Small Talk

Jujitsu camp

August 23rd, 2010

Every summer, my dojo holds a week-long retreat. We camp and hang out and practice jujitsu for four hours a day. There are guest instructors, special presentations, mainland visitors, and classes we normally wouldn't have (dance class - yes! - more on that later).


They've been doing it for two decades, but Claus and I have only been members for three years, so we're pretty new to the whole deal. We like it, though. It's a nice way to get to know other practitioners.

During regular practice, there just isn't time to socialize. Before class, everyone rushes in from work. After class, everyone rushes home. Camp is a nice time to dedicate a week to deeper study of this art, plus connect on other levels with masters of the craft. Some of the things the sensei have to say about jujitsu, or their life experiences in general, are amazing.

Club members come and go as our schedule permits, but the bulk of the members are there over the weekend. That's when we attended.


A bunch of people got promoted this year at camp, as our professor likes to do each summer. Congratulations to Lewis, Craig, Bev, Claus, Jon, and Nilo.

I'm still at the second level (blue belt) while Claus just got promoted to a second degree brown belt. Though we started on the same day, he is now a few levels ahead. It's OK. Now he can teach me.


He's ahead of me largely because he's simply a better athlete, and partially because I was so often tired that I missed practice in favor of sleeping at night. Claus, however, is constant. He gets into a sport and he lives and breathes it.

When he's training for a triathlon, he charts his progress on a computer spreadsheet and analyzes his split times. He wears a heart rate monitor. Me, I'm lucky if I don't get lost on the running trail. We are so different.


Plus, I left for 13 months. At first, it was because I was on the morning show and the hours conflicted with night practice. Then, I was recuperating from the exhaustion of a graveyard shift and the trauma of a layoff.  Then, I remained drained because I was watching a little kid all day. Finally, Claus asked me to return to the dojo because he missed me.

I stumbled across the dojo in 2007 and it was my idea to start taking classes. He wanted to come and make it our couples activity.

We liked the art, we liked the other members, and we liked having a bona fide shared hobby for the first time, so we stayed. Though I have been usually brain-dead by the time I arrive at class, I hope through perseverence I can be the turtle that completes this race.


You have to find a partner: high rank and low rank. I feel comfortable working with Claus because he knows me so well, and I trust him. Now and then I'm partnered with him. That's generally a non-issue, though when we work on ground work versus throws, it's a little distracting. As Laura pointed out, "Get your qi up. It looks like you want him to pin you down." ...Am I that transparent?

We aren't, by the way, the only couple at the dojo. We arrived as a package deal, but there are two other couples, one of them married and the other expecting a child together, and they met their mates through the club. So you know, single friends, I keep saying this is a nice way to meet new people...


We had an Oahu bladesmith, quite possibly the only one in the Pacific region, come give us a presentation on the weapons he forges. Christopher Greywolf spoke to us for two hours about the history of the world from the perspective of weapons-making. He was so compelling!




One of our club members is a former hula teacher. Auntie Ipo led a class on basic hula steps, because so many martial arts hide their kata in dance, like the Brazilian capoiera. Our jujitsu system was actually founded by a local Oahu guy who incorporated elements of the Native Hawaiian martial art, lua. I didn't know this when I joined the club, though I like the idea of practicing something that's part of my heritage. What a nice coincidence.

If all the other sessions were informative and educational, this one was purely entertaining for me. The guys... oh, the guys. These tough fighters didn't enroll in jujitsu class to learn to dance, but that's just what they were being forced to do for two hours on a Sunday.

Claus in white

Claus in white

At one point, Ipo wanted us to practice our "ami" or hip rotations, because it's a movement incorporated in some of the jujitsu techniques. He was in a line in front of me. Claus looked like he needed oil for those joints. "Go, Baby! Show 'um why I married you!" I yelled. I saw his ears turn red.

I bet he's really looking forward to camp next year.


What martial arts do you practice? What's your shared hobby with your significant other?


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11 Responses to “Jujitsu camp”

  1. Patrick:

    I practice coffee fu every morning. Really gets the heart rate going!

  2. RedZone:

    When I was really young I took Judo. At first I enjoyed throwing the other young students around then the teacher put me up against the most advanced students and I ended up learning how to fly.

    While in Korea I decided to take up Taekwondo. The Korean instructor had me kicking cement walls and a broom held over my head. After a month he wanted me to enter a tournament in Seoul and I said no way. I would have gotten killed.

  3. Popoman:

    At the age of 7, I was introduced to Judo by friends of mine. We continued on and off until adolescencent yrs caught up. My interest changed but I still loved martial arts.

