Saturday, December 29, 2012

December 23 - 29, 2012 (Oosoji!)

Holidays usually mean less students, but I'm glad that we always have at least a few students who come and train when we're open.  Perhaps they are feeling guilty of eating too much holiday dinner and want to burn the calories?  Whatever the reason is, I'm happy to keep the dojo open.

Thank you for coming to help clean the dojo today.  Oosoji 2012 was a big success, with over 10 people participating.  The dojo is clean now, ready to get dirty again in the coming new year...!

I gave Ariana this new kata, Jion.  No brown belts at our dojo has done this yet.  It appears mostly pretty basic, and I'm sure she can nail it in a few months.  Here are some of the recommended videos:

PJ is Kanku Dai.  I initially was going to give him Jion as well, but he can do this one nice as well, I hope.  I believe I already posted some Kanku Dai videos in the past, but I don't remember if I had posted this one:

I bought a used projector.  We should do a movie night (or youtube night or whatever) at the dojo one of these days!

Wishing all of you a very happy new year!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

December 9 - 22, 2012 (Kyu Exam December 16)

We had a Kyu exam the other day.  In general everyone did well, but unfortunately we had to fail a few people.

Failing is hard, both from the examinee's point of view and the examiner's point of view.  Please do not think that we fail our students for no reasons or just because we can.  We take the tests very seriously, and we are learning from them.

Some people voiced concerns that they didn't understand why they failed.  It's OK to feel that way; you train because you don't know and/or you can't do.  Don't think even for a second that you should pass just because you trained hard; if it works that way, we don't need a test and we simply give you a belt based on the attendance.  We are testing your skill, and unfortunately some of you didn't meet the criteria of that specific rank.  But we failed them because we know that they can get better and eventually pass.

What are we going to focus on for the next few weeks?  Lots of kicking, lots of warm-ups since it's cold, lots of basic timing drills.  New kata, of course.  Oh, don't forget that we are resuming Enbu training, too.  Don't tell me you already forgot the sequence!!

I can't believe it's almost the end of 2012...  Well, maybe I can.  It wasn't the best year for me but I had some great moments, and the dojo kept growing.  We asked all our students to sign the automatic payment agreement; it was a big step for us, and we hope this will work for both you and us.  And we thank all of you for your support for the dojo.  (And please show your support by coming to the 2012 Oosoji on December 29!)

Winter training will take place soon - January 7-12.  Ask Manny what it is about.  You must experience it at least once in your martial arts training life, and believe me, it's not that bad!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

November 18 - December 8, 2012

The test is coming up in a week.  Train hard; that's all I can say...!

And it's that time of the year again!  For those who have trouble finding a good gift for someone you care, how about a gift of KARATE!?  VMAC sells gift certificate for any amount ($10+) for 50% OFF!!!  So you pay $60 and your friend gets 2 months of karate training; how about that??  Sorry but the certificates are good for new members only.

After the test, we are having a holiday potluck party.  Bring your famous dish.  I heard a rumor that Makoto will prepare some sushi...

We are doing the 2nd annual Dojo Oosoji on December 29th, right after the class.  What is Oosoji?  Come join us to find out!  It will be a fun activity for an hour; bring a broom and terrycloth and wear a comfortable housekeeping clothes.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

November 11 - 17, 2012

Exam is coming up in a month!  It's time to come train everyday if you can.  We will be going over your exam requirements in class, so don't miss it.  Also, if you want to self-practice the Kihon (basics), get this book at the dojo for $10:

Also, we continue with our Enbu (choreographed fighting) training.  Per request, below is the sequence that we practice.  We have covered #1 and #5 so far, and #2-4 will be introduced over next 1-3 months.  The total of this Enbu sequence will be about 1 minute.

VTK Enbu

1. L Punch face    >>>    Slide back
    R Punch stomach     >>>    L Down block
    L Outside block    <<<    R Punch stomach
    R Hook punch face     >>>    L Rising block

2. (coming soon...)

3. (coming soon...)

4. (coming soon...)

5. R Step punch face     >>>    L Sweeping block + R hand on his L shoulder
                                               R leg steps behind his R leg
    Break fall     <<<    Push with R hand + control with L hand + Sweep (twist)
                                  R Punch to face or stomach
    Roll, then stand up     <<<    Push away (release L hand)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  The dojo will be open as usual this week except for Thursday.  If you plan on eating a lot over this holiday, come burn some calories before and after.  We all just wanna relax during holiday season, but we all know that it feels good to come and sweat!

OK Leroy (and anybody else); I will be visiting Japan April 4-13 next year.  Plan your trip if you want me to show you the dark side of Tokyo only the local people know...! :-)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

September 30 - November 10, 2012

Long time no blogging!  ...Sorry.

