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 striking

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?

Moving targets

Last night’s training included a good session using focus mitts. Writing this blog gives me an opportunity to think about the different training techniques and equipment you come across and how they’re useful.

Using focus mitts gives you a different challenge to using the bigger pads.

  • You have a smaller and more mobile target area to aim.
  • You get a different sense of feedback when you strike it in the right area.
  • It’s mobility allows either mitt to be placed to represent different target areas of the body.
  • Your partner has both greater mobility and the chance to throw counter movements to allow incorporate the practise of evasive movement.

Last nights session was a great workout, it got the blood pumping and I had a great partner to work with. As I worked through the sequence and started to feel a bit of tiredness I consciously didn’t take the easier route of having a longer breather and got back into it. I also switched my lead striking hand to make sure I worked both sides through the focus mitt sequence.

It’s another example of how in every training session there are plenty of opportunities for you to take control of how you’re training and get the most of your time in the dojo.

How do you rate focus mitt use in your own training?