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Unpacking Our Code Of Ethics: How We Serve The People

Cuong Nhu students should strive to improve themselves and their abilities in the martial arts in order to serve the people.

This is the first tenet of the Cuong Nhu Code of Ethics.  It is one of the guiding principles of our training.  In class, we don’t talk about it in these words often, but it is part of what we do every day.  We do push-ups to strengthen our character, we kick targets to develop control, and we practice our basics to cultivate persistence.

FAQ-featuredThis first tenet speaks of improvement.  “Students should strive to improve themselves.”  As martial artists, we are always stretching ourselves, reaching for the next level and seeking perfection.  Perfection is unattainable, but it is in our search for it that we improve.  It is foremost an internal search – we focus on improving ourselves, rather than others and the world around us.  As the four-year-olds in the Pre-Karate class know, the only thing we can control is ourselves.  Self-control is one of the first steps to self-improvement.  And self-control requires honesty, acceptance, and discipline.  We have to be honest with ourselves.  We have to see things as they really are, not simply as we wish them to be.  We have to accept these truths, even if they make us uncomfortable or hurt our egos.  And finally, we have to have the discipline and courage to change, to make the difficult decisions that set us on the path to improvement.

In every class we strive to improve our martial arts abilities.  We work to make our reverse punches faster, our lower blocks load at the ear every time, and our front foot straight in each back stance.  Getting it right once is not enough; we seek consistency through perseverance.

Note that we do not just improve our martial arts abilities.  We improve ourselves AND our abilities in the martial arts.  Seeking perfection of our physical abilities is not enough; we must also develop our character.

And here is where the apparent paradox comes in.  We focus on ourselves, improving our own abilities and developing our own character.  But we do this “in order to serve the people.”  How does this work?  How do we improve ourselves in order to serve others?  This is where the WHY comes in.  Why do we study martial arts?  We do not study martial arts to show off, to become stronger, to bully others, or to feel pride.  Our reasons cannot be so selfish.  We seek to serve others, to lead by example, and to help our community.

Serving the people is an admirable goal.  Who wouldn’t want to make the world a better place and help others?  But going from wanting to do so to actually doing it is another matter.  Choosing to speak up for those who can’t takes self-confidence and courage.  Staying on the sidelines and criticizing is easy and safe.  Stepping into a volatile situation to stand up for others requires persistence, strength of character, courage, and discipline.  And to do so safely, we must know our limitations and be realistic about our abilities.  As martial artists, we have the tools needed to take these steps.  We have the ability to do so safely.  And finally, we have the responsibility to choose this path and serve the people.

Our Code of Ethics is dense; it takes some digging to uncover its meanings.  And it takes some interpretation to decide what it means to you.  What is your understanding of this first tenet?  How will you improve yourself in order to serve the people?

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NEW Beginning Adult Class This Fall!

Let’s be honest.  Working out by yourself is tough.  For most of us, staying motivated while solo is nearly impossible.  That’s why our bike tires are flat, our running shoes gather dust in the trunk of our car, and we only go to the gym when it’s time to renew our membership.

Remember when you were in school and were part of a team?  That camaraderie of an athletic community is harder to find as an adult.  And finding one that isn’t only about competition is even more difficult.  If what you really want is to get in shape while having fun with other Oaklanders, look no further!

We are excited to announce a new class coming this fall!  The Beginning Adult Class is an introductory martial arts class for new students (18 or older) in Oakland.  Join us if you want to get in shape, learn self-defense skills, build your confidence, find a healthy outlet for stress, give martial arts a try, and train with a group of enthusiastic like-minded individuals.

When does the class start and how often does it meet?

The class begins September 4, 2018.  Classes are on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:30 to 8:30 pm.  Students can also attend the Saturday morning outdoor class for all ages and ranks (9:30-10:30 am).

The Beginning Adult Class is a three month commitment.  After that, students may either continue the in the Beginning Class or may move into the All Ranks Adult Class.

How do I sign up?