Since the last blog update, these events happened:

1.World Championships in Poland
2. AAKF Western Region new officers selected
3. Kyu-level Tournament
4. Nishiyama Memorial

1. World Championships
  I placed in top 8 in both events I competed in (Kata and Fukugo).  I learned a few things that I need to work on, and I know I can get better.  Some people ask me for how many more years I will be competing, and I usually tell them that I will compete for another 4 years.  I don't know about that for sure, but I think I will continue as long as I can get better and can motivate myself to improve as an athlete.  Sure it's nice to win and to be able to call myself a "world champion" but the chance of me winning a gold is not that great.  But I still have a few things that I want to improve (concerning competition matches), so let me see what I can do and take one year at a time...  Next year we will be in Argentina for Pan American Championships.

  By the way, competing and trying to win is only less than a half of the reason why I enjoy going to the international tournaments.  The other half or more is the socializing part.  I meet so many karate enthusiasts from all over the world and I'm so glad to be a part of this circle of friends!

2. Western Region New Officers
  Our regional office has had the same officers for over 2 years, and now that we successfully completed the responsibility of hosting a national championships, it's time to select a new group of officers.  The Big Ron served as Regional Director and I was his assistant.  There also are Treasurer and Secretary positions.  We recently elected Tati (a long-time NKI student) to be the new Director.  And I nominated our own Manny Yumul to be the Secretary and he was elected!  Good for him!  Most of us don't see what the regional office does, but they host some regional events (seminars and exams) and to keep active communication between the dojos in the region.  I hope Tati, Manny and others will put some new and fresh ideas to vitalize our region!

3. Kyu Tournament
  Too bad we had no participants from other dojos this year, but it was fun and great learning experience, I thought.  No one got seriously hurt.  Thanks so much to all the judges who worked hard to support this event.  I forgot to introduce them at the tournament, so here I go:

Aric Levin, 5th Dan, a long time Nishiyama student and an instructor at TKA (Avi's dojo)
Juan Balmaceda, 4th Dan, a long time Nishiyama student and the instructor at TKI in San Diego
Robert Dobes, 3rd Dan, a long time Nishiyama student and an instructor at NKI
...and our own Jon and Eiko.  Thanks Kyle for serving as a timekeeper.


Lower Division (10-7th Kyu) Kata
1. Artur
2. Leroy
3. Shamane

Upper Division (6-1st Kyu) Kata
1. Jon
2. Makoto
3. Nate

Lower Division Kumite
1. Leroy
2. Artur
3. Tim

Upper Dvision Kumite
1. Jon
2. Leroy
3. Nate

  We had 20 Kata matches and 27 Kumite matches!  Again, the main purpose of a competition is for you to learn something from the experience.  You're under stress.  You want to look good in front of friends.  You want to win.  You want to beat up someone...  When your mind is not so calm, bad habits kick in and you can't perform your best.  Your body doesn't move as quick as it should.  You feel sick to your stomach.  Then you truly realize what your flaws and that you need to work on them.  It's great that your hard work paid off and you win a medal, but I'd rather you try your best, lose and learn from that experience than you do a mediocre performance, win and think that you're invincible.

4. Nishiyama Memorial
  Many of old-timers at LA Central Dojo got together at Sensei's grave site this morning, then came over to our dojo and had a good training conducted by Ron.  We had about 20 or so people training, a little less than last year but still a good number for our floor space.  And it's always nice to have different faces from different parts of town/country/world getting together for a common reason = Sensei Nishiyama's karate.

It was pretty busy month and half for me.  Luckily (?) I have no family here in the States so I'm not busy during the holiday seasons; it's my time to relax a little.  Speaking of my family, I will visit Japan in April for 10 days.  Let me know if you want to come with me to carry my bag, etc. :-)  I'm actually planning to teach a small seminar while I'm there.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

September 16 - 29, 2012

I'm writing this actually an hour before my departure to Poland.  Wish me luck!  And thank you so much for donating for my trip.  I will remember your face when I'm drinking beer in Poland... na zdrowia! :-)

We saw many trial students this month, and a couple of them joined.  It's always nice to get new students, but where are some of our old timers??  We want you to come back, too!

I have a report: I got a new gi!  It was actually a gift from the ITKF for competing in a tournament in San Diego.  It is a special ITKF official gi, and so far only 22 of them have been produced.  It's basically the same style as KI's Mugen gi, with a different label and a Japanese writing embroidered on the back of neck. This one surprisingly fits me well, but it feels a little bulky.  I hope it will shrink a little more over time.  Speaking of shrinkage, I measure the pants length and sleeve length before/after a wash.  Sleeve did not shrink much: only 1/4", but the pants shrunk a lot: 1.5".  I was surprised that the sleeves didn't shrink.  And thanks to the pants getting shorter after a wash, I didn't have to alter them!

