Upcoming Tournament, Holiday Schedule and More

What a great month November was! Nearly 75 students tested for rank on the 21st, demonstrating their hard work and accomplishments before an overflow crowd.

Way back on the 16th, we had a great group of competitors attend “Spar Wars” at Rohai Dojo in Berkeley, for padded sword sparring, team sparring, and empty-hand sparring. Some won medals, and everyone had a great time.

Next on the agenda is the Hoa Sen Challenge on Sunday, December 8th, a friendly tournament at our other nearby “sister school” in Emeryville. This competition is open to any student who can perform at least one kata (Bac Dau, Taikyoku or higher); green belts and above may compete in sparring. For online registration, please CLICK HERE. Use the second registration link, and be sure to state that you are from Redwood Dojo. Let Sensei Didi know you plan to compete, and we’ll do some extra practice during class this week.

More About Testing for Rank

It’s exhilarating to promote a large group of kids to their next rank, as we did on November 21. These large quarterly tests are relatively new to Redwood Dojo; for most of our (almost) 22 years of operation, we have used a traditional “test when you’re ready and when Sensei schedules a test” approach. After this recent test, we’ve decided to go back to the old way.

While the “mass quarterly test” has some advantages, so, too, does the traditional approach. During the coming year, students will be expected (as always) to attend class, work hard, do their best – and NOT ask the instructor, “When do I get to test?” Tests will be scheduled when a student or group has demonstrated readiness by their performance in class. Parents, if you have any questions about testing, now or in the future, feel free to ask Sensei Didi (as long as the question isn’t “When will my child get to test!?” – The answer to that is always the same: “When he or she is ready!”) You may also download a “Test FAQs” page from this website (look for it in the right-hand column of this page, in the box called “flash widget”).

Holiday Schedule: Thanksgiving Weekend and December

Saturday Outdoor Class WILL meet after Thanksgiving
(Saturday morning, Nov. 30, 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.). Thanks in advance to Senseis Paul and Jim for teaching.

In late December, Redwood Dojo will be closed from just before Christmas to just after New Years. During the holiday break, students who wish to do so are welcome to attend available classes at Rohai Dojo in Berkeley, where a limited holiday schedule will be in effect. (More details will be available from Sensei Didi.) Our last 2013 class at Redwood will be on Saturday morning, December 21st, and classes will resume on Saturday, January 4th. All classes, including “peewees,” will be back on schedule as of Monday, January 6th.

Rank Testing and Other Upcoming Events

Thank you to a few parents who pointed out that our Session Test Date was not in the Rec Center program book and posted on the bulletin board as announced. Apologies for that; and here is the information:

Rank testing for all students in the kids’ classes will take place on Thursday, November 21, during regular class times. Please note:

– Students will receive written notice prior to that date, indicating whether they are testing for rank, and for which rank.

– On test day, students should arrive for class early, and in a proper uniform with the patch sewn on. Students not in proper uniform will not test.

– Students not eligible to test for rank will instead complete a fun “challenge test,” and work on their skills.

– Classes sometimes run overtime on test days; please be prepared.

There is a fee for testing – to cover expenses, and, as an old martial arts instructor at UC Berkeley once said, “To keep you honest.” The way in which test fees are collected has changed as of this session, so please read the test fee information carefully when you receive your child’s test notice. Test fees should be paid and recorded prior to the test.


The Redwood Heights facility will be closed on Monday, November 11, for Veteran’s Day. On that day:

Peewee Class will meet outdoors from 4 to 5 p.m. Dress for the weather (if it’s cold, wear a warm shirt under the uniform), and wear light-weight sneakers for class.

Karate A (6- & 7-year-old beginners) is cancelled; students may attend a make-up class on Tuesday, November 12, at 4 p.m.

Our Sister School – Rohai Dojo in Berkeley – is offering a “Parent’s Day Off” Camp on the Friday after Thanksgiving (so-called “Black Friday”). Kids – including siblings who are not martial arts students – will be able to spend the day at the dojo while parents get some shopping done, go to the movies, or just relax. The day includes pizza lunch, a healthful snack, and of course, martial arts-inspired fun and games. Sensei Didi will be helping with the camp. If you’re interested, ask Sensei Didi for a flyer, or contact Rohai Dojo directly at 526-4880.

