The last Karate class with Sensei Cieplik in the Glenview dojo
Class today was a very special class. This was the last Karate class that Sensei Cieplik will teach at the Glenview dojo. This was one of the largest classes ever with well over 50 students both current and past. The energy and spirit in the dojo was higher than ever. Everyone there put everything they had on the floor and you could feel it. The kiai’s were deafening and I don’t think there was one person that didn’t listen to every word that Sensei spoke with anything less than intense focus.
There is no way to describe the emotion. We were all there knowing that today would be the last Karate class in the dojo where it all began. Sensei Cieplik has touched so many students lives and even though we are sad to see him retire we also are grateful that we were able to train with him and hope that his retirement is everything that he hopes it will be.
We started out with our normal warm up of 20 front snap kicks to the front with each leg, 10 knee strike, front snap kick, knee strike and front snap kick, 10 front snap kick and side thrust kick to the front and then three of the patented front snap kick the front, side thrust kick to the side, back kick to the rear, roundhouse to the front, hook kick to the front and front snap kick. For the first time in seven years that I have been training with Sensei, I felt that I was able to do the last kicking drill like it should have been done.
We did no hip, little hip and big hip which translates to outward block, Jab with hip and reverse punch. Moving forward with no hip puts the hips at the correct 45 degree angle, jabbing opens the hip up the rest of the way and the reverse punch closes the hip.
Sensei has been working on sharing a concept with us for some time now and this is about all attacks do not need to be met with hard strikes or hard blocks. The idea is to receive the attack and wash it away. This means that we can gently redirect the attack instead of meeting it head on with a hard block. This is much live ocean waves coming in and out.
After this, Sensei asked all of us to line up and he came up to each one of us to say goodbye. If you ever wanted to see some of the best Karate students in the world with tears in their eyes, this was that moment.
After saying goodbye to each of us, Sensei said many people wait until they are gone from the planet to pass on their belts but he felt that his should be passed on while he is still here. At that moment Sensei handed his belt to our special guest, Arnaldo, to carry on the art. He picked up his coat, his packages, bowed and walked out the door of the dojo for the last time as a Karate instructor.
Sensei’s last request was for all of us to stay a little longer and work on a self defense drill with Sensei Arnaldo. For this drill, an attacker grabs at your Gi or coat on the street and you trap their hand against your body and make them drop to the ground. This is a self defense drill that works really well, I know because I have had it demonstrated on me.
After that, we bowed out and knew that when we walked out of the dojo that day, it would be the end of an era. Sensei also made the point that even though he is no longer teaching, Sensei Wail will carry on the art at the Glenview dojo and not only share his skills but those skills that Sensei Cieplik has passed on to him over the years.
One thing that all of us who had the honor of training with Sensei Cieplik have, even though he will no longer be sharing his Karate with us in the dojo, is his Karate is in our hearts whenever we train. Every time we train Karate his spirit will be there and for that I am grateful.