OK, I'll update again when I'm back.  Oh, our tournament is coming up in little over a month; get ready!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

September 9 - 15, 2012

We've been working on Uke-waza (blocking technique).  We'll continue with it for another week or so, mixing up some variations (sweeping blocks, hooking blocks, etc.).

Some of you are excited (perhaps a little too much) about the tournament in November.  Good that you have a goal that motivates you to train hard.  Winning a tournament only means that you happened to be better than your opponent that day, that time, in that specific situation.  You can win simply by luck (as I have proven many times! :-p).  What's important is that you train hard for it, and that you do your best in it.  I hope you're enjoying the process.

For me personally, only 3 more weeks until the World Championships.  Do you know what that means?  Yes, only 3 more weeks and a few days until I can drink again...! :-)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

August 27 - September 8, 2012

It's been 2 weeks since the test, and most of you newly promoted students already learned the new Kata.  Great!  Keep working on it until all the details become natural to you and that you don't have to think about each step.  At the same time, don't forget your previous Kata, as you have to be able to demonstrate all of them when you test for a black belt in the future...

We've been working on Uke-waza (blocking technique) for the past week or two.  A block in Japanese is "Uke", which actually means "to receive", however, as I keep telling you, you can't passively wait and receive the incoming attack.  You have to reach out and stop before the technique accumulates force, only then you can actually block that attack.  Body snap together with forearm or wrist snap is crucial for a successful blocking technique, and we'll keep working on that as well.

Back by popular demand (a.k.a. Menefee and Chris' request), we're soon hosting a Kyu-level tournament!  Sunday, November the 4th.  Hoping to invite many from other dojos as well.

Book of the Month: Hidden Karate
My emphasis when teaching a Kata is to teach you to move properly, with precise stance with proper posture to execute correct body dynamics for a technique.  There are many other schools that emphasize applications of Kata techniques, but I never learned Kata that way, and I feel it's more important and interesting (personally) to develop proper body mechanics.  However my idea may be one dimensional and I would encourage you to investigate on different aspects of Karate/Kata on your own.

This book focuses on how to look at Kata as a set of practical fighting/self-defense techniques.  Though I would disagree with some ideas, in general it is very well-thought and presented in details.  It only covers Heian 1-5 & Tekki 1, but you may easily apply the same ideas when looking at other Kata as well.  Skip the fist 1/3 of the book (unless you're really into it) and take a look at the photographed demonstrations of each Kata.

Friday, August 31, 2012


Remember that we had a T-shirt design contest a couple of months ago?  Melissa came up with some great designs but we had to modify and made just one kids shirt design.  But I really liked her original designs, so I decided to personally order this one (FYI, she designed 5 differrent animals: dog, bear, tiger, bunny and monkey, of which the first 3 were used for our official kids shirt).

...And of course I have to add this text on the back.

Let me know if any of you're interested in buying this shirt.  It will be somewhere around $30 (neither I nor dojo is making any profit).  I know it's not cheap but think it's worth it.  This will be the only chance to own this T-shirt (except for dog or tiger design, which I might order someday). 

EDIT: Since they are offering 30% off for this weekend, I'm taking orders in the next 2 days!  So hurry!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

August 19 - 26 (Kyu Exam), 2012

Congratulations to your achievement!  You all did your best.  But as always, the next one will not be as easy as this one (as if this one was easy...!), so keep on training.

Oh, now I have to teach you all a new Kata?  OK...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

August 12 - 18, 2012

OK, one more week till the exam.  Good luck to those who are testing!

We've been spending a lot of time going over Kihon, and Sen drill and its application.  I know how difficult it is to do the timing drill right especially if you're a beginner, but believe me, you just have to keep on trying.  And it is the base of all Kumite timing and strategies, and there is no other way to go about.  "Feeling" the opponent's action is something you can only get from the experience, and I hope you get to understand it soon if not yet.

Now my concern is about the party after the exam... :-)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

July 22 - August 11, 2012

I've been trying to update this blog every week but apparently I'm not good at it.  3 weeks have passed already since the last update.  Wow.

Only 2 more weeks until the exam.  Keep working hard!  Some of you are already ready, and some are not.  I will try my best to get everyone prepared, but ultimately it's your responsibility.

As you all know our dojo strives to be the best traditional karate dojo around.  The best facility, the best teaching quality, the best tuition, the best people...  It makes me happy to hear that someone finds us after a long search for a "good karate dojo".  Why did we start this dojo in the first place?  It's because we didn't have a place to train ourselves in the area.  We do this for the love of karate, pure and simple.  Of course there are people who may not find us "the best" for any reasons.  But we're proud of what we do here, and you can count on us that we keep ourselves true to the karate principles and traditions.