Also at Rohai Dojo: Spar Wars! The annual sparring tournament is coming up soon, on Saturday the 16th, starting at 1 p.m. Green Belts are eligible to compete in empty-hand sparring; purple belts and above may compete in padded sword sparring. Many students have already received flyers; if you haven’t, please ask Sensei Didi.

Hoa Sen Dojo Tournament: The annual kata and sparring tournament at Hoa Sen Dojo in Emeryville is coming up on Sunday, December 8. Kata competition is open to all ranks and ages, provided they know a kata well enough to perform before a panel of judges. All are encouraged to take part – and especially those who are shy and don’t want to! See Sensei Didi for information, and watch this space for a link to more info.

Important Reminders for 9-26-13

The West Coast Training Camp instructors are arriving today! They’re coming in a day early to give dan-rank tests at Rohai Dojo (Berkeley Cuong Nhu Karate) in Berkeley.

All kids classes, as well as Teen/Adult class, WILL meet today. However, Adult Class is cancelled today, as all instructors (and everyone else who’s able) will be in Berkeley to support Sensei Sara Falls, who is taking her shodan test.

There will be no Saturday class at Redwood Dojo this Saturday, since we’ll all be at West Coast Training Camp! Please see our previous post for more details. You may also visit the Rohai Dojo website for information, including a schedule of classes.

More Information on Shodan Testing

For those of you unfamiliar with (or new to) Cuong Nhu, ‘shodan’ means ‘first degree black belt.’ In our style, unlike many others, ‘black belt’ and ‘shodan’ are not the same thing. A Cuong Nhu student who passes a comprehensive test for black belt is not yet a ‘first degree black belt.’ To earn the title ‘shodan’ and the first red stripe on the belt, the student must continue to train and teach for 6 months to a year, at which time they must demonstrate proficiency in soft style. This includes performing the kata “Nhu 1” with applications, as well as demonstrating skill at soft style techniques learned previously.

If you’re not able to attend Sensei Sara’s test this evening, send good thoughts her way!

Get Signed Up for the Best Seminar of the Year!

West Coast Training Camp is just over a week away! Once again we’ll be hosting seven of Cuong Nhu’s top instructors, including Head of Style Grandmanster Quynh Ngo, for a fantastic weekend of training for kids and adults. These instructors will be traveling from as far away as Florida and Tennessee just to give us this opportunity – so don’t miss out. If you didn’t get a flyer and registration form at the dojo – or if you misplaced yours – please download a copy here.

WCTC 2013 Flyer

WCTC Reg Form – Adult

WCTC Reg Form – Minor

We have some scholarship funds available; please speak to Sensei Didi if finances are the reason you haven’t signed up.

West Coast Training Camp FAQs

When and where is WCTC? Friday, September 27, from 6 to 8 p.m., and Saturday, September 28, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Alameda High School, in Alameda – just a short drive from Redwood Dojo.

All day? Isn’t that too much for the kids? Kids have a great time at WCTC. Our instructors know how to work with children, and the schedule includes breaks and supervised “down time.” The day goes by very fast.

Do parents have to be present? Parents are welcome to watch, but it’s also okay to drop off your child, and pick up at closing. Please be on time for pickup.

What about lunch on Saturday? We have a catered lunch on site, so there is no need to leave the facility. The registration form lets you make your choice for lunch. There’s also a cookie break.

What will be taught? Both adults and children will have the chance to take a variety of classes covering such martial arts topics as self defense, weapons training (bo, spear, and tonfa), basic and advanced kata, animal techniques, mat work and grappling, and more. We’ll post a schedule of classes here shortly.

Should beginners participate, or just watch? WCTC is for all levels, including beginners; and for all ages, 6 & up.

Are there different classes for different ages? Yes. Each session offers a choice of several classes for adults – with different options based on rank; and two classes for kids, based on rank (belt level). Teens, and children green belt & up, may attend adult classes. Older kids who are not quite teens may be able to attend some adult classes; they should seek permission from their own instructor AND the instructor of the class they would like to take.

