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How Toronto Works: Natasha Sharpe

An afternoon at the Toronto Police Services Board meeting

Going to events like Doors Open Toronto this summer was a great way to show the family how major city services are delivered to our homes.   Showing children the day-to-day activities of the city like water purification and garbage collection are a good way to help kids understand what makes their community work.  This August, I attended the monthly public meeting of the Toronto Police Services Board in the police headquarters auditorium to watch mayor John Tory, councillor Shelley Carroll, police chief Mark Saunders and the other board members going about the business of police oversight for Toronto.  The audience was mainly made up of families with children, with some professionals and retirees also attending.


Media from CP24,  GlobalTV, CTV and CBC were all reporting live from the auditorium.  It was a full house, with an overflow of interested residents spilling into a hallway where they could watch the meeting from screens.  Initially it was not very obvious why there were so many cameras, as the first hour of the meeting was spent on a lengthy presentation on the new grey paint color for police cruisers.  This was about as interesting as watching said paint dry, until it became clear that public focus groups strongly preferred the original white color – white being easier to see at night, identify and flag down when necessary.  The grey was seen by the public as ‘stealthy’ and less visible, but it was preferred by the police.  It was quite a surprise that the grey police cars had already been ordered prior to the opinion of the public being sought, and prior to the approval of the board.  Probably not the best example of good governance over tax dollars and it was a jarring example of a lack of appropriate oversight.


The next speaker asked the Board about the beating of a 19 year old named Dafonte Miller by an off-duty Toronto police officer and his brother, who have been charged with assault.  Mr. Miller has not been charged with any offence and was on his way home when he was pursued on the street and beaten with a metal pipe so badly that one of his eyes requires surgical removal.  The involvement of the Toronto police officer was not reported to the Special Investigations Unit until Mr. Miller’s lawyer brought it to them, months after the incident.  The speaker asked the Board why there was no public statement regarding Mr. Miller’s beating, why Mr. Miller’s beating had not been reported to the SIU on a timely basis and made a series of comments about the fact that the police officer’s father is also a senior police officer with the Toronto Police and seems to have taken a role in the investigation.   There was no response from the Board.  The next speaker referenced that the beating of Mr. Miller followed the death of Andrew Loku, who was shot to death by a police officer, and also the death of Sammy Yatim, who was also shot to death by a police officer on a streetcar.  There was no response from the Board to the suggestion that perhaps police needed more training in de-escalation.


Another speaker made a presentation about removing police officers from being stationed inside high schools.  This speaker had a doctorate from the University of Toronto and explained that many children find uniformed police officers intimidating and also that if police are on site, situations that normally could be resolved by a teacher or principal can result in escalation to criminal charges.  Several speakers stated that the communities with police stationed inside high schools had not asked for this to take place and did not wish for their children to go to school with police in the halls.


The audience in the auditorium gradually became more and more engaged with the speakers, finally rising to their feet and marching out of the building, chanting “No, no SROs” (where SRO refers to School Resource police Officer.)


After this meeting I was left with a number of questions:

  1. Did Toronto Police really go ahead and order grey police cars that are hard to see, without asking either the public or the Board for input?  (Yes, they did.)


  1. Was Mr. Miller really beaten so badly that he lost an eye and was his assailant a Toronto police officer?  (Yes and yes.)


  1. Is it a good idea to have police officers in high schools?  (The Toronto District School Board has now removed all officers pending consultation.)



Unlike visits to the water treatment plant and waste transfer stations, the visit to the Police Services Board meeting did not leave us with a sense that everything at this city service is being handled reliably.  From new police cars being ordered without regard to whether it is a public safety issue if they cannot be easily seen, to the beating of a 19 year old on his way home, the oversight for Toronto Police seems ineffective and lax.  This idea to learn more about how Toronto works certainly resulted in our learning more, and becoming much more uncomfortable.

Natasha Sharpe

Posted in Life Strategy, Newsletter, Original Articles

From the Edinburgh Arts festival

“I like to imagine the guy who invented the umbrella was going to call it the ‘brella’. But he hesitated.” Andy Field


“As a vegan, I think people who sell meat are disgusting,

but apparently people who sell fruit and veg are grocer” Adele Cliff


“I’ve given up asking rhetorical questions.