For me, it's less than 2 more months before the world championship in Poland.  I'll try to push myself a little harder for the next month or so.  I just wish that this crazy heat wave would calm down a little...!

Training subject: Sen (or more like Sen-no-sen), and some exam basics.  In the last couple of tournaments I felt pretty confident tha my "Sen" timing would work and did score a point or two using it.  Before that when I was teaching I was trying to explain what I was not confident about, but now I know that it works and have proven it.  It is very deep and one can never practice it enough.  We will continue with it and try to relate it to other applications/strategies.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

June 3 - July 21, 2012

I didn't update for almost 2 months...  Shame on me, but for a good reason: I was busy! :-)

Many events happened:

1. National Mini-Camp
Our own Emmanuel participated!  He even got to compete against some black belts from other states!  I'm sure he learned a lot from the experience.  The AAKF continues hosting some seminars across the country regularly, so if any of you're interested in traveling and training, let me know.

2. National Championship
Big thanks to the following people who came to support the event:
Jon B, Eiko, Ron, Chris, Ariana, Emmanuel, Melissa
I hope it was exciting enough to watch.  I did pretty good and won 2 golds and 1 bronze.

3. VMAC 1 Year Anniversary!
I can't believe it's been a year since we opened this dojo...  The anniversary training didn't draw as many people as we wanted, but we still had a good training, and of course a great party afterwards.  We are here to stay and to continue to grow...!

4. ITKF Summer Camp
Thanks to Jon B who covered to teach all the classes, I was able to participate in this training camp.  There were about 40 people from different countries, many of them higher ranks and international judges/coaches/examiners/athletes.  Sensei Nishiyama used to teach this camp every year down in San Diego for over 30 years, and after 3 years hiatus they resumed this tradition this year.  It was a great camp and I learned a lot, hoping to give what I learned to you in classes.  It will happen again next year in July; you should try to come even for a day!  Beach training at 6am is wonderful in many ways...

5. Nishiyama Memorial Cup
There was a tournament on the last day of the camp.  It was held based on the "World Cup" system - 8 men,  all start with Kitei, then Kumite, then Kata (twice), and the final match in Kumite.  You can lose once but you're out if you lose twice before getting to the Kata round (top 4).  I won the first round (Kitei), lost the second round (Kumite, against Damian from Poland - watch the video posted on facebook), then won the next Kumite match and made it to the top 4.  After the first Kata I was at 3rd place (after Rafal and Damian) but after the second Kata I beat Damian by a few points and moved up to the 2nd place, then did Kumite as the final match against Rafal (this video on facebook as well).  Though they are very young, they are experienced competitors and have won many titles including European or World Cup.  They are fast, strong, and have different style from most Americans which was a huge challenge for me.  I hurt my old body trying to match up with them but truly enjoyed the experience.  Those guys are who I have to face in the next tournament: World Championship in Poland this October!

I put another book on the bookshelf, as the "book of the month" for July and August.  It's Lyoto Machida's book.  Those who don't know him, he actually used to compete under our Karate rules as a Brazilian national team member, became a professional fighter and at one point was a UFC champion.  His fights reflect the style we practice a lot; if you compare him with other fighters, you know what I mean.

So the next exam is just over a month away: August 26.  Are you ready?  Probably not yet, but are you GOING TO BE ready?? - the answer depends on how much training you do during the coming month!

Monday, June 4, 2012

May 27 - June 2, 2012

It's June already.  Time flies...!  National Championships in about 10 days!

"Book of the Month" special edition:

Yep, it's on sale now.  Now you really have no excuse not to know your basics for the exam. Our students can purchase it for $10 ($5 discount).  I'm sorry but I'm not going to put this book up on the bookshelf; you have to purchase one to get the most benefit out of it!

I'm planning to shift the training subject toward more fundamental points.  Basic timing, body dynamics, etc.  Perhaps I'll cover a few of the exam required basics, too, just to get you become aware that the next exam is only 2.5 months away...!

Monday, May 28, 2012

May 13 - 26, 2012

I've been only updating this blog once every 2 weeks nowadays.  I've been busy plus there aren't really much to talk about anyways.

As far as the adult karate classes are concerned, the attendance has not been great and we're actually seeing a few people dropping out.  Not good.  It's not good from the business stand point, but it also makes wonder what we're doing wrong.  Please do let us know if there is anything we can do to make our dojo/program better.  And please, PLEASE bring your friends/family/coworkers to the class.  "Word of the mouth" has been our best advertising vehicle until now (though Yelp! is actually catching up to it rapidly...) so we are counting on you!

We've been focusing on lateral (sideways) shifting lately.  It's kind of counter-intuitive (that you don't feel as safe as shifting back, and you don't feel as strong or determined as moving in) but when it works, it works like a magic.  Maybe a few more classes of this, and then we move on to something else... perhaps blocking?

