Scott Langley Seminar
by John Pepper, 4th Kyu
In April of this year, Riva’s Shotokan Karate Do (RSK), based in Pittsburgh, became the first dojo in the state of Pennsylvania to join HDKI, an international Shotokan karate community. HDKI’s affiliated groups are spread throughout the world, including Denmark, Great Britain, Spain, Sweden, and the United States.
To help celebrate RSK’s affiliation with HDKI, Sensei Riva invited Scott Langley, Sensei 6th Dan, best-selling author, and founder and technical director of HDKI, to host two seminars at the dojo. The seminars were scheduled for Saturday, June 23.
Details of Sensei Langley’s seminars were finalized months in advance. All was set the week of the seminars. RSK and the Pittsburgh martial arts community simply waited for Sensei Langley to arrive. And then on June 20 it began to rain.
At its peak, the June 20 storm dumped one-to-two inches of rain an hour on the Pittsburgh region. The worst of it was south of the city, where RSK is located. Flooding shut down a major roadway out of downtown; 30 patrons had to be evacuated from a restaurant after flash flooding trapped them inside, standing on tables to avoid the rushing water; cars were submerged, drenched drivers scrambling to safety. It was, in a word, chaos.
RSK did not escape Mother Nature’s wrath. The shopping center where RSK is located was pounded by water. While Sensei Riva was in the dojo, water began pouring in from the front of the building. Through quick thinking on Sensei Riva’s part, mats and other dojo essentials were saved, but the dojo incurred serious foundational damage. It was unusable for Sensei Langley’s seminars.
Training teaches a karate-ka to be prepared for anything at all times, especially outside of the dojo. This training was put to good use in the aftermath of the storm and the damage to the dojo.
Sensei Riva worked with her contacts in the community to find space for the seminars. Within a day, she had multiple options for a secondary location. She decided to keep it in the shopping center complex, in a space in one of the office buildings behind the dojo.
She spread the word quickly through social media and email, keeping an almost constant stream of communication to attendees to ensure that everyone knew the seminars would be held as planned, and providing detailed directions to the new location.
The new space, while not up to the standard of the dojo, provided adequate accommodation. Without air conditioning and in the middle of a heat wave, fans were brought in make the location as comfortable as possible. The dojo went old school, tracking attendee attendance the day of the seminars through simple pad and pencil.
The hardships that needed to be overcome to hold the seminars generated a sense of camaraderie among Sensei Riva, Sensei Langley and the attendees, which added to the energy of the training.
The seminars themselves were informative and productive; Sensei Langley providing a real-world example of HDKI’s mission – to teach good karate and be kind to people.
RSK looks forward to hosting Sensei Langley in 2019…preferably in drier weather.