Enrollment is now open!  Click here to reserve your space today.  Once you have submitted the form, we will contact you to confirm your enrollment and answer additional questions.

How much does it cost?  And are there any discounts?

We are running a Beginners Bring-A-Friend Special – two students for just $299!

This three month class is always a great deal (the regular price is only $174), but now if you sign up with a friend you can save $49.

After the first three month, students can continue at the normal rate of just $58 per month.

Where can I learn more?

For more details and to sign up for the class, click here.  You can also check out the Adult Program page to learn more about our martial arts program.  If you have additional questions, please email us at info@redwood-dojo.com

A Glimpse Into Training Camp

Four weeks ago, I woke up in a dorm room at the University of North Carolina.  The excitement began to set in as the sleepiness wore off.  I was 2,342 miles from home and my toddler, about to embark on four days of living the martial artist’s dream.  I was at training camp; my schedule was cleared, with nothing but Cuong Nhu on the docket for the holiday weekend.

I’ve been to training camp eight times before.  I’ve flown across the country, taken red-eye-multi-layover flights, and one time even a greyhound bus.  And every time it has been totally worth it.  Worth the time, energy, and expense needed to get there.  Once at camp, it’s like time stops.  Everything in the “real world” fades away and doesn’t matter.  It is four days of training hard, learning new things, working out with your counterparts from near and far, developing new friendships, and celebrating the people who make up Cuong Nhu.

This year was the first time I’ve gone since becoming a mom.  My daughter is almost two, and while I missed her a great deal, I was also thrilled to immerse myself in the training camp experience once again.  I joined some three hundred and fifty people, including Sensei Didi and Sensei Paul from Redwood Dojo, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  I re-connected with the Cuong Nhu family that is spread across the country.

From discussing the theory of quantum physics with the head of Unity Martial Arts in Arkansas, to exploring the subtleties of soft-style with instructors from World Headquarters, to debating where to find the supplies needed to make a rope dart with brown belts from Rohai Dojo, the camp experience is always a unique one.  This year was especially significant because it included Sensei Didi’s promotion to Shichidan (7th degree master).  You may have noticed her new belt when we returned from IATC (International Annual Training Camp).

Though there is no way to really capture the training camp experience, you can catch of glimpse of it through some photos here.

Training camp sounds great!  Can I go to IATC next year?

Yes! All Cuong Nhu students are welcome.  There are classes for all ranks, for kids and adults.  Redwood Dojo students and instructors make the trip out regularly.  It is always on Memorial Day weekend, so you can start planning now!

If you want a taste of training camp but aren’t ready to fly across the country, we bring the camp to you!  Each year we have West Cost Training Camp here in the Bay Area.  Mark your calendars now – it will be September 28-29, 2018.  With so many great instructors and students visiting from all over the country, be sure you don’t miss out!

P.S. A big thank you to those who stayed behind and taught classes while we were away at camp!

Summer Schedule for July

Summer is almost here!  This summer, as we do most years, we will consolidate our schedule of classes.  The regular schedule will continue through the month of June and will resume on Monday, August 6.  For the month of July, all kids (ages six and up) will meet on Tuesday and Thursday at 5 pm.  The Pre-Karate class (ages four and a half and five) will meet on Tuesdays at 4.  Teen and adult class as well as Saturday class will continue as usual.

Schedule for July:

schedule July2018

  • Pre-Karate will meet Tuesday at 4 pm (NO classes on Monday).
  • ALL kids ages 6 and up (white belt through blue belt) will meet Tuesday and Thursday at 5 pm.
  • Teens and adults will meet Tuesday and Thursday from 6 to 7:30 pm.
  • Adults, teens, and children (ages 6 and up) meet on Saturday from 9:30 to 10:30 am.

If you have a busy summer ahead of you and are planning on being away from the dojo, please let us know.  If you will be with us all summer, great!  We continue all year long and have some great training planned for those who are staying in town.

Looking for a summer camp?  Sign up for Karate Summer Camp at Rohai Dojo!  Sensei Didi will be teaching summer camps at our sister school in Berkeley.  There are three camps (plus an advanced camp) this year.  Kids always love karate summer camp; learn more and sign up here!

