Open Mat – It’s in Your Hands

“It’s in your hands” is one of the principles of our art. We learn to dig deep on the workout floor and give it all we’ve got. We practice making choices about our training – which classes to go to and how to prepare for testing. We embrace being fully present when we teach. And we figure out, slowly over time, that the more we put into our training, the more we get back.

As students, if we only run forms and standards in the presence of teacher and teammates, and only during class time, we miss out on a very special experience. “It’s in your hands”, (among many other things,) includes finding times and places to train outside of class. Not only do we get to practice what we’ve been taught, but we also get the opportunity to connect to our art in a deeper, more personal way.

We train in backyards, at the park, in the basement, in line at the bank…In fact, ask any advanced student to list off the variety of places they have practiced this art, and you might be surprised.  In a bit, you can read about the myriad creative places Tulen students have trained. It’s really quite impressive!

As members of Tulen Center, students can take advantage of “Open Mat Time”. There are times scheduled every week for students to use the workout floor. In the spirit of Gatong Rajong (share and share alike) Goldens generously give their time and energy to help make this possible for you. (Open Mat time is for teammates to workout solo or together. If you are looking for a higher ranking student to work with you on specifics, that’s called a Private Lesson and is a little different. Just ask the front desk or one of the Goeroes for information about that.)

Here is how open mat time works.

1. Look at the schedule to find the times that work for you.

2. Check the calendar to make sure there are no workshops, birthday parties or events happening on the day and time you choose.

3. Connect with a Golden who is available to let you in to the school. (Goldens have a gold stripe on their black belt or gold fringe on their sash. It’s best to talk to a Golden in person, but you can also get their numbers from the front desk and call them.)

4. Arrange your time/s.

5. When you get in to work out, sign in on the open mat sheet on the clipboard hanging by the front desk.

NOTE: An adult (other than the Golden) needs to remain on site while there are kids under 18 in the building. Kids may not be left alone.

You are still encouraged to workout on a rooftop, mountain slope, in a pool or on a trampoline. One of my favorite Tulen memories is when I ran Set One in a Sufi Temple in the Cholistan Desert on the Afghanistan border in Pakistan in 1989. I thought I was alone, but when I got up from meditation, an old man approached me. He came up to me, looked into my eyes with a huge smile and bowed. I bowed back. It was an incredible moment of connection that passed between us crossing invisible boundaries of space, time and culture.

I thought it might be fun to ask some advanced students for stories about the unusual places they have trained and would like to share this incredible list with you:

From Mas Emily Trubits, a second year college student in Monmouth, Oregon and 2nd Degree Black Belt: Most of the places I’ve trained in the last year have been a bit unusual! I’ve trained in dorm rooms, dorm basements, a bunch of various grassy areas at both Western Oregon University and Oregon State University and at the beach. Today actually I had a day to myself so I hiked to the top of Bald Hill, which is nice and grassy at the top. There’s just enough space to run some forms and today was the perfect weather for meditation. I think the best thing about training on your own is that it really is all in your own hands, and when you are by yourself you don’t have to worry about being “right” or “wrong” you can just train.

