Posted by: dougis | November 14, 2010

Why I teach kids

I have been lucky in that I have been afforded the chance to teach classes for a while now at the dojo.

This has helped me quite a bit in my own training as in order to explain something to a student I have to understand it first (there have been many times when I find things in my own technique which need improvement through teaching others). It also gives me a chance to work with the kids (I started off teaching the kids class because Nana was training, alas she has moved on to Jump Rope but that is another post).

I mention this because I got to have one of those “this is why I teach” moments in kids class a while back.

One of the moms came up to me after class and asked if she could have a moment to talk about her child (obviously I said of course) she looked concerned and my first thought was that something had happened in class. She then proceeded to tell me that there was an issue with bullying going on at school and asked if there were things we had to offer that could help. She outlined what had happened at school and the response her daughter used (all verbal, no physical aspect at all)

I had another student start the next class so I could sit and talk with the student having trouble. We talked for a bit and I told her that she did exactly what she should have and asked if she was OK talking about it with me (again she obviously said yes).

I then pointed out that she could also use the same voice we practice on the mat to make sure her teachers knew something was going on at which point she said “we aren’t supposed to talk when we are in seats”. I let her know that

  • I was very happy with how she had responded so far (again, she didn’t try to escalate things, merely used words to try and defuse the situation)
  • she needed to let her teacher know this was happening when she wasn’t supposed to be talking
  • if it DID happen when she was supposed to be quiet, it was OK to break the rules.
  • she was welcome to talk with any of the instructors about any issue at any time

Mom and I talked for a bit afterwards so she knew what I knew and they left.

A week or so later I asked how she was doing and things were getting better, the other girl had apologized and stopped bullying her and the student seemed relived and empowered knowing she had grown ups on her side.

Finally I talked with she and her dad earlier this week and she is doing great at school. No more bullying and she seems to have more confidence both at school and at home.

To me that is what all martial arts training should give to kids, the ability to eliminate conflict without needing to resort to violence and a belief in themselves.

Posted by: dougis | November 8, 2010

What does Kokikai Aikido mean to me (2010 revision)

For those of you who don’t know in Kokikai Aikido we are asked to write an essay on what Kokikai means to us as a part of our Shodan (1st degree black belt) test and barring something unforeseen happening I will be testing for this at camp in 2 weeks.

I wrote this same essay quite a while back but wanted to revisit it and see what has changed (and no I haven’t reread the old one yet).

What does Kokikai mean to me? There are two aspects to my answer, things you can touch and the things you can’t.

Let me start with the tangible things that I associate with Kokikai and then I will talk about the less concrete (but to me more important) ideas.

First and foremost Kokikai Aikido is a martial art. That means that I am learning to defend myself and those around me by training. I do not for a moment delude myself into thinking I can handle any situation which arises, however the physical training and mental process of training have helped me to better deal with anything that comes up than I would have before I started.

Along those same lines the art involves physical exercise. I am in better shape in a lot of ways than I was before I started and am always aware of a comment a senior instructor once made, “vigorous ukemi is the difference between growing older gracefully and not”. I won’t go so far as to say it is the only way, but if you can take ukemi with some regularity and well then your body is doing something right.

In addition to the physical changes it has made on me, Kokikai has also brought many new and wonderful people into my life.  While the art is engaging and enjoyable for the physical aspect, it is the people that I get to train with who make me passionate about it. I can honestly say I have never been around another group of people more caring and sharing than those I have met through Kokikai and my life is much richer for knowing them.

These people are integral to one of the less tangible things that Kokikai represents to me, the relationships it fosters. All of them are more than willing to help one another out in many different ways and whether it grows from the art itself or the art attracts people with those qualities I can’t say, but I will say that the friendships I have forged here are some of the strongest I know.

These bonds forged through the art help to illustrate the final idea that I want to talk about, always trying to improve yourself and help others to improve. In Kokikai we are always challenged to present our best whether it be posture, technique or just how we act in any given situation. We are also challenged (if we are honest with ourselves) to make that best even better over time. This always doesn’t mean that I am better tomorrow than today but rather that over the next year I am better consistently than I am today. We also work on helping others to be better (which in turn makes us better and so the cycle continues).

Out of all the things Kokikai means to me this last idea is the one thing that most stands out in my mind as the essence of the art, “How can I be better tomorrow than today, and how can I help those around me to be better as well”.


Posted by: dougis | November 1, 2010


Just a reminder to everyone that tomorrow is election day.

There are many people who have given their lives so we have the ability to choose those who represent us in government and so that we have a voice in how we are governed. Don’t waste their sacrifice.


If you don’t vote you can’t complain.

Posted by: dougis | October 21, 2010

Take a chance

Why is it that we fear to try new things or make changes in our lives?

Sometimes these things are HUGE but often they are simple little changes that may or may not make our lives better.

The trouble is that we never find out due to fear.

Here is where this thought comes from……I have been thinking about shaving my head for a while now (not like there is all that much to get rid of) and for one reason or another I never did it. There was always some reason for me to not do it but all those things were excuses, ways for me to avoid the fact that I was a little nervous about trying it.

