Why did I start Bonsai Chi?
Having been karate training since I was 13 I often spoke of a dream of leaving my ‘day job’ and setting up a martial arts school. What shape and what it would be I could never define, however I always wanted to be able to provide the enjoyment and benefits I’ve gained to others.
During my training I had opportunities to teach students, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Seeing them progress each week from my guidance, perfecting technique and developing an understanding of why they were doing it was a constant joy. It also motivated me a student, as I wanted to ensure I was pushing myself to be better, know more, so I could encourage and motivate them to do the same.
After 30 years of working in the printing industry, I decided I wanted a change of direction, a new challenge. I’d achieved many things during this time, and had progressed from office junior to senior manager, mentoring and guiding various people along the way.
I’ve done various sports over the years, however karate was the one constant that I’d kept at, even after having a phase of not training it was the activity I went back to, re-training and then progressing from my grade of 1 st Dan Black Belt.
My vision was to create an exercise class that was accessible to everyone, providing all the benefits and enjoyment that I’d gained from my karate training, without the pressure of marking progression with the achievement of belts. I’ve loved gained each of my belts however appreciate that progression is not something that everyone strives for.
When you hear the phrase ‘karate’ or ‘martial arts’, the immediate thought process is fighting, impact, hard, not for me. Words and phrases I’d had spoken to me many times. However, it’s not all about that. Elements of our training are completed on fresh air, enabling us to learn the movement and execution without fear of getting hurt. Only then do we apply it to an object, such as a focus pad or with an actual partner.
This element has always been meditative for me, offering mental stimulus whilst enabling me to switch off and focus on my body movement. This was the focus I wanted for my new class.
I considered the moves and techniques I perform in the kata’s I’ve learnt, and how I could utilise them in a way that allowed others to benefit from the movement of body whilst gaining stillness of mind. The moves performed in kata are not ‘absolute’ moves, performing them as an actual application requires additional movements and considerations. Even though we’re executing the same technique, as individuals we cannot physically execute it in the exact same way, so modifications have to be made whilst staying true to the underlying principle.
This process of considering the moves enabled me to develop flowing movements and in turn exercise drills, utilising the whole body in different ways, working all the muscle groups. By performing it in a slow, gentle manner they are low-impact exercises, creating an inner calm, gaining all the benefits and enjoyment of exercise.