Wado Kai preaches discipline

“Have you ever just lost it on someone?” I asked Chris Bazinet, a fourth-degree black belt in the martial art form of Wado Kai.
“I’ve never abused my martial arts,” Bazinet responded.
“Oh, come on, not even once?” he was asked again.
“Never,” he sternly repeated.
“Have you ever come close?”
“There have been times when I’ve wanted to, but the mental training kicks in and you always remember what you preach to your students,” Bazinet said. “I ask myself, ‘If my students were in the same position, what would I want them to do.’”
And the answer is—run?
Martial arts is not geared to teaching someone how to kick people’s heads in. Rather, it’s purpose it to gain self-confidence and awareness, and emphasizes restraint instead of making decisions based of emotion.
“The first line of defence that all my students are told is to run. Stay away from confrontation,” said Bazinet.
“If you’re backed into a corner and you can’t run, then you may have to use it, but the first thing you do is turn around and walk away,” stressed Bazinet, who has been the local sensei for the Wado Kai Karate Club here since 1992.
Classes for the 2004/05 season began yesterday (Sept. 21) at the new J.W. Walker School and the club always is looking for new students.
Wado Kai, meaning “the way of peace and harmony,” is one of the four major styles of karate in Japan (the others being Shotokan, Shito, and Goju). It is considered the purest form of karate-do, which translates to “the way of the empty hands.”
But there is nothing empty about the martial art form that was founded by Hironori Otsuka of Japan in 1939. Otsuka’s student, Masaru Shintani, brought the form to North America in 1968 and now has more than 6,000 students under his federation.
Wado Kai is a combination of Shotokan and Ju-Jitsu, and its form practices explosive, close movements with an emphasis on well-controlled techniques.
Bazinet has been involved with karate for 24 years (he started with Shotokan before going to Wado Kai) and believes that, though it can be very difficult, only good can be found in the martial arts.
“It’s not easy to take a martial art. And in order to keep doing it every day, and every year, and every decade, you’ve got to be disciplined to continue working at it,” said Bazinet, 42, who is originally from Atikokan and has been an electrical engineer with the Abitibi-Consolidated mill here for 13 years.
“If you investigate most styles of martial arts, you’ll find that the biggest thing the kids will get out of it is self-discipline.
“Anybody can do it,” he added. “The first night of every year when we get new people in, the first thing I tell them all is that everybody in this room can be a black belt.”
For Bazinet, the martial art has become such an emphasis in his life to the point where he is constantly thinking about scenarios and playing them out in his mind.
Martial arts preach preparation and awareness, and no matter where he is, be it a local coffee shop or at his work, Bazinet’s mind is in constant stream.
“It’s never out of your mind. I’ve been doing it for so long now that it becomes your life,” he remarked. “Even when I’m at work, I think about what I would do if I was out on the street trying to defend myself.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re in a strange place or places that you’re comfortable with, you always have to be on your guard,” he stressed. “For instance, where we’re sitting here [in a local coffee shop] is one of those things where I want to be able to watch the whole place, watch people going in and out, and watch somebody approach me.
“When I come into a place like this, I assume that everyone has had some training. As I sit here right now and watch other people, those people are potentially better than I am,” Bazinet explained.
And though some of his students have been forced into fights by people looking to take on the local “tough guys,” Bazinet so far has not been tested by those types.
“When you’re doing it this long and you’re the head instructor in a small town like this, everybody just about knows you, and fortunately nobody has so far tried to test me,” Bazinet said.
“I know other martial artists in town who have people come up to them and their thinking is, ‘If this guy beats the crap out of me, it doesn’t matter because he’s a martial artist, but if I win, I’m going to be a hero with all my friends.’
“And there are people like that out there,” Bazinet added.
In terms of the evolutionary scale, “those people” would be more suited towards the Neanderthals of human existence. And if the situation ever arose where one of “those people” ever confronted Bazinet, he simply would tell them, “You’re going down the wrong path here.”
Those words spoken by Bazinet closely resembles a line that Steven Seagal would throw down in a film. And he believes that out of all the Hollywood action stars, Seagal is the best.
“Probably the individual that demonstrates karate the purest without a lot of fancy camera work and trickery is Steven Seagal,” replied Bazinet when asked who is the best of the Hollywood fighters—a topic of discussion that is always talked about.
“We talk about it and everyone has a different theory. Jet Li is small, fast, and can jump high, and Seagal is bigger and slower, but he’s got good shifting techniques.
“He’s not as flashy as the other guys, but that’s because he does true martial arts,” added Bazinet. “He does techniques the way we do them and I can recognize them because those are the same ones that we do.”
When Bazinet is asked how he thinks he would do in a confrontation with any one of those film stars, his response triggers laughter as his fully aware of how he would do.
“Let’s put it this way—I wouldn’t want to be the guy on the other side with any of them,” he laughed.