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!

 

Imagine…

Imagine a world where everybody grows up learning self-defense just like they do riding a bike, swimming, learning first aid…

Raleigh Hills Self Defense 1

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What would it be like for kids to grow up with the absence of fear, knowing that they are safe? Knowing they have a right to be safe, knowing they have the skills to stay safe?

 

Hi, my name is Goeroe Silvia, I run Tulen Center in SW Pdx. We’ve launched an Indegogo Campaign with the intention of raising $3500 or better for the Tulen Foundation. The Tulen Foundation is a national non-profit 501c set up to make self-defense and empowerment training available for people from all walks of life all across the country. Please donate here!

I think of self-defense training as a basic life skill. Kind of like swimming, first aid and fireMas Zoe and Mas Matt drills. People need to know how to protect themselves from all sorts of people and situations so they can live with confidence. Tulen Center provides free self-defense classes in elementary, middle and high schools in the Southwest Portland and Beaverton neighborhoods. We teach free classes at Rec Centers, Portland State University and wherever and whenever we can! There are costs associated with providing these classes and the Tulen Foundation helps defer them.

In the martial art we train, Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen, the first six months to a year of sweeptraining is completely focused on basic and very effective self-defense skills, For people qualify, who want that depth of training but can’t afford it, the Tulen Foundation provides partial scholarships.

A lot of parents want their kids to learn self-defense but live paycheck to paycheck and struggle with the basics, let alone sending their kids to a martial arts school or self-defense workshops. Your gift will go directly toward supporting families so their kids can get these life skills that are so important in the world we live in today.

In the elementary school closest to Tulen Center, 34% of the kids qualify for free or reduced lunches and the Beaverton School District has the highest number of homeless kids in the state. The kids in our neighborhood can benefit from self-defense training and you can help them get it! You can donate now through PayPal or with a debit or credit card. Thanks in advance for your tax-deductable contribution!

 

 

Cyberspace Self Defense: Internet and Social Media Dos and Don’ts

As a mom and a self-defense teacher, the concept of keeping our kids safe in the online world has always been interesting but somewhat perplexing. Here are some pointers and resources I have compiled with help from friends, folks who work with kids or with Internet security, and from various organizations. The list is a work in progress. Please add your comments and share this blog so we can spread the word and continue to learn from one another as the conversation continues!

Across the board, advice is to keep talking! Keep the avenues of communication flowing between yourself and your kids. Know what they are up to. Share your concerns openly and honestly and educate them to think twice and make safe and smart choices. Focus on supporting them in their growing independence, guiding them through the rough spots, and make hard and fast rules as needed. And, of course, limit the time they spend online. Encourage their active engagement with real people in face-to-face settings.

Following the list are some links to resources you might find useful, handy or interesting. Phineas and Ferb did a Public Service Announcement about safety online. There’s an NPR piece about teaching kids to fight, and a link to registering for my next Womens’ and Kids’ self-defense classes. You’ll find a link to a program designed for parents and kids as they negotiate the online world together. I hope you find this information useful. Some of these bullet points are posed as suggestions, others as questions you might want to think through together.

