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 Sensei David

Dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge!

Sensei David has a little Christmas tradition of his own. The last training session before Christmas he’ll have some ideas for some games for the club to play. It’s nice to put serious training to one side for one lesson and have fun with fellow karateka.

A couple of weeks ago I had the idea that playing a few games of Dodgeball might provide an interesting warm up at the start of a lesson. Then I remembered that Christmas was approaching so I asked Sensei if he wanted to give it a whirl in the last session before Christmas. Sensei agreed and we tried it out at Tuesday night’s training.

I fully expected all the junior students to enjoy the game as they always enjoy taking part in Sensei’s games. But I must admit to being surprised how much the seniors and other Senseis got involved. Though perhaps the old line about there being no kid like a big kid rings true :-).

It was good to see everyone having a great time and students of all ages and grades scampering up and down the dojo throwing the brightly coloured balls Sensei David had brought along.

I think being able to have fun together as a club now and again is a nice contrast to the hard work students put in throughout the year learning the art. It builds bonds between students and certainly shows them that the Senseis enjoy a good game of Dodgeball like everybody else!

Does your club have any fun traditions or unusual ways to get warmed up?


Work hard, smile hard :-)

Last night was our club’s annual family night party. It’s a really fun night and a lot of credit goes to Senseis David and Karen for all the work they do to make it happen.

It’s great to spend time together as a club socially and learn a bit more about the personalities of the people you’re training with. You see those who are the life of the party, those who enjoy competing in the games etc. It also made me realise a bit more the role you have in relation to the junior students. They enjoy interacting with the senior students who spend time teaching them each week and it’s important, as well as fun, to engage with them and respond to their conversations and questions.

The night also features various presentations. The main award is to the student chosen by the Dan grades as the person they feel has been the best student over the previous 12 months. It’s really nice to see fellow students efforts recognised particularly in front of the wider audience of students and their family.

It’s nice to have a bit of time to have fun as a club and also reflect that there is plenty of room in Karate for smiles as well as hard work and application.

Coincidentally this video of Hideo Ochi, 8th Dan, I found really seemed to complement this post’s theme. Sensei Ochi just seems to radiate happiness, I would imagine it’s hard not to want to train your hardest when being taught by him. It’s certainly a style I want to emulate when I have a chance to teach a class.

What aspects of Karate make you smile?

Smiles better

The Shukokai club I train at has a really great family atmosphere. We have a good number of mums and dads that train alongside their sons and daughters. We also have lots of juniors who train with the club right into their teens and beyond. A good few posts ago I wrote about our Sensei David and how I think he does a great job leading our club.

In all fairness he’s not alone. He’s ably assisted by Sensei Karen, with whom he forms a great partnership, and the other senseis.

The prompt for this post is my bringing home yesterday of the trophy that is awarded each week to the student who has worked hardest. It’s predominantly awarded to junior students but every once in a while a senior gets a look in. The awarding of the trophy is a really nice moment at the end of the training session. The senseis will put their heads together and decide on the student they think has had a really good session. The student goes up to the front of the class, applauded by their fellow student, collects the trophy and raises it up to the cheers of the class.

I think finding ways to incorporate nice moments like this into a club give it a much more inclusive friendly feel. The student, young or a little bit older :-), getting the trophy enjoys receiving recognition for their efforts. And the other students, who in a larger class might not have the chance to see all the other students training, get a sense of which of their fellow students has trained particularly well.

A longer standing little tradition is the club’s celebration of a students birthday. At the end of the class the student or students enjoying birthdays join the line-up of senseis and then does press-ups while the club ‘sings’ Happy Birthday to them. It might seem small potatoes but again after a hard session’s training it puts a smile on everyone’s face and makes sure no-one is a stranger within the club.

The learning of Karate always needs to be the focus of the club and there are certainly times when it’s appropriate that students are challenged. Learning to perform beyond our perceived limits for eaxmple is I think a really important students of Karate learn. But I don’t think it harms that learning, and perhaps aids it, to have a friendly fun spirit within a club.

I truly enjoy being part of a club that stretches me as a Karateka, gives me the space to explore new things and gives me a chance to share my learning with others by nature of it’s friendly spirit. Nor does it surprise me that the club seems to be in fine health as a result.


Sensei David

Our club recently awarded our sensei with his 6th Dan. The award was greatly deserved and it was easy to see how well regarded Sensei David is by his students when he was given the award.

Clearly the role the sensei plays within any club is an important one. I think the level of regard a sensei is held in by his students gives a clear indication of how well they have fulfilled this role. I also think the longevity that they hold the role of a sensei shows how relevant they have been to their students and also how they have maintained a commitment to their art.

I would imagine this blog provides a sense of how important Karate is to me and I will always be thankful to Sensei David for creating an environment that allowed a passion for Karate to take root within me, be nurtured and grow to be such a strong element in my life.

I had a few years away from Shukokai but it felt great to come back to the club, almost like coming home in a way. Spending some time studying Shotokan Karate has given me an appreciation of the strengths of the different approaches and allowed me to understand what I really enjoy about studying Shukokai Karate under Sensei David’s tutelage.

I always enjoyed the more physical side of training working with the pads and the focus mitts. Now I feel I’ve learnt more I’m enjoying the freedom to explore different elements of Karate and revisiting kata to understand moe their practical applications.

In a way I think in the same way your understanding of your martial art increases and deepens with time and study so does your appreciation of your sensei and the important part they play in guiding your study.