Stories From The Old School

Tough Training in Okinawa, Part 1

 When I left Okinawa 35 years ago, I had no idea that the valor and hard work of my instructors would bring me so many honors. The lasting respect I have for them will always touch the deepest part of my heart. Those who trained in the Far East during the late 1950s and early 1960s enjoy a spiritual bonding that others cannot imagine.

 Secrecy played a big role in my early training in Okinawa. I had asked the U.S. Marine Corps to station me there so I could learn karate, but upon arrival I found it difficult to get any information about good schools. No one who was practicing the martial arts wanted a new person at his school, and when a newcomer did show up, the others were rude to him. They refused to speak to him and embarrassed him if he asked questions.

 Even with those barriers, I did not give up. I sought out Eizo Shimabuku’s dojo after I heard about one of his American black belts. His dojo had a reputation for producing the best fighters in Okinawa. On my first night at the school, the rain was pouring down and we were training outside. In fact, most schools in Okinawa were outdoors. They had no heating, mats, air conditioning or roof. When it was cold, we froze. When it was hot, we perspired. When it rained, we got wet. When it came to injuries, we licked our wounds and went back to our military base. No one cared about those who couldn’t take it.

That first night, I received a three-hour private lesson from Shimabuku, who was a 10th-degree grandmaster. Once I began training regularly, I realized that the Okinawans tried to keep everything secret from the outside world. We were taught to shun competition because it was not our goal. We hid our techniques and routines from outsiders. That attitude kept me from telling my own family that I had become a black belt for two years. Of course, after I won the United States National Karate Championships in 1966 and the local newspapers ran it on the front page of the sports section, it was hard to hide my training any longer. 

Tough Training in Okinawa, Part 2 

My typical workout in Okinawa was to arrive at the school two hours before class began. I would hit the makiwara (punching post) for one hour to develop my hands and forearms. Then I would spend another hour doing nothing but side kicks on a heavy bag. The formal workout usually lasted an hour and a half. We would begin by singing a fight song and meditating, then move on to some hard drills that involved punches, kicks, blocks and footwork. At the end of class, we worked on waza (techniques) or kata (forms). 

When it was all over, we could spar if we wanted. We always sparred at the end of class, never at the beginning or during. We sparred after our bodies were tired because that’s when mistakes show up. During sparring, there was only one rule: Never quit. We never counted points. I didn’t know what a point was back then. All I learned was to keep going. Even if we ran out of gas or got injured, we never stopped. Sparring equipment was almost nonexistent, so all matches were bare-knuckle.

The age of the class members was another unique aspect of the training. There were no children, women or older people. The class was composed of tough Okinawans and tough U.S. Marines, usually between the ages of 17 and 28. Every night the instructor would do his best to burn people out and make them go home early, hoping they would never return. With nine out of 10 people, he succeeded.

Most young Marines could not handle the painful Okinawan way of training. They would get winded during the first three minutes and not catch their breath again until class ended. They would get sore the first couple nights, and the pain would not leave their bodies for at least three months. I liked that training, however, and I liked the emphasis on weapons. We learned several traditional weapons, most of which were farm tools. During the day on the military base, I would spend hours working with the bo, kama, sai and other implements.

The classes were conducted in Japanese. That gave us a sense of the art’s heritage, but it was also difficult to overcome. Another obstacle was the Asian adherence to totalitarian philosophies. That made it difficult to question anything we were taught. The old masters seemed to possess the power to strip away our values and replace them with new, decidedly Asian, ones.

It was unheard-of to miss a single day of training. During my first stay in Okinawa, I trained every night, seven days a week. After a stint in Vietnam in 1965, I spent another six months in Okinawa and attended three schools every day: a karate class at noon, a judo class at 6 p.m. and another karate class at 9 p.m. I lived and breathed the martial arts.

I’m glad I invested so much time in the dojo, for training in karate’s homeland helped me develop a fighting spirit, and that has benefited me every day of my life.

By: Joe Lewis ~ March 7, 1944 – August 31, 2012

Setting Goals For Weight Loss…

Setting Goals for Weight Loss

There are lots of reasons for people who are overweight or obese to lose weight. To be healthier. To look better. To feel better. To have more energy.

No matter what the reason, successful weight loss and healthy weight management depend on sensible goals and expectations. If you set sensible goals for yourself, chances are you’ll be more likely to meet them and have a better chance of keeping the weight off. In fact, losing even five to 10 percent of your weight is the kind of goal that can help improve your health.

Most overweight people should lose weight gradually. For safe and healthy weight loss, try not to exceed a rate of two pounds per week. Sometimes, people with serious health problems associated with obesity may have legitimate reasons for losing weight rapidly. If so, a physician’s supervision is required.

What you weigh is the result of several factors:

how much and what kinds of food you eat

whether your lifestyle includes regular physical activity

whether you use food to respond to stress and other situations in your life

your physiologic and genetic make-up

your age and health status.