  • Internet (iTouch/phone/laptop) allowed only in common areas of the house. Phones plugged in at night in the kitchen.
  • Don’t post your personal info anywhere: address, phone number, where you are going to be, when you are leaving town… Don’t post a photo of your learner’s permit or driver’s license no matter how proud you are of it! If you absolutely have to fill in a form or post some personal information online, clear it with your adults.
  • Lock down the various privacy settings on all social media accounts.
  • What about people you don’t know or your family doesn’t know in the real world? People who want to friend or follow you? Is that OK? (probably not!)
  • Text/Social media gone awry: when kids notice feelings building, feelings of hurt, anger, frustration, teach them to STOP. The tone of text and email can be very easily misunderstood. These misunderstandings can escalate. STOP. Bring in your adult. Ask for help with this. Go in person/face to face and make it right.
  • Parents are friended on FB, follow you on Instagram, see what you’re reading on Tumblr, what you’re responding to on ASK, see who you are interacting with on KIK, etc. Parents have the passwords. If you can’t say it to your parent’s face, don’t post it. Watch for sexually explicit language and hateful language. Be cautious and don’t engage in any give and take that doesn’t feel right. Trust your gut.
  • Don’t blindly trust that who and what people say they are online is TRUE. Creepy people can create online profiles that look perfectly safe. But their intent is to get closer to you, get personal information, get photos of you, worst case scenario, meet up with you. Basic rule of thumb: if you don’t know them in the real world, if they aren’t a friend of your family, don’t friend or follow them, or let them follow you.
  • Images: Instagram, Snapchat, Pintrest, etc. If you can’t show your grandma or your dad, don’t share it. Everything you post online lasts FOREVER! Future employers, mentors, college admissions officers and the law will all be able to see your online life/digital footprint for all time. Think ahead!
  • Take the location services off of your photos so that when you post images, they don’t announce to the world where you are.
  • What about following links or requests to redirect you to another site? …they could lead to viruses at best, or fishing scams or porn sites. Once you get an image in your brain, it is there forever. It can’t be unseen.
  • No sexting. Period.
  • Video chats? With whom? Remember that when you facetime or video chat with someone, there might be someone listening in that you don’t know about. A third party may be in the room. Be sure of your privacy and watch what you say.
  •  Cyberbullying: If you see something hurtful, say something to an adult. Stop the dialogue, don’t engage. Get help right away.
  •  As in all things. Be smart. Make good choices. Think before you hit “send” or “post” or “like”. If you aren’t sure, don’t do it. Ask first. There are Internet predators, human traffickers, perverts and creeps out there. There are so many unknowns in the online world, and so many things that are not in our own control, it’s imperative to have good awareness around all the decisions you make.
  •  Keep up an active offline life! Keep the face-to-face relationships going. Sports, activities, musical instruments, art projects…
  • Take self-defense classes, train martial arts! The physical skills that are learned on the training floor help build confidence. The lessons and strategies we learn about protecting ourselves translate or “generalize” from the floor into our everyday lives.
  • Where kids go online to interact is constantly changing as new Apps, sites and possibilities are developed. Keep engaged with your kids and learn about what they are up to.
  • HOMEWORK: Concretize your rules at home. Take time to make an agreement with one another if you haven’t already. If you already have an agreement, revisit it, keep talking!

A Few Resources:

Traditional Martial Arts and Kids With Special Needs

In 1990, I graduated from Portland State University with my Master’s Degree in Special Education. My focus was children with “Behavior Disorders”, which is a broad term pretty much used to describe kids in a school setting who are having lots of challenges that haven’t been diagnosed. And as the name implies, they generally have behaviors that are distracting, and possibly hurtful, to themselves and others.

The Master’s Program was interesting and challenging and my professors and schoolmates were awesome. I have always chosen to work with kids, and this population in particular fascinated me. While studying at Portland State University, I was also training Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen, and during that time earned the ranks of Gold and then Blue sash. Many of my projects and papers involved researching questions I had about how martial arts training might benefit kids with different types of learning challenges.

My gut told me there was something there, and my research helped me find lots of connections, specifically with regards to training traditional martial arts such as Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen. I learned to make a distinction between westernized martial arts schools and traditional martial arts schools. Westernized martial arts schools generally focus on competition like tournaments, and fast progression through the ranks, regardless of skill development, with relatively few checks and balances on the ego. For example, I’ve heard of six year olds getting black belts after training for a year. I’ve heard of payments that can be made to ensure that the student gets a black belt within a specific – and usually short – period of time.

What I found is that traditional martial arts systems teach skills that kids with challenges can really use. Skills like self-control, compassion, creating and nurturing an internal structure, learning about the importance of respect and character. Through training traditional martial arts, a student builds strength and confidence while being encouraged and supported to become a leader and role model. In a traditional martial arts school, each rank is earned through incredibly hard work. Tests challenge the strength, character and endurance of each student. Practitioners feel the authenticity of that experience along with the deep joy that comes with achievement as they are recognized and appreciated for their growth and development.

