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 Mae geri

The need to practise what you preach

Wednesday night was my first training session since being on holiday. Wednesday nights at our club are geared more towards beginners and it was great to see the Dojo full and a good number of new students on the front row. We kicked off with running through some basic techniques and it didn’t take long to feel a bit of fatigue in my shoulders so a mental note to try and work on building a bit more stamina.

Then the senseis split the class into smaller groups amongst themselves and the senior grades including myself. I was taking two of our junior orange belts through some of our set combinations of techniques. I find these opportunities to teach junior students a really valuable learning experience for my own study of martial arts.

Both the students I was teaching had a really good attitude but they were at slightly different levels in terms of their knowledge of the combinations we were working on. For one student it was more about the first step of teaching them which techniques made up the combinations. The other student had that knowledge and for them it was about looking at their execution and identifying some points that could be worked on and improved.

We worked on making the execution more dynamic and with a stronger execution of the techniques. The first moves of one of the combinations is to move from a traditional fighting stance, zenkutsu dach, into a front kick, mae geri, with the leading leg by bringing up the rear leg alongside the leading leg and then bringing the leading leg up into the kick.

We worked on making that starting movement with the rear leg quicker to bring more momentum and bodyweight to the kick and make it more effective. Later on the class came back together and we ran through the combinations. When we ran through the combination I’d just been working on I realised I was being a bit casual and not bringing that quicker level of movement myself!

I suppose it was a case of familiarity breeds a bit of contempt and it was certainly a bit of a mental slap on the wrist! As your capability develops you need to make sure you bring that higher level of performance to kata and combinations already learnt.

So a change of roles from student to teacher and back again certainly gave me value in a number of areas:

  • it gave me the chance to identify what some of the important combative aspects are within a combination of moves.
  • I had to find a way to communicate how those aspects are important, demonstrate their application and find a way to break the practise down into smaller parts to focus on key movements.
  • and it was a important reminder to make sure I’m executing those movements effectively myself :-).

Sometimes it really does need to be a case of do what I say and do! Not just the former.

As usual, I’d really welcome any thoughts and experiences you might have :-).


As fit as a butcher’s dog!

Well perhaps not quite, and I’m using the meaning of this old saying whereby the butcher’s dog wasn’t the fittest because it was treated to all the scraps and leftovers, but I was feeling the pace at training on Saturday.

We kicked off with a bit of sparring, which I kept quite light because I was partnering up with some of the junior grades. Then we had some padwork and I worked myself quite hard, working at a higher tempo then would be expected at a grading. Then we wrapped up working through combinations and kata and that was when I started to feel the fatigue a little.

The gradings at our club, particularly for the higher grades, have quite a number of different sections so a pretty reasonable level of fitness is required and I’m probadly a little short of that at the moment.

Training twice a week will help but in preparation for the grading I’ll switch my weekly weights session to a karate cardio session.

I gave it a go yesterday and am fairly happy I’ve got the start of a format that’ll work:-

  • I kicked off with 10 minutes on the Schwinn exercise bike to get warmed up.
  • A quick set of stretches.
  • Then four sets of basic combinations, 10 reps each side at a strong intensity.
  • Then basic techniques on my freestanding punch/kick bag. Gyaku zukis, mae geris, oi zukis, mawashi geris and uracken uchis, 10 reps each side again at a strong intensity.
  • Then I worked through some combinations at close range of the bag to try and replicate some of the focus mitt sections.
  • Finished with a final session on the bag but working from medium to close range to make it feel a bit like sparring.

The whole session lasted about 45 minutes and I was working up a nice sweat and feeling like I was testing my fitness at points so I’ll now add in more reps in future sessions to push myself.

While working on my fitness was the primary objective it was good to have an extra session working on different techniques on and off the bag.

What do you do to keep your fitness at a good level?


Put your bodyweight into it!

We spent a lot of time working with the impact pads on Tuesday night at training. I always enjoy a good session on the pads. It feels great to be able to put everything into a technique and get the physical feedback of feeling it strike the pad.

One thing that really came through was the extra power that is realised when you make sure you’re moving your bodyweight in the right way. While my reverse punches, gyaku zukis, felt a bit off par to begin with (note to self to work on those) I could really feel the difference in the impact of the stepping punches, oi zuki.

Getting the push off the ball of my back foot to get that acceleration, a bit like a sprinter (note the use of ‘a bit like’ in my case 😉 ), and really propel my bodyweight towards the pad and focus it’s impact through my arm onto the pad. It reaffirmed the value of maintaining the same height level throughout the technique so all the power is moving straight forward and not rising and falling as you step through.

Trying to get that same explosive movement and thrusting impact came into play for both the front kick, mae geri, and side kick, yoko geri.

It felt like another of those moments when the principles of karate just came together in a really tangible way and you realise this is why you’ve be learning techniques a certain way.