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This past weekend, I attended the 24th Annual IOGKA National Training Camp – Goshukan-Ryu Gasshuku at the Columbus Dojo in Columbus, Georgia.

Eight high-level instructors from throughout the United States and Singapore presented sessions on:

  • Wu zu he yang quan (five ancestors boxing)
  • Pinan Nidan kata application (bunkai) from Shorin-ryu karate
  • Iaido
  • Applied biophysics
  • Hatha and restorative yoga
  • Shuri-te Naihanchi kata bunkai
  • Kobudo (weapons), including nunchaku, tekko, and kama

Here are some of my key takeaways and personal highlights from the event.

“If You Don’t Practice The Basics, Just Go Home”

Mr. Lee Chee Ngai presented multiple sessions throughout the weekend on his art, wu zu quan.

On Friday, he stressed the basics, primarily stances used in a beginning form.

On Saturday and Sunday, he began to show how the form and stances work in application.

One point stuck out with me with Mr. Lee.

In my experience meeting Mr. Lee for the first time this weekend, he is humble, bright, and enjoyed cracking jokes—his smile is contagious.

However, he was intensely serious about the basics.

When he told people to go home if they weren’t going to practice the basics, a few snickers broke out.

“I’m serious,” Mr. Lee responded.

In every application, he stressed the importance of a good foundation—stance, body mechanics, and distance between you and the other person.

I’m grateful to have learned from Mr. Lee, who received a Lifetime Achievement award from International Okinawan Budo-Kai (IOBK) kaicho Matt Molineux.

“Sifu Steve Aldus, IOBK Board of Advisors, and Garry Parker, IOGKA Kaicho and IOBK Dojo Kancho, joined me in recognizing Mr. Lee for 50 years of training, teaching, and mentoring Wu Zu Quan practitioners,” Mr. Molineux wrote on Facebook this week. “We take this seriously as shown by the fact we have presented exactly three such awards in the last 15 years.”

Congratulations to Mr. Lee on a historic achievement.

Intention = Form = Function

Maddie Coster Parker summed up one of the most common themes of the weekend in this equation.

Intention = Form = Function

  • Intent, or purpose
  • Form, or how you do something
  • Function, or how intent combines with form
A photo of Ms. Maddie with a whiteboard recapping the training camp

In other words, as Ms. Maddie explained, if you have all the intent in the world with no focus, your martial arts will lack function.

Punching and kicking as hard as you can won’t do you any good if none of them land on the target.

The same can be said for form—if you have perfect intent, but your form has no power behind it, you can hit the target, but the target won’t be affected.

Both intent and form must be present for your martial arts to work.

This is why it’s important to practice our forms (kata) correctly.

Multiple People Interpret Similar Moves Differently… And They All Work

Mr. Lee showed us a technique at one point over the weekend.

“Some masters would be so disappointed I’m showing you this,” he said. “This is considered a secret in our style.”

But there are no secrets anymore, he stressed.

“All martial arts—wu zu quan, karate, tai chi chuan—have the same basic movements.”

We might call those movements different things, but there are only so many ways to move.

This was evidenced throughout the weekend, and especially during Mr. Molineux’s session.

He took elements from previous sessions and built upon them.

  • He used the same sequence from Pinan Nidan as Mr. Mark Spear, showing an entirely different bunkai (analysis of the movements).
  • He built upon Mr. Garry Parker’s Naihanchi presentation.
  • He related Pinan Godan to similar movements in other katas, which also prompted a bug in my ear from Mr. Steve Aldus about “brush the knee” from tai chi chuan.

Final Thoughts & Personal Highlights

There are some ideas I gleaned from the weekend that I’m still bouncing around in my head and trying to decide my take on them.

Plus, I’m sure I’m missing thoughts that will come to mind as I reflect further upon the training camp.

Maybe I’ll revisit this post with them when they come to mind.

Regardless, here are a few more personal highlights:

  • Mr. Steve Aldus and Mrs. Kim Aldus attended, who both teach me tai chi chuan and are exemplary role models in the martial arts. I was able to work directly with them outside our usual class, which was super fun.
  • Mr. Jim Webster attended, and I believe he had the distinction as the oldest participant. I only bring up his age as a compliment—I hope I’m still able to attend events like these in my 80s.
  • As I continue my transition to Shorin-ryu, I’ve been welcomed by proponents of the style and by the IOBK. The IOBK had great representation at this event, with 26 members from at least five states, that I counted.

Featured image and image of me with Mr. Aldus credit to Mr. Garry Parker.

Adam Bockler

Adam Bockler is the head instructor for Metamora Martial Arts. He's practiced and taught martial arts for 20+ years, holds black belts in karate and tai chi chuan, and is also a certified personal trainer through the American Council on Exercise.