What’s the point?” Alexei Sayle


Posted in Humour, Newsletter

Let it go

Posted in Buddhism, Health and Wellness, Kobudo, Life Strategy, Meditation, Newsletter, Niei Chi


 A lexophile of course!

        Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.

        I know a guy who’s addicted to brake fluid, but he says    

            he can stop any time.

    I stayed up all night to see where the sun went, and then   

           it dawned on me.

     This girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian    

           club, but I’d never met herbivore.

  When chemists die, they barium.

    I’m reading a book about anti-gravity.  I just can’t put

               it down.

Posted in Humour, Newsletter

Wellspring Warrior

Wellspring Update

I’m back. All went very well!

Thanks to all those who donated to my  Wellspring fundraising page as an ambassador for the Toronto to Miami Peloton Challenge. When I last looked, donors had contributed $1,750 towards my personal goal of $2,000. Domo arigato.
So, thus far all has gone well. However, as  there was a slight hitch at the start: Hurricane Irma.

“With the threat of Hurricane Irma making landfall in Florida, 20 cyclists and 23 support drivers, scrambled to make last-minute plans to reroute their destination from Miami to Austin in the final days leading up to their departure. They completed the Wellspring Peloton Challenge, an epic 8-day, 24-hour bike ride from Oakville, ON to Austin, TX covering 3,180 km to raise funds to support Wellspring. Together, they helped raise over $430,000 for Wellspring Cancer Support Foundation. By the time the riders crossed the finish line in Austin on September 16, they had each pedaled an average of 120 km a day, and climbed a total of 21,00 meters.”

And here’s a deep in night-time video of Team 1 cycling along a dark country road in Alabama. You’ll see the lead cyclist drop back to be replaced by one from the rear. The lead position is the hardest as that cyclist meets the most air resistance, while the rest of the peloton team tuck themselves behind  in the collective slipstream. The video was taken through the open window of the follow vehicle as the drivers blasted out energizing music. 

Here are some links for more information and if you wish to make a donation.

My personal fund-raising page:http://www.kintera.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?ievent=1166922&lis=1&kntae1166922=3E18414AAAB64EEAB7E2DD05353A8394&supId=449058872


The Wellspring 2017 Peloton Challenge page: http://www.kintera.org/faf/home/ccp.asp?ievent=1166922&lis=1&kntae1166922=656586BC581C4164AF0823736AC60BA0&ccp=675572

For more information, Wellspring’s home page: https://wellspring.ca/downtown-toronto/

And even if you feel unable to contribute, it’s likely you will encounter others who are facing cancer:

please let them know about Wellspring.

Onwards, Onwards, forever onwards,

Kohai Fawcett
Hasu Dojo

Posted in Life Strategy, Meditation, Newsletter, Zen Story

Maestro Urban

Posted in Life Strategy, Masters, Niei Chi



The concept in CMAC is to stay out of trouble whenever possible.

The best form of self-defence is not to be there in the first place. If that is not possible there is a Chinese dictum – “we beg and we plead not to fight and then we strike!” Although we also profess “karate ni sente nashi,” meaning “there is no first attack in karate,” O’Sensei Kim pointed out that it doesn’t mean you have to wait for the person to hit you. The fight started when they made their intent clear. So our first strategy is to have the correct state of mind, “ai uchi,” meaning “we are ready to die if we must and to take the assailant with us.” The assailant should perceive that this encounter is going to be a battle of life and death and we trust that we will both choose life.


Responding to the opponent’s attack – a counter.


The Japanese character for “sen” can also be read as “saki.” It means “before or ahead” but in the terms “go no sen,” “sen no sen” and “sen sen no sen,” it is an abbreviation of sorts for the word “sente,” meaning initiative or lead. The “te” in sente means hand, so sente directly translates as “beforehand.” In budo, sente refers to an attack or the initiative to attack. As O’Sensei Kim puts it – beat the opponent to the punch.


