I've been a keen karate student for 16 years, Shukokai and Shotokan, but there still seems to be no shortage of things to learn and explore. I'm hoping this blog will allow me to share my experiences and hear other martial artists thoughts.

Archive for Karate kicks

Keep taking your daily actions

I wouldn’t say great flexibility is something that comes particularly naturally to me. A few weeks ago for instance my lateral hip flexibility was feeling particularly unresponsive when I was running through warm-up before we really got started with training. We’d also not done kicking on the pads for a while and when we did my mawashi geris felt very rusty.

Now I didn’t think I had to put a plan in place right that instant to address that feeling of rustyness but it has been something I’ve tried to work on.

If I find myself with half an hour or so in a morning I’ve been fitting in a little session on my punch/kick bag to work on my kicking techniques. I haven’t been worrying about speed or power, more about getting the technique right, particularly getting the knee on the kicking leg up nice and high to enable the rest of the kick to work as well as it can.

I’ve also been spending time exclusively on my lateral hip flexibility. Giving myself the time to slowly increase the stretch to let the muscles relax in each position before widening and stretching a bit more.

I’ve definitely noticed a feeling of greater flexibility, for me at least, and a return of confidence in my kicking techniques. It reminded me of a tweet the author of the book SUMO, Shut Up and Move On, Paul McGee had posted. ‘Remember success is a process not an event. So stop looking for the magic answer and keep taking your daily actions.’

I’m certainly feeling the benefits of spending time working regularly on flexibility and technique. I’ll be making every effort to keep taking my daily actions. What are yours?


More than just a purple toe

We’ve done quite a bit of sparring in training the last few weeks. As well as a nicely bruised toe, due to an enthusiastic clash of kicks, from this weeks training I’ve been giving thought to how I can make sure my sparring is linked in with all the other aspects of my training.

I know countless times I’ve spent time in a lesson working on executing basics and then switched into doing something like padwork, focus mitt work or sparring and lost an awareness of executing my techniques as well as I can do. Working with some of the younger students it struck me that perhaps they didn’t yet have an understanding of the role sparring plays in their karate.

I find myself understanding how different elements need to link up and help my overall improvement. Sparring gives me a chance to develop my execution of techniques against a live opponent (I started to say unpredictable but then stopped myself). Against my fellow senior grades I definitely had to work hard to try and create create the opening to land a good technique.

Some of my opponents were more attacking than others which meant if I could block and counter well than openings were there. Others were more defensive so I decided to try and create some openings by moving their defensive arms.

I enjoyed the Shotokan system of kumite development which moves through a variety of fixed kumite drills into more free sparring. In Shukokai we have much more padwork and focus mitt work. I can’t quite put it into words but early on sparring felt like the endgame. Sparring was what we learnt the techniques for, so we could show off some snazzy kicks.

But for me now I feel I undertstand how it stands side by side with other learning techniques like basics, kata etc. in helping me get better.

Does that feel like a similar experience or did you get what sparring was all about?

The plan for Jan

I want to start polishing up katas in preparation for the July grading, so this month I’ll work on Bassai Dai and Pinan Shodan.

I’ll need to put together a combination and padwork routine for the grading and I want to use this as an opportunity to practise some kata applications.

I have a copy of Iain Abernethy’s Bunkai Jutsu so want to finish that to start to understand some of the concepts around practical karate.

I’d like to look at the applications of the Pinan/Heian katas so I’ll practise the shotokan versions of Shodan & Nidan.

I also want to continue my ongoing fight to get my mawashi and yoko geris to a respectable height and work on my movement in sparring to evade strikes and get into good striking positions.