My dad always says to appreciate all the things you learn, because the lessons intertwine and weave throughout your life and find their way back to you when you need them. I think he was onto something!

Goeroe Silvia Smart

July 2013

Words from a Grateful Mom

I’m writing this review for you parents out there.

Short version: Send your kids here.  Especially if they’re girls.

Medium version: The school is not competitive, there’s no lockstep testing schedule, no tournaments; it’s just all about inner and outer strength, what each person can achieve and being the best you can be.  Many of the top people at the studio are strong women whom everyone respects, and everyone supports each other no matter how old or young, how experienced or inexperienced you are.  Send your kids here.

Longer version: My daughter started training when she was eight.  She trained for ten years, until she left for college; now she trains when she comes home on vacation, and trains at college with others in the area.  Training taught my daughter all the things that martial arts always teaches – strength, discipline, respect, responsibility – and way more.  It gave my daughter a variety of strong women to look up to, supportive men to work with, and a place where she was always loved for herself, even when the world was full of mean girls.  It taught her that goals and prizes don’t come on some set schedule – and that sometimes you think you’re ready and you still have to wait.  It gave her both pride and humility when as a child she was expected to teach adults of lesser rank; and it taught her patience and open-heartedness as some of her peers passed her.  It gave her friends of all ages, some of whom are her mentors and some of whom she has mentored, and all of whom support each other in the most amazing network.

I used to say that if my daughter ran away from home, I would know where she was, and I would know that she was in strong, good hands.  A mother is lucky if she can say that.  Send your kids here.

By Mas Naomi’s Mom

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Mas Naomi (left) with Mas Goeroe Jennifer (center) and Pendekkar Amber (right) at a recent demo in Boston. Beautiful, strong and powerful women!

In the Most Unexpected Places

By Goeroe Silvia Smart

I train Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen and have for quite a number of years. I love it. I love the lessons I learn, I love my Teachers, my teammates and the students and families at my school. I love the physical workout, the self-defense and the way my confidence has grown. I love the sense of family that comes with being part of the Tulen Community. The love I feel is deep and abiding, the connections are sure and real and strong.

“Expect the unexpected” is a saying we have in our art. And sure enough, Poekoelan happens in the most unexpected places.

 

My daughter attends an arts magnet school in our area, where she was recently in a play. One night last weekend, I was the adult behind the scenes. My job was to hang out in case there was an emergency. Since the kids are so professional and amazing, I was just sitting around in a backstage office, enjoying catching up on some reading.

 

Around mid-performance, my daughter came rushing in with a handful of performers who were waiting to go on stage. “My friends want to talk to you about self-defense!” Over the years, I’ve learned that when people want to “talk about self defense” it usually means they have some fears and they’re looking for answers to their frightening “what if”s.

 

I put down my book and sure enough, one by one, the kids told me about what they were the most worried about, what they’ve seen or heard and situations they were frightened they might encounter. They were open and so very pure.

 

“What do you do if someone grabs you and tries to punch you?” We have a hold called “Blouse Grip with Punch”. I had my daughter grab my shirt with one hand and punch me with the other, so we could demonstrate the defense. They thought that was pretty cool! I asked them if they wanted to learn it. My offer was received with such enthusiasm and joy that my whole spirit started to sing. This is what I love!

 

My new students stood behind me and we practiced the movement in the air. Then they got to do it with an “attacker” AKA, my daughter. They were so excited! They “got” the movement quickly and beautifully. Such eager and fast learners! So we did more. “What if someone’s choking you from behind?” “What if you get pushed to the ground?” “What if someone puts a gun in your face?”

 

The performers needed to get on stage, but they came back to visit me later and we did some more. For the rest of the evening, this became the backstage theme. The students practiced on one another, and they even started showing the moves to other performers and crew members too. They were on fire!

 

The Fantasticks

 

Experiencing the excitement and empowerment of the kids was incredible. They came to me with some very specific fears, fears that burdened them and held them down, and when they left, they’d faced those fears and learned very practical ways to handle some scary situations.