Will there be chances to socialize with the out-of-town guests and other participants? Yes! Friday and Saturday dinners give WCTC participants two chances to spend time with each other and meet the instructors. (In addition to Florida and Tennessee, we have groups coming from Atlanta, Little Rock, and Seattle.) There’s a Friday night dinner at a restaurant right down the street from the gym, and all are welcome. Please let us know in advance that you plan to come! The restaurant needs to know how many to expect. Mark it on your registration form. On Saturday evening, we hold a potluck at the hotel where the instructors are staying, and again, all are welcome and encouraged to attend. Friends and family welcome, too! You should also note your plans on your (or your child’s) registration form.

Is there anything we can do to help? Yes, there might be! A few out-of-towners are arriving early, and/or did not get reservations at the training camp hotel. If you can host someone in your guest bedroom on Thursday night, or even for the weekend, please let us know. Also, guests at the hotel will need rides to and from the gym on Friday and Saturday. If you’d be available to give rides, please let us know. Contact Sensei Didi with any questions.

March News & Reminders

Things to know for the month of March:

There will be no regular Saturday class on March 9, due to the annual Spring Kata Tournament at Rohai Dojo in Berkeley. We have a good group of Redwood Dojo competitors going, and all are welcome to watch and cheer them on! Click here for a flyer with the address and phone number. 2013 tournament flyer

Winter Session Test Day is coming up on Thursday, March 21. This is the day when all members of the children’s program, and some teens and adults, will either test for their next rank (stripe or belt), or take a fitness or skills challenge appropriate for their level. All students are expected to take part in testing day, whose date was published last fall in the Winter Session program booklet. Parents, please contact Sensei Didi if you have any questions.

Brown and Black Belts: it’s “all hands on deck” for testing day, so please mark your calendars!

Good News & Bad News: There is now a waiting list for new students in the 6- & 7-year-old class. The good news is, we will not further crowd the group in the Thursday 4 p.m. class, which is now at capacity. The bad news is, we will have to turn some students away, which means we might lose some promising future students! We hate to do this (for the first time in 21 years!), but our priority is providing good instruction to those already enrolled. Our goal is to lift the restriction on new enrollments if & when we can establish regular, reliable help from assistant instructors on Thursday afternoons.

Fall Testing Day – Thursday, November 15

Fall Testing Day is upon us; test lists for the children’s classes have been posted, and the instructors are looking forward to seeing how much progress everyone has made in recent months.

Parents: If you missed seeing the test lists due to the Veteran’s Day holiday, please message Sensei Didi (email redwoodojo[at]earthlink.net) for a copy of the list – or simply to ask which test your child is scheduled for. In cases where a student has not yet met the attendance or skills requirements for their next rank, the student is assigned to the Fitness and Skills Challenge.

What is the “Fitness and Skills Challenge”? For students not yet qualified to test for their next belt rank, we have devised a fun and diabolical Challenge exam that tests fitness, agility, and the essential martial arts skill areas of stances, striking, kicking, and blocking. Even the very newest students are going to have fun on this exam. Students will earn scores in each area, and set goals to raise their performance on future tests. This is not a competition – except in the traditional martial arts sense of “competition with oneself.” Constant self-improvement is one of our most important values.

This is the first time we have given this exam, and we can’t wait to see how everyone does!

Test day reminders:

Arrive on time, if not early!

Be in uniform – a compete, clean uniform and belt. (No uniform = no test for rank!)

Take care of fees (if any are due) prior to class.

Parents & family members: Please keep the viewing area quiet at all times!

The Redwood Dojo instructors and assistants look forward to seeing you on Thursday!

Don’t Miss West Coast Training Camp 2012

West Coast Training Camp is here again! This coming Friday and Saturday, September 28-29, you’ll have the chance to meet and train with some of the top instructors in our style of Cuong Nhu, including Head-of-Style Grandmaster Quynh Ngo.