National seminar and tournament in about 2 weeks...  Are you ready (asking myself, though I know the answer...)??

Sunday, May 13, 2012

May 6 - 12, 2012

This week we started teaching "kids competition prep class".  It is a private (or semi-private) lesson once a week for those kids who are going to compete next month at the National Championship.  Some of our kids are very talented and/or dedicated, and I feel that with a little additional push they can compete against other kids pretty well.  5 more weeks until the competition!

Another week of Sasoi-waza training, with adding some side shifting to it...

April 30 - May 5, 2012

Oops, a week behind...

Nothing much new is happening at the dojo, except having a couple of new students joining us.  Welcome Artur and Leroy.  They both have background in karate similar to what we practice, so I wouldn't be surprised if they catch up rather quickly.  Don't underestimate them just because they're wearing a white belt!

I put a Book of the Month on the bookshelf.  It is a karate book written by a person named Ashihara.  His style, Ashihara Karate, is a rather new style but is very unique and I always wanted to try out (but never had a chance).  They allow grabbing and throwing, and combining with kicks, punches and sweeps the style appears and practices very differently.  I personally don't like to call it "karate" but nevertheless it is an interesting fighting system.  They use a lot of side shifting or circular steps as well.  Take a look at the book when you have a chance and let me know what you think.

Continuing with Sasoi-waza this week.

Friday, May 4, 2012

April 23 - 29, 2012 (Regional Championship)

It's always fun to learn a new Kata, right?  But even if you have to continue practicing your old Kata, don't get bored because there is always something more to learn.  I've been doing the same Kata (Nijushiho) for about 18 years and I still have points here and there that I want to perfect.

Also we're continuing with Sasoi-waza (inviting technique - one of many ways to set the opponent up).  Footwork is obviously important for it so we'll keep working on that as well.

We had AAKF Western Regional Championship on April 29 in Redondo Beach.  Thank you very much for those who showed up to support/cheer for us.  Adonay, Nicholas D, Angela and Angelica competed in youth division, and Eiko and I competed in adults division.  We all took medals home, I believe.  But again, the results don't really matter (except that it becomes a good excuse for a party!) but what's important is what you learned from the experience.

We have the National Championship coming up on June 15-16.  We will train hard to prepare for it, and we encourage all of you to try to come watch us compete since it will be in LA.  This championship is probably the oldest annual karate tournament in the US, but unfortunately it's not one of the biggest because of several reasons.  But still, there are some strong competitors worth watching and it's always fun to socialize with karate peeps from different part of country or world.  There will be a 2-day seminar taught by highly talented instructors before the championship, and there will be a GREAT after party Saturday night!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

April 15 - 21, 2012 and KYU EXAM (April 22)

I usually don't focus on the exam requirement a week prior to the test, but this time I had to continue teaching it since many of you didn't seem to be well prepared.  As Chief Instructor of this dojo I'm responsible for your training and progress.  I hate to see any of our students failing but at the same time I can't let our standard drop either, so what I have to do is to make sure those who test are ready.

Unfortunately I did not do a good enough job and a few students failed this time.  We invite examiners from outside our dojo for an objectivity.  I felt bad that I did not teach well enough to those who failed, that some of the points those examiners mentioned were not well covered in my classes.  I have to learn from this and try to teach better; this was really a big lesson to me.

Regardless of the results of the exam, I hope you all learned some valuable lessons.  Just like a competition, victory is not the goal but the process leading to it and what you learned through the experience are of greater value.  An exam is a milestone in your lifelong training; even if you achieve a high rank you wanted, that only means that you now have more responsibilities and a lot more to learn...  But don't be discouraged; it still is a fun process nevertheless!  I promise!!

Those who passed, it's time for you to learn a new Kata.  Check this blog's old entries and find your new Kata's youtube clips.  There is a Kata book in our kitchen, too.  Ask the higher ranks before or after the class.  I will try to spend some time individually after every class, so try not to miss too many classes for next one month (or even one year...!).

We will also continue with a set-up strategy (Sasoi-waza = inviting) for the next 1-2 weeks.  The Regional Championship is coming up this weekend.  A tournament will be held at Peer's dojo in San Diego.  The Nationals will take place in June.  Still a lot of events are happening...  And only 4 MORE MONTHS UNTIL THE NEXT EXAM!!! :-)

Friday, April 20, 2012

April 8 - 14, 2012

Attendance has been low still... Only a week left before the exam! Exam Kihon, Exam Kumite (Focusing on single attack Kime and Go-no-sen counter attack timing), and Kata.