Holiday Schedule

We are coming up on the end of 2017 – our 26th year!  For the end of December and beginning of January the Redwood Heights Recreation Center will be closed.  Our last class of the year will be Saturday, December 23.  Classes will resume at Redwood Dojo on Thursday, January 4 for current students.  New students will begin on Monday, January 8 or Tuesday, January 9.

But don’t worry, you will still have the opportunity to practice over the holidays!

It is a Redwood Dojo tradition for students to visit Berkeley Cuong Nhu Karate (Rohai Dojo) over the holidays, to meet new friends and practice Cuong Nhu at our “sister school.”  All students are invited and encouraged to attend make-up classes Wednesday, December 27 through Friday, December 29.  Kid/Peewee classes are from 5 to 6 PM and Teen/Adult classes are from 6 to 7 PM.  See the schedule below for details.

2017 holiday sched2

Rohai Dojo is located at 1819 San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley, 1.5 blocks north of University Avenue, between Hearst and Delaware.  Whether you go to Berkeley or not, don’t forget to practice!

We look forward to closing out a great year at the dojo, and then…

We’ll launch into 2018 with a 26th Anniversary Celebration!

January 21: Be sure to mark this exciting event on your calendars!  The Redwood Dojo celebration will include a demonstration by students and a potluck party.  We want all students to participate in the demonstration.  Family and friends are invited to watch, and then join the party fun.  Keep an eye out for more details to follow.

Fall 2017 happenings…

As summer draws to a close all too soon, and kids get ready to return to school, we at Redwood Dojo are looking forward to returning to our full schedule, starting on Monday, August 21st.

If you’ve been away for the summer, we look forward to having you back! Stop by and let us know you’ll be in class, so we can save your space and make our lesson plans. If you’re a former member of “peewees” now ready for “big kids’ class” (age 6-7), plan to attend on Mondays at 5 pm and Thursdays at 4. All new and returning students – check the class schedule here, and let us know if you have any questions about which class to attend.

Sensei Lara is in the house! If you trained in the dojo this summer, you had a chance to take class with Sensei Lara Tribe-Jones, and she’s now going to be a regular instructor at Redwood Dojo. Sensei Lara grew up in the dojo (so to speak)! That is, she began training here when she was a young student at Redwood Heights Elementary, earned her black belt with us, then went away to college after graduating from Oakland Tech.

Demo at Sarah's Science "Ninja Science Week"
Sensei Lara prepares a group of Redwood and Rohai Dojo students for a Cuong Nhu demonstration at Sarah’s Science camp in Roberts Regional Park.

Luckily for Redwood Dojo, she returned to Oakland after college and continued her martial arts training while earning a masters degree and teaching middle school math in OUSD. Now we can all benefit from her considerable talents as an instructor. Just one more good reason to come take class.

West Coast Training Camp is on our calendar; be sure to put it on yours! Every fall, the Bay Area Cuong Nhu community hosts a martial arts training weekend for all ages and levels, featuring Grandmaster Quynh Ngo, Cuong Nhu’s head-of-style, and many of the top instructors in our organization. This year it’s scheduled for October 6th & 7th. Classes are held on Friday evening and all day Saturday (including a catered lunch), at nearby Alameda High School. Children age 6 & up are welcome (we make a point of bringing in instructors who love to teach kids), and of course, there will be a wide range of special classes for adults and teens. Details can be found at Berkeley Cuong Nhu Karate’s website, or on the Facebook event page. Don’t miss it!

Welcome, and welcome back! Fall schedule under way.

As promised in the previous post, our full class schedule resumed last Monday, August 22, and Sensei Didi is back in the dojo full time, hoping to see everyone back in class again. All sections are open to new students at this time. Let’s get started!

