My Visit to Wah Dojo


Myself with Evergrey at Wah Dojo

Some of my readers may be familiar with Evergrey, the author of the old Crazy Kyokushin Chick blog. I connected with her through that blog, but we have kept up on Facebook over the years. Last week, I had to travel to her neck of the woods for work, so she invited me to train at her dojo. Wah Dojo is a traditional Kyokushin school in Concord, CA, which was founded by Tyrone Wah Sensei–a Godan (5th Degree Black Belt) in Kyokushin, and an active member of law enforcement. I brought my white belt with me, but Wah Sensei insisted on having me wear my Shorin-Ryu rank, since I was just visiting. I attended two classes–one on Tuesday night, and one on Wednesday.

The entrance to Wah Dojo, steamed up from the sweat in class

Tuesday was a kihon (basics) focused class. We started off with a warm-up of jogging and side-shuffling around the mat, and then some knuckle push-ups with our hands off the mat. To finish the warm-ups, we went through some fairly extensive stretching. After that, the theme of class was keri-waza (kicking techniques). We worked primarily on mae-geri (front kick) and mawashi-geri (roundhouse kick), in a couple different combinations. It was a good workout, and about the most that I could handle with my ongoing motion sickness/fatigue issues.

Omid (left) and Justin (right) were two of the black belts I sparred with–this photo is from Omid’s shodan test

Wednesday was a kumite (sparring) focused class. The warm-up and stretching were more-or-less the same as the day before, but with a more intense warm-up and less intense stretching. Once we were warmed up, we got into tai tanren (body conditioning). We are no strangers to tai tanren in my dojo, but we certainly don’t do as much as Kyokushin people do, so I expected it to be pretty thorough–and it was! We started off with punches to the chest, then the stomach, then the ribs, then the back-side of the ribs and the lats, then the legs. After that, we did a little self defense drill against someone grabbing your shirt, which looked and awful lot like Naihanchi! Finally, we got into kumite, which started off with everyone lined up across from their tai tanren partner and all sparring at the same time. We rotated partners a few times, so I was able to work with two black belts and two teen kyu-ranked students. The last part of class, Wah Sensei had everyone stand around the outside edge of the mat, and matched up people to spar in the middle. I got the chance to spar with two more black belt students, and then I got to spar with Wah Sensei.

With the students of Wah Dojo after class on Wednesday

Everyone I worked with was friendly and open to having me in class, which was comforting. They were also a tough bunch of people–as one would expect from a Kyokushin dojo. They spar with punches to the face, using MMA gloves, so I didn’t have to adjust my sparring too much, although they did say I punch to the face a lot more than they do, and my control wasn’t very good that night. Nobody seemed to be offended, though, and nobody got injured, so it worked out well. There was another Shorin-Ryu practitioner who trains there, and Wah Sensei was hoping we would talk, but that didn’t end up happening. Ev and her fiancee, Michael Dunn Sensei, were even kind enough to put up with me showing them Naihanchi and some of its applications after class. I can certainly recommend their dojo to anyone looking for solid karate training in the Bay Area, and hopefully I will get to train with them again, someday!

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Noah

About Noah

I began training in karate (Shuri-Ryu) in the Summer of 2006. Subsequently, I started training in judo, kobudo, and iaijutsu within the next 6 months. During my training there, I earned the rank of Sankyu (3rd Degree Brown Belt) in Shuri-Ryu, Gokyu (Green Belt) in judo, a certification in the use of the bo, and passed proficiency tests for the four tachigata of Shinkage-Ryu iaijutsu. I moved to Arizona in the Summer of 2008, and continued training and researching karate at home. I continued regular training in judo at a local club until 2010, when I was able to start training in Shorin-Ryu with Sensei Richard Poage. I have been training with him ever since, and currently hold the rank of Shodan (1st Degree Black Belt) in Shorin-Ryu under him. In addition, I began studying KishimotoDi under Sensei Ulf Karlsson in 2014.