    I left for Korea (US Army) instead of attending college. During my 2 1/2 yrs in the Far East - Combat, Hospital in Tokyo, I was introduced to Kendo. Authentic, Historical and extremely disciplined art. Studied it only 1 yr in Kyoto. Upon reassignment to Presidio of San Francisco in San Francisco - I met a small group of guys from Hawaii who had been working out together.
    It was Kenpo Karate. Karate was known very little by anyone outside of the Martial Arts world. The year was 1956.
    My Chief Instructor was Ed Parker assisted by Ralph Castro. It was this period I had the priviledge of meeting and working out with Bruce Lee & Danny Inosantos (Tai Kwon Do) I also met and became extremely close friends with Prof Ben Largarsua. A Master of Kali (Filipino Stick Fighting and Weaponry.) Trained for the better part of 5 decades and met incredible Ci Fu's, Grand Masters and Professors of Aikido and Jujitsu.
    Most of - if not nearly all of my haoule associates in the business world had no idea I was in the Martial Arts. My favorite story was on a mid-morning in my office in San Francisco - my secretary was speechless when she saw Bruce Lee & Inosanto visit (We had an exibition in the Sports Area (Cow Palace DC) that evening.

    Of my 4 children, only 1 continued in my footstep. He is in Judo (Koyukan I believe) and teaches in Northern CA.
    Judo and Jujitsu teaches respect, humbleness, being self assured and many other virtues.
    Contrary to most beliefs, (Some mistakenly do) it is not a violent, vicious and quick way to eradicate someone. When proficiency has been achieved, respect and humbleness for your fellow man becomes primary. Destroying your opponent or enemy is easy.
    By the way, throughout this period I managed to get married, obtain my undergraduate and graduate degrees. My eyes are weak and am a little slow on everything now, but I've learned that their so much to do and learn in ones' life.


  4. NEO:


    Years ago, I took Aikido with Ralph Glanstein sensei. He has since passed on, and following his death I did not resume training. I would love to try jiujitsu, or Judo, but I just don't think I have the time. where is your dojo? it would be neat to at least try it out.


  5. Jennifer Crites:

    Diane, What a great thing to do for you body and mind. I did tai chi for a while. btw, glad you were able to see what Christopher Greywolf does. For more on him, here's an article I did for Hana Hou! magazine:

  6. M:

    Hello Diane!

    My wife and I do Standup paddling together but we are at different levels. I like to do a hard intense workout and she likes to cruise and enjoy the scenery and enjoy the marine life below us.

  7. Ken Conklin:

    Does chess count as martial arts? I have some pretty good moves. The name of my significant other is Lolouila.

  8. pkaaihue:

    AWESOME Di!!! 🙂

  9. kanakakuuna:

    aloha Diane:
    judo. hobby with my spouse before being blessed with children were pottery and canine training for obedience and tracking. since having children we have not had any hobbies. time is precious and we prefer 2 sleep.

  10. Ron Ogi:

    I started training in Wing Chun Do Gung Fu in 1974 under Sijo James DeMile. Sijo DeMile was an original of Bruce Lee in Seattle, Washington in the early sixties. He trained with Bruce Lee before the term Jeet Kune Do was coined. I am still active in Gung Fu and just attended a 5 days seminar in Auburn, Seattle last week. I also studied under Prof. Wally Jay in Small Circle Jujitsu and attained a 6th degree black belt from him. My training in Small Circle Jujitsu started in 1984. I currently teach a blend of Wing Chun Do & Small Circle Jujitsu in Pearl City, Hawaii.

  11. Diane Ako:

    Popoman, I totally agree with your assessment of the arts: "Contrary to most beliefs, (Some mistakenly do) it is not a violent, vicious and quick way to eradicate someone. When proficiency has been achieved, respect and humbleness for your fellow man becomes primary. Destroying your opponent or enemy is easy."
    I had no real conception of jujitsu (or judo) when I started the practice. And I fully realize that I'm a rookie, and humbly accept and acknowledge my place. However over this brief time I have come to realize that a lot of people - usually young men - associate jujitsu with the violence of cage fighting.
    My own impression of real power is that Mr. Miyage guy; someone who can deftly deflect and defeat with a simple wrist movement or foot sweep. Not someone who will next be auditioning for a Jerry Bruckenheim movie. Yet that's what I see from people new to the practice. I think movies and mass media have done a bit of disservice to martial arts in that regard, because so many people come in expecting to be shaped into the next cage fighter.

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