Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Mission Complete/Started

My intention was to make my karate blog a running story of my trip while I was there but there just never seemed to be time to update it while I was a way so I'm going to finish off this trip with a final update.

I was successful in grading to Yondan, 4th degree black belt for people who are not familiar with karate world.

That, however, pales by comparison with the opportunity to train and learn from some of the senior Sensei's in Canada.  While the entire weekend was a phenomenal experience the highlights were definitely the kumite clinic with Sensei Germain Bisson and the Fundamentals (my word) Clinic by Sensei Romualdo Ferri.

The kumite clinic was inspiring and Sensei Bisson's energy was infectious.  I hope I can bring some of that energy and inspiration back to our club to make it even better than it is now.

The fundamentals clinic really put a number of things in perspective as Sensei focused on the seichusen and the tanden and I hope that I can incorporate that into my training.  It's going to be a lot of hard work but I think it will be worth it.

While I love my club and I love my sensei, sometimes you need a different point of view to tell you exactly the same information but in a different way in order for the information to finally click in to your brain.

Now my journey begins again.

Train hard and train often.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Day 1: Complete

Day one was quite an adventure.  I got up at a reasonable hour after a decent night's sleep and headed to the dojo.  Through texting I connected with a fellow karateka who I asked to be my tori when I heard he was helping someone else.  We, and a few others went for breakfast and then headed over to the dojo to be on time.

Then the waiting began.

There were quite a few challenging a number of different ranks on this day which made for a lot of waiting.  Time to let your brain get completely messed up about the things you think you don't know or the things you may have forgotten.

I think the biggest challenge when advancing is to try and stay calm and collected.  Find the mushin.

My turn came and I stepped onto the floor.  I was nervous and had a little trouble remembering to breathe but I feel like I eventually settled down and performed reasonably well. 

Day 2 should be easier since it is mostly just a clinic, I think and while I will likely get picked on it will be more interactive and less a presentation which will help me stay more calm.

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Ready to Leave

Down to the last few minutes before I go.  Wishing I was on the road.  I hate sitting around doing nothing and just waiting.  I hope I have everything prepared!

Journey to Yondan

Getting in to bed the night before heading to Toronto to challenge my Yondan grading.  I'm tired!  The loss of an hour due to ending daylight savings time has been tiring because now the cats want to be fed at 5:30am and not 6:30am.

It has just clicked over to midnight and I have to leave for the airport at 11:00am.  I hope I'm not forgetting anything.  I'll have plenty of time to double check everything in the morning, thanks to the cats.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Always Strive for Improvement

This past weekend marked yet another excellent clinic from Sensei Higashi, the head of Canadian Chito Ryu Karate.  Sensei Higashi visits Nova Scotia twice a year for a 3 day clinic.  I attended a two hour class Friday night, 5 hours on Saturday and another 3 hours on Sunday.

I have always thoroughly enjoyed the information gleaned from these clinics but thought of the classes as a chore due to being overweight.  The problem of being overweight is that you get tired doing the simplest things and 10 hours of karate can be a killer.  When you are tired it is hard to practice well or learn anything.

I installed the MyFitnessPal app on my iPod back in May and, with the help of this little app and some will power, managed to lose 37 pounds over the past 6 months.  That has put a spring back in my step when it comes to activities in which I am participating such as this clinic.

Not only was the clinic not a chore but I enjoyed it thoroughly and since I had more energy I was able to really put a lot into the classes.  I really felt that the more I put into the class the more I was getting out of it.  The key lesson being to work hard at everything you do.  Always strive for improvement whether it is taking off a few of those extra pounds or improving your hip rotation during gyaku-tsuki.  If I can do it, so can you!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Understanding Techniques

One of the most important aspects about learning karate is that it is not enough to mimic the movements of your instructor you must also strive to understand how the technique works and what it is trying to accomplish.  Without that understanding your technique will be sloppy and ineffective.

Let's take a look at a specific example that came up in my class last night so I can hopefully make my point clear.  In the Chito Ryu kata Ni Sei Shi there is a particular spot where you retreat by pulling your front leg back and to the centre, block with the left hand and strike with the right hand.  You can watch the technique here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYzuAnsldzQ at the 1:29 mark in the video.  You'll see that the individual on the right slides his left foot to the centre and blocks (shuto uke) the attacker's punch with his left hand.  There are a number of points to this part of the kata but I'm going to examine just the block for this particular discussion.  Shuto-uke.

When it is done correctly, it is more of a redirection which steers the attackers punch down the side of your body thereby preventing you from getting hit and setting the opponent up for the counter attack - a right-handed shuto uchi which you see at 1:32 in the video.  If the block (shuto-uke) is too high or too low then you will miss the attacker's punch and get hit.  If you do not block with enough force then the punch will drive through the block and you will get hit.  If you block with too much force then the block (shuto-uke) will push the attacker's hand too far and the attacker, realizing that his punch has been pushed off course, will use the rotational energy you have provided them with to hit you with their left hand.

The correct method is to block with just enough force to keep your opponent's energy moving forward and to prevent you from getting hit.  By keeping them moving forward you actually allow them to step into the counter attack making it even stronger.  Also, it takes them longer to realize that their attack was not effective since they continue to move forward with the punch.  Without this realization there is no need to attack you with their other hand as they believe their first punch will do the trick

By gaining this understanding of the technique you are better able to practice the bunkai with your partner and you have a better understanding of how to perform it in your kata.  So, take the time to understand each and every technique in a kata and what that technique is trying to accomplish.  Your kata, bunkai, and kumite skills will improve with understanding.

Friday, April 15, 2011

I Need To Be Me

Sensei Peter Giffen
and a student from the AKC
A good friend and fellow karateka, Captain Jamie Creelman, passed away suddenly from a heart attack on April 7th, 2011.  He was a man who had a passion for all things karate and was meticulous in learning every detail that he could and was eager to share whatever he learned with everyone.

As a memorial to Jamie, Sensei Peter Giffen taught a class at the Atlantic Karate Club on April 11th and I was in attendance.  I spent a fair bit of the night taking photographs as he first worked with the kids class and then later with the adults.  You can find the raw photos from those classes over on PicasaWeb.

Sensei Giffen taught many of the basic principals of karate that night.  Things like dropping your weight into your stance to become immovable or as close to it as possible.  Holding your hands comfortably on your hip in such a way as to make it possible to punch forward even when there is resistance.  How to create a strong stance to ensure a strong technique.  None of these concepts are new.  In fact, these are the same basic concepts that senseis have been handing down to their students for generations.

The important message for me that night, however, was not about any one particular technique that he reviewed.  The message to me from this class was that here was yet another karateka giving me permission and, in fact, encouragement to be myself.  Over the years my senseis have encouraged me to find the techniques and stances that would help me better understand myself.  Chito-Ryu is about the individual; unlike some styles we do not measure our stances, punches, or kicks with a ruler but with our own bodies.  What bigger message do you need to understand that you need to be you.