Last night I asked Nana if I should do it (the girls have both been aware I have been thinking about it) and she was all for it.

Not sure yet if it will stay shaved or not but glad I did it as there was really nothing to be afraid of and if I don’t like it I can just let it grow out again.

Posted by: dougis | October 17, 2010

Deafening silence

I will admit it up front, I have been terrible about writing.

Life has been busy and I have not made the time to do this even though there have been things I wanted to write about. I will not promise this will stop but I am going to try to write more (even if only a little).

There are lots of things coming up but the current idea running through my head is resisting the inevitable (especially when it doesn’t make any sense).

This is coming from my kids and what I can try to take away from what I try to teach them.

A little background……yesterday we needed to run an errand which involved about an hour ride in the car each way (which both girls do NOT enjoy). They both spent a large amount of time telling me how much they didn’t want to go and trying to figure out ways to avoid the trip. I finally pointed out to both of them that

  • I didn’t really want to go either, but it needed to be done
  • we were going no matter what and all they were doing was making themselves unhappier by complaining
  • perhaps they could try to come up with a way to make the trip more bearable.

Leigh had gone out and picked up “How to train your dragon” from Red box so we put the DVD player in the van and let them watch that on the trip, lo and behold when we got home they asked if they could sit in the garage and finish watching the movie!

Not only was it not the horrible miserable experience they thought it was going to be but they wanted to extend the it rather than get it over with….

I wonder how often I do the same thing in my own life without realizing it?

Posted by: dougis | November 4, 2009

Living in Washington

Had to share this (it was passed on by my wife).

The sad part is they all apply to me 🙂



  • If someone in a Home Depot store offers you assistance and they don’t work there, you live in Washington.
  • If you’ve worn shorts, sandals and a parka at the same time, you live
  • in Washington.
  • If you’ve had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed the wrong number, you live in Washington.
  • If you measure distance in hours, you live in Washington.
  • If you have switched from ‘heat’ to ‘A/C’ and back again in the same day, you live in Washington.
  • If you install security lights on your house and garage but leave both doors unlocked, you live in Washington.
  • If you can drive 75 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching, you live in Central, Southern or Eastern Washington.
  • If you design your kid’s Halloween costume to fit over a 2 layers of clothes or under a raincoat, you live in Washington.
  • If driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow and ice, you live in Washington.
  • If you know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter, and road construction, you live in Washington.
  • If you feel guilty throwing aluminum cans or paper in the trash, you live in Washington.
  • If you know more than 10 ways to order coffee, you live in Washington.
  • If you know more people who own boats than air conditioners, you live in Washington.
  • If you stand on a deserted corner in the rain waiting for the “Walk”
  • signal, you live in Washington.
  • If you consider that if it has no snow or has not recently erupted, it is not a real mountain, you live in Washington.
  • If you can taste the difference between Starbucks, Seattle’s Best, and Dutch Bros, you live in Washington.
  • If you know the difference between Chinook, Coho and Sockeye salmon, you live in Washington.
  • If you know how to pronounce Sequim, Puyallup, Abiqua, Issaquah, Oregon, Umpqua, Yakima and Willamette, you live in Washington.
  • If you consider swimming an indoor sport, you live in Washington.
  • If you can tell the difference between Japanese, Chinese and Thai food, you live in Washington.
  • If you never go camping without waterproof matches and a poncho, you live in Washington.
  • If you have actually used your mountain bike on a mountain, you live in Washington.
  • If you think people who use umbrellas are either wimps or tourists, you live in Washington.
  • If you buy new sunglasses every year, because you cannot find the old ones after such a long time, you live in Washington.
  • If you actually understand these jokes and forward them to all your Washington friends, you live or have lived in Washington.


Posted by: dougis | June 19, 2009

Progress through failure?

Last week at the dojo we were working on Shomenuchi Kokyunage (a strike to the top of the head defended by getting behind uke and taking their balance).

For whatever reason, I was having trouble throwing uke.

The evening went on, we finished up class went home and when I thought about the issue I was having the following day I was happy with my progress.


Yes progress. While I was having issues with the technique we were working on, I was NOT trying to muscle through it. I wasn’t getting upset or trying to figure out what uke was doing that was causing me to not throw. I just kept throwing (or trying to). While the specific technique we were practicing was not working as I wanted it to, I was able to remain calm and several times saw other things that would be just as effective against uke (but those were not what we were working on).

Progress. I’ll take it where I can get it.

Oh by the way, we worked on the same technique last night and I am pretty sure my issue was being too far from uke. Last night the technique worked with no issues as long as I stayed close :-).

Posted by: dougis | February 3, 2009

Show a Thon 2009 (no fear and conquering fear)

This past weekend the girls dance/arts school had their annual Show a Thon.

This is a fund raiser the school does every year where the kids (and adults) perform in the middle of the local mall for 7-8 hours (some folks only perform once, some perform many times).

Teeny is in a pre-ballet class and they were performing their adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood. She had NO fear at all and her only complaint was that they didn’t get to spend enough time on the stage (the actual quote was, “all that waiting around for nothing”).