 

 (This is a photo of “The Fantasticks” performed at the Arts and Communication Magnet Academy, a public school in Beaverton, OR.)

 

This is a living art. It lives in each of us as we practice it and pass it along. The art thrived that night in the hearts of those of us in that backstage office. There I was, reading a book. Next thing I know, I’m teaching kids to flip someone over their back. When we stay open and ready, the greatest things can happen. “Expect the Unexpected!”

 

Poekoelan Finds You

I know I harp on this a lot, but you are really never too old to train Poekoelan. With age comes wisdom. You might be scared, yes, but you are not too old. The Poekoelan Community loves and cherishes all of our students, from the youngest newborn to the oldest Grampa. There is room for everyone here, this is what we do. Mas Cheryl, from our sister school, One With Heart Tulen Center in North Portland, has some words of wisdom about how she, a Grandma, started on her training path.

GBA Trainer Family

 

To the left, you’ll see some advanced students in our art. You don’t have to look too closely to notice some gray hairs. Really, there’s a place for you in Poekoelan no matter how old you are!

 

How Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen Found Me

by Cheryl Hagen

My first Instructor, Bantoe Gerry, once said “Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen finds you, you don’t find it.”

At first I wasn’t sure what he meant. But I now know this was true for me and my family.

When my granddaughter Tara was in first grade at Beach School she came home excited about an afterschool self-defense class called “No, Go, Tell, Yell.” After she attended the class we were invited to St. Johns to a place called One With Heart.  We had looked at other martial arts schools for the Tara and her brother, but hadn’t found a place that felt quite right. I was no longer looking. As soon as we walked into One With Heart I said to my daughter “sign them up.” I could feel the positive energy immediately.  I noticed everyone was talking and laughing; smiles everywhere, even the instructors. We sat down, watched, and signed Tara up that day.

Tara loves training. She tried for some time to get me to train with her; a grandma, granddaughter thing.  I told her I couldn’t do it because of my age and physical condition. I honestly didn’t think I could do it.  But many people saw more in me than I saw in myself. One student asked me why I didn’t train. I told her what I told Tara; I was too old and I wasn’t in good enough shape. She pointed out there is no better way to get into shape than to start working out. And she pointed out that there was one student who was older than me when she started training and was now close to earning her Black Belt. I wasn’t completely convinced, but Tara was relentless so I continued to think about it. Finally, at age 52, a smoker, not the best shape, I decided to give it a try.  I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. That was almost three years ago.

Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen is much more than a martial art. Training has helped me meet and overcome life challenges and I know this is true for many people. There are times during training when I have felt frustrated because physical injuries make certain things difficult to do.  When I am frustrated Bantoe Gerry reminds me that Poekoelan is like a broken mirror, no two students will look the same.  Just like a mirror when you break it, all the little pieces are different, yet together they are complete.  So even though I have had to make modifications in my training I can see that I am part of something bigger. And my part is as important as any other.

Today my daughter and three of my grandchildren train. We are growing together. Since I began training, my physical endurance has improved.  My brain is more alert. My stress level has gone down.  My self-confidence rises with each challenge I overcome. I am more patient than ever before.  And I have just about quite smoking.

I am continuously finding new strengths I never knew I had.   I tell my story because if one person takes the challenge I took from my granddaughter, that person may find strength they never knew they had.  Bantoe Gerry once told me “Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen finds you, you don’t find it.” I never thought I would train a martial art. I certainly wasn’t looking for one.  I feel so fortunate that Poekoelan found me.

Meet the Langmanns, Tulen Center’s May Family of the Month!

The Langmann Family on one of their snowy adventures!

The Langmanns work and play hard. They put their heart and soul into everything they do. They are always off climbing some mountain or riding their bikes someplace amazing. Dad, Vince, was in an Iron Man competition last summer and is on the Mt. Hood Ski Patrol all winter on the weekends. Birgit, mom, rides her bike to and from the University of Portland every day. During Mas Jasmine’s brown sash test, the entire family ran the five miles with her all the way. This is no ordinary family!

