May 21, 2017
Champions in school, champions at life. Respect.
Thank you to our Sensei, master teacher for teaching us never-ending, continual improvement. “Kai Zen!”
Karate classes, taught by Sensei, extraordinary meshing of kids and Instructor.
Listen to the children with me, powering up their spirits with the sound of “Kiai!” (sounds like “kee-eye”). Here we go! Outfits on, belts tied, spirits soaring.
Saying no to bullies.
More than that. Ready to enhance balance, build muscle tone, follow directions and master martial arts skills. Watching the kids train, I also notice an unexpected benefit of hand-eye coordination which is a valuable reading skill. I never thought I would see a reading benefit from karate.
Any mention of Karate always reminds me of the classic Karate Kid movies. You know the ones I mean. First and best will always be the original 1984 “Karate Kid,” starring Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio. Recall the new kid in town tormented by bullies, until he is taken under wing by karate master, a humble gardener, Mr. Miyagi. Unforgettable.
The idea of Sensei is so strong, as we recall vivid images of the wise man instructing the adolescent boy through unexpected training in mindfulness, painting fences, washing cars, preparation for eventual learning martial arts and life skills. Happy endings.
I see our students playing Ninja on varied playground equipment, and Ninja teachers are definitely out there. Too many Ninja Turtles tee shirts to count this year. But this is not the same as the true Sensei.
I believe most teachers are Sensei, in terms of honor, respect, builders of confidence, instructors of skills. In its truest sense, Sensei teachers may have been teaching a long time gaining great wisdom, art and craft. But time is not necessarily the defining factor.
Sensei is in all of us.
There’s no time table in becoming Sensei, although it’s said to mean ‘one before another’ and usually refers to a venerable person, greatly experienced in the art.
My Eugene granddaughter, Morgan, continues to surprise me with her age-six interests. We’ve been through classes of gymnastics and ballet. Morgan would like to play soccer, but in Eugene, since children are so used to the rain, their games are outside and Morgan can’t do that, another story sometime.
Morgan kept asking about Karate. It’s not just for boys. Then she found a new home. In her class there are four little boys and she’s the only girl, which makes it pretty cool. She likes it. She’s barely started, but I saw a big difference in only a few sessions.
Morgan’s Sensei, just like you.
Here’s what I notice in Karate class:
1. Consistent routines, beginning, middle, end of class.
2. Transitions connecting prior and new learning.
3. Checks for understanding continually.
4. Teaches basic Japanese vocabulary through immersion. (Includes greetings, commands, counting to ten, open and close class.)
5. Inspires children to excellence, motivates, builds confidence.
6. Creates a culture of learning and constant growth.
Benefits for Morgan’s class:
1. Mental, physical, emotional connections.
2. Learn to focus, concentrate, take turns.
3. Balance. Poses and activities enhance balance.
4. Mindfulness with Intention. Patience.
5. Following rules and commands.
6. Speaking basic Japanese phrases.
7. Exercise and agility training.
8. Develop a sense of accomplishment.
I love watching Sensei Elida working with the children. With great respect shown, preschool and kinders are already getting ready for their first recital at the beginning of June. They practice being in front of an audience, being judged on correctness of moves, which determines their new level and color of belt.
Morgan gets dressed at home, ready for immediate action. I missed the last class and was surprised to see a video of the kids sparring. Morgan looks like she is holding her own, with a bigger, more experienced boy. She knows she is strong, coordinated and determined to master karate now.
Having Karate goals for Life.
Morgan is eager to tell about the various belts and describe what she has to know, and how to do it right to get those belts. Having goals set, practicing at home and bragging rights with the boys at school. Nice.
Yes, girls learn Karate, too.
I heard the Kindergarteners, at least the boys, didn’t believe Morgan was in Karate, that’s for boys. When my daughter Rebecca went to read to the class, she said, “Yes, Morgan is absolutely in Karate.” After all, girls can do whatever they set out to do. And that is quite a life lesson.
I like the idea of calling our nation’s teachers, Sensei. There is such dedication, so much love.
Morgan now knows how to break out of any grab hold and her Mom told me self-protection is an added benefit of the Karate training. No bullies better get near Morgan now.
As a lefty, I wasn’t sure whether this would impede any of her movements, but so far fine, and as I mentioned, the hand-eye coordination is really helpful.
I am pretty certain Morgan will continue Karate, at least for a while, and these skills and attitudes will always be part of her life.
Her classroom teacher is a Sensei too, so this Kindergarten year has been a great one for Morgan. When I sit watching the karate classes I see an amazing Sensei, and happy kids engaged and in flow state.
”Owadi-masu.” Let’s end class now.
I hope the young children I teach every day see me as Sensei. At least I know I am giving it my all. “Kiai!”
Leaving footprints on your reading hearts, Rita
Better grab some tissues. Stories from a Teacher’s Heart: Memories of Love, Life, and Family celebrates life’s seasons, transitions, weathering storms, and greeting every day with purpose and gratitude. Most of all, Rita Wirtz inspires us to be our most optimistic selves, with determination to make a difference.
Savor heartwarming stories about life, learning, and love as Rita shares the last few years of her journey as a widow, from the mountains of California to the vibrant community of Eugene, Oregon. Along the way you meet a cast of colorful characters from her schoolhouse and home.
Take your pick of stories from eight uniquely interesting themes. Rita selected fifty-two favorites from a series of blogs written as a featured blogger for BAM Radio Network, EdWords.
What in the heck do lemonade stands, play, homework, cursive writing, retentions, sleepovers, and speed-reading hacks have to do with one another? Everything in Rita’s world as mother, nana, and teacher, it all blends into a glorious recipe for a life, well lived. You’ll see!
About the Author
Rita Wirtz holds a BA in English and Speech, a Masters degree in Reading from Arizona State University, and an Administrative Services Credential (Pre-Adult) through California State University, Sacramento.
She is a language arts and reading specialist who has instructed at all levels including pre-adult classrooms, second language learner, and special education classes, labs and clinics.
Rita served as Pre-6 Principal, University Adjunct Professor, Keynote Speaker, and more. Much more.
After moving to Oregon, Rita taught preschool for several years, always improving her craft.