Monthly Archives: December 2016

#SuperGrands 2016 Mon 12/26/16


Today is December 26, 2016. We are in North Carolina to register for SuperGrands. Team Togisala has combined with Team Dojo of South Carolina to form Team Dojo Elite. Professor Angie Abad-Mancia and her son are also here from Abad-Mancia MA to compete. 

Sensei Butch has come out of an 18 year retirement to compete this year. He still holds the record for most consecutive world title wins in Men’s Japanese/Okinawan Forms 1993-1997. And as the story goes, Sensei Butch was in the finals with his teammate Sensei Marcus Young in 1998 and bowed out of the finals.  Perhaps that would have been six consecutive wins in Men’s Japanese/Okinawan Forms. 

2016 has been a turbulent year for Team Togisala. We unexpectedly lost our lease and had to move our of our dojo space in May. I spent March, April, and May looking for a new dojo space, applying for a business license, purchasing unsuccessful coverage, preparing for E Hula Mau, all while I managed my full-time career at Toyota Financial Services. It felt like every minute was consumed with karate, hula and Toyota. And as exhausting as it felt, I loved every minute of it. All the emotions could be channeled into my hula, and when our group placed third, my tears flowed freely. 

For the summer months of June and July, classes were held old school style in my backyard on the grass. July was the month of Samoan construction. They even rocked rubber flip flop slippers in lieu of work boots. Sensei Butch and Sensei Frisco, along with his nephew, built ponywalls and painted them black for our new dojo space. I visited Home Depot on a weekly basis to purchase all the necessary materials. Dojo moms and students helped us clean and sanitize the mats that were stored in my garage. It was truly a team effort. By August, we had moved into the new dojo on Torrance Blvd and every month things are getting better and better. 

At the moment, I am waiting for the team to finish registering. I will keep logging photos and blog posts here all week. It will help me shake off my nerves. 


Team Togisala aka Team Dojo Elite West Coast


Airport selfie 


Sensei Butch is ready! 

#SuperGrands 2016 Mon 12/26/16 Part 2 

Monday Late Afternoon:  Time for practice. Kamaka, Marcos and Natalia are running their weapons for tomorrow’s tournament. (I think I need a separate blog post about how horrible American Airlines has been to Team Togisala throughout this trip. Kamaka and Buddha’s weapons didn’t arrive until Monday Afternoon!)

They’ve all been working hard. Sensei Butch and Professor Angie are having them run their weapons kata and providing feedback on every movement, stance, kiai, facial expression. Everything. 

This tournament is going to be a challenge. Not only is it bigger than any tournament we have attended in the past, as West Coast competitors we are not known. And like it or not, politics always plays a role in competitions. 

Our combined team, Team Dojo Elite, met in Sensei Brian Pena’s room so all competitors could connect and say Hello. This is also the first SuperGrands for many of the students from Team Dojo. When Sensei Brian asked if each of us were nervous or excited, we had an equal number of “nervous” as we did “excited”.    Personally, I’m so excited for the kids who are competing. This is an extraordinary opportunity for a young person to experience. And it is heart-warming to see the pride and love of their parents and family members who are able to travel with them. The competitors have worked for months and months, they will have one shot to show the judges what they’ve learned. 

Speaking of one shot. I’m not telling the precise truth on that. We watched two black belts from Sensei Brian’s dojo compete in musical team forms Monday evening. Despite the delay of over 90 minutes, Miss Pena and Miss Hunnicutt stayed focused and nailed their team kata set to music. When we saw them in May, I had commented that they are perfect for team forms because they move in such a similar manner and their body types are the same. I would have pegged them for a shoe-in for top two in this division. I know Sensei Brian and Sensei Butch were proud of their performance, despite how the scoring went. Great work, Sensei Allie and Sensei Jill. 

And, we witnessed the “do over” rule last night. If a competitor drops her or his weapon, that competitor is allowed the opportunity to completely start their routine over. And one team entered this division twice under two different black belt/dojo names. So they were able to do their routine twice and were scored twice. In addition, one of the competitors dropped his weapon each time they competed and the do over rule meant they got to restart with no penalty to their score. In the end, that team did their routine four times and wound up placing 1st or 2nd and qualified to go to the finale. 
Personally, I don’t think black belts or any level of competitor should be allowed to restart their routine in a tournament. Perhaps beginners should be allowed that grace, White to Orange belts.  I can understand giving them a chance to start over and build their confidence in competing. But for more experienced competitors, that’s what we train for, the three minutes we have to do our kata or weapons forms in front of three judges. It felt wrong to allow so many competitors two chances. And it took three times as long to complete the divisions because of that “do over”rule. That rule left a bad taste in my mouth last night. 

And yet, Tuesday is another day. We have five of our So Cal competitors up:  Mr Cool, Kamaka, Buddah, Cy and Professor Angie. They’re going to kill it!