I had the privilege of watching the first two days of the Summer Intensive we just completed with special guest instructor Emmanuel Manolakakis. ‘Masterclass’ sounds a little intimidating so I didn’t really know what to expect. And well, put Vali and Manny in a room together and you never really can predict… the two look like Good Cop Bad Cop standing next to each other. You can decide which is which…
Attending the class, we had a mixture of over 20 students, from as green as the forest around us to experienced instructors, and many returning students were reunited to train again together. The serenity of an empty Dojo was once again recharged with energy: nerves, fear, happiness, excitement, and anticipation.
I sat down with a few students before the class and one remarked: “OK, so 70% of me wants to go and 30% knows it’s going to be a struggle. But I know its going to be worthwhile…this is my third time coming to this class.” Another one said that he anticipates “one-on-one work with Vali to be especially painful”* but it really helps to calm him down and focus. “I keep coming back because Vali and Manny are the best teachers I have ever had. ” (*I won’t elaborate more here, but I will say that I am still chuckling about the details of that comment.)
The class started with a humorous and super interesting pep talk from Manny. I mean, I really could listen to him all day. Then breath work.
I wasn’t able to stay to witness the whole course but the post-intensive reviews tell me whoever wasn’t there missed out. This one gave me the chills:
Roots dojo is a powerful place. The intensive created lasting change in my physical and mental perspective on life. At the time I was not sure how much of the lessons and concepts I was going to be able to absorb and assimilate. There was so much valuable information coming at all times.
The drills on empathy have left me with a much more human and sympathetic touch. I can feel it with my wife and kids and they can feel it too. It’s subtle but profound. I came back a more powerful but humble man.
Reminding ourselves of the martial values of courage, strength and humility and compassion gives the training a worthy purpose and elevates the expression of the work.
I feel I got to another level from a combative perspective. After reflecting I realize that the level-up had little to do with learning physical skills but in feeling the work of many skilled people who have valuable and unique insight.
The training was very deep. It takes a special group of people and thoughtful instruction to be able to achieve that depth.
I’ll be back soon and when I am it will be a homecoming. Roots is a place I’ve been searching for a long time.