Go no sen (post-initiative) is a concept in which a combatant seizes the initiative in a fight after the opponent has already started an attack. In other words, once the opponent starts to attack, the defending combatant performs their technique. The go no sen technique can take various forms, since it depends on the use of the energy and momentum of the attacker. Go means “after.” We move in harmony with the attacker, but it is the attacker that is taking the initiative in the attack and we are mirroring his or her movements. In O’Sensei Kim’s words: “When you know how an opponent fights, you know when to move in on him, or if you’re very skillful you know when he’s thinking (body language) and you can move in ahead of him. Ahead not only of his action but ahead of his thought.”

Go no sen involves blocking any attack strongly and then launching a counter attack, also known as “osi waza.” In the case of a jodan oi zuki attack, the defender could shift back into zenkutsu dachi and execute a strong jodan age uke, and then deliver a gyaku zuki as a counter attack. A chudan oi zuki could be responded to by a chudan soto uke and a gyaku zuki. Again, after the counter, it is important to hold zanshin and then shift out of range and back into kamae.

Go no sen is not just a counter-attack, but also a mental state, a level of concentration assumed during combat. It is more correct to say that it is a harmonization with the very movement of attack, not just defense. Go no sen can also be seen as part of a philosophical and moral code, emphasized when one considers the term “DO” (道, ) or “Way,” meaning that the karateka should never take the initiative in an eventual and inevitable confrontation. As stated earlier, this is also “karate ni sente nashi.”


Sen no sen means “before the attack.” Sometimes this timing is also called “mae no sen,” mae also meaning “in front of.” Sen no sen implies that Semete is aware of Ukete’s intention of attacking and right at the time when Ukete is starting to attack, Semete steps in and stops the attack. One distinction between this and the following is that in this case Semete’s action follows Ukete’s physical movement.

“When you don’t just know when he’s thinking, but can dissipate his Satsui or evil intent.

Set up techniques, get him to move as you wish.

Set him up for the foot sweep.

Utilizing inviting techniques.

Utilizing feigning techniques. – If you’re hurt pretend you’re not and vice versa.

– O’senesi Kim

Sen sen no sen is an even more refined concept in regards to timing. The term consists of a repetition of the term “sen.” So this refers to the timing before “sen no sen.” It is the case of initiating a movement intended to lead the attacker’s spirit as well as to draw forth an actual attack, in order to utilize this attack
for a defensive technique. This is when you don’t just know what and when they’re thinking, but how and when they are planning on doing it so that you can forestall their action and can dissipate their satsui (evil intent). In this case Semete’s action preceeds Ukete’s physical movement.


As an extension to sen sen no sen, there is “kake waza.” This is charging without the opponent making an attack the instant that there is “kyo” (opening).


Posted in Kobudo, Newsletter, Original Articles, Traditional

Love is all you need

Posted in Humour, Life Strategy, Newsletter

Hanshi’s Note

Quiet ZenHanshi Platt - CMAC Sensei Wallace Platt, 10th Dan, Hanshi CMAC Founder and Head Instructor

Only when the mind is settled can it become quiet and only when the mind is quiet can it become still; it’s only when the mind is still can it see and when the mind can see then it can reach deep into the mysteries.

These are the steps taken in all of budo to really centre the self to focus and be mindful of the task at hand. It is important to remember especially for those going back to school that the point of training is to enhance one’s skills of mind, memory and mobility; to assist one in dealing with anything that comes at you in life.

Child Meditating - Classical Martial Arts Centre - Toronto Central Region

I think everyone would like to be able to make work and school easier which is exactly what martial arts will do for anyone. So I suggest to all parents to do what I do in the class…at home or when bringing your child to class, remind them that by training harder school will become easier because their mind and brain power is stronger; this is an equation they understand and even like. Karate is not just another thing to do, it’s a way to assist one to do all things one does better!

Budo is not a game, it is a Way to enhance one’s life for real self-defence or otherwise.

Posted in Buddhism, Health, Life Strategy, Masters, Meditation, Newsletter, Niei Chi, Note from Hanshi Platt, Traditional, Weapons, Youth


Posted in Buddhism, Newsletter, Philosophy
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