Mas Jasmine is 12 and will be testing for the rank of black belt this month on the 18th. The test is long and challenging. It doesn’t surprise me that Mas Jasmine is as courageous as she is. I’ve seen her family’s determination to support her training and I’ve seen their consistency over the years. I’ve felt their understanding that this isn’t just any martial art, but is also an incredible road to self development. Their comitment to one another, to their daughter and to Tulen Center is beautiful. It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to the Langmann family.

The Langmanns have been a part of the Tulen Center family for over 5 years. Brigit and Vince are both in the medical field. We have seen Brigit work hard at her studies and she is about to graduate and get her nursing degree. The Langmanns have two beautiful daughters:  Mas Jasmine (12) and Sophia (10). They have lived in Portland since 2004. In August, we will be very sad to say goodbye as they move off to live on the East Coast and we hope they will come back and visit us whenever they can. Meanwhile, we’ll have to plan field trips to Albany, New York!

How did you become a part of the Poekoelan Family?

“My youngest daughter Sophia took a Little Monkeys class at the Garden Home Rec Center. She enjoyed it, but afterwards, Jasmine asked me if she could try it out. Sophia eventually stopped training but Jasmine has been a student ever since.” -Brigit

What activities do you do as a family? What will you miss about Portland?

“We like anything outside: hiking, biking, reading, and just adventuring. Our favorite dinners are curry and tacos! But those don’t really go together… We will miss the people in Portland. However, we do love new experiences.” -Brigit

What do you love about Poekoelan?

“I love Poekoelan because I love training and I love the people that train here too. I think that Poekoelan is very important because a girl needs to know how to protect herself if she is walking alone. I know that I can defend myself! I am very excited for my Black Belt test and I have been training very hard.” –Mas Jasmine

I’m Too Old to Start Training!!!!!

I can’t tell you how often I hear this! In the past twenty plus years I’ve known so many wonderful people that started training Poekoelan in their 40’s 50’s and 60’s that I just have to smile. You are NEVER too old to start training! You might be afraid, but you are NOT too old! We have a saying: You are limitless! You can do this! Your Teachers and Instructors believe in you and we are there to guide you and support you every step of the way. And some of us are even older than you are!

 

I will let my wonderful teammates speak for themselves:

 

BANTOE FARLEY WELCH, 3RD DEGREE BLACK BELT:

I am now too old to STOP training!

 

It was 1995 – I was 45 years old. I had been watching our son, Mas Brendan, train with Goeroe Karin for at least a couple of months. Bantoe Katherine had tested for Gold … it felt like the ship was leaving the shore and I had to jump on or be left behind.

 

Honestly, I tried to ease into my training … and I was successful with that (my nature is not to be very hard on myself) until that fateful day when Bantoe Katherine convinced me it was time to see what it was like at the evening classes. You already know the story: Goeroe Jeff’s mat: me, 7-ft tall Mas Nick and Mas Cathy Cummins (Olympic judo practitioner) – I really did limp home from that one, but I also realized that it was all survivable. That experience was pivotal in my early training.

 

The most challenging thing about starting to train was letting go of the fear of failure – just stepping onto the mat for the first time is an accomplishment. Is it harder when you are in your forties? I think it’s really the same at any age. That first step is really the hardest. Of course, in PTT, there are many, many steps. The opportunity to visualize your fear – burn it – and watch intention emerge from the ashes – is always present.

 

I wish I could communicate everything I’ve learned about myself by training – but that’s not possible. I carry with me all the amazing experiences I have had with my teachers and my teammates – so many powerful events. You accept the gifts by simply saying “yes” – and it all flows from there. It is the beauty of this art that I had a very similar experience this weekend at GBA as I had 17 years ago when I first stepped on the mat. Accept, breath, flow and don’t be concerned with outcomes.

