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So what is Kairu? It is the closest pronunciation the Japanese have come up with, using their syllabary, for the name Kyle. A name which is of Scottish decent and most likely derived from an old word used to describe a channel or straight, 海峡 kaikyo in Japanese. The name Kyle causes most Japanese speakers a great deal of trouble, which is to be forgiven considering its pronunciation doesn't really make sense in English. To most non native speakers it look as if it says "key-la". To be honest I do not know if I will ever understand why "le" is often pronounced "ul" in the English language but that is besides the point.

Now what does any of this have to do with Karate or the Martial arts in General. Well first of all the martial arts play a huge role in my life, I even started a blog about them if you haven't noticed, and it just so happens that my given name is Kyle. I am currently living and working in Japan, largely as a result of my interest in Japanese martial arts, and am constantly being called  カイル ~ (katakana for kairu). Much to my delight this opens up a hand full of amusing "Dad jokes", 「お祖父さんギャグ」"Old man jokes" in Japanese such as:

      ex 1. Aさん: カイル~ (sounds like 帰る meaning to return home)
        Me: 一緒に...?

                         ex 2. Kairu also sounds like 蛙 which means frog.

But there is more to this than bad jokes. After I had been living in Japan for a few months I was lucky enough to be given a name plate for work, I am currently an ALT in the Ehime Prefecture. One of my colleges was kind enough to create a Kanji name for me 魁留. The first Kanji was taken from the name of a popular wrestler and can be pronounced as 「カイ」kai or as 「さきがき」meaning "charging ahead of others" or pioneer. The second Kanji was taken from 「留学」rugaku meaning to study abroad. The two Kanji surprisingly have a lot to do with my current views on martial arts and life in general. 

 魁 (カイ・さきがき)
I have a huge respect for tradition and am always fascinated with history but by no means am I conservationist especially when it comes to the martial arts. I believe critical thinking should be applied to every aspect of our lives to instigate responsible innovation. Stagnant waters, those with out a current (流 ryu in Japanese), will inevitably breed parasites and disease.

Being a teacher, at the moment of English and in the past of Art, Karate and Women's Self  Defense, I have a vested interest in educational theory. Teachers should not attempt to know it all but more simply they should desire to never stop learning keeping themselves "charging ahead of with others". A sentiment I believe is shared by many martial artists even though it does not always seem like it. If you feel the same way and are looking for some like minded people please take a look at; Karate by Jesse or the IRKRS. Neither are organizations I am personally affiliated with but they both have helped me expand upon my foundation set in traditional Shotokan Karate.

留(ル from ru-gaku)
Studying abroad, if you get through the partying, can be one of the most enriching educational experiences you will have. I was lucky enough to study design in Germany during the spring of 2007, this was also the first time that I began to dabble outside of Shotokan Karate. There was a free Judo club connected to my university and I tried to train with them as much as possible.

When I returned home I had my eyes set on earning my second degree black belt so the dabbling stopped but not for long. I had been very interested in Wing Chun for some time and after tying a new shade of black around my waist I thought it was time for me to step outside of Karate once again and see what the other martial arts had to offer.

To my surprise Wing Chun taught me more about Karate then I had ever imagined especially in relation to that funny thing we call Hikite in Karate. Something I will be sure to cover in later posts. After awhile I felt it was time to move on and found my self training in Kyokushin, Judo, MMA, Aikido and Yoga clubs. Continually learning more about Karate then I could have ever thought I would outside of my usual Dojo. Although I am only now once again physically abroad, since August 2011, I would say that I have been studying abroad, through my exploration of many different styles of martial arts and physical fitness, continually and have no plans to stop.

So there you have it 魁留, Karate, cross training, bad jokes, good ideas and more. You should now have some idea as to what this blog will be about. You may have even learn't a little Japanese along they way. Something that I think is important for any serious 空手家 to explore, if you haven't got there yet don't worry you have nothing but time. Some of which I hope you will spend checking out my blog.