exploringkarate

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 Mawashi

Sometimes it’s just good to move

As I’m keen to grade at the end of July most of my training at the moment is geared around the grading. Whether it’s working on practising combinations and kata, having sessions to work on my fitness or just having a good old stretch to keep as flexible as possible it’s all focused on the grading in some way.

Over the weekend I had a bit of spare time so I got into my training space I have set up in the garage. After warming up with a session on my Schwinn exercise bike, I had a stretch and then just enjoyed having a session on my punch and kickbag doing different strikes and kicks and combinations of the two.

It felt really good just to throw some front punches to head height (jodan zuki), then some roundhouse kicks (mawashi geri), then try a combination a bit like sanbon tsuki, then some crescent kicks (mikazuki geri). Just moving from technique to technique and just enjoying the feeling of the movement.

When I was a beginner mawashi geris always felt like a difficult technique to do. I always used to have a groan when it was time to practise them. Now it’s a technique I really enjoy doing against the bag when I have some time in the garage. I don’t know if I enjoy it because it hasn’t been an easy technique to learn how to do or simply because there’s just something in executing the movement that feels enjoyable.

It just felt good to spend some time doing the movements I’ve been learning for all this years. Nothing complicated just me, a surface to strike and the chance to do some different techniques without an agenda.

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?

Developing my skills on the freestanding punchbag

Planning to have a session in the garage with my freestanding punch/kickbag tomorrow. I’ve used it quite a bit but it’s only been in the last dozen or so sessions I feel I’ve started to get a better understanding of how to use it to practise and develop my skills.

Some of the different routines I’ll run through are:-

  • Warming up – at about a quarter to half speed I’ll run through an improvised sequence of techniques, working to use the full range of stances and good execution of techniques.
  • Practising basics – I’ll run through the full range of striking techniques, doing about ten reps of each and practising on both sides of the body.
  • Working on kick height – My lateral flexibility isn’t great so I like to work on my mawashi and yoko geris to try and improve the height I can execute them at, I’ve got a couple of lines of tape around the bag to mark the level I’m seeking to reach with each.
  • Practising sparring combinations – I like to work on my footwork and putting a few techniques together with the last technique landing on the bag. It helps me to find technique combinations that feel comfortable and to try and improve execution of others.

I like having sessions with the bag. Having a session on my own gives me the opportunity to work on things following club training sessions or to prepare for future training.

You can feel and see when a technique connects well and work to improve it. My bag stands on a spring which gives it a certain amount of movement so I can build in some element of working with it’s movement and timing techniques. Plus I feel like I’ve had a good workout afterwards which always feels good.

Do you use a bag for practise? Got any good routines?

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.