This week I will post our first instructor interview. Each month I will interview one of our instructors so that you can have a glimpse into some of the inner workings of our school and the people that teach and train there.
This weeks interview will be Sempai Orlando. In addition to being an instructor in our school, he is also the off site director for our after school programs which is currently taking place in two New York City public schools. On average between the two schools he is teaching karate to 30 children every week.
EH: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview, I know you have a busy schedule between teaching and being a full time college student and trying to have a social life.
SO: Thank you for letting me be part of the blog. I read it often and really like it. Most of the times its a continuation of the conversations I have with the sensei.
EH: OK so lets begin. Lets start with your age. How old are you ?
SO: I'm 18 years old.
EH: What are your goals in college?
SO: Well this is my first year so its been a big change for me. My goals are to be a physical therapist ( I enjoy working with people) and also to learn stage and film combat. I have choreographed a few fight scenes and did one for a short film my older brother filmed.
EH: Do you have any specific challenges training at your age?
SO: I think the biggest challenge right now is balancing my school work and my training and teaching. I usually have to wake up very early to do my own personal training, then I have to get ready for school. I have a heavier load of school work now so it means I have to be very conscious of how I manage my time.
EH: How early do you start your day and what does your training consist of ?
SO: On the days I can train in the morning I'm up at 4 am. My training consists of a lot of conditioning ( I punch and kick trees to toughen certain areas), I also work a kettle-bell routine and then I finish with body weight training-what we do in our classes: push ups, sit ups, squats.
EH: How long have you been training?
SO: I have been training for 13 years. My first dojo was our garage, when I was real young. The class size was pretty small since it was just me, after a while my younger brother joined us.
EH: Why did you start training?
SO: I started training because I saw my dad always training and I wanted to be just like my dad.
EH: Was your dad your first instructor?
SO: Yes, I started when I was five so he was my first teacher. I have also trained with Sensei Orhan from a Kyokushin school in Queens. I'm still beginning so I haven't had that many teachers.
EH: Why do you continue to train?
SO: I continue to train because it has become my passion.
EH: Have you ever wanted to stop training?
SO: When I was younger I wanted to. I felt that it was too hard and that I wasn't very good at it.
EH: Why did you continue?
SO: Honestly? My dad. He just kept telling me I would get better. That it would take time and that if I didn't give up he wouldn't give up. Also if I gave up, he still wouldn't give up. After a while I did get better and I started to like it.
EH: What part of training do you enjoy the most ?
SO: I enjoy the energy I feel in a class filled with people that are willing to push themselves past their limits. It pushes me to try harder and to push myself as well. It reminds me of one of the characters (kanji) we have on our main wall, ren ma-it means keep polishing. Training like that is part of the polishing. I also enjoy kata, except when I have to do it in front of the sensei, it always feels like I just learned it when I do it with him.
EH: What part of training do you least enjoy?
SO: The pain my body feels when I do certain exercises, even though I'm used to them. Getting hit when I fight the sensei. I definitely enjoy that the least.
EH: Why did you take on teaching?
SO: I teach so I can share my knowledge and experience with others. Also I love working with other people.
EH: You have competed in several tournaments and done well. You have also expressed that you will no longer compete in tournaments can you tell us why?
SO: I think tournaments are good for what they are-contests with rules. For me my practice is about being a warrior.When we fight we punch to the head, we also grapple, kick to the thigh, use joint locks, submissions and do ground work. I was disqualified from one tournament because I tapped my opponent on the nose and he bled a bit. It wasn't right or wrong, those were the rules, but it was not the way I learned to fight so it was difficult for me to adapt.
I train differently than most people I know my age. I don't think tournaments are bad, but they aren't for me and they don't reflect what I have been taught. I usually see a lot of pride and egos at tournaments, which to me is the opposite of what training should be. Also I have seen some kata tournaments and it doesn't look like kata at all, its more like dance moves and back flips choreographed to music with kiais that last about two minutes. I would never be a part of something like that.
EH: Any advice for someone just starting on their martial path?
SO: If you feel that a martial art is something you want to pursue, begin and don't stop. You're going to face a lot of challenges along the way but the payoff is worth it. Keep on training, ask questions learn as much as you can inside and outside the dojo. Sensei is always giving me a book to read, its usually related to martial arts but sometimes its not. Always try to better yourself, its never a competition with other people.
EH: Thank you again for giving me the time to interview you.
SO: You're welcome and thank you for letting me be part of the blog.
Sempai Orlando comes across as a very reserved (and older than his years) young man. In the dojo he is known for his affable manner and tough classes. I hope with this interview you have gotten some more insight into one of our instructors.
strong spirit-strong mind-strong body
For questions or suggestions on future topics contact: sensei.orlando(at)yahoo.com
Use of the author's blog posts without express written permission by the author is plagiarism and punishable by law.