Monday, April 9, 2012

April 1 - 7, 2012

OK, 2 more weeks till the exam. Most of you will only train 5 times or less in 2 weeks; ask yourself if you're really going to be ready or not. You can certainly give it a shot even if you feel not quite ready. Or you sure can skip this time and focus on the next one (which will be in August). We don't practice just to pass the exam, but it's always nice to see yourself moving up the ranks and to get to learn a new Kata.

Training subjects: exam Kihon, your Kata, basic timing drills and single attack drills to improve Kime on each technique.

I don't have any more books to put out on the bookshelf as Book of the Month.... I don't want to put a book that you need to spend hours reading it, because let's face it, no one spends hours in that kitchen (except when we're having Menefee margaritas, of course). This month I decided to put this one out: ITKF Competition Rules. The Regionals and the Nationals are coming up; it's good to know some competition rule details even if you're just watching. That's a lot of readings, but just read through one category at a time, and it shouldn't be too bad. I will have to start thinking about next month's BOTM already...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

March 25 - 31, 2012

Continuing with the same subjects... No, this blog entry is up to date. I mean about the training subject.

At this point you should know exactly what you need to do for your exam if you're testing. If not, sorry. ...I mean, sorry that I haven't gone over them clearly enough for you. Simply ask me or take a look at the handbook. I was hoping to finish creating the "exam Kihon book" by now, but I've been too busy (plus I hurt myself so I couldn't continue the photo shoot) and I won't be able to finish it in time. But judging from the reaction to my previous post, perhaps no one wants to buy this book??

Only 3 more weeks left before the exam. If you're aiming at the next exam, you only have about 4 months and 3 weeks! Are you getting nervous? Confidence only comes from within, which you build by consistent training. The longer break you take, the harder it gets to come back, so keep coming to the classes!

March 18 - 24, 2012

This blog update is one week behind, yet again...

Focusing on exam Kihon, plus basic timing drills. "Hands touching, center following, feet moving" exercise is working pretty well - it is my invention! Many of the drills I teach came from Sensei Nishiyama's classes, but I have created a few on my own based on his teaching, and this is one of them.

It is unusual that the attendance is still low one month before the exam - come train more often. You know it does your body good!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

March 11 - 17, 2012

I wish I could continue with more sweeping and throwing techniques (I bought a good book for that; coming soon to "Book of the Month"??) but it's time to shift to the basics and to get you all ready for the exam. I can't possibly cover everyone's exam requirement equally, so if you feel like I'm not paying enough attention to your level, ask me questions before/after a class or schedule a private lesson soon. The good thing about our karate is that you learn one point and you can apply it in different situations (i.e., you learn to move from the floor in Kata and you can do the same when you spar) so there is no waste. However, there are certain techniques or moves that we don't spend much time on during regular classes yet you have to be proficient at when you test - so start early, get used to what you have to do, and be prepared mentally and physically. I do my best to teach you, but you're responsible for your own learning!

We will be spending time on your Kata, Kihon and some basic timing drills (Sen and Go-no-sen). Dojo has been cold for the past few days again; is it time to do another good warm-up circuit drills?? Let me think...

Monday, March 12, 2012

March 4 - 10, 2012

Practicing sweeping... Sorry if you have sensitive legs/feet. The good news is, that we are moving on to a new subject now. The bad news is, if you don't like practicing sweeps, you're likely to get swept when you compete... I learned it the hard way.

On Thursday the 8th we had 18 people on the mat! Then on Saturday the 10th there were only 3 students. NO ONE from our dojo was here for the advanced class, and Kamil and his gangs kicked my behind. Seriously, I hurt my hand and can barely make a fist. Oh, maybe this is a sign that I have to work harder on my kicks - and that means, our students have to, too! :-)

The exam is less than 6 weeks away. I'm guessing not everyone is testing this time, or perhaps many will fail. In case you forget, the test only gets harder as you get advanced. It's fine as long as you keep on training regularly. I'll start mixing some exam stuff in the training, so don't miss out!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

February 26 - March 3, 2012

Practicing leg sweeps this week and the next. I must admit that this is not my favorite technique and I'm rarely able to make it work in a free-sparring. But I still like to practice it because at least I can get more comfortable with it and learn how to avoid getting swept.

Thank you so much to those who took me out on my birthday! It was a great night out and I thoroughly enjoyed it and my Facebook profile pic proves it! Now I want my birthday gift from every one of you... COME TRAIN MORE OFTEN! Those of you who are thinking of testing, it's less than 2 months away. Get your practice time in, ask for a help if you have any problems. Take a private lesson or two if you must. I'm working hard to create a material that hopefully would help your test preparation, and here is a sneak preview:

Book of the Month has already been placed on the bookshelf. It's Karatedo Kyohan written by Master Funakoshi (the picture on our dojo wall, the left one). I used to have this book but misplaced it (how?? It's a big book and I don't think I gave it to anyone!) so I had to get another one for the dojo. This is a limited edition and not is no longer available. There is a book with the same title readily available at a bookstore, however, the photographs had been swapped with someone else's therefore it's not the same book. Anyway, it's surprising to see how different our karate looks from what this Master demonstrates in the book, but I'm sure the principles remain the same.