Bald MountainI’ve attached a picture of my training space today 🙂 the picture might not do it justice but there is a great view of the sisters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Mas Lisa Nolen who is a 2nd degree black belt, Associate Director of Development – Special Gifts at OHSU, and mother of two: I have practiced in my living room, back yard, the beach, an empty hotel basketball court, a hotel courtyard, campsites, the park, my aunt’s driveway…during a break at a church, at a retreat, in a friend’s gym, the copy room at work, my cube at work (nothing too big). On the bus I memorize my hold order, run holds in my head and do bus meditation.
  • Mas Autumn Sun Pardee: I train in my back yard on Mt Tabor often. Summer time I put on my head phones and flow fight/kumbongs in the grass. Couple of years ago, I came out and ran Lunkas in the snow.
  • Pendekkar Gerry Donaghy who works at Nike:  I used to practice Chinese weapons in the park across the street from my apartment. Yeah, got a few concerned glances from folks walking their dogs.
  • Pendekkar Emily Ahsoon lives in California, trains in Oakland at Studio Naga, and teaches at a Montessori School: I trained in the grass under a big banyan tree in Hawaii near the beach. Its branches were the roof of my training space. I think it’s the only space big enough for a form… Xo
  • Mas Goeroe Agoeng Jennifer Jordan, who lives in Boston, runs the Tulen School there, and is a Financial Analyst: I have worked out in the park on the top of Nob Hill in SF! On beaches on both coasts! A roof deck! My hotel lawn in Cali, Colombia. Oh yes and the Tuileries Garden in front of the Louvre in Paris.
  • Mas Colleen Bean, First Degree Black Belt living in Austin, Texas: During the Peace Corps, I trained in Huaylas, Ancash, Peru – my tiny village in the Peruvian Andes. I taught self-defense to teen girls in my town and a fellow volunteer’s town. I also had a little “kung fu” club with a group of younger kids, in which we played a lot of Poekoelan games and crawled. I still remember scoping out the fields for various animal feces before practicing my standards and movement!
  • Mas Adam Bleeker:  My honeymoon was in Bali, and I ran Lunkas in the jungle around our rental home and crawled in tiger in the neighbor’s rice fields. I ran an inspired Set One in the monkey temple among a thousand screeching monjets!
  • Mas Cheryl Hagen, a grandma who has been training about 4 years: At the beach, on my patio, but where I got the strangest looks was in the hallways, and ladies room at Portland Community College, usually around mid-terms and finals.
  • Mas Krystin Krause: The main basketball courts at the student gym at Notre Dame. The courts are open to a track two stories up, and the whole place echoed. Also, an empty room above a bar in Antigua, Guatemala. A yoga school used the space during the morning, but the owner of the bar let me use the room in the afternoons sometimes. He was an ex-pat from New Orleans and we bonded over talk of Spanish moss, live oaks, and zydeco music.
  • Pendekkar Scott Wagenhoffer-Zahn has been training since he was a little boy. He works for a hotel in Provincetown, MA and during off-season, he lives on site to take care of the place, and has it all to himself! He likes to train in the lobby!
  • Nils Hasche-Vasquez is a Second Degree Black Belt running the Tulen School in New York City. He is a Professional Fine Artist and his work has been featured in numerous publications and media: A couple of years ago I meditated and trained on Kailua Beach in Hawaii. It was intense energy and really cool.
  • Pendekkar Tim Cuscaden is a busy dad who appreciates and loves beauty. He remembers: In the hospital, I ran Set Three whilst awaiting a fellow practitioners surgery!
  • Bantoe Brett AugsJoost is getting ready to test for 4th degree/Pendekkar: Burning Man.
  • Mas Justine Metteer, Brown Sash, and mom to a very busy toddler: Super light crawling, between early contractions in the middle of the night back when my son was induced.
  • Bantoe Shannon Foxley, mom of two and Counselor at an Elementary School: Set One in the jungle in Ecuador with monkeys watching.
  • Mas Kim Manchester, First Degree Black Belt, mom, photographer and professor at PCC: Pelejaron Poekoe in my tent on the Pacific Crest Trail at 9,000 feet. Oh! And in the old racquetball courts at PCC.
  • Mas Layli Conway, First Degree Black Belt and brand new mom: Set One during our honeymoon on a secluded beach in Cuixmala Mexico. The shower – go figure, all my Kumbongs come to me in the shower. And just last week I chanted ‘I’m a strong and powerful kid’ during my strongest active labor contractions. It helped!
  • Bantoe Dee Hampton who lives and trains in Oakland, CA at Studio Naga: On the way to Reno stopped at tiny piece of grass along side some train tracks ran forms. Forward rolls in casino in Reno: I think there’s a theme!