defense was lacking and on and on.

I approached the students and said to them that they should be concerned about their skill sets and not about what Henry does or does not know. If they thought Henry wasn’t up to testing standards, they should help him out.

“Remember, we are family,” I said.

I looked at them and asked, “Do you have faith in Master Miller’s decisions and do you respect your instructor?”

They answered, “Yes.”

“Then why are you questioning his selections for the black belt testing?” I asked.

I quickly added, “Instructors many times will make decisions based on information known only to him.”

They lowered their heads.

I said, “Let’s make a deal. You help Henry to be the best he can be for this testing and I won’t tell Sensei about this episode, okay?”

Embarrassed, they weakly said, “Yes, Master Aldus.”

The day of the testing arrived. I was asked by Master Miller to speak to his students prior to the testing. I said it would be an honor. I went into the dressing room where they were nervously waiting. I asked them if they were nervous and they all said yes.

All save one.

Henry smiled widely and said with pride, “Master Aldus, I am not very nervous.”

I said to Henry, “Wow, I thought you would be. Why aren’t you nervous, Henry?”

“Because I am testing with all of my friends and they helped me get ready for my testing. I am ready, Sir.”

I said with pride, “Great! I am proud of you, Henry.”

I looked deeply into the eyes of the rest of the students and said, “I am so proud of each and every one of you. You showed today that all of you deserve to be testing for Dan rank. Give your all and leave nothing behind. Good fortune to you all.”

The testing started and continued for the next six hours. Henry struggled, but was buoyed by his fellow students. At the end of this grueling test, the students’ uniforms were soaked, their bodies ached, their minds exhausted. Yes, they were happy it was over and proud to have finished.

The Board retired to a back room to render their decision. The students later said that waiting for final decision seemed longer than the actual testing.

After much deliberation, the Board returned to give their decision. But, before giving the results of the test, Master Miller had something he wanted to say.

Master Miller said, “Henry has given me permission to pass on some very personal information.”

Master Miller took a deep breath.

“Henry has multiple sclerosis.”

The students looked absolutely shocked, they had no idea.

“Henry informed me two years ago and asked me not to tell anyone,” Sensei continued.  “He didn’t want anyone to know because he was afraid the students would treat him differently or take it easy on him. He is not afraid anymore.”

“I would like to thank all of the students who helped Henry. I am very proud of everyone testing today. You all proved today that you are deserving of the rank of first Dan. You all have passed and are officially first-degree black belts and members of our martial arts family from this day forward.”

The students approached in single file to accept congratulations from each Board Member, with Henry leading the way.

Henry shook my hand and said thank you. I told him great job and congratulations. I was very happy for him. As each of the other students stood in front of me, I said congratulations and I was very proud of them. Each student looked me in the eye and said, “Thank you, Master Aldus.”

Every student had tears in their eyes, and so did I.