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 Steve Hodgkinson

Serendipitous Saturday

It’s funny sometimes how similar ideas or themes can come from different sources on the same day.

I always enjoy Saturday morning training, it always feels like a really great way to put the working week behind me and start the weekend. The grading the following day was obviously the focus for those students taking part and the remaining students split up into groups based on grade. Sensei Kevin took the purple and brown belts and got us working on really rotating our hips into a variety of different techniques. This is an area were Shukokai differs from the other style I’ve spent time learning Shotokan.

Sensei Kevin made a point that I thought was really interesting which I guess relates more to the competitive sparring. He got us thinking about even when executing an attacking technique like a punch by really twisting our hip into the technique as well as allowing the delivery of a strong punch it reduces the target area available to your opponent.

Working on ensuring that hip twist was present felt pretty challenging. It felt very similar to the feeling of tiredness that follows executing a kata with correct form and focus. It might just be a lack of flexibility (very likely 🙂 ) but it did feel difficult to get that twist from a more deeper stance which is perhaps why Shukokai does have a slightly higher stance.

Sensei Kevin also pulled me up on some of my strikes looking a little short which I do feel myself in certain kata so something I’ll be looking to work on.

It struck me that Sensei Kevin was wanting us to really make use of the core of our body to deliver good techniques and I decided later on Saturday to catch up on some podcasts I’d downloaded. A martial artist I follow on Twitter, Steve Hodgkinson, has recently started producing podcasts. His first podcast talked about the centre line theory. Steve spoke about being centred in more general terms but it just felt quite serendipitous to be listening to another martial artist talking about the value of striking from the core/centre.

I greatly enjoyed Steve’s podcast because, like a great many lessons you can take from the study of martial arts into other areas of your life, the central idea wasn’t limited to just martial arts applications.

I’ve been thinking about those ideas since Saturday and I’m looking forward to working on them more in the coming weeks. Joe Hyams writes about being taught by Bruce Lee in his book ‘Zen in the Martial Arts’. He writes about Bruce telling him a story about the importance of having an empty cup, being ready to learn new things. It felt good on Saturday to continue to study with an empty cup and receive the wisdom of two learned martial artists.

What have you learnt recently?

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Senseis, senseis everywhere (and that’s a good thing)

I wrote a post recently about how I’d started to identify some of the karate masters who have played important roles in shaping the two karate styles I have studied, Shukokai and Shotokan. And in reading some of Gichin Funakoshi’s books you start to get a feel for the environment in which they lived and studied.

I contrast that with the availability we all seem to enjoy now of a wide range of different martial arts clubs and instructors often within walking distance. But we also have a rich feast of information from other martial artists to enhance our knowledge. I can listen to podcasts by Iain Abernethy and Kris Wilder, follow the tweets of Pete Watson (@pistolpetewato), Rakesh Patel (@KataCombat) & Steve Hodgkinson (@HealthandCombat), to name just a few and read blogs like needtostretch & ZZ Ninja to see how other martial artists are approaching their studies. And of course I have my pick of videos on YouTube of katas being performed and having their bunkai demonstrated.

The challenge I have at the moment is working out what to do with all this information. To find ways to incorporate it with my karate training and improve as student of martial arts. To take the time to work through new ideas and principles.

And also a question will some of the highly skilled martial artists we follow now in time become regarded as masters in their own right?