2010 Susquehanna Martial Arts Symposium

By: Sensei Jeffery Mann – IOGKF USA

Sensei Jeff Mann of IOGKF USA recently hosted the 3rd annual Susquehanna Martial arts symposium. The idea of the event is to bring together the local martial arts community, under some of the best instructors around. This year Sensei Tetsuji Nakamura was one of the guest instructors and helped attract members from four states and Canada…

A few years ago, I looked around my community, here in central Pennsylvania, and noticed that very often, when a martial arts school wanted to sponsor an event, they put together a tournament. I’ve been to various such tournaments over the years, and after a while they become quite tiresome. I would perform Kata in front of judges who are often incapable of assessing what it is that I do, and then we would put on puffy foam pads and play tag.

And so, while I decided that I wanted to host an event for the local martial arts community, I did not want more of the same. Subsequently, I decided to invite in some of the better local teachers to teach and share their arts. Students aged 16 and over could come in and, for a modest fee, spend the day learning some quality martial arts, without any worry about winning, ego, trophies, politics, or other such silliness. The result was the first Susquehanna Martial Arts Symposium, back in 2008.

The next year, we continued our new tradition, bringing in Herbert Allen Sensei as one of the instructors, who taught alongside visiting Uechi-ryu and Wing-chun instructors. The event did not bring in the numbers I had hoped for, but the quality of the instruction was very good and everyone had a great time.

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This year, we just finished hosting our third event. Nakamura Sensei was kind enough to drive down from Canada to teach, joined by Wes Tasker, a senior instructor of the Filipino art Pekiti Tirsia. The jam-packed schedule included their seminars, plus a panel discussion on “women, self-defense, and violence,” and a short seminar on the notion of zanshin in self-defense training. The symposium finished with a public demonstration by four of the instructors involved in the day’s activities.

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As I look back on that busy Saturday afternoon, which brought in people from four states and Canada, it was clear that everyone had the opportunity to receive first-rate instruction from our two featured instructors, along with great camaraderie with one another throughout the day. Characteristic of the good will among participants was shown when both senior instructors joined in the other’s training session, putting on their white belts, so to speak, and learning for the sake of learning. Mr. Tasker was able to take his first crack at Kakie and Nakamura Sensei picked up an escrima stick for the first time. A day dedicated to learning, with participants representing various martial arts, a good time was had by all.

The next day we were fortunate to have Nakamura Sensei remain and teach a 3-hour seminar in the morning that was open to Goju practitioners of various lineages. IOGKF members had the opportunity to practice with a group of American Goju practitioners who drove in from New York. We had the opportunity to observe and compare each other’s performance of Seiyunchin Kata and good will was again the order of the day.

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I sincerely doubt any participants went home regretting that there were no plastic trophies in their trunks.