 

Gatong rajong,

Bantoe Farley

 

 

MAS DIVONNA RATLIFF, GREEN SASH/CUN TAO BLACK BELT:

I started training a few months after turning 50.  I was feeling very old, tired, and overweight.  One day I had to run to catch up a walk signal and couldn’t believe how hard it was to get my body to move against gravity!  And I would avoid sitting on the floor because it was so hard to get up again!  It was depressing to see my future of increasing disability ahead of me.  I had once been in very good shape, when I trained in martial arts more than 20 years previously.  When my daughter started training in Karate, it brought back those memories and that longing to be able to move in that way and feel that good again.  But I thought I was too old, and I felt very intimidated by all those young, strong people training, and I just didn’t feel safe exposing my weakness in that environment.  I was afraid of others’, and my own, judgment.  

 

When the karate school closed my daughter & I eventually found Tulen Center and she started training there.  What a difference!  After a few months being there and watching how the instructors worked with people, I started to imagine myself letting down my guard enough to get moving again.  It took me a long time to get up the courage to walk onto the training floor.  Then one night I had a dream.  I was training a martial art, and the teacher in my dream said to me: “the hardest part is walking through the door.”  It was so true!  For the first couple of years, every time I went to train was not just physical exercise, it was an exercise in overcoming my fears and self-doubt enough to step onto the training floor. I was often the oldest and most out-of-shape person there.  Many times I lost the battle and stayed home, but I kept going back.  My instructors and the other students were very kind and patient.  They met me where I was, working with me to improve little by little.  Every time I finished class, I felt an achievement I didn’t get anyplace else.  At first I thought the training was all about the physical, but now I realize that breaking through the fear that held me back was and still is the biggest part of my training.  It’s no longer hard to get myself to class, but I am always pushing into the edge of my limitations, both real and perceived.  It’s not always comfortable, but it’s an exciting place to be.  The best thing about it is that I don’t have to worry about “trying” to move forward.  I know that if I just keep walking through the door, the transformation happens. 

 

Five years after stepping onto the training floor for the first time, I am amazed and grateful at my progress.  I can move in ways I no longer thought possible, I struggle much less with depression, I’ve lost more than 30 pounds, and I’m healthier than I have been in 20 years.  Growing older is not the depressing progression of infirmity it once appeared to be.  Most importantly, though, I look at the possibilities in my life in a whole new way.  The transformation is still very much in process, and I understand that it’s never “done.”  In Poekoelan, our sash color is the outward display of how far we have come and how much we have left to learn.  Every class we practice acceptance of our rank, and for me the acceptance extends to where I am in life.  It is exciting to know that the only thing I need to do to keep the process moving forward is to keep showing up for class.

 

 

MAS CHRISTINA TRAUNWEISER, 1ST DEGREE BLACK BELT:

Mas Christina Training with Mas Goeroe Agoeng Barbara

 

 

I started training when my daughter opened her new school as a way to support her endeavor, and to hang out with the lovely people who were her friends and students.  I had always admired and respected the practice of Poekoelan, and a part of me had always looked for a way to try it.  I was 62 years young.

 

I think the first “secret” for me was to have very small goals.  They were as follows.

  • Have fun
  • Be safe
  • Enjoy the process
  • Fear not

 

I had no ambition other than that.  No one was more surprised than me when after MANY months in Cun Tao I was awarded a white sash.  I would have been perfectly happy to remain a white sash forever.

 

Worried about falling?  I still don’t do it full on.  Bones are kinda old, and joints are kinda stiff.

 

Worried about fighting?  Never fear.  No one is allowed to really hurt older people.  Everyone in all the schools has heard the cry “DON’T HURT MY MOM!”  Except for minor bumps, and a small bruise here and there to brag about, I rarely even notice a strike.

 

As I recall my incredible promotions from sash to sash– to brown sash which brought everyone to tears, and my equally incredible promotion to black belt (MORE TEARS!)  I also recall that in Poekoelan, each person has their own test, and Poekoelan or not, we are testing every day of our lives.  So why not test with a warm, supportive group who will carry your load when you are having trouble doing it yourself?

 

Poekoelan is truly the “broken mirror” form of martial arts.

 

Xoxoxoxo Mas Mom