We’ve been announcing it and handing out flyers for several weeks now, and many of you have already signed up. If you haven’t… it’s still possible, but we’re getting down to the wire! Please go to the Rohai Dojo website to download flyers and registration forms. The schedule of classes is posted there, too. As you’ll see, WCTC welcomes students of all ages and levels. We’re expecting participants from up and down the West Coast (from Seattle to San Diego), as well as from Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, Arkansas, and South Carolina.

In addition to training, there will be opportunities to socialize with the visiting instructors, out-of-town guests and students from other dojos. Friday evening after classes, we go as a group to have Mexican food a few blocks from the gym. The Saturday catered lunch at the gym gives everyone a chance to rest and socialize between classes. And Saturday evening, there’s a potluck party at the hotel where our visitors are staying – the Hampton Inn and Suites Oakland Airport/Alameda. All participants, friends, and family are welcome.

If all this hasn’t convinced you to come – there’s also a cookie break on Saturday afternoon. (If you don’t sign up soon, though, you won’t get to choose what kind of cookie you want.)

This is a once-a-year event – worth rearranging your schedule to attend. If you have any questions, please contact Sensei Didi, get your answers, and get yourself signed up!

Black Belt Testing This Friday!

Three of our members – Sara, Dan and Jim – will be testing for black belt this Friday, August 24th, 2012, alongside four members of Rohai Dojo and one Hoa Sen student. Don’t miss this opportunity to see an exciting, challenging test, and support our candidates!

The test will take place at Rohai Dojo, 1819 San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley, starting at 6 p.m. sharp. As always, testing will include board-breaking, basics, weapons, kata, technique demonstrations, sparring and more.

Master Allen Hoss, head of Sung Ming Shu Dojo in Atlanta, is flying in to give the test, and will offer a seminar for all ages on Saturday, followed by a potluck in honor of the black belt candidates (details on time and location will be available at the seminar).

Plan to attend the seminar! Master Allen will teach a children’s class from 10 to 11 a.m. on Saturday (please note: there will be NO CLASS at Redwood Dojo on Saturday, as we will be in Berkeley for the seminar!), followed by classes for adults from 11 to 12 and 1:30 to 4 (lunch break from noon to 1:30). There is a small fee for the seminar: $10/kids, $25/adults & teens.

Please contact Sensei Didi if you have any questions, or call Rohai Dojo directly at 526-4880.

Heading to Atlanta!

Thirteen members of Redwood Dojo will be heading to Atlanta for the 2012 Cuong Nhu annual training camp over Memorial Day weekend. The best part is that Cris and Pam will be testing for black belt! Wish them luck (they’ve already done the hard work and preparation, but a little luck on top of it couldn’t hurt), and think good thoughts on Friday evening, when the main part of testing takes place.

While we’re gone, Jim and some upper-rank members of the Teen Class will be handling the Thursday kids’ classes. Be on your best behavior, kids, and show them what you know!

There will be no classes on the long weekend – no Saturday class, and no Monday classes.

Be ready to start training extra hard on Tuesday the 29th, because those of us returning from training camp will be full of energy and ideas. Hopefully, we’ll have two new black belts in the dojo, and 6 more black belt candidates following close behind. (We’re hoping for another round of testing in late summer or early fall.) It’s going to be a busy summer, and an excellent time to be training at Redwood Dojo!

See us at the Redwood Heights Multicultural Expo on March 24th

Redwood Dojo students will once again be performing at Redwood Heights elementary for their annual Multicultural Expo, this coming Saturday at 1:15 p.m. (Parents of demo participants: please note the change in time!) Performers should attend our regular Saturday morning class at 9:30 a.m., and reconvene at the school no later than 1 p.m. Come earlier, if you can, because the schedule shows Japanese Taiko drumming right before us.

Additional note for demo participants: There is a mandatory 6 p.m. practice on Thursday the 22nd, to be attended in addition to your regular class.

Important info about Adult Classes: We are now accepting pre-registrations to form a new group of adult beginners. Click this link to add your name, and you’ll be eligible for one of our web specials. You may also use the link to set a date for a free trial class, or ask questions about the schedule and how to get started. Free trial classes will take place during the T/Th 6 p.m. Teen/Adult class; please contact us to choose a date.