Eihachi Ota Seminar – 2014.

Sensei Pennell & Sensei Ota - 2014
Sensei Pennell & Sensei Ota – 2014

Your core is the centre of all your power.

Of course – this is something that we’ve all heard before.  Striking by just swinging your arms is… well, it’s just a waste of time.  It has been several years since I’ve seen Sensei Ota and not much has changed – yet everything has changed.  It never ceases to amaze me;  Sensei Ota is 69 years old – but has the speed, agility and power of someone 1/2 his age.  A true testament to the health benefits of a diet including a hefty dose of Karate!  The Seminar began on Friday with a great review of some Kata including Ananku and Gojushiho.  The amount of power that you can harness by proper stance and use of core muscles is truly incredible.  The was particularly evident in Ananku – a true powerhouse Kata.  Oh – and don’t forget to breath. 🙂

Bo Kata.

If you have not seen Sensei Ota wield a Bo – then you’re missing a real treat.  Once again it all comes back to core strength to get that tip speed up to unbelievable levels.  What I came away with from the Bo seminar was using your trailing hand for control – allowing you to increase your Bo’s tip speed – and hence striking power.  Sounds simple enough – but the only way to truly master the physical mechanics is to practice.  And that is something that Ota has done a lot of – and it shows.  The Bo has to be an extension of your core –  or else, it’s just a long, awkward stick.

Competition Sparring.

Flow sparring is nice.  It’s a good way to loosen up and have some fun.  But lets face it – it can make us lazy.  Particularly if we don’t mix it up with some semi-contact sparring (for those who are up for it that is).  We spent a great deal of time on Saturday doing some good semi-contact sparring.  Ota was quick to point out the importance of low stances, ever-moving hands and watching your opponents body moments for signs of what he/she is going to do next.  Keep your opponent guessing long enough for your to deliver your strike.  Don’t let your hands rest.  Use them as tools of distraction – another tool in the toolbox.  Combine that with quick strikes, power technique and solid stances and it makes for effective sparring, as well as a great workout.  And whatever you do, don’t hang around in your opponent’s strike zone for too long.  Get in and get out.  Know your range – and know your opponent’s range as well.

Shodan and Nidan Grading.

Congrats to Evan on his promotion to Nidan & congrats to Yousif for his promotion to Shodan!  Great work guys.

Stressed? Try Karate Breathing Meditation


Stress can take its toll on us.  In fact, research has shown  that high stress levels experienced consistently over a long period of time can actually shorten your lifespan.  So, there is little wonder that many of us look for effective ways to lower our stress levels.

Meditation in the Dojo – breathing.

Part of your Karate training should include focusing on your breathing.  Not only is breathing an important part of combat – you can’t fight if your out of breath – it is also an effective method of reducing stress.  When practicing your meditation techniques, remember that breathing is an important requirement when trying to reach a state of mental awareness.  Your breathing should be controlled, but not so much so that you are interrupting your body’s natural breathing rhythm.  In fact, you should be attempting to reach this state of balance – your body will naturally bring your breathing to a calm and predictable pattern, but only if you let it.  So, just relax and allow your body to achieve it’s natural balance.

Leverage Breathing for Stress Management.

When you are outside the Dojo, you can effectively use meditation breathing techniques to reduce your stress.  Remember – everyone is subjected to stressful situations.  What is important is how you deal with the stress.  Sure, you could start throwing a fit – yelling and screaming or you could see this as an opportunity to use breathing techniques to diffuse the situation.  You might have this internal dialog with yourself:

Self, this is really stressful…

….ya, tell me about it.

Okay, there is a really sweet chair over there that I bet you could toss out the window, but I’ve got a better idea.

…okay, lets have it… the idea I mean, not the chair.

Great – first, lets acknowledge the stress…

…umm – already ahead of you.

No, your body has been impacted by the stress (heightened breathing, etc.), but what you need to do is just acknowledge the stress.  Allow your body to accept the fact that the current stress is impacting you and then just let it go.  Let go of the angst and regain control of yourself.

…wow, this is really working.  Who are you again?

…really?  Okay, so now I want you to bring your heart rate down by controlling your breathing.  Allow the stressful thoughts to pass through your mind.  Don’t dwell on them!  Simply acknowledge them and move on.

Okay, I’ve got my breathing under control, now what?

Continue to focus on your breathing for at least 3 minutes – allowing yourself to return to your natural (and unstressed state).


Remember, only by acknowledging stress in our lives can we begin to build a plan to deal with it.  Do not allow your actions to be controlled by your stress.  It will only end in disaster.  Never respond impulsively, as you will only live to regret it.

Happy Training!

Sensei Pennell.

Lose Weight – Join Karate!

weight-loss-scaleKarate your way to fitness!

We all find ourselves wanting to lose a little weight from time to time, but what about those of us who really want to get back into shape and lose more than 10 pounds – is Karate a good option?  Well there is good news for those who want to make a significant change in their weight.  Karate is a great way to get back into shape.

Aerobic Exercise

Karate can be an excellent source of Aerobic stimulation.  Many Karate drills and exercises include a healthy dose of aerobic exercise.  A skilled instructor will combine several challenging techniques or exercises to create a workout fit for even the most advanced trainer. Flow sparring can also be a great way to get the blood flowing.  Done properly, you’ll find yourself working up a huge sweat in no time.  If that’s not enough, even traditional Kata can be hugely advantageous to those wanting to drop a few belt sizes.  As an added benefit, your trainer can tailor your training to suit your needs.  As your body begins to respond to the exercises, your instructor can increase the difficulty and keep things interesting.  Plus it’s fun – way more fun than running endlessly on a treadmill.

Resistance Training

So you’re the weight you’ve always wanted to be – but now you want to either tone up a bit, or perhaps build some muscle?  Can Karate help with this?  Yes it can!  Many exercises practiced in Karate involve the legs, arms and most importantly the core muscles including your abs.  Core strength exercises can be found throughout Karate.  Those who practice regularly and hard can see the benefits quite quickly including more toned muscles, greater core strength and more muscle mass.  This is all assuming or course that you are eating a proper diet.

Mind Over Matter

Maintaining a healthy weight requires a permanent lifestyle change.  Temporary diets are just that – temporary.  An important aspect of weight loss that is commonly overlooked is the phycological challenge that must be overcome.  Many people underestimate this and find themselves caught in an endless loop of diet, weight gain and diet once more.  Karate teaches us proper mental conditioning, which allows us to facilitate the long term changes necessary for successful lifestyle management.  These mental requirements can be sharpened through proper relaxation techniques, etc.

So what are you waiting for?  Come check out Pennell’s Dojo and start getting back into shape for life!

Where the tradition of Karate continues to grow.