An announcement: our region's effort of fundraising for the Nationals continues - They are having yet another Garage Sale in Santa Monica on Saturday, March 24. Please donate any unwanted items that you think can sell. We had our own Garage Sale a few months ago and made a few hundred bucks (thanks to my chair collections! :-)) and we're trying to make even more this time. Gather stuff at our dojo, and I will take them to Santa Monica. Your help would be highly appreciated.

Lastly, renew your AAKF membership, please! I'm collecting the forms and dues for now, and will forward them to the region in 10 days. If you want to save $10, you have 10 more days left to give me the form and $20.

February 19 - 25, 2012

We finished focusing on the combination attack. Moving on to the next topic... Sweeping.

Practice sweeping carefully/gently, as we have a few with very sensitive feet and legs. We are practicing against a stable target; ANYONE can kick the leg hurt it when the opponent is not moving, duh! The point, as usual, is how to make a proper technique, with minimum effort resulting in maximum effect. It requires good timing, just like any other technique we practice. Be kind to each other and learn from each other. Brown belts, come to the advanced class so that you can really test those techniques full speed!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

February 12 - 18, 2012

Continuing with combination attack drills, including some timing drills. I'm thinking, probably just one more week on this subject and then move on.

We had a great seminar (Regional Fundraising Seminar in Redondo Beach) and 6 from our dojo participated. We all had great training as usual. Most of these seminars are not just for advanced students (though most participants are black belts) and anyone can participate and benefit from it at different levels, so please don't hesitate to seize the opportunity! The next seminar is coming up on April 21. We also are going to have a 2-day seminar on June 13-14: this is the AAKF National Mini-camp and will be taught by some of the highest rank instructors in the nation. Please do whatever you can to free up these days (as well as the following 2 days which are the National Championships; WE NEED YOUR HELP TO ORGANIZE THIS EVENT!!!)!

Oh, lastly, don't forget to renew your AAKF membership if you are a current member. It will expire in March, and if you renew before the end of March (we need to send it in by mid March though) you save $10 ($20 instead of $30). New students can join now or when you take a test (you must be a member when you test; no exception), and you get a benefit at seminars and tournaments.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

February 5 - 11, 2012

We're working on the Combination Attack (Renzoku Kougeki Waza) now. I want to include some of the basic combinations from the exam requirements here and there. I don't want to spend too many weeks on this subject but perhaps for 1-3 weeks, then move on to something else.

We're canceling this Saturday's Advanced Class, because we will have a regional seminar in Redondo Beach. Is anyone going? I'm going for training, not for teaching this time, and I encourage all of you to try to make it. Almost every time I take someone's class, I find one or two new things/ideas that I want to work on or that I want to incorporate in my teaching. Though I have good 20+ years of training experience, there are many other instructors who are far more experienced or skilled than I am, and I want my students to be exposed to them as well.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

January 29 - February 4, 2012

It's been a month since we started the advanced class. I'm definitely enjoying it (as well as getting hurt from it...) but I want all our brown belts to try to make it more often. I know it's Saturday but you know it's good for you!

We'll try to shift away from Sasoi-waza and work on other offensive strategies soon. Any request?

I now put out another book on our bookshelf. It's an anatomy/body conditioning book. It definitely helps to understand your own body for karate improvement. I had to memorize all the muscles, bones and nerves for my PT school/board exam, but I lost all that knowledge, so don't ask me any and just take a look at this book! :-) According to this book, a man should be able to do 8 pull-ups and a woman once as the national average - are we all "above average"?? Take the challenge and add it to your list of New Year resolution if you're below average!

It looks like the AAKF is holding another national seminar, this time in April in Milwaukee. I might try to go if I can save up the fund; let me know if anyone is interested in sharing a hotel room with me. It's always fun to travel and meet karate people from different part of country or world.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

January 22 - 28, 2012

It's almost the end of month! That went pretty fast, and we only have 11 more months before the next year... Or how about only less than 3 months before the next test?? Come train more often. Make it up by taking private lessons if you feel like you're behind.

The same subject continues this week: Sasoi-waza. Any offensive strategies are advanced subjects and this one is no exception, but I think you're all picking it up pretty well. Let me know if you're confused or not sure about what we're trying to do during the drills.

I've been thinking about making some kind of instructional material, either videos (online or DVD) or books. I know some had asked me to make a Kata video (actually I already made one when I was in Japan, but it wasn't very well made), but you can find a lot of decent Kata videos online and I don't want to repeat it. How about the exam requirement book (with photos)? I've looked around but didn't find any. The summary is included in our handbook, but it's not easy to just "read" it without any visuals. Let me know what you think about this idea.