Here is her performance

Nana on the other hand was VERY nervous about her performance. She is in a group voice class (think pop star 101) and didn’t realize that solo performance meant she would be on stage alone. While her class did perform two group numbers first, she had to get on stage alone and sing. Based on her body language and comments before the show DW and I were expecting her to not be able to get on stage and make it through her performance.

We were wrong, she came through like a champ (although if you know her you can tell from the video she isn’t the most comfortable).

Here is her performance.

I am in awe of both of them, Teeny for her complete lack of fear and Nana for her conquering of it. I just hope I can learn from both of their examples myself.

Posted by: dougis | January 30, 2009

Pictures in my head

I posted a while back about some memories that stick in my mind like snapshots. I hadn’t given it any real thought until I did so, but now am wondering “which memories are there in my head?”

Here is part of the list as it stands right now (these are not necessarily the most important memories I have, just the ones I get off the top of my head).

  • the day my parents dropped my off at some friends to go pick up my sister (we are both adopted).
    My wife refuses to believe this one as I was only 2 at the time, but I can see the front of their house along with the stairs leading to the front door as clear as a bell in my head
  • Running home from kindergarten to meet my best friend Guy and watch Speed Racer (note, I can’t recall the TV show at all, but the anticipation of it sticks like glue)
  • Talking to my Dad on the CB when I was at home sick and he was on his way. He called to see what I wanted him to bring me so I would feel better.
  • Sitting in the Living room with Dad, watching Gunsmoke while Mom was teaching a night class.
  • Walking what felt like miles up Beacon hill to get home (and those concrete steps that were on top of the sidewalk)
  • Listening to the 45 of Hotel California in Mr. Pumphrey’s 5th grade class on the school record player in the back of the class room (you know the ones I mean, the all in one unit where the top comes off so you can put a record in)
  • The summer art class I took at the Junior High (the day we did watercolors specifically)
  • A late night conversation with my Dad outside while I was splitting wood for the fireplace
  • One specific evening with Lisa at her place with friends (man did I have a crush on her, I just never could tell her)
  • A stage band performance in the elementary school
  • Walking to Sunday school on May 18, 1980 and my friend Mary leaning out her window to tell me the entire north side of the mountain had exploded (I didn’t believe her)
  • One fine day at the dunes in Pullman
  • One morning about 5:45AM in the studio at BCC after a night on the air
  • The view at the top of the hill at Guenoc winery in lake county
  • The view over the ocean at our wedding
  • Sitting on the roof of our first house, holding the electrical mast up while waiting for folks to get hardware
  • Dakota playing catch with the animal control officer who came to see if she was the dog reported
  • The look on the doctors face when Nana was delivered by forceps (and not C section)
  • Teeny’s birth
  • Walking into the gym for my first fall camp
  • fall camp 2008 sitting there having lunch (already talked about this one).

There are many others, but this is the list that is on my mind right now. Everything on this list has a special place in my heart and I treasure each memory.

What memories do you treasure?

Posted by: dougis | January 28, 2009

25 things about me

I got tagged with a note in facebook by a couple of old friends that said “Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.”

I thought it was an interesting exercise so I posted my list here as well.

  1. Aikido is an incredibly important part of my life, (amazing how important considering how short a time I have been training)
  2. The only thing right now that is more important than #1 is my family. I have 2 girls who I love more than you can imagine (I don’t know I can imagine quite a bit) and a wife who is both my best friend and staunchest ally.
    Bonus points for knowing where the quote is from
  3. I plan on testing for Shodan (1st degree black belt) barring unforeseen complications
  4. I still know all the words to WAY too many 80s songs
  5. some of the most fun I have had in my life involved still being up at 5:30AM in a college radio station
  6. I work from home (over 10 years now) so the girls have no idea what it is like for Daddy to commute
  7. I like to run in the hot hot sun (sorry channeling Dr Seuss) but I do enjoy running as it helps me clear my head and relax
  8. I have lost ~50 pounds on Weight Watchers (about 40-50 to go)
  9. I still haven’t finished my Bachelors degree
  10. I really enjoy Yoga
  11. I am an optimist
  12. I still don’t feel like I am as old as I am (when people say sir I still look for who they are talking to)
  13. The Princess Bride is one of my FAVORITE movies
  14. I am reading more lately thanks to my 8 year old
  15. I write software, manage technology and manipulate data for a living
  16. I HATE that when people find out my company runs a Horse Racing information website ( their first question is, “so you are an electronic bookie?”
  17. I really enjoy working on home improvement projects
  18. I tend to procrastinate too much
  19. I enjoyed living in the Bay area, but prefer living in Washington (especially since I get to travel to the Bay area for work several times a year)
  20. I have only ever been to 9 states (11 if you count layvers in DC and NC) WA, OR, ID, CA, NV, AZ, SC, FL and GA
  21. If I won the lottery I would build houses for Habitat for Humanity and go back to school
  22. I think I enjoy shopping for technology more than actually buying it
  23. I LOVE the reaction I get from the kids at the dojo when I step on the mat with them
  24. I have been friends with my wife for 23 1/2 years (married for over 15)
  25. finding 25 things to say about myself was a challenge

What is your list?

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