Friday, December 30, 2011

Wednesday - Dec 28

Tonight's beginners class consisted of 4 yellow belts and 1 brown belt...not bad for a holiday week where many people have left town.
I decided to do repetitions.
By doing a lot of the same thing we start to train our bodies - "muscle memory" forms. This can be a good thing or a VERY bad thing. The problem with repetition is the repeating of "bad form." If you keep doing the same thing poorly over and over you actually are doing harm to your body.
Good practice is the only way to do repetitions.
A lot of time from a third person's view it is very easy to see what is missing in a persons' form.
I tried to help the repetitions by stopping quickly to show the students what I saw. This seemed to help.
As the body gets tired the form breaks down. This means it is time to stop the repetitions. There is no point in doing the same thing over and over if you can't do it correctly.
We then practiced sen no sen. Timing is one of the most important practices we do. Sen also really translates into our everyday lives in many situations. This should be practiced every day.
Kata - people with new belts are still learning their katas. Ask questions about your katas. Ask someone who has done it before. Once you know the pattern then start diving into the intricate parts of the kata with Taichiro sensei. You'll be amazed how different even an inch to the right or left can enhance your kata.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

December 11 - 17, 2011 (including Kyu Exam)

Jon already wrote about the Kyu exam. Congratulations everyone! It was a great demonstration of your hard work; it really showed that many of you put a lot of effort to it. We are all happy for you.

Now there are 4 new brown belts! Brown belt, in case you didn't know, is the last color belt before getting a black belt! That's exciting, that some of you are already getting there.

I assigned the following Kata to the new brownies (no, that's not a common karate term; I just made it up):

Bassai Dai: Chris and Jon M
Kanku Dai: Nate and Vonzell

They will be working on these Kata for a long time. They are the signature Katas of our style. As you can easily see the Heian Katas were derived from them. Heian Katas are relatively new and were developed for training/education purposes, but Bassai and Kanku are very historic and no one knows the exact origin. By the way Bassai sometimes are called Passai in other styles, and Kanku are called Kusanku or Kushanku. Since they are very old and passed down through generations of masters, several different styles practice those Kata that are variations of them. They are not extremely hard to learn, but are very rich and deep; worth studying for a while.

Here are the recommended Youtube videos for those who are learning the Kata:

Bassai Dai: (Osaka) (Kagawa) (Kurihara) (Canadian, eh?)

Kanku Dai: (Osaka) (Ueki) (Kurihara) (Yamamoto)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Oh my...I forgot all about this!

Well - It seems as though I forgot about our blog!! But - from the amount of comments I think a lot (if not all) of you have forgotten!! Our group is one of the loudest, most gregarious groups I know!
We have had some additions to our followers though! And Tiffany is following us twice!
Recently we had our kyu exam! It went very well. Ron Vance was pleased and gave praise to our teaching efforts and accomplishments. This always feels good from a teaching perspective. The kyu exam is actually stressful for not only the testers but the teachers as well. The students mirror the teachers and back and forth. I would think the worst thing either Taichiro or I would like to hear is "What are you guys doing here? The students are really doing some weird moves." This was not the case!!

The dojo continues to develop. We constantly learn how to make the dojo run more efficiently. New people keep coming and going - but our retention rate is good enough to keep functioning...which is really our main goal. NEW classes have been added! John Olson's wife Martha has joined us as our Chief Yoga Instructor!! Currently we have a Sunday 9:30am class for $5!! Yoga is something I have always wanted to do. I'm really learning how inflexible I am! More classes will be added!
A kids jiu-jitsu class will start in January!
A massage therapist needs to put in 20 hours to get her license! We have agreed to host her and we will charge $1/minute for you to get a nice massage!! There's nothing like a 20 minute rubdown after a class!
That's all for now.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Book of the Month - December

I forgot to tell you that I put out another book on the bookshelf:

Dynamic Karate
by M. Nakayama

Master Nakayama was a co-founder (so was Sensei Nishiyama) of JKA and its first Chief Instructor. He passed away before I began training but he used to come down to San Diego Summer Camp which used to be held annually. He was senior to Sensei Nishiyama but I heard that they had mutual respect to each other.

This book is kind of similar to Sensei Nishiyama's book, in the way it covers most of fundamental topics. There is a famous series of books "Best Karate" by the same author, and from what I understand the "Best Karate" series was based on this book.

Next month I will make a Kata book available, so that those who pass the test and start learning the new Kata can benefit from it.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

December 4 - 10, 2011

So I've been trying to incorporate some good workout as a warm-up, and everyone loves it! ...No, not really. But some did like it and it really is a great way to warm up when it's freezing. Karate is not all about how physically fit you are, but being in good shape definitely helps you to get better at it. I don't want to kill my students before they get to work on fine techniques, but I will continue pushing you all once in a while. You shouldn't die from just a 15 minutes of warm-up!

Other than that, we are of course focusing on the exam requirement. Remember, the exam is not testing your fighting skills but is checking your fundamental understanding and ability. When you practice on your own (and by the way, you really should spend some time practicing on your own outside of the regular training), think of what I always repeat in class, and stay focused on those points. I see some improvements in everybody, but some aren't quite there yet to pass your level, in my opinion. You have one more week; focus on gross fundamental points (stances, posture, hands/feet coordination) first, then fine-tune your movement. And keep the strong spirit and express that with KIAI!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

November 27 - December 3, 2011

Focusing on exam requirement. Also working on basic timing drills, leading to more of offensive strategies later...

November 20 - 26, 2011

...I did not write this entry for an obvious reason: I did not teach!

As you know I was in Chile for a week, competing at the Pan American Traditional Karate Championships. I competed in 3 events, and took 1 silver and 1 bronze medals home!

Next year it will be the World Championships in Poland. I'm already aiming at it. I learned a lot from this tournament, and I know I can get much better. Some of you are getting better quickly, but I don't let you pass me that easily...!