Successful weight loss and weight management should address all of these factors. And that’s the reason to ignore products and programs that promise quick and easy results, or that promise permanent results without permanent changes in your lifestyle. Any ad that says you can lose weight without lowering the calories you take in and/or increasing your physical activity is selling fantasy and false hope. In fact, some people would call it fraud. Furthermore, the use of some products may not be safe.

A Realistic Approach

Many people who are overweight or obese have decided not to diet per se, but to concentrate on engaging in regular physical activity and maintaining healthy eating habits in accordance with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, emphasizing lowered fat consumption, and an increase in vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Others — who try to diet — report needing help to achieve their weight management goals.

Fad diets that ignore the principles of the Dietary Guidelines may result in short term weight loss, but may do so at the risk of your health. How you go about managing your weight has a lot to do with your long-term success. Unless your health is seriously at risk due to complications from being overweight or obese, gradual weight loss should be your rule — and your goal.

Here’s how to do it:

Check with your doctor. Make sure that your health status allows lowering your caloric intake and increasing your physical activity.

Follow a calorie-reduced, but balanced diet that provides for as little as one or two pounds of weight loss a week. Be sure to include at least five servings a day of fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains, lean meat and low fat dairy products. It may not produce headlines, but it can reduce waistlines. It’s not “miracle” science — just common sense. Most important, it’s prudent and healthy.

Make time in your day for some form of physical activity. Start by taking the stairs at work, walking up or down an escalator, parking at the far end of a lot instead of cruising around for the closest spot. Then, assuming your physician gives the okay, gradually add some form of regular physical activity that you enjoy. Walking is an excellent form of physical activity that almost everyone can do.

Consider the benefits of moderate weight loss. There’s scientific evidence that losing five to 10 percent of your weight and keeping it off can benefit your health — lower your blood pressure, for example. If you are 5 feet 6 inches tall and weigh 180 pounds, and your goal weight is 150, losing five to 10 percent (nine to 18 pounds) is beneficial. When it comes to successful weight loss and weight management, steady and slow can be the way to go.

For many people who are overweight or obese, long-term — and healthy — weight management generally requires sensible goals and a commitment to make realistic changes in their lifestyle and improve their health. A lifestyle based on healthy eating and regular physical activity can be a real lifesaver.

Determining Your Weight/Health Profile

Overweight and obesity have been associated with increased risk of developing such conditions as high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease.

For most people, determining the circumference of your waist and your body mass index (BMI) are reliable ways to estimate your body fat and the health risks associated with being overweight, over fat or obese. BMI is reliable for most people between 19 and 70 years of age except women who are pregnant or breast feeding, competitive athletes, body builders, and chronically ill patients. Generally, the higher your BMI, the higher your health risk, and the risk increases even further if your waist size is greater than 40 inches for men or 35 inches for women. There are other ways, besides BMI, to determine your body fat composition, and your doctor can tell you about them, but the method recommended here will help you decide if you are at risk. Use the chart to determine your BMI. Then, measure your waist size. Now, with your BMI and waist size determined, use the table below to determine your health risk relative to normal weight.

Risk of Associated Disease According to BMI and Waist Size

BMI

Waist less than or equal to
40 in. (men) or
35 in. (women)

Waist greater than
40 in. (men) or
35 in. (women)

18.5 or less

Underweight

N/A

18.5 – 24.9

Normal

N/A

25.0 – 29.9

Overweight

Increased

High

30.0 – 34.9

Obese

High

Very High

35.0 – 39.9

Obese

Very High

Very High

40 or greater

Extremely Obese

Extremely High

Extremely High

Several other factors, including your medical history, can increase your health risk.

See your doctor for advice about your overall health risk and the weight loss options that are best for you. Together, decide whether you should go on a moderate diet (1200 calories daily for women, 1400 calories daily for men), or whether other options might be appropriate.

Once you and your doctor have determined the type of diet that makes the most sense for you, you may want to choose a product or a plan to help you reach your goal. Consider: b If your doctor prescribes a medication, ask about complications or side effects, and tell the doctor what other medications, including over-the-counter drug products, and dietary supplements you take and other conditions you’re being treated for. After you start taking the medication, tell the doctor about changes you experience, if any.

If your treatment includes periodic monitoring, counseling or other activities that require your attendance, make sure the location is easy to get to and the appointment times are convenient.

Some methods for losing weight have more risks and complications than others. Ask for details about the side effects, complications or risks of any product or service that promotes weight loss and how to deal with problems should they occur.

Where appropriate to the program, ask about the credentials and training of the program staff.

Ask for an itemized price list for all the costs of the plan you’re considering, including membership fees, fees for weekly visits, the costs of any diagnostic tests, costs for meal replacements, foods, nutritional supplements, or other products that are part of the weight loss program or plan.

By: Master Bell