And West Coast Training Camp is coming up, too! This very special martial arts seminar for all ages and levels takes place every year near the end of September, and we encourage everyone – including kids age 6 & up – to take part. We bring high-ranking Cuong Nhu instructors from across the U.S., including head-of-style Grandmaster Quynh Ngo, to the Bay Area, so all of you will have the chance to meet them and take class. (This is much easier for most of you than attending Cuong Nhu’s annual training camp in North Carolina.)

For more information please CLICK HERE to read about it – and register! – on Berkeley Cuong Nhu Karate‘s website. Or visit the Facebook WCTC Event Page.

2016 Summer Schedule – Important Info

Summer is coming, and many of you will miss some training due to vacation travel and other special activities. Just the same, be sure to come to class when you’re in town, and keep up your practice while on vacation so you won’t fall behind in your skills. Please remember to let your instructor know when you will be away.

We’re trying something new with the Summer Schedule this year. Instead of tying it to the calendar months of July and August, we’re matching it more closely to the Oakland Unified School District calendar, so the regular year-round schedule will be back in operation when kids return to school in late August. So (read carefully here!), here is the 2016 Redwood Dojo Summer Schedule:

Our regular schedule runs through Saturday, June 18 (a full week after school lets out). Spring students will then finish the month of June on summer schedule.

Summer schedule begins the week of June 20, as follows:

  •  No classes on Mondays.
  • Peewee Karate meets TUESDAYS 4 to 5 p.m.
  • All kids, all ranks, meet Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5 to 6 p.m.
  • Teens and Adults meet Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6 to 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday Class, all ages (6 through adult), meets as usual, 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. OUTDOORS.
  • Advanced adult workout 7:30 to 8:30 at instructor’s discretion

Summer Schedule ends and full schedule returns Monday, August 22.

Something else new this year: Sensei Didi will be taking the Summer Session off from teaching (for the first time in 25 years), in order to work on some writing projects. Don’t panic! Three excellent instructors have taken responsibility for the classes; they will make sure you get a great workout, learn new things, progress toward your next rank, and have fun. Sensei Didi will check in from time to time, and will return on August 22nd.

Meanwhile, you may still direct questions to Sensei Didi by email: redwoodojo[at]earthlink.net.

In addition, Sensei Didi will still be co-instructing the Martial Arts Summer Camps at Rohai Dojo in Berkeley. For more information about these week-long, all-day camps, download the flyer summer camp 2016, or call Berkeley Cuong Nhu Karate, 510-526-4880.

It’s going to be a great summer. See you at the dojo!

Spring Tournament: New Event for Parents!

Rohai Dojo’s Spring Tournament (which this year takes place the day before Spring, on Saturday, March 19) has always had a special division for Family Team Kata (parents and kids performing kata together). In the past, though, it has only been open to parents who train in karate. This year, for the first time, we welcome ANY parent who wants to compete alongside their child or children to enter a special division. Come in for a few classes to learn a basic kata from your child’s instructor – or work with your child to create a kata, and come in to get some expert coaching in the lead-up to the event. Families at Rohai Dojo are invited to attend the Wednesday 6 p.m. Family Class to practice together, if they cannot attend together at other times.

At Redwood Dojo, Sensei Didi will be coaching family kata during the Saturday Morning class on March 12, and/or at other times arranged by interested families. Saturday morning class meets outdoors, so dress warmly and wear waterproof shoes! As of today, the weather forecast predicts that it will not rain before noon on Saturday, so all should be well. However, if we do get rained out, family team kata groups should attend anyway, and we’ll find somewhere we can sneak inside and practice quietly.

Try it, parents! This is going to be fun.

If you have not yet registered for the tournament, or did not receive a flyer or hear announcements during class, please visit the Rohai Dojo website for complete information. https://rohaidojo.com/2016/02/22/twentieth-annual-kata-tournament/

You may also click HERE to register online. Note that more than one family member can be signed up with a single transaction; to do this, click the “sign up a friend” button after entering the information for the first registrant.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Sensei Didi at redwoodojo[at]earthlink.net.

PLEASE NOTE: There will be no Saturday Class at Redwood Dojo on March 19, as we will all be at the Tournament. See you there!