Tag Archives: kata

Sharpen Your Tools

Carpenters, mechanics and other tradespeople all have their own tools of which they rely on to get the job done. Maintaining and sharpening their tools assures that when the time comes to use whatever it is that they need, they have confidence in that tool’s ability to work as desired.

As karateka, the obvious tools at our disposal are namely our hands and feet used to strike and/or block.

Hands are very versatile tools in that we can form fists, half fists, spear hands, knife edge hand, palm heel, etc., etc.

Conversely, our feet are tools that may deliver strikes with ball of foot, toe kicks, shins, foot edge, heel, insteps etc., as well as further up, the knees.

These are the more obvious tools that we have to use. We could delve into more weapons within our bodies but to be brief, we’ll use these examples for now.
Having recognized that we too, must maintain our tools, we must also sharpen these tools so that when called upon, we may rely on them to achieve a desired result (defending ourselves.)

Maintaining and sharpening our tools require training on the makiwara with various hand and foot strikes and hitting the heavy bag with both. When we practice with a partner striking, blocking and flowing within each other’s actions we can hone our distance and proximity skills, along with the sensitivity required and thereby, sharpen these tools, also.

We must always explore the various strike and block permutations of our bodies weapons looking at shapes and tool configurations to achieve desired results. Be aware of what is useful under the circumstances presented and recognize the appropriate tool useful to us.
Practicing kata, reinforces our patterns, develops our form and timing as well as allows us to use those tools of ours. We mustn’t be content with just blocking and striking empty air with these tools, we must also be able to actually develop our ‘tool’ confidence for real by striking, blocking and kicking something!

Honing those tools, also involves doing various strength exercises and working on stretch flexibility. All of this tool maintenance, combines to give us the confidence required to make us effective karateka.

Recognize and develop your own weapons/tools so that they are always available.

Most of us have 3 – 5 favourite go-to techniques that we rely on. Make sure we always have those techniques backed up by our sharpened tools.

Yours in the arts,

Gary Christensen

O’Brian Sensei: Twitching & Dropping Center

This weekend during training, our group was discussing the idea of dropping your centre.  In the video above, O’Brian Sensei talks a bit about the sensation of dropping your centre and how it relates to quick, movements.

Sometimes, it can be hard to articulate ideas about how a sensation feels – it’s a personal thing really; sometimes it’s hard to describe.

I was wondering the other day about the best way to describe ‘twitching’ and dropping.  The two are linked, with dropping being a result of twitching.

So what is twitching anyways – as it relates to Karate?  One explanation that I came up with is:  Have you ever fallen asleep on the couch during the day?  You know – maybe it’s a nice summer day and the sun is shining in your living room while you’re sitting on the couch.  You suddenly feel a bit sleepy and decide to take a nap.  I’ve noticed that sometimes this sort of sleep can be deep, but a bit restless – like you’re asleep but half awake at the same time.  Have you ever had a dream whilst napping this way?  The dreams can sometimes be so vivid.  I remember in one dream that for whatever reason I felt as though I needed to flail my arm.  Only thing was I actually flailed my arm – so hard I jolted myself out of my nap!  The sensation that I felt was like I was instantly awake – and my arm had some sort of knee-jerk reaction.  That’s the twitch sensation.  Not sure if anyone can relate, but if you can then great.  That sort of instant-on, muscle twitch movement is a little like what we’re trying to achieve when we do our techniques.  Notice in the video of O’Brian sensei how he kind of ‘twitches’ when he turns in his stance.  The movement is not stiff and ridged.  It’s more of a quick twitch-like reaction.  It starts in your core (abdomen) and the block is just an end result of an action that was started by your core muscles twitching.

This method can be applied to pretty much every technique we do.  Granted, it can be harder to do when kicking – but it is possible and just like anything else, it needs practice.

We should be working towards this kid of technique.  It’s faster while being more relaxed and you can twerk your movement, adding KIME at any time.

Have fun!

Sensei Pennell.

 

 

 

 

Stretching. A New Perspective.

Hi folks.  There has been a lot of debate as of late about stretching.  Which techniques are good, and which ones are bad.  What bad stretching habits have been developed over the years and why we need to get rid of them.  A good Karate practitioner will spend a great deal of time stretching, so, it’s very important that he/she understands which methods are useful, and which ones may be harmful.  I found a great article called 5 Stretching Myths That Have Got To Go on www.health.com that explores some of the myths around stretching.  Let me know what you think!

…Someone needs to write an article about the stretch we do in Karate to warm up our necks.  You know, the one where you roll your head around in circle?  I’m pretty sure that’s horrible for your upper spine.

Happy training,

Sensei Pennell.