By the way our region is going to host another seminar on Saturday, February 18. It's a bit pricey because this is mainly a fundraising event, but I'm sure you'll be happy with the amount of training/learning you'll receive. It will be at Redondo Beach; let's carpool if we can.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

January 15 - 21, 2012

I feel that the attendance is generally low this month... What happened to your new year resolution?? The holidays are over, it's time to get back in shape. I gained a few pounds over the holidays, too (though I didn't eat much, I did not train as usual), but I've been losing gradually now that I'm back on the regular routine of teaching and training.

We've started another offensive strategy, Sasoi-waza ("inviting" technique). This is to cause your opponent to attack you (by giving him a fake attack) and once he is committed to an attack you counter attack him (catch "Sen" to his attack, block it or shift/avoid it then counter). It's easier said than done, just like any other karate technique we practice...! The hardest part for me is to read opponent's intention and to use this strategy appropriately. The drills are rather simple and anyone can get it, so let's keep on practicing for the next 1-2 more weeks. We are adding some variations to this strategy as we go as usual.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

January 15, 2012 - VMAC update

Wow! I can't believe how time flies! I have not blogged in 2 weeks...
Yesterday's adult karate class was very small...strange. The Sunday classes are normally big ones. We are changing the time to make this class only 1 hour from 11-12. I promise to make it 1 hour of good hard training!!
We have had a few people join our dojo this year already - but as always we do not stop there! Keep spreading the word. As of now Adult Karate still leads the pack in numbers. Kids karate is close behind and my personal goal this year is to pass the adults # by adding more and more little guys!
Jiu-jitsu has had a sudden surge! Kids jiu-jitsu is 2 weeks in so we'll see how that progresses. Yoga is still getting its bearing too. I highly recommend yoga before karate - I've been taking every class and feel that it is really helping my back and flexibility. One way to keep fit and energetic is to stay loose.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

January 1 - 14, 2012

I already wrote Happy New Year in the last entry, oops.

And this blog update has been only every 2 weeks instead of every week without intention. Sorry, I'll try my best to post once a week.

So we started out a new year, and we already have a few new students. Very nice! I hope you'll all like what we do here and continue progressing. I'm confident that you will keep getting better as long as A) you keep training, and B) you have the right attitude/mindset. Unfortunately I've seen quite a few people who are kind of plateaued with their progress. It could happen to anybody. To break out of this, only "training hard" is not enough; you have to pay attention, be open-minded, think what you're missing, and work for it diligently.

We just completed the Winter Special Training! Jon B, Emmanuel, Jon M, Chris and myself received the certificate of completion. Emmanuel requested that we should continue having classes at 6AM; let me know if anyone else is interested... To me, this is a special "once a year at the new year" kind of deal, and I don't necessarily enjoy getting up at 5 in the morning every day. We're hoping that we can host it at our dojo next year, or at least to have our own version of it for 1-3 days possibly.

As far as our regular training is concerned, we will move on from Koroshi-waza to trying another offensive strategy. Most of you got the new Kata sequence down (but if not, look at the Book of the Month on our kitchen bookshelf or check my recommended youtube videos. We will continue refining your Kata in the coming months.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

December 18, 2011 to... HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I thought I already wrote 12/18-24 entry, but I guess not. Sorry, time flies. And we're in 2012 already!

We've been working on new Kata, plus practicing Koroshi-waza quite a bit. It's a great offensive strategy to compliment "Sen" (defensive/responding) timing we regularly work on. We're expanding it as we continue, including close-distance Koroshi or a failed Koroshi switching to combination attack. We'll do this for another week or so, then move on to another offensive strategy, I think.

Thank you very much for those who helped us clean the dojo at the end of last year. Tiffany, who failed to show up, agreed to do it all by herself at the end of this year. It's on the blog, so it's official...! The dojo sure feels clean and we started out the year very fresh. Thanks again, everyone.

Some exciting things are gonna happen this year. The national championship will be held right here in LA in June. Hopefully I'll do well and be able to compete at the World again (this time in Poland in November... COLD!!!). We will probably host a couple of Kyu tournaments again. Many of you will keep advancing in the rank (exams in April, August and December). Advanced class will start this Saturday. I'm gonna get married... Just kidding, just checking if you're paying attention. But maybe someone else will. And someone will have a baby. Very exciting year indeed.

I put out a new "Book of the Month" on the bookshelf. It's a Kata learning book which is a great learning tool to look at when you just started a new Kata.

Don't forget, Winter Training is going to be this month, 9th to 14th. Some of us participated and completed the whole week last year. Who is in this year??